This BBQ sauce recipe is quick and easy to make and SO good you’ll never want store-bought again!
This homemade BBQ Sauce recipe is an intoxicating blend of sweet, tangy, spicy, smoky and ready in less than 20 minutes – 15 of those minutes are hands-off simmering! It’s made by simmering simple pantry staples of ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, seasonings and my secret ingredient to create the best barbecue sauce you ever tasted! This BBQ Sauce recipe is the perfect condiment for grilled chicken, brisket, ribs, burgers, sandwiches, and even nachos or pizza! It is make-ahead friendly, freezer friendly and make-EVERYTHING-better friendly!
BBQ SAUCE RECIPE
Since sharing my BBQ Ribs recipe years ago, it has received hundreds of adoring reviews, many claiming the homemade BBQ Sauce is the best they’ve ever tasted and multiple comments claiming they could “drink the sauce.” So, without further ado, I finally bring you a post dedicated to the BEST BBQ Sauce – but you don’t have to take my word for it:
The SAUCE, is absolutely the best, better than any homemade or out of a bottle we’ve ever had. – Stephanie
The best part is your BBQ sauce. That is the best I have ever had and I will be making my own (your recipe) from here on out. – Terry
Best part is my BBQ/smoked meat snob boyfriend was obsessed with the BBQ sauce – so much so that he now requests I make it anytime we BBQ! – Natalie
The bbq sauce is amazing, I could drink it, it tastes that good. – Lacie
The sauce is so good that I’ll never buy a bottle of sauce again. – JFender
And this is now my BBQ sauce recipe from here on out. – Matthew
The BBQ sauce were amazing!! I’ve made few different BBQ sauces before, but this one is the best, even on burgers. – Stacie
So, let’s talk about this praise-worthy BBQ Sauce recipe. With Memorial Day next week and summer quickly approaching, everyone needs the best BBQ Sauce recipe from scratch. This thick, rich, intensely flavored condiment instantly elevates everything it touches. This homemade BBQ Sauce also earns major points because it’s totally make-ahead friendly – all you have to do is pull it out come grill time and you have barbecue magic.
We use this barbecue sauce regularly in our house to make BBQ ribs, BBQ brisket, BBQ brisket sandwiches, BBQ pulled pork, BBQ pulled chicken, BBQ Burgers, BBQ Chicken Pizza and of course it’s a favorite to dunk popcorn chicken and chicken tenders in. You can also use it for baked beans, meatloaf, and anything else you would normally use store-bought barbecue sauce for.
With so many ways to enjoy BBQ Sauce, you will LOVE how easy it is to make at home and love how pantry friendly it is – you probably have almost all (if not all) of the ingredients in your refrigerator or pantry already! If not, they are easy to keep stocked.
To make this homemade BBQ Sauce, combine all the ingredients in one saucepan and simmer on the stove for 15 minutes – that’s it! Easy to make, easy to cleanup and easily better than any store-bought sauces!
BEST BBQ SAUCE
The Blackberry preserves and liquid smoke gave the ribs an exotic flavor without changing the true style of southern cooking. I am printing and putting into my personal cookbook that I have for my favorite recipes. 5 out of 5 starts. – Lori
So, what makes this BBQ Sauce recipe so magical? It all comes down to ingredients, seasonings and proportions. Like many barbecue sauces, this one starts with a ketchup base. A generous amount of apple cider vinegar is added for tartness, brown sugar for sweetness, and molasses for warm, smoky sweetness.
My secret ingredient of blackberry preserves further balances out the acidity with subtle, exotic sweetness instead of just using more plain sugar. Liquid smoke, smoked paprika and chipotle pepper add a dimension of aged smokiness while the chipotle also offers a kick of heat.
Finally, the homemade BBQ Sauce recipe is rounded out by chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, dried thyme salt, and pepper which add complex dimensions of flavor. The resulting BBQ Sauce is thick, rich, sweet, tangy, smokey, spicy and “absolutely the best, better than any homemade or out of a bottle we’ve ever had.”
Of course, the beauty of homemade BBQ Sauce, is you can make it the best BBQ Sauce for YOU! You can customizable the ingredients to make it sweeter, not as sweet, tangier, spicier, etc. so you’ll want to “drink the sauce” every time.
Barbecue SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
This homemade BBQ Sauce recipe comes together very quickly with just a handful of ingredients. You will need (measurements included in the full recipe below):
- Ketchup. 2 cups of your favorite ketchup will be the base in this barbecue sauce recipe. Look for organic ketchup or one that isn’t sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup if possible.
- Apple cider vinegar: adds the balancing tang to offset the sweetness.
- Molasses: adds rich, thick smokey-sweet undertones and is a BBQ Sauce must! Make sure you are using unsulfured molasses and NOT blackstrap molasses. Unsulfured molasses is the finest quality and only a small amount of sugar has been removed from the first boiling (sugar content around 70%). Blackstrap, on the other hand has been boiled further resulting in a thick, bitter, salty sludge with a sugar content of only 45%. Blackstrap molasses is never an acceptable substitute for true molasses.
- Brown Sugar: sweetens the sauce and helps deepen the molasses flavor. This BBQ Sauce recipe is on the sweeter sauce like Sweet Baby Rays. If you would like less sweet barbecue sauce, simply use less sugar. You can always add more to taste at the end of simmering.
- Liquid smoke: if you aren’t familiar with liquid smoke (it really is liquid smoke!), it imparts a wonderfully smokey flavor that elevates the BBQ Sauce to an other realm. It is created by capturing smoke as it rises through a combustion chamber filled with wood chips to a condenser. In the condenser, the smoke cools and forms a liquid, thus liquid smoke. (thank you Wikipedia). It is a very common ingredient and should be easy to find next to the barbecue sauces in your grocery store.
- Seasonings: smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, ground chipotle pepper, onion powder, ground mustard, dried thyme, salt, and pepper infuse the barbecue sauce with classic flavor with hints of smokiness and heat. You can use more or less chipotle chili powder depending on how spicy you like it.
- If you can’t find blackberry preserves, I’ve had readers comment they have also used strawberry preserves, raspberry preserves, fig preserves and apple jam with success.
- You can use any brown sugar you have on hand – light, medium or dark.
- You can use granulated sugar or honey if that’s all you have on hand but, in this case, I would reduce the sugar by a tablespoon or two and add extra molasses in its place. You can also use a blend of sweeteners.
- If you don’t have chipotle chili powder, then you can add a pinch-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. You will need much less because cayenne pepper is much spicier. You also might want to add an extra splash of liquid smoke to make up for the missing smokey chipotle flavor. In the future, I suggest you keep chipotle chili powder stocked – it adds a sublime smokey heat.
- If you’re out of ketchup, you could try substituting with tomato sauce, but you will need to add some extra vinegar and sugar to compensate for the flavor of the ketchup.
HOW TO MAKE BBQ SAUCE Recipe
Homemade BBQ Sauce from scratch is super simple to make and every bit as delicious as sauces from legit barbecue joints – and then some – and infinitely more delicious than any store-bought sauce. This BBQ Sauce recipe couldn’t be any easier to make, all you do is combine the ingredients in the pot, let it simmer and you’re done!
- Combine ingredients. Measure ingredients and add to saucepan, give everything a stir.
- Simmer. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer; continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
- Serve. Use immediately or refrigerate or freeze for later.
TIPS FOR HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE
- Use smoked paprika. The difference between smoked paprika and normal paprika is small but makes a big flavor impact. Normal paprika uses crushed dried chilies, whereas smoked paprika uses chilies that are first smoked with oak, then dried and crushed. This adds a smokey, woody, outdoorsy flavor that adds a little something-something to your homemade BBQ Sauce. Smoked paprika can be found in every grocery store with the seasonings. I use it ALL the time in my Mexican recipes, so I promise it will not go to waste!
- Simmer gently. Simmering the BBQ Sauce melds the flavors and slightly thickens the sauce – it does not need to be anything more than a gentle simmer. Simmer the sauce on low to reduce splattering as this sauce likes to sputter.
- Splatter screen. If you have a splatter screen, you might want to place it over the barbecue sauce in between stirring.
- Stir sauce. Stirring the sauce prevents scorching and helps reduce splattering.
- Adjust to taste. To test, dip a spoon in the sauce, place it on a plate and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust it to YOUR preferences per the section below.
BBQ SAUCE RECIPE VARIATIONS:
The most important (and best!) part of making homemade barbecue sauce from scratch is how adaptable it is. Like a sweet sauce, add more sugar. Like a vinegarier sauce? Use more! Like a spicy BBQ Sauce, add more chipotle. You can completely your homemade BBQ Sauce until it’s perfect for you. Here’s how:
- Make it sweeter: add more brown sugar. I suggest you simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, taste and add additional sugar at this time if desired (and not right off the bat); continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Make it tangier: add additional apple cider vinegar at the end of simmering.
- Make it smokier: add additional liquid smoke, ½ teaspoon at a time.
- Make it spicier: add additional chipotle chile powder for smokey heat or cayenne pepper for penetrating heat.
- Make the seasonings your own. Like more garlic? Use more garlic. Like more mustard? Use more mustard. You can adjust all of the seasonings to suit your tastes and even add additional seasonings such as oregano or parsley.
- Make it thicker: simmer the sauce for upwards of 15 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency, however, it is already gorgeously thick after 15 minutes so I don’t think you’ll find this necessary.
- Make it gluten-free: double check your ingredients to ensure they are gluten free.
BBQ SAUCE Recipe Adaptations
- Homemade Spicy BBQ Sauce. This BBQ Sauce already has a nice kick due to the chipotle, but I would categorize it as more sweet-spicy. For a spicier BBQ Sauce, either increase the chipotle, add cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce.
- Homemade Maple BBQ Sauce. Substitute half of the brown sugar for pure maple syrup – not the breakfast imitation kind!
- Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce. Substitute the brown sugar for honey.
- Homemade Smokey BBQ Sauce: Swap the chili powder for smoked paprika and increase the liquid smoke.
How to Use Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Homemade Barbecue Sauce has so many delicious uses from basting, to smothering, to dipping! It is particularly scrumptious on grilled meats such as chicken and pork as well as smothering slow cooker pulled meats. Essentially, homemade BBQ Sauce can be used in any recipe that calls for barbecue sauce or anything that needs some added flavor. Some of our favorite ways to use barbecue sauce include:
- Chicken. Smother baked chicken, grilled chicken, chicken wings or chicken kebabs with BBQ Sauce for an easy, scrumptious dinner. Smothering chipotle chicken in barbecue sauce is particularly delish.
- Pulled Meats and Sandwiches. BBQ Pulled Chicken, BBQ Pulled Pork and BBQ Brisket enveloped in the BEST BBQ Sauce are stand-alone delicious or make the best sandwiches loaded on buns with or without your favorite coleslaw.
- Burgers: Add some barbecue sauce directly to your ground beef before making patties then also spread some on top of the cooked BBQ burgers.
- Sloppy Joes. Skip the sloppy Joe sauce and use homemade BBQ Sauce instead!
- Sandwiches. In addition to pulled sandwiches, barbecue sauce can be used as a spread on sandwiches like these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches for an instant flavor bomb.
- Pizzas and Stromboli. Use homemade barbecue sauce in place of pizza sauce on pizza or in stromboli for BBQ Chicken Pizza/Stromboli. I’ve also used in in these Mini Deep Dish Hawaiian Pizzas and BBQ Chicken Pizza Dip.
- Salads. One of my favorite chicken salads is BBQ Chicken Salad with Tomatillo Ranch made by smothering chopped chipotle grilled chicken in barbecue sauce – to live for! So, essentially, you can smother any protein in BBQ Sauce and add to salad. You can even use the sauce as a dressing like in my Cowboy Pasta Salad.
- Salmon. Brush homemade BBQ Sauce over salmon before cooking and again after cooking. It can also be used as a “glue” for any type of crusted salmon.
- Tacos/burritos/quesadillas/nachos. Mix up your favorite Mexican dishes by using BBQ Sauce instead of salsa or enchilada sauce along with some pineapple for a Hawaiian flair. I used this concept in my very first recipe post ever – Hawaiian Beef Taquitos and again in my BBQ Pork Taquitos – both phenomenal.
- Meatballs. Toss your favorite meatballs in barbecue sauce and watch them disappear.
- Baked beans. Adding homemade BBQ Sauce to baked beans really amps up the flavor.
- Dipping sauce. We dip everything in this BBQ Sauce recipe because it makes everything better! Chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken, chicken tenders, oven baked chicken, baked French Fries, roasted potatoes, bacon wrapped shrimp, hush puppies, pretzel bites, coconut shrimp, and on and on!
How to Store Homemade BBQ Sauce
Allow the BBQ Sauce to cool to room temperature then transfer it to a mason jar or an air-tight container. Store for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Now it’s ready for any of the aforementioned uses throughout the week!
How to Freeze Barbecue Sauce
Place the barbecue sauce in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Helpful Tools to Make BBQ Sauce Recipe
- Mason Jars: these are ideal for storing BBQ sauce as well as any sauce, dressings, vegetables, pickles, salsa, pie fillings, etc.
- Saucepan: is a kitchen staple ideal for preparing homemade sauces. I love my cast-iron Le Creuset with an interior enamel that makes it easy to monitor food as it cooks and prevents burning and sticking. This less expensive All-Clad is also a great option.
- Measuring spoons: are my most used kitchen tools! These are magnetic, stackable and double-sided, so there are less dishes wash!
Want to try this BBQ SAUCE RECIPE?
Pin it to your Dinner or Chicken Board to SAVE for later!
Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes! I am always pinning :)!
©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
Carlsbad Cravings© Original