Homemade BBQ Sauce

12 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Homemade BBQ Sauce is an easy recipe for a smoky sweet barbecue sauce with no ketchup or liquid smoke. The best sauce for grilling, slow cooker and more!

A trusty bottle of BBQ Sauce can come in handy when making Pulled Pork Sandwiches or BBQ Chicken Wings but nothing beats a great BBQ Sauce Recipe from scratch.

Homemade BBQ Sauce


This Homemade BBQ Sauce is a Kansas City style sauce that you can use for grilling, roasting, dipping, or slathered on burgers. You’ll love this easy recipe for BBQ sauce without high fructose corn syrup, or ketchup that you can make in about 10 minutes.

If you’ve never made BBQ Sauce from scratch before, be prepared to have your mind blown! It’s so incredibly easy to get a flavorful great sauce without having to buy an expensive bottle of BBQ sauce. The ingredients for homemade BBQ Sauce are very simple and you probably have most of them on hand.

Some BBQ sauce recipes use ketchup but we prefer using tomato paste and tomato sauce. No need to worry about the ketchup quality, if it’s gluten free, or has high fructose corn syrup. Plus canned tomato paste and tomato sauce are much cheaper than a bottle of good ketchup.

This Homemade BBQ sauce is great sauce for so many of your favorite summer dinner recipes. Make BBQ chicken by brushing our Easy Grilled Chicken with this bbq sauce as it grills. Substitute the ingredients in this recipe to when making Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches or BBQ Baked Beans.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Slightly smoky and sweet, this BBQ Sauce is a family friendly version that kids will love. Unlike vinegar based sauces, it’s not overly tangy and there is just a hint of heat but not enough to make it spicy. It’s the perfect kid friendly condiment for Crispy Chicken Tenders.

You can make this sauce ahead of time or use it right when it’s done cooking. This BBQ sauce can be refrigerated, frozen, or even preserved by canning. There are some water bath canning instructions in this post if you want to make a large batch of Homemade BBQ Sauce for later or for gifts!

When it comes to the “best BBQ Sauce”, everyone has their own (often strong) opinions. But this is one of the best BBQ sauce recipes that you can easily make your own! It’s amazing the way it is and gets even better as you use the variations below to adjust to your taste.


Homemade BBQ Sauce in red dutch oven


  • Spicy: To give your BBQ Sauce heat add chipotle in adobo sauce, hot sauce, or cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Sweet: Replace some of the brown sugar with honey or maple syrup for a sweeter sauce. You can add a tablespoon of molasses for a true Kansas City barbecue sauce.
  • Smoky: For a hickory BBQ sauce, try adding a little liquid smoke at a time to taste. Its powerful stuff so start with an ⅛ teaspoon of liquid smoke and go from there. You can also use smoked paprika for smoky flavor.
  • Spices: Try different dried spices like smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, and onion powder to make this BBQ sauce your own.

How to Can BBQ Sauce using Water Bath Canning

  • Prepare BBQ Sauce Recipe as usual. Use the slider tool on the serving size to adjust for larger batches.
  • Sterilize canning jars, lids, and rings in boiling water while sauce is cooking. Keep hot.
  • Fill hot jars with BBQ sauce, leaving a ¼ inch gap from top, careful not to splatter. Clean rims completely if needed.
  • Top with sterile lids and secure rings to finger tip tightness.
  • Place in the bottom of a Water Canner and cover with water 2 inches over the lids.
  • Seal lid and bring to a boil. For pint jars, boil 30 minutes. For quart jars, boil 40 minutes.
  • After boiling, turn off heat and rest for 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a cooling rack and rest for 24 hours.
  • Wipe jars, remove rings, and store in pantry for up to a year.



  • Serve: Serve this Homemade BBQ Sauce immediately in a recipe or cool down to for a dipping sauce.
  • Store: Refrigerate BBQ Sauce in a glass jar or airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • Freeze: You can freeze BBQ sauce in a sealed container for up to 6 months. Cool BBQ sauce before freezing.

Homemade BBQ Sauce in glass jar

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce is an easy recipe for a smoky sweet barbecue sauce with no ketchup or liquid smoke. The best sauce for grilling, slow cooker and more!
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion , diced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


  • Add the oil and onions to a large pot on medium heat and cook for 5-6 minutes until the onions are softened, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, salt and pepper and stir well.
  • Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer then cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  • Use warm or refrigerate until needed.


Calories: 85kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 372mg | Potassium: 252mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 524IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

Homemade 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. made the bbq sauce as store bought ones are too sweet and the price of store bought ones is getting to expensive especially if you need a lot. This recipe is perfect as it is not too sweet or too spicy. I have been looking for a recipe that does not contain ketchup. Thank you for it. I will recommend it to anyone of my family or friends

  2. Hi Sabrina,
    I‘m from Austria and I would appreciate, if you could also send the metric information. I really want to try this recipe, it sounds so delicious!

    Kind regards,

  3. Unfortunately this sauce was insanely sweet (probably just my palate). Complexity and flavor is really nice, I just wish I’d known to divide the recommended brown sugar amount by 3.

  4. Hi Sabrina,

    The recipe says this makes 12 servings but I don’t what size serving that is? Can you tell me how many cups this will yield? Thank you!

    1. I’m so sorry this comment got stuck and I just came across it. I know your meal is long gone now. 1/4 cup would be great, just simmer longer to thicken.

  5. The depth of flavor in this is SO good! I will NEVER go back to store bought again…makes that stuff taste too sugary…

  6. I made this sauce tonight and used it on your baked chicken thighs recipe. OH MY GOD! The sauce was SO good and the chicken was probably the most tender chicken I’ve ever had in my life! I found that the can of tomato paste in my pantry had expired so I had to leave that out of the sauce and it was still delicious! I will be making this again soon! Thank you for all your awesome recipes!