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Make this Easy BBQ Sauce recipe at home! Developed in a professional kitchen, it has the perfect balance of flavors. It is a little sweet, a little spicy and a little tangy. A little Worcestershire sauce adds a beautiful depth.

homemade bbq sauce in small pot with whisk.

Growing up my Dad put barbecue sauce on EVERYTHING. This apple didn’t fall too far from the tree because I love BBQ sauce. I have my favorite store-bought sauces, but I spent the vast majority of my time as a line cook perfecting easy homemade versions.

This easy recipe is a staple in my fridge. I make it in larger batches and store leftovers for pouring on turkey burgers, slow cooker bbq pulled chicken, or this easy bbq chicken recipe. You could also use it in place of the spicy chipotle sauce in this baked BBQ chicken recipe.

Why You Will Love this Easy BBQ Sauce

  • Balanced flavor. A delicious combination of brown sugar, spices, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Spicy, sweet and full-bodied. This will be your new favorite recipe!
  • A thick, professional sauce. This recipe makes a nice thick sauce without added thickeners like cornstarch.
  • Easy to make. Simply add all the ingredients together, whisk and cook.
  • Versatile: Use this on chicken wings, burgers, BBQ chicken, chicken sandwiches, tacos, salad, pizza and so much more!
cooked bbq chicken in cast iron skillet.
Homemade Tomato Pasta Sauce on wooden spoon
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Professional Tips for Making Homemade Barbecue Sauce

  • Simmer for the best results. You can make this sauce in 5 minutes but it is best when simmered over low heat for at least 30 minutes. This melds and concentrates the flavors.
  • Adjust the seasoning to your tastes. This sauce does have a little kick, but you can reduce the cayenne or add a little as you go.
  • Add a little water if it gets too thick. I like a thick BBQ sauce, so I do not add additional water, but water is the best way to thin this sauce without impacting the flavor.  

Ingredients Needed

bbq sauce ingredients.
  • Ketchup: Use your favorite brand here. I developed this recipe with Heinz Ketchup both in the restaurants and at home. You could use a combination of canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce, but you will need to adjust the other ingredients. Ketchup includes vinegar, sugar and seasonings.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: I use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar but you can use whatever you have on hand. You can use another vinegar but it will alter the taste.
  • Dark Brown Sugar: I use dark brown sugar for that added flavor but you can use light brown sugar or even granulated sugar and molasses.
  • Molasses: Using additional molasses along with the dark brown sugar adds depth and a subtle sweetness. It is optional but so fantastic. If you have it, use it!
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire Sauce rounds out the flavor, cuts the sweetness and acidity. It really makes a difference and I wouldn’t omit it. I keep it on hand for all sorts of sauces and recipes like these spicy peach pork chops.
  • Paprika: I use regular paprika but smoked paprika would also be good if you like a smokiness in your BBQ sauce. I prefer the smokiness of paprika than liquid smoke.
  • Cayenne Pepper: You can use more or less depending on your personal tastes.
  • Onion & Garlic Powder
  • Kosher Salt

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations & Substitutions

  • Change the sweetener: You can use a stevia brown sugar like Truvia in place of the brown sugar to reduce the calories. Substitute the brown sugar for molasses, honey, maple syrup or your favorite jam like this mixed berry jam.
  • Change the chilis: Soak and puree a mix of your favorite dried chilis or use different ground spices.
  • Use fresh onions and garlic: A chef that I worked with makes the best BBQ sauce that I’ve ever had, and he starts by cooking down fresh onions and garlic until melted and lightly caramelized. Then add the vinegar to deglaze the pan. You will want to puree the whole sauce to make it smooth.

How to Make Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

Step 1: In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except salt. Whisk to combine.

Step 2: Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat to low. Add ½ teaspoon salt.

Step 3: Simmer covered over low heat for at least 30 minutes; stir occasionally. This allows the flavors to meld and deepen.

all bbq sauce ingredients in pot.
adding salt to taste.
boiling homemade bbq sauce.

Taste and add additional salt as needed. The amount of salt will depend on the ketchup brand you choose and your personal taste.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Substitute some or all of the brown sugar for your favorite jam. In the restaurant I would use whatever I had on hand. It is particularly awesome with blueberry jam and quick strawberry jam.

How to Use BBQ Sauce

bbq chicken baked in black skillet.
Slow cooker barbecue pulled chicken in white bowl
burger with dripping bbq sauce.
  • Sandwiches & Burgers:  Shred chicken or pork butt while still hot to make pulled chicken or pork sandwiches. I like to add BBQ sauce to the mix while its hot to keep it moist. Use as a topping for grilled or fried chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs or moist turkey burgers.
  • Pizza & Salad: Everyone loves a good BBQ chicken pizza like CPK (Fun fact, I worked there in High School!), nachos, or BBQ Chicken salad.
  • Wings: Yes! Slather this sauce on your favorite chicken wings like these sweet and spicy wings or as a dipping sauce for these baked chicken wings!
  • All things Grilled: Ribs, chicken, pork, beef, vegetable skewers. All the grilled things.
  • Dress up any dinner: Brush it on pork chops, the best meatloaf recipe or even a vegetarian grain bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store homemade BBQ sauce?

Cool to room temperature, store in an airtight container like a mason jar in the refrigerator for a month. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature.

Can I make a larger or smaller batch?

You can absolutely make a larger batch of this BBQ Sauce. I used to make it by the gallon, but it will need to simmer longer to reduce.
I would not recommend making any less than half this recipe. It is difficult to simmer a smaller quantity.

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

homemade bbq sauce boiling.
5 from 1 ratings

Easy BBQ Sauce Recipe

Make this Easy BBQ Sauce recipe at home! Developed in a professional kitchen, it has the perfect balance of flavors. It is a little sweet, a little spicy and a little tangy. A little Worcestershire sauce adds a beautiful depth.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 Servings

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • In a small sauce pot, combine all ingredients except salt. Whisk to combine.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat to low. Add ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Simmer covered over low heat for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld and deepen.
  • Taste and add additional salt as needed. The amount of salt will depend on the ketchup brand you choose.

Notes

Yield – 2 cups
Storage – Cool to room temperature, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a month. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 68kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.05g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 458mg | Potassium: 118mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 205IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Calories: 68
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Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other sauces and condiment recipes like this tzatziki recipe.

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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