Don’t let the name fool you. Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce isn’t just another fast-food chain sauce.
Instead, this sauce is surprisingly sophisticated and goes with more than just chicken tenders.
Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce is a variation of the classic sweet heat sauces popular throughout the Southern United States.
Southern chefs have been using them for decades to enhance the flavor of grilled meats, chicken, and pork.
For this recipe, I’ve taken the classic Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce recipe and added melted butter to give it a smoother, creamier flavor.
As a result, you’ll have a delicious sauce that pairs well with a wide variety of dishes, from grilled chicken to pasta.
And you won’t need any unique ingredients or special equipment to make this delicious sauce recipe.
In addition, it’s super quick to make, making it the perfect sauce for when you’re running short on time.
Read on and learn how to make the best Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce recipe that’s even better than the original.
What Do You Need To Make Popeye’s Sweet Heat Sauce
I recommend using unsalted butter for all your sauces.
Unsalted butter has a higher fat content than salted butter: more fat means more flavor.
You can use salted butter in a pinch, but be sure you taste it before adding additional salt to avoid over-seasoning.
Gives the sauce its characteristic sweetness. Feel free to substitute honey.
Apple Cider Vinegar
The source of its tangy vinegar flavor.
Red Pepper Flakes
Start adding the heat!
Instead of the red pepper flakes, you can substitute a pinch of cayenne for a more intense heat.
Adds more depth to the flavor and intensifies the color of the sauce.
Who doesn’t love garlic? To save time, you can substitute garlic powder.
However, make sure you don’t use garlic salt, which will overpower your sauce.
Gives the sauce the heat.
I like Frank’s Hot Sauce for this recipe, but feel free to substitute your favorite brand.
- Cutting board and knife to mince the garlic
- Medium-sized saucepan
- Spoon or spatula
- Stovetop or electric burner
How To Make Popeye’s Sweet Heat Sauce
Step One: Peel and finely mince the garlic cloves.
Step Two: Place the butter, garlic, and brown sugar in the saucepan over medium heat.
Step Three: Stir until the brown sugar dissolves in the melted butter and the garlic is soft. 2-3 minutes.
Step Four: Add the apple cider vinegar and water to the butter mixture and stir until the brown sugar mixture dissolves in the liquid.
Step Five: Add the red pepper flakes, paprika, and hot sauce to the saucepan and mix well.
Step Six: Taste the sauce and adjust any ingredients until you reach your desired flavor.
Step Seven: Season with salt and pepper.
Step Eight: Serve immediately or chill in the fridge.
Other Things To Consider When Making Popeye’s Sweet Heat Sauce
Easy To Adjust The Heat And Sweet
You can make your Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce as hot or sweet as you like.
Add a few extra drops of hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper to increase the heat.
For a sweeter sauce, add another tablespoon of brown sugar or honey.
Play around with the ingredients to find your perfect balance of spicy sweetness.
Popeye’s Sweet Heat Sauce Is Good for Your Health
Ok, maybe not the brown sugar.
However, the apple cider vinegar and chili flakes contain compounds that stimulate the immune system.
In addition, studies show they help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.
So if you’re suffering from a cold, a little dose of Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce may be just what the doctor ordered.
What Can I Eat with Popeye’s Sweet Heat Sauce?
Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce is a delicious sweet and spicy sauce that goes great with a wide variety of dishes.
The blend of heat and sweetness is the perfect pairing for grilled chicken, pork, and beef.
But just one taste, and you’ll be looking to add this yummy sauce to all your favorite foods.
- Use it alone or blend it with some mayonnaise for a delectable sandwich spread.
- Drizzle this sauce over mashed potatoes for a delicious Southern-style side dish.
- Add to your favorite stuffing mix for turkey, chicken, or pork chops. Wow!
- Goes great with pulled pork instead of traditional barbeque sauce.
- Blend with olive oil and chicken stock and toss with your favorite pasta. Add some grilled chicken or veggies, and you’ll have a delicious mid-week meal ready in minutes.
- Use it as a marinade before grilling chicken, pork, or meat.
- Add it to stews or gumbos and taste how they pop with the sweet, spicy flavor.
- Serve it as a dip for fries or tortilla wedges.
Enjoy this spicy sweet sauce whenever you’re craving an extra burst of flavor.
Make More Than You Need!
Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce adds the perfect spicy sweetness to so many dishes you’ll want to ensure you always have it on hand. So go ahead and make a double batch.
The sauce keeps well in the fridge for up to two weeks, or you can store it in the freezer.
Then, when you’re ready for that spicy goodness, reheat it in the microwave, and you’re ready to go.
I always have some in the fridge to add an extra burst of flavor to my weekday meals.
Tip: Popeye’s Sweet Heat sauce goes great with turkey. Spread it on your next turkey sandwich to give it that spicy-sweet flavor. You’ll never use plain mayo again.
Popeye's Sweet Heat Sauce Recipe
Tjis easy-to-make copycat Popeye's Sweet Heat sauce adds the perfect spicy sweetness to so many dishes. It's the versatile sauce you are looking for!
- ½ stick of unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup of water
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and finely mince the garlic cloves.
- Place the butter, garlic, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the brown sugar dissolves in the melted butter and the garlic is soft. 2-3 minutes.
- Add the apple cider vinegar and water to the butter mixture and stir until well blended.
- Add the red pepper flakes, paprika, and hot sauce to the saucepan and mix well.
- Taste the sauce and adjust any ingredients until you reach your desired flavor.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately or chill in the fridge.
- To save time, you can substitute ½ teaspoon of garlic powder instead of fresh garlic.
- Want more heat? Add more hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Feel free to use honey instead of brown sugar to vary the sweetness.
- Use smoked paprika to give your Popeye's Sweet Heat sauce a smoky flavor.
- You can use white vinegar instead of apple cider to change the tang.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 43Total Fat: 1.8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 26mgCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 0g
Hello. I’m Jeremy – an experienced saucier who has worked in some of the top kitchens over the last few decades. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my knowledge and expertise; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to recommendations for every sauce imaginable.