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Homemade BBQ Sauce is tastier than store-bought with only about 2/3 of the calories! Once you make this BBQ sauce from scratch, you’ll be addicted – my homemade BBQ sauce recipe is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, but you can easily customize it to suit your tastes. 

white bowl with plastic brish and bbw sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce takes less than 20 minutes and is all made in one pot. The ingredients are all pantry staples that you may already have in your kitchen. Use this sauce for all your favorite dishes like Crock Pot Ribs, BBQ Baked Chicken Thighs, Pulled Chicken, BBQ Chicken Quesadillas, or as a tasty dipping sauce for Homemade Chicken Nuggets.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Did you know that you can make homemade BBQ sauce with ingredients you already have in your pantry? This recipe uses all pantry ingredients and most are staples that you probably have on hand!

  • Ketchup – it’s a personal choice, but I only buy brands with no high fructose corn syrup.
  • Brown Sugar – you can use light or dark brown sugar.
  • Spices: onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dry mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – this adds a little bit of tang to your BBQ sauce.
  • Liquid Smoke – this is an optional addition but it gives the stovetop sauce a wonderful outdoor smoky flavor.
  • Hot Sauce – this is another optional addition but it gives a slight kick to offset the sweetness. I like to use Frank’s Red Hot.

Step by Step Instructions

This is a one pot recipe for easy clean-up. It only takes 20 minutes from start to finish with just a quick stir and simmer on the stove. Here are the simple recipe steps:

Add ingredients to saucepan – One of the best parts about this easy recipe is there is no chopping or dicing involved. Just measure out the ingredients and add to a medium pot. Stir to combine.

white pot with homemade bbq sauce and a brush

Simmer to thicken – Bring the BBQ sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat and simmer until the BBQ sauce thickens and reduces. This should take about 15 minutes.

Serve or store – You can use the warm sauce immediately or you can cool it and store it to use and enjoy later.


Not only is BBQ sauce easy to make but you can make a batch in advance! Store the sauce in an airtight container (a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid works great). The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the fridge before using.

jar with silver lid holding bbq sauce

Flavor Variations

When you make BBQ sauce yourself at home, it’s so easy to customize! This recipe is delicious on it’s own, but it’s also a great base that you can adjust to perfectly suit your tastes. Here are some flavor variation ideas:

  • Sweet – For a sweeter BBQ sauce, add more brown sugar.
  • Spicy – As written, this recipe is a great balance of spicy and sweet. If you like extra kick and spice, just add more hot sauce until your preferred spice level is reached.
  • Vegan – The only ingredient in this recipe that isn’t vegan is the Worcestershire sauce as it traditionally contains anchovies. There are vegan Worcestershire options that you can buy instead or use soy sauce instead.
  • Honey BBQ Sauce – Swap out honey for the brown sugar, adding more honey, as needed.

How to use BBQ Sauce

This BBQ sauce is so easy but the hardest part is deciding how you want to use it up. There are so many delicious options that your whole family will love.

Grilling – Fire up the grill and use your sauce to make BBQ Ranch Grilled Chicken Breasts or use it as a topping for Juicy Grilled Hamburgers

2 chicken breast with bbq sauce and parsley, a couple pieces of sliced chicken, a wood cutting board

Slow Cooker – Looking for super easy recipes with little hands on time? Use the homemade BBQ sauce in a crockpot recipe! Make these classic Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders for dinner or these Barbecue Grape Jelly Meatballs as an easy party appetizer.

Dipping Sauce – Don’t forget about the simple application of using BBQ sauce as a dipping sauce! Air Fryer Tater Tots and Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are some of our favorite things to dip.

jar with bbq sauce

Pizza – Swap in the BBQ sauce for marinara sauce and make homemade bbq chicken pizza (we love making grilled pizza). Or make BBQ Chicken Pizza Pinwheels for a fun finger food.


Homemade BBQ Sauce

4.50 from 4 votes
Homemade BBQ Sauce is better than store-bought and so easy to make! It's the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, but also easily customized.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 20 servings


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons hot sauce, like Franks Red hot, to taste
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  • Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until thickened and reduced.
  • Serve immediately, or cool completely and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Keyword bbq sauce, homemade bbq sauce


Serving: 2tablespoonsCalories: 44kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 237mgPotassium: 101mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 223IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 10mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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  1. Charla says:

    I am going to try your homemade BBQ sauce. Kristen your recipes are spot on. Thank you.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Charla! Thank you for your feedback.

  2. Ray Piwetz says:

    If you can’t find smoked paprika can you use regular paprika for the BBQ sauce? Not all stores has this item.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Yes, absolutely.