BBQ Sauce Recipe – easy homemade barbecue sauce

This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and smoky and it’s perfect on chicken, pork, jackfruit…whatever your heart desires.

Image of jar of homemade bbq sauce recipe plus a brush with bbq sauce on it. Wood background.

Summer is coming! Or so I’m told. Michigan is still giving us plenty of reason to doubt that statement. Last week we had snow, freezing rain, sleet, tonssss of rain, and just a tiny sneak peek of sunshine. It was a weather rollercoaster, and I’m ready to get off that ride and step into sunshine-land. 

With summer comes lots of grilling and BBQ nights and days. I’m excited to fire up my Traeger more frequently and grill as much as possible. I have a recipe coming for Instant Pot Ribs (should be coming your way Thursday), and this BBQ sauce is absolutely perfect on them. 

Now, I won’t lie to you, and it probably won’t come as a surprise…but I do sometimes buy barbecue sauce. I’m a girl that’s all about shortcuts. But, if you want to control exactly what you’re eating…and maybe not pay the big bucks for high-quality store-bought barbecue sauce, this BBQ sauce recipe is the way to go.

Side note: I just typed QQB instead of BBQ and now I’m thinking maybe I need some C-O-F-F-E-E. I’m blaming the lapse of brain function on the rain. I’m blaming everything on the rain. Sometimes I blame things on my kids, but they’re not home right now, so it’s definitely the rain.

This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and smoky and it's perfect on chicken, pork, jackfruit...whatever your heart desires.

About this BBQ Sauce Recipe

This BBQ sauce recipe is packed full of sweet heat and is great on chicken, pulled pork, ribs, barbecue chicken pizza, and anything else that you’d normally sauce up with BBQ. It has a touch of smokiness from chipotle chili powder, and like many of my recipes, it’s customizable so you can make it perfect for you.

This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and smoky and it's perfect on chicken, pork, jackfruit...whatever your heart desires.

What’s in the BBQ Sauce:

  • tomato sauce + ketchup – the base of most bbq sauce recipes
  • brown sugar + molasses – to make it nice and sweet and rich
  • apple cider vinegar – to balance out the sweetness with a little tang and acid
  • Worcestershire sauce – so I can practice spelling it. Oh yeah, and to add depth to the flavor…
  • Spice Party! Included are dry mustard, chipotle chili powder, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne.

This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and smoky and it's perfect on chicken, pork, jackfruit...whatever your heart desires.

Here’s how you can make it your own:

  • You can use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar if that’s all you have. You could add a tablespoon or two of molasses in this case. Or you could try a different type of sweetener, or a blend. A little maple syrup is really tasty in BBQ sauce. 
  • Don’t have chipotle chili powder or don’t want to buy it just for this recipe? I totally understand that. You can substitute it with regular chili powder. If you do this, I’d consider using smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika so you still get the smokiness that the chipotle chili powder adds.
  • Speaking of paprika, if you want it extra smoky…like it just came out of the smoker, try using smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika, regardless of what type of chili powder you choose to use.
  • If you want to make this with no ketchup, you could substitute with all tomato sauce. You might need to add some extra vinegar and/or sugar to compensate for the flavor of the ketchup…let your taste buds be your guide. 
  • Cayenne…add more! Add less! You’re the boss. Remember it’s easy to add more later and a little goes a long ways…so start with a little and add more after you taste the sauce. You can’t take it out once it’s in there. 

 

One more note: 

  • This thickens up a bit as it cooks, but I suggest putting it on your meat and then cooking a little more or broiling, depending on what you’re cooking. This will caramelize the sugars in the BBQ sauce and make it absolutely irresistible.

How long does homemade bbq sauce last? This is a very common question I get with recipes like this, I get it a lot for my pickled red onions, too. This BBQ sauce will last for a couple weeks in your fridge, maybe more. Quite honestly, it will be good ’til it gets moldy. Then you’ll know it’s not good anymore and it’s time to toss it.

I can’t wait to hear how you guys use the BBQ sauce recipe – what’s your favorite thing to barbecue?

Try this homemade bbq sauce on these fall off the bone Instant Pot Ribs! It would also be great on Instant Pot shredded chicken, these fun turkey tenders, or this yummy slow cooker pulled pork.

BBQ Sauce Recipe

BBQ Sauce Recipe

Yield: about 1 3/4 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and smoky and it's perfect on chicken, pork, jackfruit...whatever your heart desires.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • cayenne powder to taste (I recommend 1/4 teaspoon)

Instructions

  1. In a small to medium saucepan, combine all ingredients with a spoon or whisk. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. When simmering, reduce to medium to continue cooking at a low simmer. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened.
  3. Use immediately or cool and store in a covered container in the fridge.

Notes

  • You can use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar if that's all you have. You could add a tablespoon or two of molasses in this case.
  • Don't have chipotle chili powder or don't want to buy it just for this recipe? Substitute it with regular chili powder. If you do this, I'd consider using smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika so you still get the smokiness that the chipotle chili powder adds.
  • Try using smoked paprika instead of regular sweet paprika for an extra smoky bbq sauce.
  • If you want to make this with no ketchup, you could substitute with all tomato sauce. You might need to add some extra vinegar and/or sugar to compensate for the flavor of the ketchup...let your taste buds be your guide. 


Nutrition Information:
Yield: 7 Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 141 Total Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 839mg Carbohydrates: 35g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 30g Protein: 2g
RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.
Verdict: In my opinion, this bbq sauce recipe is the perfect blend of sweet/spicy/smoky. You guys are going to be obsessed.
Husband’s take: No complaints from the peanut gallery.
Changes I would: None are necessary but feel free to make it your own with some of the suggestions I mentioned earlier.
Difficulty: Very easy! Just watch out because it likes to sputter and splatter a little while it cooks on the stovetop.

When you make a recipe from my site tag it with #RachelCooks!
I love to see what you're creating!

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