July 4th is an American holiday that can sometimes get a little lost in this expat life we live. There probably aren’t any fireworks for sale this time of year. There are no Old Navy flag shirts being worn by every other person you see, reminding you to be patriotic. You probably never see an American flag for that matter. But its important to hold on to our roots and our family traditions. Its important to teach our TCKs about their home culture. It may not be a weekend at the lake with an awesome fireworks show, but its good if you can try to at least get a party together!

Here in China, beef is expensive and not that great anyway. So I never make hamburgers. My go-to meal for 4th of July get-togethers is BBQ sandwiches. If you’re making BBQ for a group of expats, it will likely feel like comfort food. If you’re making it for local friends, BBQ is a wonderfully, unique-to-America meal to let them try! I usually do pork loins or chicken in the crockpot in this marinade. It makes the meat nice and flavorful. But it has to be topped with some extra, yummy BBQ sauce! It took me years to come up with a recipe I like!

This sauce is good on a sandwich, on grilled chicken, on pizza, and for a dipping sauce for nuggets! You’ll see it doesn’t call for molasses, because that’s not a readily available ingredient for me–I’ve compensated with dark brown sugar and honey, but if you can get molasses then use it!

Happy 4th of July!

Sweet & Tangy Homemade BBQ Sauce
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 1 cup ketchup
  2. 2/3 cup tomato paste
  3. 1/3 cup water
  4. 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs dark brown sugar
  5. 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs vinegar (white/red wine or cider will be best, but white works too)
  6. 1/4 cup honey
  7. 1-2 tsp liquid smoke (opt)
  8. 1 Tbs butter
  9. 1/2 tsp paprika
  10. 1/2 tsp salt
  11. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  12. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  13. 1/4 tsp onion powder
  14. 1/4 tsp celery seed
  15. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  16. 1/8 tsp chili powder
  17. 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  1. Mix together all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Once it comes to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Cook longer for a thicker sauce.
  1. This recipe makes about 3.5 cups of sauce.
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