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BBQ Sauce Recipe

4.93 from 90 votes

posted: 08/06/23

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This BBQ Sauce Recipe is easy to throw together and absolutely delicious! Fast to make and with ingredients you already have on hand, you are going to make this homemade bbq sauce all the time.

Pair this BBQ sauce recipe with my Chicken Rub for the perfect grilled bbq chicken.

up close of bbq sauce recipe in a wide mouth ball jar with it dripping down the side and grilled bbq chicken in the background

Since first sharing my BBQ Sauce recipe with you in 2019, it has gotten rave reviews. Just like me, my readers find this sauce not only incredibly easy to make, but absolutely delicious.

In the last four years, I’ve added this sauce to so many different recipes (check out the list of recipes below), and without fail, it always becomes the star of the show. Just like so many others, one you make this homemade BBQ sauce, you will never look back.


This is the only BBQ sauce you will ever need, better than store bought and so easy to do!

How to Make BBQ Sauce

This is a brief overview of how to make this delicious recipe. For the full recipe with all of the ingredients find the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Combine the ingredients. In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Bring the sauce to a boil. After being over medium heat for a few minutes, large bubbles will start to appear.
  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Once the sauce starts to boil, turn down the heat to a simmer. You should see occasional and intermittent bubbles.
  4. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes. This allows the sauce to thicken and the flavors to develop.
small saucepan full of homemade bbq sauce

BBQ Sauce Ingredients

  • Brown Sugar: Not only does this add some sweetness to your sauce, a must in BBQ Sauce in my personal opinion, the sweetness also balances the acidity of the other ingredients.
  • Ketchup: Made with tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar, this also brings some acidity and great flavor to the sauce.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This brings the great tang that I bet you didn’t even know you love in BBQ Sauce. Read more about this below.
  • Paprika: I generally keep regular paprika on hand and not smoked, so that is what I use here. That being said, smoked paprika would be fantastic in this.
  • Onion Powder: This is a great way of getting good onion flavor in the BBQ sauce without chunks of onion.
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
brushing bbq sauce on grilled chicken legs

Using Homemade BBQ Sauce

While BBQ Sauce is typically meant to go on meat after it has been throughly cooked, like in my Grilled Chicken Legs, I do use it as part of the cooking liquid often. Let me tell you, it makes for some pretty amazing recipes.

Crock Pot Ribs

Crock Pot Ribs come together with our five star BBQ Sauce and the best Pork Rub for a tender fall of the bone recipe you will absolutely love.
a row of slow cooker bbq ribs after being cooked, cut up on parchment paper with extra bbq sauce

BBQ Sauce as a Marinade

I’m all about breaking rules. Especially when it comes to cooking. It should be a fun creative process that makes you really happy. So while you don’t typically use BBQ Sauce as a marinade, and you add it at the end as mentioned above, if you want to use this as a marinade, go for it!

Remember that with marinades we want to marinate meat for at least 30 minutes but not more than 24 hours as a general rule. There are lots of cuts of beef that require at least 6 hours of marinating time – like flank steak for example. The point of a marinate is to penetrate the outer layer of the meat, tenderize the meat, and give it flavor. Marinating for more than 24 hours will break down the meat in a way that will make it unappetizing.

plate of grilled chicken legs on a rectangular white plate with a jar of bbq sauce and coleslaw in the background

Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce

As mentioned above, the tang in this recipe comes from apple cider vinegar. In fact, in the 2 1/2 cups that this recipe makes, 1/2 a cup is vinegar.

That’s a lot of tang, and I love the flavor of it. I think it balances the the sweetness and the smokiness of the other flavors perfectly. That said, if you are worried it will be too acidic, I would start with 1/4 cup, taste it and add more vinegar until you get to taste you want or 1/2 cup, whichever comes first.

Storing BBQ Sauce

The vinegar and sugar in this recipe both act as natural preservatives, so this easy homemade bbq sauce recipe should keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Things to keep in mind:

  • It should be stored in an air tight container.
  • Keep it in the refrigerator.
  • If the sauce looks as though it has separated, it should be tossed.
  • Obviously, if there are signs of mold it should be discarded.
  • When using this homemade bbq sauce avoid brushing cooked meat, and then dipping the brush back in the container, introducing bacteria to the sauce. Rather, pour some from the jar into a bowl and brush from there.


Is BBQ sauce gluten free?

While this recipe is naturally gluten free, you need to ensure that the Worcestershire sauce you are using is gluten free. There are some brands on the market that do contain barley malt vinegar, which would make this recipe not gluten free.

Does BBQ sauce go bad?

Yes, it can go bad. See my tips above to ensure that your sauce recipe is still good.

Is BBQ sauce vegan?

Yes, this bbq sauce recipe is vegan.

Can I can this recipe?

I don’t have enough experience with canning to advise you on this and I suggest that you use this website as a guide.

spoon dipping into a mason jar full of easy homemade bbq sauce

Other Great Homemade Recipes

If you try this recipe, come back and let me know what you think! I love hearing from you!

spoon dipping into a mason jar full of easy homemade bbq sauce
4.93 from 90 votes

BBQ Sauce Recipe

Serves: 10 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
This BBQ Sauce Recipe is easy to throw together and absolutely delicious! Fast to make and with ingredients you already have on hand, you are going to make this homemade bbq sauce all the time.


  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (319.5 grams) packed
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (352.5 grams)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (119.29 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


  • Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serving: 0.25cup Calories: 167kcal (8%) Carbohydrates: 43g (14%) Protein: 1g (2%) Sodium: 577mg (25%) Potassium: 177mg (5%) Sugar: 40g (44%) Vitamin A: 700IU (14%) Vitamin C: 1.7mg (2%) Calcium: 340mg (34%) Iron: 0.4mg (2%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
spoon dipping into a mason jar full of easy homemade bbq sauce

did you make this

BBQ Sauce Recipe

I’d love to see what you made! Tag me @lisasimplejoy and hashtag it #simplejoyrecipes!

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


    Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you & seeing what you made!

    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Charleen says

    5 stars
    Easy very tasty BBque sauce…I like that I know the ingredients…no additives

  2. Karen says

    How much does this recipe make in pints?

    • Lisa Longley says

      It makes two cups which is 1 pint.

  3. Tessa says

    5 stars
    It was a hit!!! Xmas eve, exhausted and decided to just cook my family hotdogs and call it night. I realized I only had a few tbsp of ketchup, I knew my mom always would make bbq sauce in a pinch so I figured I would try that.

    I used the ketchup I had left and substituted the rest with tomato sauce.

    Holy crap ya’ll, this bbq sauce was a hit!!! The simmering made it all come together & everyone complimented my dinner

    • Lisa Longley says

      Man do I feel that Xmas Eve exhaustion. I’m so glad that this recipe was able to help you have an easier night!

  4. Chris says

    First time I made it it was awesome better than any store brand I will make it again used for crockpot wings

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  5. Lynn says

    5 stars
    Very easy to make was running low on bbq sauce for chicken in crockpot with root beer so found this easy recipe I’m. Sure delicious used chili sauce ran out of ketchup.”

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m glad you liked it!

  6. Tina says

    5 stars
    I made this recipe one evening when I was making country style ribs and realized we had no more bbq sauce.
    This sauce was a hit! Rave reviews from the biggest bbq critics. I’ll never by sauce at the grocery store again.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad Tina!

  7. Kelley says

    5 stars
    Fabulous recipe! I used some smoked paprika (hot) and I am going to make another batch now. Thank you for sharing

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Scott says

    5 stars
    Very good and simple recipe. I added a little garlic powder, cayenne pepper and liquid smoke.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it, Scott!

  9. Carol says

    5 stars
    Love this sauce. Easy to put together and excellent taste. The only thing I changed was 1 cup of sugar instead of 1.5 cup.
    That way it has a sweet but a bit of tart.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  10. Dora says

    5 stars
    Excellent sauce. Think I have purchased my last bottle of store bought BBQ sauce. How long can you keep it refrigerated?


    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners