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Homemade Barbecue Sauce Recipe

This easy homemade barbecue sauce is delicious on pork, beef, or chicken. No one has to know how easy it is to make! You can even add it to vegetables, soups, and sauces for additional flavor. Whether you like your barbecue sauce spicy or sweet, you only need a few ingredients that you probably have in your pantry and fridge to make it yourself.

bowl of homemade barbecued sauce beside a basting brush.

I put a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for your convenience.

Easy Way to Flavor Food

Whether you need extra flavor on beef, pork, chicken, or even beans, you can count on bbq sauce to deliver.


Here’s what I used for this sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (light brown sugar or dark brown sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (regular or smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil (any mild-flavored oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard (yellow or dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
vinegar, mustard, chili powder, ketchup, avocado oil, liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar.

Alternative and Additional Ingredients

There are many other ingredients you might want to try. Here are some that I’ve added in the past:

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce (for a little kick)
  • Tomato sauce (instead of ketchup)
  • Tomato paste
  • Maple syrup
  • Blackstrap molasses (for a deep, rich flavor)
  • Yellow mustard
  • Dry mustard (or ground mustard)
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Black pepper

You can experiment with other ingredients if you want. Look around in your pantry and fridge, and test anything that looks like it might work. Even pizza sauce can be a good ingredient. The best thing about homemade sauce is that you can make the perfect sauce for your family and friends. I also like to change things up for a different flavor.

How to Make Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Always gather the ingredients so you know that you have everything you need. I’ve started working on recipes in the past, only to discover that I needed something I didn’t have. Now it’s time to get started. First, combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan.

unmixed ingredients in a pot.

Stir until everything is well mixed. Start out on medium-high heat, until the mixture begins to bubble. Secondly, turn the burner on medium-low and heat the mixture for 10 minutes. Stir several times to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

mixed bbq sauce ingredients in a pot

After the mixture has heated up enough for the flavors to blend, give it a taste. Adjust the ingredients (add more of what you like) if it isn’t the way you want it. Make sure you only add a tiny amount at a time, or you might wind up overdoing it.

Types of Barbecue Sauce

Each region seems to have a favorite type of sauce. Pick the one you prefer. Or you can mix them up to create your own. If you prefer a tangy sauce, you’ll love this Alabama white sauce. You get lots of tangy flavor that elevates anything you put it on!

Since different regions have different types of barbecue sauce, they each have their own specific ingredients. Here are some you might enjoy:

  • The Carolina barbecue sauce tends to be vinegar based, while the St. Louis style has more of a sweet-and-sour flavor with a kick of heat.
  • Kansas City barbecue sauce tends to be a sweeter sauce. So if you don’t mind a sweet sauce (typically with sugar, honey, maple syrup, or molasses), this might be your favorite.
  • Memphis barbecue is more of a dry rub than a sauce, but many people from the region still enjoy a sweet sauce. I like getting this one with a dry rub and then adding sauce later.
  • Texas barbecue sauce tends to have a smoky flavor with a little heat … or in some cases, a lot of heat. And if you’re like me, hot and spicy barbecue sauce is a good thing! And since this is a smoky barbecue sauce, I love it!

Regardless of the region you prefer, you can still alter the recipe to suit your personal taste. So while you’re looking over the ingredients list and recipe, decide whether to follow it as-is or crank up a flavor you particularly like.

The sauce I made this time leans a little bit sweet, a little bit smoky, and a little bit hot. That’s because I was making it to put on chicken. And that’s how we like our barbecued chicken. I actually increase the heat even more when I’m making bbq chicken wings.

However, when we have beef, I go heavier on the smoky flavor and heat. And I tone down the sweetness. This is a great recipe that is super easy to tweak according to taste.

Add Flavor to Foods

There are so many foods that taste better when you add a little bit of barbecue sauce. Or a lot. Any time I pick up a rotisserie chicken or any other already-cooked meat from the grocery store, I like to add something to take the flavor up another notch. You can’t go wrong with this deliciously spicy, smoky, and sweet barbecue sauce.

chicken with barbecue sauce on a plate

Here are a few more of my favorites:

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin – Add barbecue to this pork tenderloin when you first put it in your Crockpot, and the flavors will seep all the way down into the meat.

slicing a barbecue pork tenderloin

Brunswick Stew – Barbecue adds a tremendous amount of flavor to this southern favorite.

Country Ribs – Miz Helen has a similar barbecue recipe to mine, but there are enough differences that you might want to give hers a try as well. She’s a fabulous cook! It just goes to show that there are so many ways to easily make delicious homemade barbecue sauce.

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs – Although this delicious chicken doesn’t need anything else, barbecue sauce takes it to a whole new level of yumminess.

bowl of barbecue sauce next to a pot of barbecue sauce sauce ingredients

Side Dishes for Your Barbecue

When you serve barbecued anything, you’ll want to have some delicious side dishes. Here are some we enjoy:

Creamy Coleslaw – Balance the flavors of your barbecue with this smooth but crunchy and creamy coleslaw.

Bowl of coleslaw

Mama’s Potato Salad – My mother’s potato salad was always a huge hit at any family gathering. In fact, no matter how much she made, it disappeared before anything else.

bowl and plate of potato salad

Easy Broccoli Slaw – This easy-to-make side dish adds flavor, crunch, nutrition, and color to your barbecue dinner … or any meal for that matter.

Broccoli slaw in a bowl

Balsamic Glazed Zucchini – If you enjoy meals with a boatload of flavor, this is the side dish for you! It also adds a touch of sophistication to your meal.

bowl of balsamic glazed zucchini

Watermelon Cucumber Salad – This is so refreshing and delicious that I make it as often as possible when watermelon is in season.

Watermelon cucumber salad on a plate

Extra Flavor Makes Each Meal Seem Special

We always have the ingredients to make barbecue sauce because we’re big fans of big flavor! It’s so easy to whip up in a few minutes, and it’s totally worth every single ounce of effort!

Yield: 6 servings

Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce Recipe

bowl of homemade barbecue sauce

Add a boost of flavor to your favorite meats, soups, and stews with this delicious homemade barbecue sauce.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 1 cup of ketchup
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cooking oil (olive oil, avocado oil, or canola oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke seasoning (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-size saucepan.
  2. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Heat the mixture on medium-low for about 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
  4. Taste it. If you feel that it needs more of any of the ingredients, add it now in very small amounts to prevent over-correcting.


This barbecue sauce is delicious on chicken, pork, or beef. 

You can double or triple this recipe if you're serving more people.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 97Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 475mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 1gSugar 19gProtein 1g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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