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BBQ Sauce Recipe

4.93 from 112 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 (as well as the other ingredients you are using) 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.

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 112 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. Pam says

    5 stars
    Fantastic flavor and super easy to make.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad that you liked it, Pam!

  2. Caroline says

    5 stars
    I made this BBQ sauce to try on ribs. I love trying different recipes know one would know was from scratch. When my family came in to eat them, they liked the ribs, but loved the sauce. I’ll be making it for now on. It’s so easy Thanks LISA,

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Caroline!

  3. Richard says

    This has an awesome flavour, it’s damn near perfect. The only thing for me is it’s a bit too sweet. Next time (and there will definitely be a next time) I will try reducing the sugar to about 200 g and see how that is. Thanks for the recipe 😁

  4. Tiffany K says

    5 stars
    Made this in a whim real quick when we were out of BBQ sauce and now it’s requested by the family. Very simple but delicious recipe.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you like it as much as I do!

  5. Lynne says

    5 stars
    This recipe is very good. My husband and I both liked it very much. Thanks for sharing. Very easy to make.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it, Lynne!

  6. Angela says

    5 stars
    Made your recipe and loved it Thanks for sharing

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  7. Sheri says

    5 stars
    Quick and very tasty. Cut the recipe in half and it still made a lot. Good sweet BBQ. Why buy BBQ sauce when you can make it this quick and easy and know what’s in it

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it as much as I do!

  8. Rebecca says

    Can I substitute the worcestershire sauce?

    • Lisa Longley says

      For sure! It will change the taste, but with a good sub it should be fine.

  9. Tina says

    Super super easy to make and great flavor!! The only thing I changed was dried onion in place of onion powder since I never have the powder on hand!! I am going to make a big batch and can it!! Thanks for the recipe!!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Tina!

  10. Trent says

    It’s a great sauce! Can I freeze it?

    • Lisa Longley says


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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners