Homemade BBQ Sauce

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 16 servings

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This Homemade BBQ Sauce is thick, sweet, smoky and a little spicy! It’s big on flavor and pairs well with chicken, pork, beef or anything on your grill! Full step by step recipe video down in the recipe card.

homemade bbq sauce in mason jar

A good recipe for Homemade BBQ Sauce is, in my opinion, the ultimate summer accessory.

I know I’m being biased here, but I think this recipe makes the best barbecue sauce around — it’s sweet and tangy and rich and has the perfect amount of kick! 

Like any worthwhile condiment, this sauce can take an already impressive meal and make it even better. It can also elevate everyday ingredients, turning them into something truly special.

I mean, is there any other condiment that says summer as much as a delicious homemade BBQ sauce?

I can’t think of one, either.

I love this barbecue sauce because it requires about 5 minutes active prep time

The recipe calls for a handful of pantry staples like brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and tomato sauce, but I’ve also given you suggestions for making a sugar-free barbecue sauce as well as a few small tweaks to make the sauce just the way you like it.

If you have leftover BBQ sauce I’ve given you lots of tasty ideas for using it up, or you can store it in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. 

When the weather is warm, this homemade bbq sauce doesn’t last long around here!

homemade barbecue sauce on a spoon

If you aren’t in the mood to grill outdoors, you can use it in two of my favorite “indoor barbecue” recipes: Instant Pot BBQ Chicken and Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs.

BBQ Sauce ingredients:

  • Brown sugar: depending on what you have available, you can use light or dark brown sugar in this recipe (dark brown sugar will add a more pronounced molasses flavor to the finished barbecue sauce). 
  • Tomato sauce: crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce add a mild, fruity sweetness and texture to this barbecue recipe. If you’re using a commercially prepared tomato sauce look for a brand without added sugar.
  • Apple cider vinegar: the addition of apple cider vinegar helps cut the sweetness of the barbecue sauce without overpowering the other ingredients. 
  • Worcestershire sauce: this flavor-packed fermented condiment adds depth and plenty of umami/savory flavor to BBQ sauce. 
  • Liquid smoke: this ingredient is optional, but I find it really brings the finished sauce together and creates a smoky flavor on or off the grill. 
  • Spices: paprika, salt, and pepper season the barbecue sauce while bringing all the flavors together.
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How to make sugar-free and naturally sweetened Barbecue Sauce:

You can use any of the following sweeteners in place of the brown sugar, keeping in mind that these substitutions will alter the taste of the final barbecue sauce. 

  • ⅔ cup of agave nectar 
  • 1 cup of honey
  • ⅔ cup of maple syrup
  • 1 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered or liquid Stevia extract
homemade barbecue sauce drizzled from spoon

Variations on this BBQ Sauce recipe:

  • You can make a vegan version of this barbecue sauce by using a vegan brand of Worcestershire sauce.
  • Make a spicy sauce by stirring in a pinch of cayenne pepper or chili flakes.
  • Use orange juice in place of apple cider vinegar for a fruity twist — add 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest for even more citrus flavor. 
  • Make a gluten-free barbecue sauce by choosing a gluten-free brand of liquid smoke.

Ways to use this barbecue sauce:

  • With grilled chicken, pork, or beef
  • Use in place of tomato sauce on homemade pizza 
  • Drizzle on nachos topped with pulled pork, cheddar cheese, and sweet peppers
  • As a sauce and glaze for barbecued ribs
  • As a dipping sauce for chicken fingers and pizza
  • As a condiment for hot dogs and hamburgers

You can also use my Easy Homemade Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce and Easy Homemade Cherry BBQ Sauce for any of these suggestions!

Having a barbecue? Try these easy sides:

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

5 from 11 votes
This Homemade BBQ Sauce is thick, sweet, smoky and a little spicy! It's big on flavor and pairs well with chicken, pork, beef or anything on your grill!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Sauces and Condiments
Servings 16 servings
Calories 60cal


  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 1/2 cups plain tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (1 398ml can)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional, but recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce to medium heat and simmer until thickened, about 20-30 minutes or more (you'll be able to see on the side of the pot that the sauce has reduced as the starting line will be higher)
  • Cool to room temperature or serve hot with grilled chicken, pork or beef.
  • Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator up to 1 week.


*1 serving size is 2 tablespoons

Nutrition Information

Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 60cal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 219mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords barbecue sauce, bbq sauce

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. William Austin says

    Will NEVER buy store bought BBQ sauce again! This sauce is amazing! Very easy to make it your own. I added a tablespoon of molasses and some cayenne pepper and some crushed peppers. My family loved it.

  2. Kay Forsdyke says

    Tried this sauce with the pulled pork today and it’s the best homemade bbq sauce I’ve ever tried. Even my husband agreed it was good and he usually leaves the bbq sauce cos he doesn’t like it. Thank you for sharing this recipe

  3. Kemi says

    I was wondering do you think you can Canning if so how long I’m in to canning things I would love to do that with this recipe it is so good thank you for sharing

  4. MARLEEN Sustronck says

    Hi Ashley,, this bbq sauce recipe looks amazing yummy, what I was looking for ,for a long time. I am visiting my daughter now in Southern California, but we never heard of : “liquid smoke” .where can we find this please?

    • Cathy K Kysar says

      Hi Ashley,
      I was wondering if this Barbeque sauce can be canned, and if so, should it be canned in a pressure canner or water bath method. This is one of the things I would like to can as I use Barbeque sauce in a lot of recipes.

  5. Julie Blanner says

    Love this! I had all the ingredients and chicken so it was a perfect combo. I know this is going to be a new favorite in our house!

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