Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce

Want to learn how to make bbq sauce? You won’t believe how easy it is! Simply whisk a few ingredients together in a saucepan, and then it’s ready after just 15 minutes of simmering. The flavors of this barbecue sauce recipe are sweet, tangy, and the slightest bit spicy. It’s amazing with chicken!

Easy homemade barbecue sauce in a jar that is prepared in 15 minutes.

Barbecue sauce is one of those things that people have very strong opinions about (right up there with pizza, chili, and how to properly load a dishwasher). It’s serious business.

When it comes to what makes a good [BLAH], I’m a firm believer that if you love something, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter what other people think about your favorite pizza place. If you love it, the rest is just noise. Opinions are not facts. (Is it becoming obvious that I’ve gotten into the “opinions vs. facts” debate with people a lot recently?)

There are many different varieties of barbecue sauces, and I prefer certain types for different applications. As far as I’m concerned, there is no one right or wrong way.

Open Pit bbq sauce

For ribs, I love a thick, smokey bbq sauce. I also like that type of sauce with pulled pork, though Jeff has made me appreciate the wonders of a good Carolina mustard-based bbq sauce on slow cooked meat.

When it comes to chicken, I simply crave what I grew up with, and that’s a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.  My mother always served us broiled or grilled chicken thighs basted in layers of a thick, sticky sauce that was cooked onto the meat. It was served with a side of rice.

It’s so good. My paternal grandmother used to make it, and dad loved it so much that mom started making it when they got married, and now I make it. Sometimes simple really is best.

The brand we used growing up was Open Pit BBQ Sauce, and I still use it. But it bugs me that the first ingredient is now high fructose corn syrup, because I’m guessing that wasn’t in there when my dad was younger. This is why I decided to attempt my own version, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

Since I’m aiming to eliminate the HFCS with this recipe, I typically use an organic ketchup, but you don’t have to. Heinz makes a good organic version that tastes like the original, isn’t much more expensive, and uses sugar instead of HFCS. Again, that’s optional.

After bringing the ingredients to a boil, I simmer them for around 15 minutes, at which point they will have thickened slightly. It has the consistency of Open Pit, which is sticky and good for basting, but not super thick. You can continue reducing it for longer if you prefer; it certainly won’t hurt anything.

But keep in mind that the sauce will technically reduce again as it cooks onto the meat.

Tell me: what’s your favorite type of barbecue sauce?

BBQ sauce spilling slightly over the side of a jar, plus a spoon offering a closeup look at some of the homemade sauce.

If you love homemade sauces, you’ll definitely want to check out my Teriyaki Sauce, Mayonnaise, and All-Purpose Tomato Sauce!

Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce in a mason jar on a pale backdrop.
Print Pin Recipe

Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce

5 from 4 votes
This easy barbecue sauce recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes, and it’s especially amazing with chicken, either in the oven or on the grill.
Course Condiments
Cuisine American
Keyword barbecue sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Calories 378


  • 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, then turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Allow the sauce to simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring periodically, until it has thickened. For a slightly thicker sauce, you can let it continue reducing for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Store sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This recipe will keep for about one week. 


Light brown sugar will work in a pinch, but you’ll get a better depth of flavor from dark brown sugar.
I don’t recommend using a different brand of hot sauce or it may alter the taste of the sauce.


Calories: 378kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 2941mg | Potassium: 565mg | Sugar: 80g | Vitamin A: 12.3% | Vitamin C: 11.5% | Calcium: 8.1% | Iron: 10.4%

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Ditch the bottled stuff and try this incredibly easy Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce, ready after just 15 minutes of simmering! It tastes just like Open Pit BBQ Sauce, and is amazing served with chicken. #barbecue #bbq #sauce #recipe #easy

About Jennifer Farley

Jennifer graduated from the Culinary Arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine, and has worked professionally as a line cook, pastry chef, and cooking instructor. Her cookbook, The Gourmet Kitchen, was published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster.

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