Homemade BBQ Sauce

May 22, 2020

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Homemade BBQ Sauce – You’ll love the tasty blend of sweet, smoky, tangy and robust flavors! Plus this recipe is such a breeze, you just combine all ingredients in a saucepan and let simmer briefly.

Baste over grilled chicken and pair with easiest coleslaw and grilled corn on the cob to complete the meal!

Bowl of bbq sauce with a basting brush resting in the sauce.

Easy BBQ Sauce

Here you blend pantry staples with those refrigerator door condiments to create an incredibly flavorful and crave-able barbecue sauce everyone will request again and again!

BBQ sauce is a classic summertime staple and when you top your next grilled dinner with a this easy homemade bbq sauce you may just never look back to store-bought.

It’s likely to take over you’re new favorite spot beating out those famous grocery store brands like Sweet Baby Rays, Stubbs and Bull’s Eye.

All it takes is a bit of measuring and simmering on the stove and you’ve got the perfect DIY sauce. Then from there you’ve got endless possibilities of ways to use it up (scroll down for some ideas).

Overhead image of four grilled chicken breasts covered in bbq sauce on a platter with a side of coleslaw on the side of the platter.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe Ingredients

  • Ketchup: I recommend using one without corn syrup, such as Heinz natural. It tastes better.
  • Apple cider vinegar: To me 3 Tbsp is plenty but if you want it a little more sour feel free to add more to taste.
  • Molasses: use unsulphured molasses (you can read about the differences of unsulphured vs. sulphured here).
  • Apple juice or apple juice concentrate: I’ve made this bbq sauce with both. The concentrate adds just that – a slightly more concentrated flavor.
  • Worcestershire sauce: This adds a rich, deep flavor to the sauce. A key ingredient.
  • Honey: If you want the sauce a little less sweet you can omit the honey.
  • Smoked paprika: I love the smokey flavor this adds but if sweet paprika is all you have that could be subsituted.
  • Garlic powder: If you want a strong garlic flavor you could add fresh garlic. Here I just don’t like it to overpower, plus I love the perfectly smooth sauce without any little chunks.
  • Mustard powder: Another option would be to use a bit of prepared yellow mustard.
  • Hickory smoke flavor: This is a natural flavoring you can find by the ketchup, mayo and mustard at most major grocery stores.
  • Salt and pepper: remember the sauce will reduce some and flavors will become more concentrated so be careful not to overdue it. I do like quite a bit of pepper here.

Image of ingredients used to make homemade bbq sauce shown. Including honey, liquid smoke flavor, dry mustard, salt and pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, molasses and apple juice.

How to Make BBQ Sauce from Scratch

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, whisk until well blended.
  2. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cover while leaving the lid cracked open for steam to escape.
  3. Let simmer about 8 minutes. That’s it!

BBQ sauce simmering on stovetop. BBQ sauce ingredients in a saucepan before mixing.

How to Thicken BBQ Sauce

I like the consistency of this sauce for basting but if you want it thicker to use as a dip you can thicken with 1 – 2 tsp of cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp water. Pour into sauce and let cook 1 minute while stirring.

How to Store It

Let cool slightly then keep it stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How long does it last?

It should keep well for 1 – 2 weeks refrigerated or for 3 months frozen.

How to Cook Chicken with BBQ Sauce

Grill method:

For boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (small or medium) – Preheat grill to medium heat, brush grill grates lightly with oil. Place chicken on grill and cook about 4 – 7 minutes per side (to 165 in center) and baste occasionally with more sauce while grilling.

For bone-in chicken pieces – they’ll take longer to cook through (about 20 – 30 minutes) so wait to start basting with sauce until the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Oven method:

Place bone-in chicken pieces on a rimmed baking sheet covered with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake in a 425 degree oven about 25 minutes. Baste with sauce and continue to bake until cooked through, about 10 – 15 minutes longer.

Basting chicken breast on grill with bbq sauce.

Ways to Use BBQ Sauce

There are countless ways to use barbecue sauce but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Spread over grilled chicken (bone-in or boneless, skin-on or skinless).
  • Toss with pulled pork sandwiches or pulled chicken for sandwiches.
  • Spread in on smoked or slow cooked ribs.
  • Serve as a dip for chicken nuggets or chicken tenders.
  • Try spreading it over meatloaf.
  • Add some to baked beans for a delicious flavor.
  • Make little smokies with it.
  • Use it as a sauce for bbq chicken pizza

Grilled chicken breasts covered in bbq sauce on a wooden cutting board.

Variations

  • Add some heat, try it with cayenne pepper or chipotle powder to taste.
  • Replace honey with brown sugar if that’s what you have.
  • Substitute hickory smoke flavor with mesquite smoke flavor.
  • Add 2 Tbsp butter to make it rich.
  • Try adding other spices like chili powder, cumin, onion powder, and even a little cinnamon or cocoa powder.

Tips for the Best BBQ Sauce

  • Add a blend of various ingredients to build lots of flavor. Here we use a fair amount that all come together and pair perfectly.
  • Don’t omit all the sweeteners or sauce will be very sour and unbalanced.
  • Let it simmer and reduce to thicken. The simmering not only helps meld the flavors but it thickens the sauce since some of the liquid evaporates.
  • Wait to add bbq sauce to chicken or ribs until the last 5 – 10 minutes of grilling or baking so it doesn’t burn excessively (some char is good but not all black) and don’t cook over high heat once added, use a medium heat.
  • If it’s been in the fridge don’t forget to let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes so you aren’t serving it cold with warm food (or just heat it up).

Close up image of bbq sauce with basting brush in a bowl.

More Delicious Recipes to Try:

Bowl of bbq sauce with a basting brush resting in the sauce.
5 from 1 vote

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Such an easy barbecue sauce recipe! It's sweet, smoky, tangy and deliciously robust. It pairs perfectly with chicken and pork.
Servings: 7
Prep5 minutes
Cook10 minutes
Ready in: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup ketchup (preferably without corn syrup)
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 3 Tbsp apple juice or apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp natural hickory smoke flavor, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat then reduce heat to low. Cover partially with lid (to reduce splattering) and let simmer 8 minutes or until slightly reduced and harsh vinegar flavor is toned down.
  • Let cool slightly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Notes

Variations

  • Add some heat, try it with cayenne pepper or chipotle powder to taste.
  • Replace honey with brown sugar if that's what you have.
  • Substitute hickory smoke flavor with mesquite smoke flavor.
  • Add 2 Tbsp butter to make it rich.
  • Try adding other spices like chili powder, cumin, onion powder, and even a little cinnamon or cocoa powder.

Ways to Use BBQ Sauce

  • Baste over grilled chicken (bone-in or boneless, skin-on or skinless), see notes in post above for directions on cooking or grilling.
  • Toss with pulled pork sandwiches or pulled chicken for sandwiches.
  • Spread over smoked or slow cooked ribs.
  • Serve as a dip for chicken nuggets or chicken tenders.
  • Use as a glaze on meatloaf.
  • Add some to baked beans for a flavor boost.
  • Try it with little smokies.
  • Use it as a sauce for bbq chicken pizza.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade BBQ Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 70 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 250mg11%
Potassium 230mg7%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 15g17%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 273IU5%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 22mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.