5 from 1 vote

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Get ready to level up your grilling game with the best Homemade BBQ Sauce! This tangy, sweet, and smoky goodness is super easy to whip up with simple ingredients, and it’s way more delicious than anything you can buy at the store. Slather it on chicken, steak, ribs, or whatever you’re grilling, and get ready for a flavor explosion that will have everyone begging for more!

Homemade bbq sauce in a bowl with a wooden spoon.


This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is a game-changer if you love summer gatherings. Combining a few simple ingredients will create a sauce that makes you want to get outside and fire up that grill as soon as possible. Its rich and thick consistency is perfect for coating whatever you put on the grill. Whether you make burgers, grilled vegetables, meats, or tofu, this sauce caramelizes beautifully, creating a delicious, smokey coating for all your BBQ dishes. 

This delicious yet easy BBQ sauce is incredibly versatile and whips up in almost no time. Combining sweet brown sugar, smokey paprika, and spicy cayenne creates a deep flavor perfect for every palate. The best part is that it can easily be customized to be smokier, spicey, or milder. The sky is the limit, so prepare to send your taste buds on an exciting adventure. 

recipe binder image

Why You’ll Love This Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • Customizable: Making the best homemade barbecue sauce from scratch gives you full control over the flavors of the sauce, allowing you to customize it to your preferences. Whether you are looking for a sweeter sauce, a bigger kick, or a smokier adventure, adjusting the ingredients to cater to your needs is easy. 
  • Versatile: This delicious sauce is incredibly versatile and can be used in many different ways. It works well as a marinade, a glaze, or a dipping sauce for grilled meats, burgers, ribs, chicken, and even grilled vegetables. Its versatility makes it a go-to condiment that can elevate a wide range of your favorite bbq dishes.
  • Quick and Easy: This recipe is quick and easy to make, with a total preparation and cooking time of 30 minutes. It requires simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and fridge! 
  • Crowd-Pleaser:  The combination of ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and various spices creates a mouthwatering flavor profile that strikes a perfect balance between sweet, tangy, and savory. The smoky undertones from the paprika and the depth of flavor from the garlic and onion powders make this BBQ sauce incredibly delicious and addictive.

Ingredients

The full printable recipe card with measurements and instructions is found at the bottom of the post.

  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Molasses
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • Smoke paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Pepper
  • Liquid smoke (optional)
Ingredients to make homemade bbq sauce.

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • Step One: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Stir well to combine.
  • Step Two: Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning. Cover with a lid if the sauce is splattering too much.
  • Step Three: Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning according to your preferences. If you want a more intense smoky flavor, you can add the optional liquid smoke at this point.
  • Step Four: Continue to simmer the sauce for an additional 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Keep stirring occasionally.
  • Step Five: Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the BBQ sauce cool completely. Once cooled, you can serve the BBQ sauce immediately or transfer it to a jar or airtight container for storage.
Steps to make homemade bbq sauce.

Equipment Needed

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    What to Serve With Homemade BBQ Sauce

    Several different dishes pair well with this delicious homemade bbq sauce. 

    • Hot dogs
    • Ribs
    • Grilled chicken
    • Burgers
    • Pulled pork sandwiches
    • Barbecue pulled jackfruit
    • BBQ nachos
    • Grilled vegetables
    • Grilled tofu
    • BBQ meatballs
    • BBQ chicken wings
    • Grilled shrimp
    • BBQ sandwiches
    • Smoked brisket
    • BBQ pork chops
    • Potato salad
    • BBQ Chicken Pizza
    • Baked beans
    • Corn on the cob
    • BBQ Chicken tacos
    • Coleslaw
    • Grilled cornbread
    • Sweet potato fries
    • Onion rings
    • Grilled pineapple
    • BBQ sliders
    • BBQ chicken skewers
    A bowl of homemade bbq sauce.

    Variations and Substitutions

    • Make it Sweet and Spicy: You can easily adjust the sweetness or the spice level of this homemade BBQ sauce. You can increase the amount of cayenne pepper used and add a dash of hot sauce or red pepper flakes to make the sauce spicier and give it a little kick. For extra sweetness, increase the amount of brown sugar, or add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup. This will create a sweet barbecue sauce perfect for the next time you have a bbq. 
    • Add a Honey Mustard Twist: Replace the Dijon mustard with honey mustard for a sweeter and tangier flavor profile.
    • Consider Adding Smoky Chipotle Flavor: Substitute the smoked paprika with chipotle pepper powder for a smokier and spicier kick.
    • Add-in Herbs: Add fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, or oregano to the sauce to introduce herbal undertones and a punch of aromatic flavors.

    Storage Instructions

    Looking to store this delicious homemade BBQ sauce? The good news is that it’s easy to store leftovers or even make ahead. You can refrigerate it for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to develop further. If you have leftovers of this sauce, it will keep in the fridge for about two weeks. Just make sure that it is in an airtight container. 

    Can I Freeze?

    It can be frozen if you want to keep this sauce a little longer. Split it into portions in an airtight container, and it will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

    What is BBQ Sauce?

    BBQ sauce, which is also short for barbecue sauce, is typically used to add flavor to grilled or smoked meat. There are several different types of BBQ sauce, some are more vinegary, and others are smokey. Customizing the flavors of your barbecue sauce recipe can be somewhat easy. You can opt for a sweet sauce, a spicy bbq sauce, or something in between. Whether using homemade or store-bought sauces, BBQ sauce is a great way to add life to a dish. You can use it as a dipping sauce, glaze, marinade, and more. 

    Favorite Ways to Use BBQ Sauce

    There are so many great ways to use BBQ Sauce. This is because the sauce is versatile and works great for elevating the flavor of almost every dish. You can use BBQ sauce as a base for a pizza, Add it to meatballs, make BBQ chicken, and more. The best way to use BBQ sauce is pretty much any way. 

    A wooden spoon putting bbq sauce on chicken on a bun.

    Origin of BBQ Sauce

    It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of BBQ sauce. Variations of sauces have been used to flavor smoked or grilled meats for centuries in different cultures. The development of modern BBQ sauce can be traced back to the BBQ traditions of the Southern United States. 

    In the early days of American barbecue, Native American tribes used various ingredients like vinegar, salt, and spices to marinate and flavor meats. As European settlers arrived, they brought their own cooking techniques and flavors, eventually blending with indigenous practices to create a distinct American barbecue culture.

    The use of sauces to enhance the flavor of grilled meats gained popularity in the 19th century. Different regions in the United States developed their styles of BBQ sauce, each with its unique combination of ingredients and flavors. For example, vinegar-based sauces with a tangy and acidic profile are prominent in the Carolinas, while Kansas City barbecue sauce is known for its thick, sweet, and smoky characteristics. Texas-style barbecue often features a tomato-based sauce balanced with sweetness and heat.

    Over time, BBQ sauce has evolved and gained widespread popularity, becoming a staple in American barbecue cuisine. Today, it is enjoyed in the United States and various parts of the world where barbecue traditions have been adopted or influenced by American-style barbecue.

    Is This Spicy?

    This BBQ sauce recipe is slightly spicy due to adding cayenne pepper. It provides a subtle heat level that pairs well with any BBQ dish. 

    How to Make Spicier

    The spiciness of this homemade BBQ sauce can be adjusted according to personal preference. The recipe includes cayenne pepper, which provides a subtle level of heat. 

    If you enjoy spicier flavors, you can increase the amount of cayenne pepper or add additional hot sauce or red pepper flakes. This will make a great spicy barbecue sauce. 

    Remember, the recipe is customizable, so feel free to experiment and adjust the spice level to suit your preferences. The sky is truly the limit. 

    Can I make a Large Batch of Homemade BBQ Sauce and Freeze it? 

    Yes. This homemade BBQ sauce recipe can be frozen in large batches. This is a great way to ensure it is readily available when you crave it. If stored correctly, it will maintain its quality for up to 3 months in the freezer. This makes it perfect for future use.

    To freeze, prepare the BBQ sauce according to the recipe and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer your sauce to a freezer-safe container or zip-top freezer bag. Leave some space at the top of the containers or bags to allow the sauce to expand during freezing. 

    When ready to use your sauce, simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave. 

    Sauce Recipes

    A bowl of homemade bbq sauce with a wooden spoon.

    FAQ

    How many servings does this delicious recipe make?

    This easy recipe makes about 1 cup of BBQ sauce. It can easily be doubled to make more if you want. 

    Does this recipe take long to make? 

    This recipe takes about 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes of cook time. This makes it perfect to whip up for your next summer gathering. 

    Barbecue Recipes

    Try my Yum Yum sauce and copycat Lawry’s seasoned salt.

    Follow me on Instagram @simplystacieblog, Facebook at Simply Stacie, TikTok @simplystacierecipes or Pinterest at @simplystacie and let me know how you liked this recipe and my other recipes.

    5 from 1 vote

    Homemade BBQ Sauce

    Created by Stacie Vaughan
    Servings 8
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 20 minutes
    Total Time 30 minutes
    Get ready to level up your grilling game with the absolute best homemade BBQ sauce! This tangy, sweet, and smoky goodness is super easy to whip up with simple ingredients, and it's way more delicious than anything you can buy at the store. Slather it on chicken, steak, ribs, or whatever you're grilling, and get ready for a flavor explosion that will have everyone begging for more!

    Ingredients
     
     

    • 1 cup ketchup
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tbsp molasses
    • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
    • ¼ tsp pepper
    • ¼ tsp liquid smoke optional

    Instructions

    • In a medium saucepan, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Stir well.
    • Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning. Cover with a lid if the sauce is splattering too much.
    • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences. If you want a more intense smoky flavor, you can add the liquid smoke at this point.
    • Continue to cook on low for 5 more minute, stirring occasionally.
    • Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool completely.
    • Once cooled, serve or transfer to a jar or airtight container.

    Video

    Notes

    Makes 1 cup of BBQ sauce.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 108kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 501mg | Potassium: 247mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 616IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg

    The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

    Course Pantry
    Cuisine American
    Keyword bbq sauce

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