Want to learn how to make barbecue sauce from scratch? 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 homemade barbecue sauce recipe are sweet, tangy, and the slightest bit spicy. It’s amazing with chicken!
Barbecue sauces are something that many 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 [WHATEVER], 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. Don’t yuck my yum.
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, I love a thick, smokey barbecue sauce. I also like that type of sauce with pulled pork, though Jeff has enlightened me to the wonders of a good Carolina mustard-based barbecue sauce on slow-cooked meat.
When it comes to chicken, I 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.
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 high fructose corn syrup. This is why I decided to attempt my own version, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
Homemade Barbecue Sauce Recipe Ingredients
For this tangy and sweet bbq sauce recipe, you’ll need the following basic ingredients:
- White wine vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Worcestershire sauce
- Frank’s RedHot sauce
- Dark brown sugar
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Ground allspice
- Ground cloves
How to Make Homemade Barbecue Sauce
What I love about this easy barbecue sauce recipe is that it requires very little effort on your part.
- Add the ingredients to a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer, uncovered, until it’s thickened.
The whole process takes around 15 minutes, and you can use the sauce immediately or save it for later.
Tips for the Best Barbecue Sauce
- Since I’m aiming to eliminate the HFCS with this recipe, I use an organic ketchup, but you don’t have to. Heinz makes an organic version that tastes like the original but uses sugar instead of HFCS.
- Light brown sugar can be used in place of dark brown sugar, but it won’t give you the same depth of flavor. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses.
- If possible, use the exact brand of hot sauce that I’ve listed in the recipe (Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce), otherwise your bbq sauce might have a different flavor.
- If you prefer a thicker homemade barbecue sauce, let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes longer than the recipe calls for. Just remember that the barbecue sauce will be cooked again when you brush it on your meat of choice.
- I use this saucepan. It’s the perfect size for most sauce recipes, and it has a heavy bottom to help the sauce cook evenly.
how long does barbecue sauce last?
Keep this sweet bbq sauce recipe in an airtight container in the fridge. Because it’s a homemade sauce and is made without preservatives (aside from the ketchup), it will stay fresh for up to a week.
Can You Freeze Barbecue Sauce?
This barbecue sauce recipe makes around 2 cups, so I doubt you’ll have much leftover, if any. However, if you don’t think you’ll use all of the bbq sauce within 7 days, you can absolutely freeze it. Place the sauce in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce
If you follow a sugar-free diet, it’s still possible to make this sauce 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 stated in recipes, and I don’t think it has a weird aftertaste like most alternative sweeteners.
More Homemade Condiments
If you love homemade sauces, you’ll definitely want to check out my Teriyaki Sauce, Mayonnaise, All-Purpose Tomato Sauce, Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, and Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette. I also love this Pasta Cream Sauce from Vikalinka!
For even more recipes, check out all of my sauces, jams, and condiment recipes.
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!
For immediate help troubleshooting a recipe, please email me using the form on my contact page. I’ll try to respond to urgent questions as quickly as possible! For all general questions, please leave a comment here :)