Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

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Making your own BBQ sauce at home gives you the freedom to experiment with different ingredients and flavors to create a sauce that's perfectly suited to your taste buds. Whether you're slathering it on ribs, chicken, or using it as a dipping sauce for your favorite BBQ sides, homemade BBQ sauce is a delicious testament to the art of grilling. 

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

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Ingredients needed:

The ingredients for making homemade BBQ Sauce that will become your family’s favorite are listed below. Please scroll down to view our printable recipe card that includes the detailed steps and measurements.

  • Ketchup
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika

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How to cook homemade BBQ sauce from scratch? 

  • Combine the ingredients: Begin by whisking together all the ingredients into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve the sugar: The brown sugar should dissolve and the sauce should become darker in color.
  • Store: Remove from the heat and let it cool down before storing in the refrigerator.
steps in making Homemade BBQ Sauce collage

How to serve:

With homemade BBQ sauce, you have many options for dishes and sides. Here are some popular suggestions:

Country-Style Barbecue Ribs

Slow-cooked ribs slathered with your homemade BBQ sauce can bring the meat a tangy and sweet flavor.

Slow-Cooker BBQ Baked Beans

Homemade BBQ sauce can add a unique twist to this classic side dish.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Swapping out traditional marinara for BBQ sauce on a pizza can create an exciting flavor profile.

BBQ Meatball Subs

BBQ sauce can give your meatball subs a smoky, sweet, and tangy touch.

Loaded BBQ Tater Tot Casserole

Incorporate your BBQ sauce into this hearty casserole for a delicious twist.

BBQ Chicken Apple Pizza

This unique combination could become a new favorite in your household.

Barbecue Pork Burgers

Using your homemade BBQ sauce as a topping for burgers can add a layer of complexity to the taste.

Pulled BBQ-Chicken Sandwiches

The sauce will bring a tangy kick to these sandwiches.


For a unique flavor, BBQ sauce can also be used in salads or salad dressings.

BBQ Sauce Dips

Mix your BBQ sauce with sour cream or Greek yogurt for a delicious dip for mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, or potato balls.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the base for most BBQ sauces?

The base for most BBQ sauces is typically a tomato product, such as ketchup or tomato sauce. This provides a rich, tangy foundation to which other ingredients are added. Ketchup is often preferred as it already contains vinegar and sugar, two essential components of BBQ sauce. 

However, some regional variations may use other bases like mustard or vinegar. The choice of base contributes significantly to the overall flavor profile of the sauce, with tomato-based sauces tending to be sweet and tangy, while other bases can result in a more savory or tart flavor.

How do you make BBQ sauce taste better?

Improving the taste of BBQ sauce involves balancing the sweet, tangy, smoky, and spicy flavors that make up its unique profile. Here are some tips:

Balance the Sweetness

If your BBQ sauce is too sweet, add a bit of vinegar to balance it out. Conversely, if it's too sour, add more sweetener like brown sugar, honey, or molasses.

Add Heat:

If you're a fan of spicy foods, adding chili powder, hot sauce, or cayenne pepper can give your BBQ sauce a kick.

Infuse Smokiness

Liquid smoke, smoked paprika, or chipotle peppers can provide a smoky flavor. Be careful with liquid smoke, though, as a little goes a long way.

Incorporate Umami

Ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or even a bit of stout beer can add depth and savory notes to your BBQ sauce.

Experiment with Spices

Don't be afraid to use spices like garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, or even cinnamon to enhance the flavor.

Simmer It

Simmering the sauce allows the flavors to meld together. Plus, it can help thicken the sauce if it's too thin.

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What are the 4 sauces with BBQ?

The four primary types of BBQ sauces often refer to those associated with different regional styles in the United States. 

These include Carolina Mustard Sauce, a tangy, mustard-based sauce popular in South Carolina; Memphis Sweet Sauce, a thick, sweet, tomato-based sauce common in Kansas City; Vinegar Barbecue Sauce, a tart, spicy, vinegar-based sauce used in North Carolina; and Alabama White Sauce, a distinctive mayonnaise-based sauce that's a favorite in Alabama. 

These sauces each have unique flavor profiles that reflect the culinary traditions of their respective regions.

How to store leftovers:

Leftover homemade BBQ sauce can be stored effectively to maximize its shelf life. After the sauce has completely cooled, transfer it into an airtight container or jar. Then, place the container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, homemade BBQ sauce can last for up to a week in the fridge. If you want to keep it for longer, consider freezing the sauce. In the freezer, it can last up to three months. Always remember to check for signs of spoilage like mold or off smells before using refrigerated or frozen BBQ sauce.

Recipe tips: 

  • You can customize your sauce to fit what you like! Add a bit of hot sauce to give it some heat or a splash of bourbon.
  • This makes a great Christmas or birthday gift if you store it in cute jars.
an image of someone holding a spoon over a cup Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

Yield: 16 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This homemade barbecue sauce is sweet, tangy, and flavorful, but best of all it’s ready in about 15 minutes! It's a simple project to complete and only requires a small number of ingredients.


  • 2 ½ Cups ketchup
  • ½ Cup + 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika


  1. Whisk together all the ingredients into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 10 minutes.
  2. The brown sugar should dissolve and the sauce should become darker in color.
  3. Remove from heat and let it cool down before storing in the refrigerator.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 60Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 352mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g

These nutritional calculations might not be accurate. Please speak with a licensed nutritionist to assist you.

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