Grandpa Hollabaugh’s BBQ Sauce

grandpa hollabaugh's bbq sauce

In Minnesota, the return of spring means a number of good things. Among them, that it’s time to fire up the grill and get outside! With that – for me anyway, comes a certain amount of nostalgia. My dad was a grill {and smoker} maestro. Mom would prepare whatever it was he was to grill – burgers, brisket, individual barbecued meatloaves, or even pancake batter – and then turn it over to “Big Dave.”

What made many of those meals special was Grandpa Hollabaugh’s BBQ sauce.

Now, to be honest, I don’t remember Grandpa cooking when we’d go visit. Ever. But the sauce that made those meatloaves so memorable was apparently his.

I even went through old pictures to see if I could find any of him standing by a grill or a stove. Nada.

However, the search led me to a couple of great pics to share. Here’s Grandpa, sometime around 1945. Wasn’t he handsome!?

bbq sauce grandpa

The closest I found to a clue that there MIGHT be a grill nearby is this one from a picnic in 1959.

Last weekend, after an afternoon spent getting the deck furniture out of storage, scrubbed off and placed where we’ll enjoy several precious spring and summer meals, I needed to make something to celebrate. And what better than a BBQ? With this sauce, of course.

I made my version of Mom and Dad’s barbecued meatloaves {recipe soon!}. Then, for a weekend brunch, an incredible {if I do say so myself} BBQ breakfast pizza. I will definitely post that one at some point – when I remember to snap a picture before devouring it.

If you follow Raisin & Fig {thank you!}, you know that I normally lean toward making things healthier and natural. This recipe calls for a generous amount of brown sugar AND Heinz ketchup {Grandpa apparently insisted – it was underlined in the recipe}. But I was kicking off grilling season, and figured that once brushed on my meatloaves, it really wouldn’t amount to a lot per serving. That is, if you don’t count all the taste-testing and licking the spoon…

Make a batch of this and use it all season long – on chicken, ribs, pizza or whatever you feel like throwing on the grill. You can change it up a bit by substituting molasses for some of the sugar, or adding a bit of Bourbon.

I’ve got at least two recipes coming up using BBQ sauce. Rest assured, you can use store-bought, but I’m more than a little partial to this one.

Grandpa Hollabaugh's BBQ Sauce
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • a few drops Tabasco sauce
  • ½ cup Worcestershirte sacue
  • 2 cups Heinz ketchup
  • 2 cups water
  1. Mix and boil 2 minutes.
  2. Cool, then store in covered jar in refrigerator.



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12 Responses to Grandpa Hollabaugh’s BBQ Sauce

  1. Kelly Harris May 20, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    BBQ Ribs and dirty rice comin right up!!!!!!
    I’m going to have Greg make Ribs this weekend!!! I will make this sauce to to put on the ribs can’t wait to try it!!!!!
    Happy Memorial weekend!!!!!!!!!
    Cheers to summer & Grillin & Chillin!!!!!!!!!

    • Morgan Wood May 20, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      Kelly – Ohmygoodness, Greg’s ribs!!! How many grills did you two have going for those post-golf-tournament fiestas!?

      • Kelly Harris May 20, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

        8 Webers!!!!!! We have only BBQ’ed on a weber down here in Naples, we love better than gas!!!!! And we can use it 365 days a year!!!!!! We will be back in Mn at Cory & Cathy’s in June and August hope to run into you than!!!!!

        • Kelly Harris May 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

          Oh by the way I love the photos!!!!! Love the thermas on the table my gram and gramps alway had there coffee when we would have a picnic or just go to the park!!!!! Maybe they were hot toodies??? not coffee with all six of us kids.

  2. Bob May 20, 2015 at 12:07 pm #


    I love your writing. I can barely cook toast, but still enjoy reading Raisin and Fig. Now if I were to make this recipe (stop laughing!), I would add more than a few drops of habanero sauce rather than Tabasco, and in my opinion BBQ sauce is the only place I want to taste bourbon. Good suggestion.

    • Morgan Wood May 20, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

      … and Bob, I would belly up to your table to enjoy your version of this!

      • Bob May 20, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

        I think I be the only one here with a belly.

  3. Tammy Brooks May 20, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    Can’t wait to try this recipe,The Brooks family loves trying new BBQ sauces.Enjoy your weekend!

  4. Coco in the Kitchen May 21, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    Family recipes are my fav, especially if they come from Grandma or Grandpa.
    This bbq sauce is simple and delicious. I can’t wait to make it.

  5. Yvonne May 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

    I love family memories, my dad made the most amazing grapefruit merangue pie, he is cooking in heaven now. I think I’ll have to try and find that recipe to share with you.
    Thanks for the BBQ recipe, can’t wait to try it.

  6. Gail March 17, 2018 at 1:38 pm #

    Hi Again, Thanks for your reply re/the temps to use on the Bacon Granola.
    Now re/Grandpa’s BBQ sauce, doesn’t using 2 cusps of water make the sauce
    awfully runny. Or does it thicken once heated & then stored in fridge. ??
    Thanks ever so much,
    Gail in Michigan

    • Morgan Wood March 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm #

      Hello again Gail!

      The sauce thickens a big as you cook it… you could sure start with 1 or 1 1/2 cups if you like it thicker. It’s always been perfect for brushing on BBQ meatloaves or chicken while grilling. Even pork chops!

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