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Epic Sweet & Smoky Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

An Epic Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe that’s the ultimate blend of sweet, smoky, tangy with just a hint of spice and it’s made without ketchup! It’s the perfect BBQ Sauce to slather on chicken, ribs, pork, grilled pizza or even a burger!

Looking for more barbecue sauce recipes? Try my Mango BBQ Sauce (it has cooked & pureed mangos) or my Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce. Both are the BOMB!

Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

When it comes to summer grilling, BBQ Sauce is a staple! I think I use BBQ Sauce more in the summer than any other time of year. Think about it. You slather it on, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Chicken, Burgers .. heck we even put it on grilled pizzas!

Have you ever made your own BBQ Sauce? 

If you haven’t, it’s time we change that! It’s way easier than you think it is! Just throw everything into a saucepan, stir, simmer for 15 minutes and voila. Homemade BBQ Sauce! 

homemade bbq sauce in a weck jar with a bbq sauce drenched brush

Ingredients you’ll need for this Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe:

To make a flavorful BBQ Sauce you need to add flavor. Almost all of the ingredients in this BBQ Sauce are pantry staples, there are a few like the chipotle and ancho chili powder that might not be. If you don’t have them just sub for sriracha, hot sauce or even cayenne. 

  • Tomato Sauce: I used no salt added tomato sauce because I wanted to control everything that goes into this sauce so I can control the flavor. Ketchup has so many added ingredients, including sweeteners, that I chose not to add it.
  • Dijon Mustard: Instead of a yellow mustard I add a dijon mustard to give a nice tangy pop.
  • Sweeteners: One of my favorite kinds of a BBQ Sauces is a Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce. So I chose to use a combination of honey, brown sugar and molasses to thicken things up. You’re going to love the combo, it will remind you of a Kansas City based BBQ Sauce.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds nice depth of flavor to you sauce and makes it seem like you cooked it for hours! Chefs Trick 🙂
  • Liquid Smoke: BBQ Sauce needs to have a “smoky” element and liquid smoke will do the trick. You can find it in the condiment or spice aisle.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: For a tangy acid taste to balance out the sweetness.
  • Tomato Paste: Instead of using Ketchup I add in tomato paste to thicken the sauce up and give it that depth of flavor.
  • The Spices: Oh the spices, this is where all that flavor comes in! You’ll need to dig through your spice cabinet on this one, you’ll need smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, ancho chili powder, black pepper and salt! Whew! But trust me, this BBQ Sauce will be a flavor bomb!

how to make homemade bbq sauce

finished sweet smoky homemade bbq sauce in a saucepan

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

This sauce literally could not be easier to make! It’s not one of those 3 ingredient recipes because you’re using real ingredients that aren’t “pre-made.” Just add everything into a small saucepan at the same time and simmer. No cooking in stages. Dump. Cook. Serve. Easy Peasy!

  1. Combine Ingredients: Add all your ingredients to a sauce pan.
  2. Cook the BBQ Sauce: Bring to a simmer, you’ll see bubbles. Stir occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce thickens up.
  3. Serve: You can use it right away or store it for later!

How to Store Homemade BBQ Sauce

This Homemade BBQ Sauce makes a big batch, about 3 to 4 cups worth. Meaning you’re not going to go through it in one serving unless you’re feeding an army. Here’s how to store my BBQ Sauce:

  • In the Refrigerator: Once sauce is cooked, let cool. Pour into an air tight container, I use this, and store in the refrigerator.
  • To Freeze: Once sauce is cooked, let cool completely. Pour into a freezer safe storage bag. Label with the date you made it and lay flat in freezer. Will last up to 3 to 4 months. To thaw, place storage bag in refrigerator overnight and you’re ready to go.

a spoon scooping homemade bbq sauce

How Long Does Homemade BBQ Sauce last?

Honestly, this is probably the MOST asked questions on all my recipes and definitely on my Foolproof Pickled Onions Recipe. This Homemade BBQ Sauce will last 3 to 4 weeks if stored properly in your refrigerator. If stored in the freezer, it will last 3 to 4 months. 

BBQ Recipe Adaptions:

The best part about making a Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe is you can adapt it to the way you like it! Here are some tips on changing up the flavor profile:

  • Make it Sweeter: Add more honey.
  • Make it Smokier: Add more liquid smoke or smoked paprika.
  • Make it Spicier: Add in more chipotle chili powder. You could also add in cayenne pepper, sriracha or a couple dashes of hot sauce.
  • Want it Thicker: You could let the sauce simmer for longer or add in a cornstarch slurry.
  • Bourbon BBQ Sauce: Add in 1/3 cup of Bourbon and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes longer so you aren’t blown away by the bourbon.

How to Use this Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

Alright, now you got the sauce. How do you use it? Well, you can use it in any recipe that calls for BBQ Sauce.

brushing homemade BBQ Sauce on grilled chicken

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sweet smoky homemade bbq sauce in a mason jar

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

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  • Author: Krista
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiments
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: American


An Epic Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe that’s the ultimate blend of sweet, smoky, tangy with just a hint of spice and it’s made without ketchup! It’s the perfect BBQ Sauce to slather on chicken, ribs, pork, grilled pizza or even a burger!


  • 2 (15oz) tomato sauce, no salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 5  tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon worcestershire
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. To a sauce pan add tomato sauce, honey, molasses, brown sugar, worcestershire, liquid smoke, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, tomato paste, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, chipotle chili powder, ancho chili powder, black pepper and salt.
  2. Whisk everything together and bring mixture to a slow simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Let mixture cool and use immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.


  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 18
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Sodium: 120 mg
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

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6 comments on “Epic Sweet & Smoky Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe”

  1. Avatar photo
    Regina Thomson

    If I make your recipe with amounts listed in recipe how many carbs for two tablespoons. Hard to calculate with yield being 3-4 cups. I usually see approximation Nutritional info on your recipes, but missed it on this.

  2. Avatar photo
    Matt Robinson

    I am a huge fan of homemade bbq sauce and prefer it to store-bought, so I can’t wait to try this recipe!