BBQ Sauce Recipe

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This BBQ Sauce recipe is easy to make and customize to your preference. It’s tangy, sweet, smoky, and perfect for chicken, ribs, pork, or to use as a dipping sauce. 

Image of the homemade BBQ Sauce

The Best Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe!

Are you tired of the same old BBQ sauces from the grocery store? This recipe is perfect for any type of meats, whether it be chicken, ribs, pork or even as a dipping sauce. It’s tangy, sweet and smoky, with a hint of heat! But what makes this recipe really special is that you can adjust the flavor to your preferences. Whether you like it sweeter or spicier, you can adjust the recipe however you like.

Why Make Your Own Sauce?

There’s no denying that packaged BBQ sauces are convenient and easy to use, but making your own sauce at home has its own set of benefits. For starters, homemade BBQ Sauce is fresher and doesn’t contain the added preservatives and artificial ingredients that commercial sauces do. This means that the flavor of your sauce will be more intense and authentic.

Another benefit of making homemade BBQ Sauce is that you have complete control over the ingredients and can adjust the recipe to make it uniquely yours. You can make it sweeter, spicier, tangier or even add your own special twist to the recipe by incorporating your favorite spices or herbs. Sauces from the store tend to be one-dimensional and often lack the depth of flavor you get with homemade. There’s a good reason for that, too: mass-produced sauces need to appeal to a wide range of tastes. Getting too specific with flavors limits how many people will like it.

Process shots-- images of the ketchup and remaining sauce ingredients being added to a pot

How To Make BBQ Sauce

Here are our top tips for making your own BBQ Sauce:

  • Taste as you go: The great thing about making your own BBQ sauce is that you can adjust the flavors. Be sure to taste the sauce as you go and make tweaks as necessary. You can add more sugar for sweetness, more vinegar for tang, or some hot sauce for heat.
  • Experiment with different ingredients: The key to making great BBQ Sauce is to use high-quality ingredients. You can experiment with different types of sweeteners, such as honey or brown sugar, or different types of vinegar, like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. You can also try adding different herbs and spices like garlic, cumin, or smoked paprika to give the sauce some depth of flavor.
  • Cook the sauce: Simmering the sauce for a long period not only reduces and thickens the sauce but it also allows all the flavors to meld and intensify. 

What Is BBQ Sauce Made Of?

When it comes to making delicious and authentic homemade BBQ Sauce, the ingredients you use make all the difference. This recipe features a combination of classic ingredients that create a perfect balance of sweetness, tanginess, and spiciness.

  • The base of the sauce is made with ketchup. This provides a rich tomato flavor and gives the sauce a nice consistency.
  • Water helps thin out the sauce a bit, making it easier to brush on your meat.
  • Next is apple cider vinegar, which provides a tangy and slightly sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the ketchup.
  • The sauce is then sweetened with a combination of light brown sugar and white sugar. This gives the sauce a balance of sweetness that isn’t overwhelming.
  • Garlic powder and ground mustard provide depth of flavor and a nice aroma.
  • Finally, to balance out the sweetness and tanginess of the sauce,we add lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. These ingredients provide a nice acidity and umami flavor to balance out the sweetness and add a nice depth of flavor.
  • Don’t forget salt and pepper–which brings everything to life!

Process shots of BBQ Sauce-- images of the sauce being cooked until thickened and transferred to a container



Storing this homemade BBQ sauce is easy and will help to maintain its freshness and flavor for a longer period of time.

  1. Cool the sauce completely: Before storing the BBQ sauce, let it cool completely to room temperature. 
  2. Use an airtight container: Transfer the cooled BBQ sauce to an airtight glass or plastic container. Make sure to leave as little air as possible in the container.
  3. Refrigerate:  Homemade BBQ sauce can last for up to 2 weeks if stored properly in the refrigerator.

Can You Freeze Homemade BBQ Sauce?

Yes, freeze the BBQ sauce for a longer shelf life. Allow the sauce to cool completely and then pour it into an airtight container or resealable freezer bags. Be sure to leave as little air as possible in the container to prevent freezer burn. Homemade BBQ Sauce can be stored in the freezer for three to four months. When ready to use, thaw the sauce for several hours or in the refrigerator overnight. Stir it well before using and check for the texture, flavor and overall taste before consuming.

How To Use Homemade BBQ Sauce

There are many ways to use this homemade BBQ Sauce recipe. Here are a few ideas:

  • As a marinade: Before grilling, brush the sauce on meats like chicken, pork, beef, fish or tofu to add extra flavor and make them more tender.
  • As a basting and finishing sauce: While cooking, baste meats with the BBQ Sauce to add more flavor and keep everything moist. Finish off grilled meats by brushing with more sauce for even more flavor.
  • As a dip: Offer BBQ Sauce as a dip for grilled vegetables, chicken wings, or other appetizers.
  • As a sandwich spread: Spread BBQ Sauce on sandwiches or burgers to add a delicious zing to your sandwich (we love it on these quick BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.
  • As a salad dressing: Mix BBQ Sauce with sour cream or mayo to make a tangy salad dressing (like in this BBQ Pasta Salad).

Image of a jar of our homemade BBQ Sauce

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BBQ Sauce Recipe

5 from 1 vote
This BBQ Sauce recipe is easy to make and customize to your preference. It's tangy, sweet, smoky, and perfect for chicken, ribs, pork, or to use as a dipping sauce. 
Print Recipe

BBQ Sauce Recipe

5 from 1 vote
This BBQ Sauce recipe is easy to make and customize to your preference. It's tangy, sweet, smoky, and perfect for chicken, ribs, pork, or to use as a dipping sauce. 
Course condiment, Dip, sauce
Cuisine American, grilled, Vegetarian
Keyword BBQ Sauce Recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 3 cups BBQ sauce
Chelsea Lords
Calories 134kcal
Cost $3.50


  • 3 cups ketchup good quality--we like Heinz
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons each: onion powder, garlic powder, & ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Fine sea salt & pepper


  • COMBINE: Add all ingredients to a large saucepan over medium heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I start with 1 teaspoon of each and add more from there.) Whisk everything together until it's smooth and well combined.
  • SIMMER: Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes. Stir occasionally during this time to ensure the sauce simmers and thickens evenly. The sauce should have a thick, syrupy consistency and a well-developed flavor when it's done. (Don't rush the simmering, this is where the magic happens!)
  • FINISH: Taste the sauce and adjust to your personal preference, adding more salt, pepper, sugar, etc. as needed. If it's too thick, you can thin it out with a splash of water. Serve the sauce warm, not cold. Enjoy!


Recipe Notes

Note 1: Ingredients: The better the ingredients used, the better the sauce tastes. We're big fans of Heinz® ketchup in this sauce and Bragg's® apple cider vinegar. Neither sponsors of this post-- just what we use and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 134kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 684mg | Potassium: 220mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 323IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.5mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Cant wait to make this soon for me can i use vegetable broth and coconut aminos i never had bbq sauce before Cant wait to try this with tofu and your other recipes love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work

  2. You mention onion AND garlic powder, but is it 2 and 1/4 of EACH or is that 2 and 1/4 combined TOTAL?

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