Summer Problems Solved: Making A Mini Grill + A Classic Barbecue Sauce Recipe

You know the classic problems of the road tripping, summer loving, sun chasing set: You’ve got steaks, but no way to cook them. With new cooling systems, the whole “cook it on the engine” model is sure to lead to either half-baked food or a full-baked catastrophe.

What to do? This genius hack is simple, easy, quick, and effective — the four requirements for any on-the-fly workaround.

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Once you have the food, you need to add a little flair. Think homemade sauce. Store-bought brands can’t match up. Last week, my friend Joey and I had just gotten back to his house from dinner. The restaurant we’d visited was named the Oregonian’s restaurant of the year after only being open two months, and our meal had fully delivered on the hype.

And yet… with our stomachs tight as drums, all Joey could talk about was barbecue. The clock had just struck midnight, it was officially August, and summer was slipping through our fingers like grains of sand. Talk had turned to how to make the most of the next month, and the idea of having a barbecue was the natural solution. Once that idea came up, Joey started talking about his wife’s recipe for BBQ sauce.

“It’s a good sauce,” Joey said.

“The best sauce,” his wife, Emily, corrected, settling down on a couch beside him.

Like her husband, Emily likes to cook, she likes to visit restaurants, and she prides herself on having discerning taste. And here they both sat, husband and wife, telling me that Emily’s sauce was the best I’d ever taste.

“So,” I asked, “can I see it?”

Asking someone for a recipe is delicate business. BBQ sauce is intellectual property. One does not simply ask someone for the secrets to their personal brand of food-alchemy.

“Sure, I’ll go get it.”

… Or maybe they do. Emily went into the kitchen and started rooting through the junk drawer. A few minutes later, she was back — recipe booklet in hand.

“Can I share it?” I asked. “Like… on a very popular website.”

“Of course!” Emily said. The woman clearly just wants more good BBQ in the world.

So, here it is. The recipe that two of the most perceptive, ambitious, discerning home cooks I know have told me, without hesitation, is “the best.” Who am I to argue?



  • 1 t. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 t. Dijon mustard
  • 2 t. honey
  • 2 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t. molasses
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt
  • dash of cayenne [this can’t be right, she must have meant five dashes of cayenne. -ed]


Place an empty sauce pan on medium-high until it gets hot (45 seconds). Add the oil and onions, sauté until soft (five minutes). Add the garlic and continue to sauté (one minute more).

Transfer the onions and garlic into a medium bowl, add all other ingredients. Mix or blend (depending on your preference).

[Modifications: add cherries, a soft drink, beer, or jalapeños to the oil and onions for an extra layer of flavor, puree for smooth consistency.]

Want more of Pepsi Max’s genius hacks? Check them out right here.