This sweet bbq sauce recipe is equally tangy and the slightest bit spicy. Make a batch today in just 20 minutes with simple pantry staples!
There are many different varieties of barbecue sauce, and I prefer certain types for different applications. As far as I’m concerned, there is no one right or wrong way.
For ribs and pulled pork, I love a thick, smoky version. When it comes to chicken, I crave what I grew up with, and that’s something a little more sweet and tangy.
However, it bugged me that the first ingredient of my favorite brand was high fructose corn syrup, so I decided to attempt my own version. It came out wonderful, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was!
Sweet BBQ Sauce Recipe Ingredients
- Ketchup – Since I’m aiming to eliminate the HFCS, I chose an organic ketchup that tastes like the original but contains sugar instead. You can certainly use regular ketchup if you prefer.
- White wine vinegar – While this contains very little alcohol, you can replace it with an equal amount of rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you are concerned.
- Lemon juice – Not only does this add brightness, but it acts as a natural preservative. Use freshly squeezed for the best flavor.
- Worcestershire – An absolute must, this packs a punch of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors.
- Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce – Feel free to use your favorite instead, just know that the flavor may not be the same. Different brands have varying heat levels as well, so adjust the amount as needed.
- Dark brown sugar – You can substitute with light brown sugar if that’s all you have on hand, but it won’t have the same depth of flavor since the darker version contains more molasses.
- Spices: onion powder, garlic powder, ground allspice, ground cloves, salt and pepper
How to Make Homemade Barbecue Sauce
What I love about this recipe is that it requires very little effort on your part.
- Add the ingredients to a pan on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer, uncovered, until thickened.
The whole process takes around 15 minutes, and you can use it immediately or save it for later. Keep in mind that the more time it has to sit, the richer the flavors will become.
Helpful Tips and Tricks
- Make a bigger batch. Easily double or triple the amounts listed for a larger quantity. This is especially helpful for large cookouts or if you want to include it in other dishes.
- Want a thicker consistency? Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes longer to reduce the amount of liquid. Just remember that it will be cooked again when you brush it on your meat of choice.
- Best cookware for the job. I use this saucepan because it’s the perfect size for this bbq sauce recipe and it has a heavy bottom to help everything cook evenly.
Recipe Notes + FAQ
Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce
If you follow a sugar-free diet, it’s still possible to make this sweet bbq sauce recipe by swapping out sugar and ketchup. There are a variety of alternatives on the market you can experiment with, but to get the closest flavor I’d recommend trying Swerve Brown Sweetener and Heinz No-Sugar Added Ketchup.
I like Swerve because you can use the same measurements listed, and I don’t think it has a weird aftertaste like most alternative sweeteners.
How long does homemade barbecue last?
Store this in an airtight container in the fridge. Because it’s made without preservatives (aside from the ketchup), it will stay fresh for up to a week.
Can I freeze this sweet bbq sauce recipe?
While it tastes best freshly made, you can transfer it to an airtight container once cooled and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow room at the top for the liquid to expand and thaw in the refrigerator before using.
MORE HOMEMADE CONDIMENTS
For even more options, check out my full collection including delicious seasonal jams.
Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Frank’s RedHot sauce
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the ketchup, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, allspice, and cloves.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high or high heat, then turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring periodically, or until it has thickened to the desired consistency. For a slightly thicker sauce, you can let it continue reducing for an additional 5 minutes. (Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken more if you use it for basting meat.)
- Store sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for 7 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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