Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe
This Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe is quick and easy to make with simple ingredients. Use this barbecue sauce in all of your favorite BBQ recipes. It’s the best combination of sweet and tangy!
If you’ve ever wanted to make your own BBQ sauce from scratch, then this recipe is for you! It is so easy, simple and fast – 15 minutes is all it takes!
I love making sauces and seasonings from scratch because when you make them yourself you can control the ingredients and flavors. You can make this BBQ sauce more or less sweet, spicy, tangy or smoky, depending on how you like it. Other homemade sauces that you might enjoy include my Honey Mustard Recipe, Stir Fry Sauce and Enchilada Sauce.
The key to the best BBQ sauce is the flavor! I tested this recipe many, many times until I found the perfect combination of spices and seasonings to make homemade BBQ sauce that is flavorful and tangy. It has just the right balance of sweet and spicy.
This homemade BBQ sauce is the best slathered on Grilled Chicken. It’s also perfect to serve with Slow Cooker Pork Ribs, as a spread for my best Turkey Burger Recipe, or as a dipping sauce for Chicken Tenders. Use it to bring the best flavor to Crockpot BBQ Chicken and Instant Pot Pulled Pork. The possibilities really are limitless for what you can serve with this delicious homemade barbecue sauce!
You can make a batch of this BBQ sauce recipe ahead of time and store it in your refrigerator for busy weeknights. When you’re not sure what to make for dinner, use it as a marinade for chicken for the grill.
This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is made with pantry ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now.
- Tomato Paste: Many homemade BBQ sauce recipes call for using ketchup as the base. Instead of ketchup, I use a combination of tomato paste and water to make a homemade BBQ sauce that is thick and rich.
- Water: To thin the BBQ sauce. You can adjust the amount of water to make a thicker or thinner BBQ sauce.
- Brown Sugar: Brings sweetness to the BBQ sauce. You can substitute honey or even pure maple syrup if you prefer a sweetener that’s free of refined sugars.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: The vinegar brings acidity to balance out the sweet and makes the BBQ sauce tangy. You can increase the amount of apple cider vinegar for a tangier sauce.
- Molasses: Adds sweetness and depth of flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce: This adds umami flavor, giving the sauce a more complex flavor profile.
- Smoked Paprika: The smoked paprika makes all the difference in the flavor of this homemade BBQ sauce! I often increase the amount of smoked paprika for more of a smoky flavor. It also adds a touch of spice.
- Salt and Black Pepper: Adjust the amounts to your tastes.
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder: We’re using just a small amount of each so that they don’t overpower the other flavors.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: For spice! Adjust the amount to your tastes.
How to Make BBQ Sauce
Here is an overview of how to make this recipe. Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the printable recipe card below.
Making this homemade BBQ sauce is so simple! You’ll start by combining all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.
Heat the BBQ sauce on the stove over medium heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors together. Stir it often as it simmers, to help the BBQ sauce cook evenly.
At this point, the BBQ sauce may be too thick. Stir in water until it reaches your desired consistency. You may also want to taste the BBQ sauce and adjust the flavors to your preferences. If you want it sweeter, add another tablespoon or two of brown sugar. For more acidity, add another tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
You can either use the BBQ sauce right away or let it cool and store it for using later.
How Long Does BBQ Sauce Last?
You can make this barbecue sauce ahead and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Or freeze it for up to 3 months.
How to Make Honey BBQ Sauce
If you prefer a honey flavor in your BBQ sauce, you can swap the brown sugar in this recipe for honey. I tested the recipe this way and the honey flavor really came through, so use brown sugar or honey depending on your flavor preferences.
How Can I Add Smoky Flavor?
If you like smoky BBQ sauce, you can double the amount of smoked paprika and/or add 1 or 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke along with the other ingredients. I left the liquid smoke out of the main recipe because I wanted to keep it simple, since liquid smoke is an ingredient that you may not have on hand.
Is this Recipe Gluten-Free?
Yes, this recipe is gluten-free if you use a gluten-free brand of Worcestershire sauce. If you need your sauce to be gluten-free, be sure to check that the ingredients you use are gluten-free. For example, most brands of molasses are gluten-free but some may not be.
Favorite Ways to use Barbecue Sauce
- Instant Pot Ribs
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- BBQ Chicken Pizza
- BBQ Chicken Sliders
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- BBQ Sloppy Joes
- Instant Pot BBQ Chicken
Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 cup water, plus more as needed to reach desired consistency
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar*
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes, optional, for spice
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring or whisking often. Then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add more water to thin the barbecue sauce if it is too thick. I usually add up to ½ cup more water to reach my desired consistency.
- Store BBQ sauce for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
- Honey may be used instead of brown sugar and will give the BBQ sauce a honey flavor.
- For a smoky flavor, you double the amount of smoked paprika and/or add 1-2 teaspoons of liquid smoke.
- For sweeter BBQ sauce add another tablespoon or two of brown sugar.
- For tangier BBQ sauce add another tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Recipe makes about 1 3/4 cups of BBQ sauce.