As the star pitmaster of an at-home barbecue, you may carefully select cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and fish from a nearby butcher shop. You may also opt for fresh, hearty vegetables at your local farmer’s market. Bell peppers, onions, summer squash, eggplant, corn-on-the-cob, and asparagus are all great for grilling.

Rather than marinating, basting, or coating these thoughtful choices with any generic, store-bought barbecue sauce or dry rub, why not elevate the experience and blend your own? You can easily customize the flavor profile and ingredients to your liking while also avoiding the extra sugar, salt, additives, and preservatives often found in bottled sauces and pre-packaged spice blends.

Here are a few ways to surprise and delight guests with your homemade barbecue skills:

Toss the Bottles Sauce and Start with a Clean Base:

Many barbecue sauces are tomato-based, often using ketchup, which can include extra sugars and sodium. To control the salt and sugar content of your sauce, simply combine and puree tomatoes, olive oil, onions, vinegar and your favorite seasonings in your Vitamix blender for an all-natural sauce base that can be tailored to your liking.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, food labels often disguise processed sugar under different names like high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, dextrose, fructose, honey, maltose and glucose, making it confusing and difficult to make healthy choices. By prepping the base of your sauce, you can use organic fruits and vegetables and avoid pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, excess sugar or salt, or anything you may want to keep out of your diet. Plus, specialty sauces or complex combinations with notes of apricot, cherry, ginger, or sesame are always better with fresh ingredients.

Fruits’ natural sugars make them a great addition to sweeten homemade barbecue sauces. You can also try honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or date sugar. And when it comes to fine-tuning the flavor (spicy, sweet, or smoky), and even the texture, blending your own sauce in your Vitamix machine lets you explore and discover the perfect recipe.

Homemade Spice Is Twice as Nice:

Black pepper and salt are common in barbecue spice blends; so are ground hot peppers such as cayenne, adobo, or chipotle. Some spice blends may contain ginger, horseradish, and mustard powder to establish a more unique taste and reap the antioxidant benefits of these ingredients. Instead of grinding spices with a traditional mortar and pestle, Vitamix blenders can get the job done in a few quick pulses. And if you have the Blending Bowl Starter Kit, compatible with all Ascent® Series blenders, it’s even easier to make and store small batches. This Dukkah Spice Rub recipe, courtesy of chef Seamus Mullen, will not disappoint.

Another reason to opt for homemade? Many barbecue purists believe in keeping the salt separate from the dry rub as the amount of salt required may depend on what meat you’re preparing. Rather than coating the meat or vegetables with a pre-mixed blend, which may have much higher than the desired salt content, it’s easy to grind up all-natural whole black peppercorns, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, coffee beans, and more to create a controlled (and custom) flavor.

Have you made your own barbecue sauces or dry rubs with your Vitamix? Show others how you helped your family achieve a better homemade barbecue by sharing a photo or recipe on Instagram with #myvitamix

Recipes to Highlight: