This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is sweet, tangy, and finger-licking good! Whether you use it for dipping, marinating, or brushing onto grilled meat, it’s sure to be a hit!
There are a lot of reasons to make your own barbecue sauce at home. With food costs on the rise, homemade BBQ sauce will save you money. It lets you know exactly what’s going into your sauce (no preservatives or artificial flavors!), but of course, the most important reason is:
It tastes so much better than store-bought sauce!
You can make this easy recipe for barbecue sauce in just 15 minutes (or less!), and it’s sure to please everyone from kids to barbecue connoisseurs.
(Want to make more kitchen staples at home? Try my recipes for homemade ranch dressing, French bread, and taco seasoning.)
Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce
The flavor of this BBQ sauce is your classic tangy and sweet sauce. It’s not too spicy, and it has a nice balance of brown sugar and vinegar. While there are white barbecue sauces and mustard-based, this one has a tomato base thanks to the use of ketchup.
You can also customize this barbecue sauce recipe to your tastes and preferences and make your own signature sauce! Swap the maple for honey or molasses, add cayenne pepper for a kick, or make the flavor even smokier by using liquid smoke.
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Apple cider vinegar – White vinegar can be used too, but apple cider vinegar is the most popular variety for barbecue sauce.
- Brown sugar – You can use either light brown sugar or dark brown sugar.
- Maple syrup
- Worcestershire sauce
- Lemon juice
- Chili powder
- Smoked paprika
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper – Add more if you’d like a more peppery sauce.
- Garlic powder – You can use onion powder instead if that’s what you have on hand.
How to Make Your Own BBQ Sauce
1. Simmer the Sauce
Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir well. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it thickens.
2. Store and Use
Use the sauce right away, or let it cool and store it in a bottle, glass jar, or other storage container.
How to Store Homemade Barbecue Sauce
If you don’t plan on using the BBQ sauce immediately, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze BBQ sauce for longer storage. Just place it in a freezer-safe zip-top bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw frozen sauce in the fridge overnight before using, or submerge the freezer bag in a bowl of hot water until it thaws.
Ways to Use BBQ Sauce
Here are some of our favorite ways to use this sauce:
- Dip chicken fingers, wings, or tenders in it
- Brush it onto grilled chicken or ribs
- Mix it with ground beef or pork for barbecue burgers or pulled pork sandwiches
- Stir it into macaroni and cheese for a fun twist
- Pair it with French fries or tater tots instead of ketchup
- Use it as a pizza sauce and make BBQ chicken pizza
While there are many variations, BBQ sauce is typically made from a combination of tomato paste or ketchup, vinegar, sweeteners like brown sugar or molasses, spices, and sometimes onion or garlic.
No, steak sauce is not the same as BBQ sauce. Steak sauce is usually made from a combination of vinegar, raisins, prunes, spices, and sometimes tomato paste or ketchup. It has a salty, tangy flavor and is often used as a condiment for grilled meat.
The two most common types of barbecue sauce are tomato-based and vinegar-based. Tomato-based sauces are typically sweet and thick, while vinegar-based sauces are thinner and more tart.
Yes, it is usually cheaper to make your own barbecue sauce at home. Store-bought BBQ sauce can be expensive, and it often contains preservatives and artificial flavors. Making your own sauce allows you to control the ingredients and the cost.
More Sauces, Dips, and Dressings
- 2 cups ketchup
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar packed
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- In a small sauce pot, mix together all ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.
- Use immediately or cool for later use.