Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Want to see me get ultra riled up? Let’s talk about Homemade Barbecue Sauce. Today I’m going to be telling you how to make THE best BBQ sauce from scratch. This is an easy recipe that’s ready in 15 minutes. You can use it on sandwiches, ribs, or just lick the spoon. It’s that good.
How to Make the Best Homemade BBQ Sauce.
First: What is the Best Barbecue Sauce?
Yep, I am going there. BBQ sauce is both regional and personal, and I do have a favorite.
I grew up on Kansas City barbecue, both of my sisters live in Kansas City, and every time Ben and I visit, grabbing a meal at a local BBQ joint isn’t an optional activity we try to squeeze in—it’s one of the first stops we make the moment we land at the airport.
I’ve had the pleasure of munching barbecue in different regions of the country, and while I respect and enjoy the different flavors and characteristics of each, Kansas City–style barbecue sauce is my forever favorite.
This bbq sauce is thick and rich and has smoky-sweet undertones from molasses. Without it my ribs, pulled pork, and BBQ chicken sandwiches wouldn’t be complete.
While this is a mostly sweet bbq sauce recipe, it’s not overly sweet by any means. If you prefer or are looking for a spicy homemade bbq sauce recipe, I have a few notes in the recipe for how you can kick up the heat.
BBQ Sauce Brands
If you’ve had Sweet Baby Ray’s or KC Masterpiece brand BBQ sauce, you’ve experienced a hint of just how good Kansas City BBQ sauce can be. That said, as I’ve started reading more labels in recent years, the bottled stuff is LOADED with sugar (high fructose corn syrup is the first ingredient in many).
Craving some barbecue but not wanting to rely on the the sugary stuff, I decided to see if I could make my own homemade barbecue sauce for ribs, pulled pork, or, as I quickly discovered while making and tasting this sauce, for licking right off the spoon!
Not only is making your own barbecue sauce from scratch infinitely more delicious than anything you’ll find at the store, it is EASY.
While this isn’t one of those 3 ingredient BBQ sauce recipes (because I don’t rely on ketchup—more on that momentarily), it is still super simple and its flavor is a dead ringer for the barbecue sauces I’ve tried at legit BBQ joints. Once you taste it, you’re going to want to keep a jar in your fridge at all times!
How Do you Make Basic BBQ sauce?
Most basic homemade barbecue sauce recipes I’ve found call for ketchup, which is actually quite high in sugar also. Since that defeated part of my purpose, I decided to see how the recipe would turn out if I were to make this homemade BBQ sauce without ketchup instead, and you know what?
BEST HOMEMADE BARBECUE SAUCE EVER.
How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce
Skip the premixed stuff. By using real, unprocessed ingredients, you’ll have an award winning barbecue sauce recipe that tastes, well, homemade.
I used tomato paste and tomato sauce instead of ketchup, infused it with savory spices, and then sweetened the barbecue sauce with maple syrup. I love the way the maple plays against the stronger flavors of smoked paprika and black pepper, and it makes the sauce extra rich and thick too.
Let’s break it down, BBQ-style.
How to Make This Easy BBQ Sauce Recipe
- Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. If you have a splatter screen, you might want to place it over the top. Otherwise, you can partially cover the pot with a lid. This BBQ sauce is quite chatty and likes to sputter.
- Call your mom. Hang out. Contemplate the universe. Enjoy your life for 10 minutes.
- Every few minutes, stir again. The sauce will thicken, and your kitchen will start to smell tantalizing.
- Stir. Taste. Adjust. Taste some more because SO GOOD.
- SLATHER ON EVERYTHING.
How to Use Homemade Barbecue Sauce
You can use this homemade BBQ sauce for pulled pork, for ribs (including these Crockpot Ribs), and really in any recipe that calls for premade barbecue sauce. I’m looking forward to using it to make my favorite BBQ Chicken Salad.
It’s also my go-to for making this Crock Pot BBQ Chicken. Just add the sauce, plus chicken breasts or thighs to your slow cooker, and dinner cooks itself!
The recipe is written is more spicy-sweet than truly spicy, so if you prefer a homemade spicy BBQ sauce with a serious kick, I’ve included the option to add some cayenne. For homemade honey BBQ sauce, simply swap the maple syrup for the same amount of honey.
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
- 1 can tomato sauce — (15 ounces)
- 1 can tomato paste — (6 ounces)
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper — optional but encouraged
In a medium saucepan, stir together all of the ingredients: tomato sauce, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, dry mustard, garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover with a lid slightly ajar so that the pot is mostly covered to deter splattering, but steam can still escape and the sauce can reduce. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Enjoy immediately or let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (2 tablespoons) — Calories: 51, Sodium: 218mg, Carbohydrates: 12g, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 10g, Protein: 1g
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