Homemade BBQ Sauce
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!
Servings Prep Time
3cups 2minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
3cups 2minutes
Cook Time
Homemade BBQ Sauce
  • 2cups ketchup
  • 1/2cup molasses
  • 1/3-1/2cup brown sugar, packed(1/3 C for less sweet)
  • 1/3cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4cup seedless blackberry preserves
  • 1teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke
  • 1tsp EACH smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder
  • 1/2tsp EACH chipotle chile powder, onion powder, ground mustard, pepper, salt
  • 1/4teaspoon dried thyme
  1. Add all of the BBQ Sauce ingredients to a medium saucepan and stir to combine.
  2. Bring to a simmer then reduce to LOW to gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Recipe Notes

Tips and Tricks

  • Molasses:  make sure you are using unsulfured  molasses and NOT blackstrap molasses (it will say on your jar).
  • Liquid smoke:  imparts a wonderfully smokey flavor that elevates the BBQ Sauce to an other realm.  It is a very common ingredient and should be easy to find next to the barbecue sauces in your grocery store.
  • Blackberry preserves:  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. 
  • Chipotle Chili Powder:  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.
  • Uses: 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. See the post for all of my recipe ideas!



  • Make it sweeter:  this BBQ Sauce recipe is on the sweeter sauce like Sweet Baby Rays.  If you would like less sweet barbecue sauce, than start with less 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 gluten-free:  double check your ingredients to ensure they are gluten free.

How to Store 

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 

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.