Homemade BBQ Sauce

This easy homemade BBQ sauce recipe is sweet, tangy, and seasoned to perfection with a flavorful mix of spices. Great for summer grilling!

Homemade BBQ Sauce

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!

Barbecue sauce recipe ingredients

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

How to Make BBQ Sauce

My method for how to make BBQ sauce is super quick and easy!

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Then, reduce the heat to low.
  3. 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!

How do you like to use homemade BBQ sauce? Let me know in the comments!

BBQ sauce recipe

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 BBQ Sauce

rate this recipe:
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves 8
This homemade BBQ sauce recipe has a perfect balance of sweet, tangy, smoky, and savory flavors. It's super easy to make, and it keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


  • cups ketchup
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika


  • 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.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Jan G.

    5 stars
    This was so good you could eat it with a spoon! I used it with the BBQ Tofu recipe, but it would be great on tempeh, too!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Ooh yes this would be delicious on tempeh! So glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Nora

    This is a wonderful substitute for Annie’s Sweet & Spicy which is no longer available. For those who are on a sodium restricted diet I recommend Coconut Aminos as a sub for the high sodium content of Tamari. Even the low-sodium version if much too high for those with congestive heart failure. It is a delish sauce.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Nora, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Roger Penrod

    Can this sauce be water bath or pressure canned?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Roger, I don’t have experience canning and preserving so I’m not sure.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.