This sauce is legit! Hazel's BBQ Sauce, Sacramento California

When we launched SacTown Bites’ Farm to Fork in a Box, we really wanted to showcase local purveyors making unique, difficult to find products of the highest quality. Hazel’s BBQ sauce epitomizes that quest. This BBQ sauce is ‘legit’, as one fan said on Instagram. It is legit, and it is ridiculously good. I mean, really good. 

The recipe goes back four generations to Hazel Brown’s father who used to make it for the family. Hazel, having 10 children, couldn't afford to buy BBQ sauce, so she started making it for her family. It’s legendary that she used whole produce such as onions and tomatoes to get that incredibly complex flavor. Hazel’s son Carl Brown, along with two of his brothers began making it and word spread. Soon they were bottling it in mason jars for friends and family. Carl’s been making it for 30 years. About 10 years ago, Carl’s son Cornelius decided he wanted to learn how to make it and start bottling it for local butchers and small markets. Terrified of not making it correctly, Cornelius apprenticed for 10 years. 

Well, I can tell you first hand, Cornelius knows how to make this sauce. He cares so deeply about it and the ingredients that he refuses to use anything cold packed or processed. He makes each batch in a commercial kitchen in Sacramento, California. He makes it the way his father did, and how his grandmother and great grandfather did – with whole, fresh produce and spices. Cornelius also appreciates how difficult it is to be in business these days, and likes to partner with other small businesses. He gets his garlic from Green Tech Education which among other things has an urban farm in Oak Park, that teaches youth farming and self sufficiency through farming. Green Tech is a community-based non profit providing quality workforce skills, education and health strategies to maintain sustainable communities. 

The passion and history that is in this BBQ sauce comes through in taste. We pretty much slather it on everything in our house, including salmon, tofu and veggies. It pairs really well with our July Box’s Espresso Spice Rub. Here is a simple technique to use both, add some Brown Jasmine Rice, and throw in a side dish and you are good to go. If you would like to Meet the Maker - Cornelius Brown watch our video.


Espresso Spice Rub and Hazel’s BBQ Sauce Tri-Tip


  • 2-3 pound trip-tip. (Tri-tip is a distinctly California cut of meat, so if your butcher doesn’t have it, simply get a cut of meat you prefer. Ribs work for this as well.)
  • Espresso Spice Rub
  • Haze’s BBQ Sauce - Mild (If you want spicey, get Hazel's spicy sauce. If the spicy is too spicy, just mix the two to your liking.


  • Charcoal or gas grill
  • Tongs
  • Cutting board (meat board with a trough to capture juices)
  • Meat thermometer


Trim the silver skin and any excess fat off the meat. Sprinkle the meat generously with the rub and massage it in, until the entire piece is coated. Cover and refrigerate no less than one hour and up to 24 hours.  Remove from the refrigerator one hour before cooking. Prepare the grill with the heat offset to one side. Place the meat directly over the heat and sear each side for about 5 minutes.  Once you have it seared nicely, move the meat off the heat, and cover the grill. Depending on your charcoal or gas setting and the size of the meat, cooking can take up to 90 minutes. ONce the meat is close to the doneness you like, slather it with BBQ sauce and close the lid for another 5 minutes or so. Use a meat thermometer for best results. For medium rare remove the meat from the grill when the thickest part reaches 130 degrees. This next part is important – in order to keep the meat nice and juicy - let it rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes. Then slice and add some more sauce. Yum.



Meet the Maker - Cornelius Brown of Hazel's BBQ Sauces

1 comment

  • I just received the JULY box from a friend for a wonderful housewarming gift. I made country ribs in the crockpot and used the BBQ sauce while cooking and then at the table to add more on top. It was family approved! It’s delicious and robust. It was so good, I even poured it on my roasted potatoes! YUM.

    Billie Warnick

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published