Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

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Ready in just 10 minutes, this Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe is the perfect way to add big flavor to any dish. Use it on chicken or pork, add it to burgers, or use it as a dip for fries and more. The possibilities are endless!

Homemade BBQ Sauce with a spoon

The Best BBQ Sauce Recipe

BBQ sauce is one of the most important condiments in our home. Everyone has a favorite, and this Tangy Carolina BBQ Sauce is right at the top of the list! Just the right amount of sweetness and heat to satisfy pretty much all tastebuds. And if you prefer a sweet BBQ sauce or one with a little more heat, it’s very easy to customize to your preference!

The best part? Making your own BBQ sauce takes less than 10 minutes. It sounds too easy to be true but trust me, once you make this homemade barbecue sauce, you’ll never grab it at the store again.

I’m a huge fan of using this easy BBQ sauce on ribs and chicken but the boys think it’s the perfect sauce for dipping fries, nuggets, and anything else they can dunk in it.

BBQ Sauce ingredients

What You’ll Need

Making this easy barbecue sauce recipe at home requires just a handful of ingredients. Check the recipe card below for full measurements.

  • Ketchup – Ketchup serves as the base of the BBQ sauce. Use any brand of traditional ketchup that you like.
  • White vinegar – White vinegar adds that tangy flavor. Apple cider vinegar can work too, but will change up the flavor.
  • Brown sugar – We used light brown sugar. Dark brown sugar is a good option if that’s what you have on hand and will add a richer molasses flavor. (Ideal if you like sweeter BBQ sauces!)
  • Yellow mustard – Adds more of a tangy flavor to the sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce – A splash of Worcestershire sauce adds umami undertones and extra depth to the flavor.
  • Seasonings – Onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt add even more flavor to the BBQ sauce.
a spoon with homemade barbecue sauce

How To Make BBQ Sauce

This easy BBQ sauce recipe comes together in literally 15 minutes! Simple enough that you can whip it up anytime, so there’s always some in the fridge.

  • Combine the ingredients. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium saucepan.
  • Simmer. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring often. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes to thicken, then remove from heat.
  • Enjoy. Enjoy immediately or cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Recipe Variations

There are a million ways to customize your homemade BBQ sauce. Here are a few easy suggestions.

  • Use white pepper. Instead of black pepper, try using white pepper. It adds nice flavor but has a smoother, more powder-like texture than cracked black pepper.
  • Increase the heat. If you like your BBQ sauce extra spicy, add more cayenne pepper to taste. You can also add a splash of hot sauce if desired.
  • Adjust the sweetness. Sweeten the sauce the way you like it! More sugar for a sweeter BBQ sauce or less sugar if that’s what you prefer Honey works great as a sweetener if you don’t want to use more brown sugar.
  • Switch up the seasonings. Instead of onion powder, try garlic powder. Adjust the amounts of each seasoning to your preference.
  • Give it a smoky undertone. For BBQ sauce with a smoky flavor, add a splash of liquid smoke to your list of ingredients.

Is This Homemade BBQ Sauce Spicy?

This homemade BBQ sauce is pretty mild. While the cayenne and paprika do add a bit of heat, it’s balanced out nicely by the dark brown sugar and other flavors. As noted above, you can easily adjust the spice levels by adding more or less cayenne pepper or more brown sugar. However, in general, I’d say this recipe is pretty pleasing to most tastebuds as-is.

Homemade BBQ Sauce in a jar

How To Serve:

If you ask anyone in this house, they’ll tell you that BBQ sauce goes with pretty much anything. Just like ketchup, it’s a condiment that has a permanent spot in our fridge. This BBQ sauce recipe can be used as a marinade, sauce, or dip. Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy it:

pouring bbq sauce in a small bowl

How To Store Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Because homemade BBQ sauce contains no preservatives, it is not shelf-stable. You’ll need to keep it in an airtight container (I prefer jars with lids) in the fridge. It will stay fresh for 3 to 5 days, so you can use it throughout the week on different dishes.

Although this sauce doesn’t keep long, it’s so easy to make, you can whip up a batch any time!

More Condiment Recipes:

4.97 from 27 votes

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

Ready in just 10 minutes, this Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe is the perfect way to add big flavor to any dish. Use it on chicken or pork, add it to burgers, or use it as a dip for fries and more. The possibilities are endless!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes



  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together all ingredients. Heat over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer, stirring often.
  • Simmer for 6-8 minutes until thickened, then remove from the heat.
  • Use the sauce immediately or pour into an airtight food storage container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Last Step:

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Calories: 89kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 592mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 283IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg



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22 comments on “Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe”

  1. 5 stars
    Loved this, had to use mustard powder and it’s spicy and a little sweet. Will absolutely use again. Thanks for this.

  2. 4 stars
    I made the BBQ sauce, but I added less sugar so it wouldn’t be as sweet. I also added red pepper flakes to give it more kick. It was amazing!

    1. Hi Lauren. Yes, you may be able to use it longer than that, but with no preservatives we recommend using it within a week.

  3. 5 stars
    Very easy. Used a combo of vinegar since we didn’t have enough of one type. Used chili powder as we didn’t have cayenne. Added a dash of garlic powder.

  4. 5 stars
    First time I made homemade B.B. sauce and did it turn out GREAT. NO more store bought. Only thing I change was to use rice vinegar which I wanted to finish off. Very simple to make.

  5. 5 stars
    A very tangy bbq sauce, like it a lot. A couple adjustments were, 1/4 each white and black pepper and reduced cayenne pepper to 1/4 tsp., not wanting to spicy.