Homemade BBQ Sauce

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This sweet, tangy and smoky barbecue sauce is easy to make and delicious slathered on grilled chicken or ribs.

You can buy a tasty barbecue sauce at the supermarket, but it really is so easy to make your own. My kids put this sweet, tangy, smoky homemade BBQ sauce on just about everything. It’s a classic Kansas City-style BBQ sauce made from ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, cider vinegar, and spices, and it’s delicious slathered on grilled chicken or ribs. Because of the high sugar content in the sauce, it’s best to use brush it on the meat towards the very end of the cooking time so that it doesn’t burn. Feel free to double the recipe if you’d like to make extra; the sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for up to one week.

What You’ll Need To Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

homemade bbq sauce ingredients

Step-by-step Instructions

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat and add the onion.

cooking onions

Cook, stirring frequently until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

adding garlic to onions

Add the ketchup, water, brown sugar, molasses, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin; stir to combine and bring to a simmer.

simmering bbq sauce

Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. At this point, the sauce is ready to serve, but if you’d like to make it completely smooth, transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth.

finished bbq sauce

Store the BBQ sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

This sweet, tangy and smoky barbecue sauce is easy to make and delicious slathered on grilled chicken or ribs.

Servings: 2 cups
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the ketchup, water, brown sugar, molasses, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin; stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. At this point, the sauce is ready to serve, but if you'd like to make it completely smooth, transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Serving size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 69
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14 g
  • Sugar: 11 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Sodium: 232 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I made this with your chicken recipe and it is SO good with that! Do you think it would work on meatloaf as well? Thank you!!

    • — Shannon C on July 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it! Yes, I think this would work nicely on meatloaf.

      • — Jenn on July 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • How long will this keep in the refrigerator?

    • — Mari on July 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mari, It should last nightly for up to a week.

      • — Jenn on July 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is a delicious (and easy) barbecue sauce! To make it vegetarian for my daughter, I swapped in soy sauce for the Worcestershire. I used it to make pulled jackfruit (similar to pulled pork or chicken, but good for vegetarians).

    • — Rachel on July 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Very good! I halved the chili powder because of our family’s tolerance to heat, but kept the rest the same. Will make again!

    • — Caroline L on June 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • Since this is “homemade” could the ketchup be substituted with pulpa or other canned tomato product? I try to use a little processed food as possible and it seems that most of your ingredients are what is in ketchup anyway.

    • — Dennie on June 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Dennie, I do think you could use canned tomato sauce, but you will likely need to add more sugar and seasoning to taste. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • Would maple syrup be ok instead of molasses if I don’t have any? Or do I need is thickness?

    • — Judy on June 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Judy, that should be fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • I don’t have molasses in the house – can I just use dark brown sugar instead of the light?

    • — Stephanie on June 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure – I’d replace the molasses with the dark brown sugar and use dark brown sugar in place of the 1/4 cup of light brown sugar. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on June 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • Why is it suggested that the sauce keeps only for a week in the refrigerator, when all ingredients would normally last much, much longer individually? Thank you

    • — Jim S. on June 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jim, it may very well keep nicely for longer than that, but I like to err on the conservative side from a food safety standpoint. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2021
      • Reply
  • FYI, there appears to be a typo in the “prep time”: . . . 10 hours, 15 minutes!

    I’ll look forward to trying this recipe.

    – Mark

    • — Mark B. on June 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • LOL – oops! That would be a long time to spend on BBQ sauce! Thanks for letting me know. ☺

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2021
      • Reply

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