Homemade BBQ Sauce

5 from 3 votes

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Learn how to make BBQ Sauce from scratch with simple grocery ingredients. Use this easy base recipe and then spice it up any way you like!

Soon drizzling Homemade BBQ Sauce over the jar.

BBQ sauce adds sweet, smoky flavor to grilled chicken, beef, pork or even burgers. Before you dive into the grocery store’s bottles, why not try your hand at making it at home? Our homemade barbecue sauce is super easy to make, gluten-free, and comes together with pantry ingredients you probably already have on hand. It is our favorite sauce for grilling, putting on sandwiches, salads, tacos, meatloaf, baked beans or using as a dipping sauce.

What is BBQ Sauce?

The most common type of barbeque sauce is generally tomato-based with ketchup, and flavored up with all kinds of spices. Barbecue sauce can be used as marinade, condiment, a dip, or to drizzle on chicken, beef, pork, or ribs. Different regions of the United States boast that their locations have the best bbq sauce and barbecue styles: Kansas City, Memphis, Carolina, and Texas are some of the most common. Each one is slightly different in its base ingredient. Similarly, barbecue sauce can also be vinegar, mustard or mayonnaise based.

Ingredients to make Homemade BBQ Sauce including, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic, tabasco and oil.

Ingredients in Homemade BBQ Sauce

This recipe combines a little heat, a little kick and a little sweetness all in one. In short, it is the perfect barbecue sauce recipe! Here’s all you need:

  • Vegetable oil to sauté a couple of cloves of garlic
  • Ketchup – gives the sauce a tangy tomato base
  • Apple cider vinegar – the slight sweetness of this vinegar pairs beautifully with the other ingredients.
  • Brown sugar – using dark brown sugar gives a richer flavor and color to your sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce – this magic ingredient adds so much depth to this recipe.
  • Yellow mustard – gives extra tang and flavor. You could substitute brown mustard for a more spicy bbq sauce. 
  • Soy sauce – not just for Chinese food! This gives yet another layer of deep flavor to the sauce.
  • Chili powder – adds lots of delicious spice.
  • Use Tabasco sauce to taste
  • You can also add a dash of salt or black pepper for additional flavor.
Wooden spoon holding up cooked Homemade BBQ Sauce over the pan.

Tips for Making Homemade BBQ Sauce:

  1. Balance the flavors: Experiment with the combination of sweet, tangy, savory, and spicy ingredients to achieve a well-balanced flavor profile that suits your taste preferences.
  2. Adjust the thickness: If you prefer a thicker sauce, simmer it for a longer time to reduce and thicken. Alternatively, if you prefer a thinner consistency, add a bit of water or other liquid to reach the desired thickness.
  3. Bring the heat (or don’t): Control the spiciness of your BBQ sauce by adjusting the amount of hot sauce, chili powder, or other spicy ingredients. Add spicy ingredients gradually and taste as you go to find the perfect level of heat.
  4. Let it rest: After cooking, allow your BBQ sauce to cool and rest for a while. This resting period helps the flavors meld together, resulting in a more flavorful and harmonious sauce.
  5. Store properly: Store your homemade BBQ sauce in airtight containers in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness. Use it within 1-2 weeks or freeze it for longer shelf life.
  6. Make it your own: Feel free to experiment and add your own twist to the recipe. You can try different herbs, spices, or even a splash of citrus juice to add unique flavor dimensions. See some more suggestions below.
  7. Taste and adjust: Throughout the cooking process, taste your sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed. Remember, your personal preference plays a big role in making the perfect BBQ sauce, so trust your taste buds and make it just the way you like it.

Substitutions and Additions

Running out of brown sugar? Can’t find the chili powder? Fresh out of fresh garlic? Here are a few suggestions to add or substitute in a pinch:

  • Whisk some molasses or honey or a drizzle of maple syrup to thicken or sweeten up your sauce a little bit and to make it more of a Kansas City-style BBQ sauce.
  • For an extra kick, try stirring in a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  • ​Substitute garlic powder and onion powder for fresh cloves of garlic.
  • Use a sprinkle or two of smoked paprika or liquid smoke for added color and a more smoky bbq sauce.
Plate of pulled pork with BBQ Sauce next to a sauce pan of BBQ Sauce

How Long will Homemade BBQ Sauce Last?

Homemade barbecue sauce has a shorter shelf life than the store bought sauce (about 2 weeks in the fridge), but that’s okay because it’s so yummy it probably will get gobbled up quickly! However, any leftover sauce can be stored in a tightly covered mason jar or other airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can even freeze BBQ sauce by placing it in an airtight container in the freezer. Thaw completely in the fridge and give it a good stir before serving.

Pulled Pork sandwich topped with Homemade BBQ Sauce.

Recipes Using Our Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

We use this Sauce in a lot of our grilling recipes. The flavor works great with any type of meat whether it be chicken, pork, or steak. But from a pork sandwich to bbq chicken pizza, use this sauce on all kinds of recipes!

Can you make BBQ sauce without sugar?

Sure! You can always swap out the sugar for honey in this recipe.

How to make BBQ sauce for chicken wings?

You can use this easy BBQ sauce recipe or our favorite sauce for wings is this Amazing Sauce (a Winger’s Copycat Recipe)

How do you make BBQ sauce sticky?

The best way to get your sauce to stick when barbecuing is to apply lots of layers of sauce as you cook. This will thicken the sauce and make it stick to the meat better.

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

Mason Jar of Homemade BBQ Sauce.

How to Make BBQ Sauce

5 from 3 votes
Learn how to make BBQ Sauce from scratch with simple grocery ingredients. Use this easy base recipe and then spice it up any way you like!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Servings 16



  • 1 Sauce pan



  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
    Pan with oil and garlic to make Homemade BBQ Sauce.
  • Add the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
    Pan wit ingredients combined for Homemade BBQ Sauce.
  • Cool and and use with your favorite BBQ dishes. Refigerate any leftovers.
    Mason Jar of Homemade BBQ Sauce.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 60kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 408mgPotassium: 130mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 159IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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  1. barbecue is perhaps the most awaited American food that has regional flavours similar to the country itself barbecue, from the smoked brisket of Central Texas and the sticky ribs of Memphis to Kansas City’s charred ends, as well as the mustard-spiced vinegar-sauced pork from the Carolinas. There’s more in this iconic cuisine than what’s on the surface.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe! Will surely have this again! It’s really easy to make and it tasted so delicious! Highly recommended!