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Our friend Steve’s Italian BBQ Sauce & Marinade is a uniquely delicious tomato-based sauce that has so many different uses. Cook up a batch today!
This summer, my husband Jack befriended a terrific group of guys who all go fishing almost every weekend off the New England coast where we live. It was one of those impromptu situations where the dad of our daughter’s friend happened to invite Jack to join him out on his boat, and he ended up meeting a bunch of new friends who share his love of fishing – plus they all love to cook!
Steve, one of the captains in the group, shared this Italian BBQ Sauce recipe with Jack – and we loved it.
This sauce is unlike any other BBQ sauce we’ve tried. It’s made with tomato sauce – so it has a distinct Italian slant – but honey and brown sugar add sweetness, and apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, plus other seasonings add a zesty bite. Your taste buds will start dancing after the first taste!
Jack took the liberty of adding some balsamic vinegar and a splash of red wine to some of the sauce, transforming it into a marinade for steak tips. (The added acidity of those ingredients helps tenderize the beef.)
Then we grilled the tips and slathered some of the original sauce over the beef before serving. Delicious!
Why you’ll love Steve’s Italian BBQ Sauce & Marinade
- This is unlike any other BBQ Sauce recipe we’ve tried – with tons of delicious flavor.
- It can be made with your favorite jarred tomato sauce – or make your own tomato sauce for the base.
- This sauce is versatile – served as-is over grilled meats, poultry, or pork. Or, add some extra ingredients and use it as a marinade.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Tomato Sauce – Make our Italian Tomato Sauce if you’d like or buy your favorite jarred sauce brand. This recipe calls for 24 ounces (3 cups) which is one jar of sauce.
- Tomato Paste – This helps thicken the sauce.
- Onion – We used a sweet onion in our sauce, but yellow, white or red onion can be used instead.
- Garlic – Always cook with fresh garlic, not jarred.
- Honey – This recipe calls for quite a bit of honey, so buy a quality honey if you can.
- Brown Sugar
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Herbs and Spices – The sauce is seasoned with fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
If You Are Making a Marinade, you’ll also need:
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Red Wine
- Beef Sirloin Tips
Special Tools Needed
- Cutting Board and Sharp Knife
- Medium Pot – To make the sauce
- Blender or Immersion Blender
- Basting Brush – If using the sauce to grill
How do I make Steve’s Italian BBQ Sauce & Marinade?
- Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil in the pot.
- Add all other sauce ingredients and simmer for five minutes.
- Coarsely puree in blender or with immersion blender leaving some pieces. Refrigerate until needed
- If using as a marinade, add balsamic and wine to half the mixture, saving other half to use as a BBQ sauce.
- If marinating steak tips, pour the marinade into zipper seal bag along with the beef tips and marinate overnight refrigerated. When ready to cook, pat the tips thoroughly dry with paper towels. Preheat your grill to a very high heat and brush the grates with vegetable oil. Cook tips for a few minutes on each side, brushing each cooked side with some of the BBQ sauce. Serve cooked tips with more BBQ sauce on the side.
Tips & Tricks
If using this sauce as a marinade on beef or pork, make sure the meat is dried very well after marinating. If they are wet from the marinade, the meat ends up steaming instead of searing and it will cook up tough. All of the marinade must be wiped off before grilling. Brush the BBQ sauce on each cooked side as you turn. Serve with more BBQ sauce for dipping.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Steve’s Italian BBQ Sauce & Marinade ahead of time? Yes, you can mix up the sauce ahead of time.
- How do I store leftovers? Store covered and refrigerated for up to three days.
- Can I freeze this sauce? Yes.
- Is it possible to can this sauce or marinade? We don’t know. To ensure safe canning, the sauce needs to be at a specific acidity level or higher. We’ve never tested the acidity level of this recipe so can’t say for sure if it’s safe. I’d recommend freezing it instead.
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3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups sweet onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped fine, or half that of dried
1 24-ounce jar of your favorite tomato sauce, or see here for our recipe
3 ounces tomato paste (half a 6-ounce can)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups honey (one 12-ounce bottle)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier)
If making marinade with half of this recipe
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine
If marinating and grilling steak tips
3 pounds sirloin steak tips
Vegetable oil, for grilling
- In a medium pot, saute onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a light boil then simmer five minutes.
- Pour into a blender or use an immersion blender and blend until the big onion pieces are broken up but you can still see rice sized pieces.
- Cool and refrigerate until needed.
- If marinating steak tips, divide the sauce in half. Save one half for brushing the cooked tips and serving on the side. To the other half, mix the balsamic vinegar and the red wine in and pour over steak tips in a gallon zip lock bag. Marinate at least six hours but not longer than 24 hours.
- When ready to grill, discard marinade and pat tips dry with paper towels. You want them really dry before grilling so wipe off all marinade.
- Brush the grill with the oil (always brush oil on the grates, not the meat to avoid flareups). Grill the tips on the hot oiled grill for a few minutes on each side. As you flip them over, brush on the reserved BBQ sauce so both cooked sides get coated.
- Serve with additional BBQ sauce for dipping.
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- Prep & cooking time listed above is for the sauce only. You’ll need to plan additional time to marinate and cook the steak tips.
- Nutritional information listed is also specifically for the sauce, not the beef.