Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

12 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce is a thick, sticky sweet sauce perfect for grilled chicken, brisket, or pulled pork with cherry, sweet and spicy flavors.

Homemade BBQ Sauce takes your favorite Summer Recipes from great to amazing! In less than an hour, you can make any of these Sauce Recipes from common pantry items.

Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce in jar


If you’ve ever tried Slow Cooker Dr Pepper Pulled Pork, you know what a delicious, easy difference a can of Dr. Pepper can make. This sweet, spiced soda adds a warm flavor and depth to glazes, marinades, and, of course, BBQ sauce for all your favorite barbecue recipes!

There are so many ways to make BBQ Sauce, and we all have our favorite, but this simple homemade sauce is one that everyone will love. Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce is thick, sweet, and tangy with almost no heat so it’s one of the best kid friendly sauces.

This easy homemade barbecue sauce starts with sautéed onions to add a layer of caramelized savory sweetness. The remaining ingredients are all common pantry items, like brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, plus that signature bold soda, Dr. Pepper. 

Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce slow cooks over low heat for about 30 minutes, reducing the brown sugar and syrup until you get a thick, sticky sweet sauce. The cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce balance out the sweetness, so you are left with the perfect sauce for dipping, glazing Grilled Chicken, or slathering over Pulled Pork!

For the folks that don’t like Dr. Pepper, before you right this sauce off, rest assured it isn’t an overpowering flavor! The Dr. Pepper lends a subtle flavor to this barbecue sauce but what it is really doing is making it thick and sticky. A sticky, thick sauce is great for grilling, smoking, or slow cooking meat, like BBQ Ribs and Brisket, so the sauce doesn’t slide or burn off.

If you are still on the fence, we know people have strong opinions about Dr. Pepper, you can always use other sodas or some of the variations below to create a sauce you adore! And if you are part of the Pepper Pack, aka a big fan, there are some suggestions to get that 23-flavor punch you crave.


Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce ingredients


  • Soda: Use other sodas like 7-Up, Root Beer, and Coke to subtly change the flavor of this BBQ sauce recipe. You can even use flavored sodas like grape, orange, or cream soda!
  • Seasonings: Add different depth to this barbecue sauce with seasonings like chili powder, garlic powder (or fresh minced cloves garlic), liquid smoke, or cumin.
  • Spicy BBQ Sauce: For those that like a spicy sauce, add cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or your favorite hot sauce.
  • Ketchup: If you prefer a ketchup based barbecue sauce, substitute ketchup for the tomato sauce and reduce the brown sugar to ⅓ cup.
  • Vinegar: You can swap any vinegar for the cider vinegar like balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, or red wine vinegar.
  • Smooth: After your sauce cools, you can puree with an immersion blender or food processor for a smooth barbecue sauce.

Pepper Pack Dr. Pepper Flavor

To bring out the Dr. Pepper in Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce, add ingredients found in their signature 23-Flavors. Here are some ways you can incorporate the bold flavors of Dr. Pepper.

    • Fruit Flavors: Add a tablespoon or two total of apricot jam, blueberry jam, blackberry jam or orange marmalade.
    • Spices: In a maximum of ¼ teaspoon each, add ground spices like allspice, star anise, cardamom, or coriander,
    • Extracts: Add a few drops of vanilla extract, almond extract, cherry extract, or lemon extract. Remember a little goes a long way with concentrated extracts!



  • Serve: Serve this Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce hot, or cool down and serve at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  • Store: This homemade BBQ sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week sealed in a glass jar or other airtight container.
  • Freeze: Cool sauce completely and freeze in a sealed container or freezer safe bag for up to 6 months.

Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce in pot

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Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce is a thick, sticky sweet sauce perfect for grilled chicken, brisket, or pulled pork with cherry, sweet and spicy flavors.
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion , diced
  • 12 ounces Dr. Pepper , 1 can (1 ½ cups)
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce , or crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


  • Add oil to a dutch oven on medium heat.
  • Add the onions and cook until they start to brown, stirring occasionally, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add in the Dr. Pepper, tomato sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and cornstarch stir until combined.
  • Cook for 30-35 minutes until the mixture has cooked down by half and thickened.
  • Use hot or store in the refrigerator.


Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 180mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 194IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. When are you supposed to add the cornstarch. I would think to the onions and oil after they have cooked. It’s too late for me to add it now! Thank you

  2. Hello I wanted to try this recipe so I am curious because it doesn’t mention it in the instructions, when do I use the corn starch? I know corn starch is a thickener but it doesn’t say when to use it.

      1. This is so good! Made a great topping for meatloaf and for wings! I used the diet Dr Pepper, reduced the brown sugar and it was great!

  3. This sauce is so good! I love it on chicken and ribs and even as a dip for fries and chicken tenders!

  4. I’m making this as I type. My kitchen smells amazingly delicious! My pork butt roast is in the instant pot cooking. This is going to be the best pulled pork I’ve ever made!!! I’m drooling ?!!

    I’m thinking of making a large batch of sauce and I would like to how long I can store it in the refrigerator.

    1. It should last up to a week in the refrigerator if sealed in a glass jar or airtight container. Enjoy!

  5. I used to BBQ in competition on a professional level and the only word of advice I can give is NEVER substitute diet soda for regular…the sweetener gives a bad taste…now you know one of my secrets…