This easy homemade BBQ sauce recipe is sweet, tangy, and seasoned to perfection with a flavorful mix of spices. Great for summer grilling!
It’s grilling season! If you don’t already have a go-to BBQ sauce recipe up your sleeve, let me introduce you to mine.
This easy homemade BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy, with a smoky, savory kick from spices like cumin and smoked paprika. It comes together super quickly (we’re talking 20 minutes on the stove!), and a batch will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. We love having it on hand to jazz up whatever we’re grilling!
Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe Ingredients
After living in Austin for many years, I’ll be the first to admit that BBQ sauce can be controversial. Do you like yours tomatoey? Vinegary? Or syrupy and sweet from molasses?
I wouldn’t call this barbecue sauce recipe an authentic take on any of the regional barbecue sauce variations in the US, but because of its thicker consistency and tomato base, it’s closer to a Kansas City-style sauce than, say, a Texas one. Here’s what’s in it:
- Ketchup – It gives the sauce its smooth, silky texture.
- Apple cider vinegar – I like my barbecue sauce tangy, so I don’t hold back on the vinegar! I love its zingy kick.
- Water – It loosens the sauce so that it’s not too thick or gloopy.
- Brown sugar – For sweetness. The notes of molasses are key for giving this sauce classic BBQ flavor.
- Tamari – Worcestershire sauce is a common ingredient in many traditional barbecue sauce recipes. For a vegetarian-friendly alternative, I replace it with tamari. It provides a similar savory flavor, and I always have it on hand! If you’re not gluten-free, soy sauce works too.
- Yellow mustard – It adds a little bite and amplifies the tangy vinegar.
- Garlic powder and onion powder – For extra umami.
- Ground cumin – For earthy depth.
- Smoked paprika – It makes the sauce taste rich and smoky.
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
For spicy BBQ sauce, add a pinch of cayenne pepper, a dash of hot sauce, or 1 to 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce from a can of chipotles.
How to Make BBQ Sauce
My method for how to make BBQ sauce is super quick and easy!
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Then, reduce the heat to low.
- Cook, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.
That’s it! Taste and adjust the sauce to your liking before using it on your favorite BBQ recipes.
How to Use Barbecue Sauce
Though BBQ sauce is traditionally used on meat dishes like chicken wings, pulled pork, and ribs, those are far from the only ways to use it!
- Try it on BBQ jackfruit sandwiches.
- Brush it onto grilled tofu to make BBQ tofu.
- Make a BBQ burger! Dress up a veggie burger with caramelized onions and a slather of BBQ sauce.
- Use it on crispy cauliflower. Swap it out for the buffalo sauce in this buffalo cauliflower recipe.
- Serve it as a dip. We love it with air fryer French fries, air fryer onion rings, and sweet potato fries.
How do you like to use homemade BBQ sauce? Let me know in the comments!
How to Store Homemade Barbecue Sauce
The sauce will keep well in a Mason jar or other airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
For longer storage, freeze it for up to 3 months. Transfer frozen sauce to the fridge to thaw overnight.
More Favorite Sauce Recipes
If you love this homemade BBQ sauce recipe, try one of these easy sauces next:
- Homemade Buffalo Sauce
- Enchilada Sauce
- Homemade Pizza Sauce
- Remoulade Sauce
- Chimichurri Sauce
- Creamy Chipotle Sauce
- Honey Mustard Dressing
- Coleslaw Dressing
Homemade BBQ Sauce
- In a medium saucepan, combine the ketchup, vinegar, water, brown sugar, tamari, mustard, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, and smoked paprika.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes, or until thickened. Season to taste and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.