How to Make Your Own BBQ Sauce

Using store-bought BBQ sauce may be common, but there's something to be said for homemade BBQ sauce, especially when you put your own twist on it. The best part? It's easier than you think.

Begin by considering the type of meat you'll be pairing it with. Savory sauces pair well with beef, whereas chicken goes well with nearly any flavor profile. Pork is amplified by sauces with a subtle fruit infusion married with a hint of spice. The possibilities with homemade BBQ sauce recipes are endless. But let's start with the basics.

how to make bbq sauce

For a traditional, tomato-based BBQ sauce, we suggest beginning with the following recipe and modifying as you see fit.

MAKES: 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried minced onion

  • 1 teaspoon BBQ rub or 3/4 teaspoon chili powder


Mix all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Store refrigerated for up to 1 month.

traditional flavor notes of bbq sauce



Typically this comes from brown sugar, but you can substitute or supplement that with other sweeteners such as molasses, sorghum, white sugar, maple syrup, honey, sodas or corn syrup.



This is the acid component that starts with the tomato but is usually boosted with vinegar (white, apple cider or other flavored vinegars) and acidic fruit juices.



Your sauce shouldn’t be loaded with salt, but salt is the “conductor” to the “orchestra” of sweet, twang, heat and other seasonings. Kosher salt is the preferred go-to, but it can be supplemented with smoked salt, celery salt, onion salt or seasoned salts.



Your sauce doesn’t have to be tongue scorching, but we do suggest a little kick to balance its sweetness. Black pepper is a basic heat, and it is often reinforced with chile powders - ancho, cayenne, and chipotle - hot sauces and canned chiles.



Experiment with adding jellies/preserves, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, spices and even liquid smoke.

To finish your sauce, adjust your texture using an immersion blender. If your sauce is smooth in texture, this may not be needed. For one final touch, swirl in one tablespoon of cold butter. This will add a beautiful sheen to your sauce.

Check out this fun Char-Broil BBQ Sauce Recipe:

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