Root Beer BBQ Sauce

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Root Beer BBQ Sauce is an easy recipe for a finger-lickin good barbecue sauce. Sweet and tangy bbq sauce made from scratch, perfect for dunking or grilling!

Call it cola, pop, or Coke, a can of soda and Homemade BBQ Sauce go hand in hand, especially in Southern BBQ recipes. Add this delicious root beer version to your favorite Sauce Recipes!

Root Beer BBQ Sauce in glass jar


One bite of Root Beer BBQ Chicken and you’ll know why cola bbq sauce is a Southern tradition! This homemade Root Beer Barbecue Sauce still uses a full cup of root beer without any ketchup or bottled BBQ sauce. This kid friendly BBQ sauce is packed with flavor!

A can of your favorite root beer makes this sauce sweet and slightly tangy with hints of the vanilla molasses flavor that makes root beer so delicious! The sweetness of Root Beer BBQ Sauce is balanced out by savory spices, onions, and Worcestershire sauce for a well-rounded mild barbecue sauce.

This Root Beer BBQ Sauce recipe is made on the stove top, simmered with cornstarch until it is thick enough for dipping or glazing. If you like a thinner sauce, leave out the cornstarch and cook for half the time. A thin sauce is great for grilling mops or slow cooking. Speaking of slow cooking, you can make Slow Cooker Root Beer BBQ Sauce with tips in this post.

Making Root Beer BBQ Sauce in a slow cooker is a great summer activity for kids! They will love making their very own barbecue sauce and you don’t have to worry about any burnt hands or ingredients. Plus, kids tend to gobble up anything they make themselves. Watch them dip everything from Chicken Tenders to Roasted Broccoli in their Root Beer BBQ Sauce.

You can use Root Beer BBQ Sauce on all your favorite grilled recipes. This is a sweet bbq sauce recipe that can easily burn or char, so it’s not recommended as a grilling marinade. Instead, glaze the mostly cooked meat during the last 5-10 minutes of grilling for flavor. 

Root Beer BBQ Sauce is great for slow cooking or baked chicken, beef, and pork recipes. Substitute this BBQ sauce in recipes like Slow Cooker Ribs or Pulled Pork Sandwiches. If you brush on raw meat, like Baked BBQ Chicken, reserve some sauce for dipping and discard the glazing sauce.


Root Beer BBQ Sauce in pot

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  • Ketchup: If you prefer a ketchup based BBQ sauce, replace the tomato sauce with 1/2 cup ketchup and only use 1/2 cup brown sugar.
  • Molasses: For a richer molasses flavor, replace 1/4 cup brown sugar with 2 tablespoons dark molasses.
  • Espresso: Just like adding it to chocolate recipes, a shot of espresso will bring out the warm flavors in Root Beer Barbecue Sauce without the coffee taste.
  • Cola: Swap out any of your favorite dark sodas in this barbecue sauce recipe like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Cherry Cola, or Diet Pepsi.
  • Smoky: For a smoky Root Beer BBQ Sauce, add Liquid Smoke, smoked paprika or dried chipotle powder to taste. Keep in mind chipotle is both smoky and spicy!
  • Butter: Add a couple tablespoons of unsalted butter (or oil) to the BBQ sauce if you are grilling or making BBQ Chicken Wings. It gives the sauce a nice shine and helps it stick better.
  • Hard Root Beer: You can use hard root beer (aka alcoholic) in this recipe too! The alcohol will burn off while it’s cooking, leaving the sauce with all the flavor and none of the kick.

Slow Cooker Root Beer BBQ Sauce

  • Crockpot barbecue sauce is so easy! Use this method to make a double batch of sauce too.
  • Add all the ingredients, except the cornstarch, to the slow cooker and stir to combine in a small 3qt. slow cooker.
  • Cook barbecue sauce covered on high for 3-4 hours, or until sauce is reduced.
  • Mix the cornstarch with equal part water and stir completely into sauce.
  • Cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until barbecue sauce has thickened to your preference.




  • Serve: You can serve Root Beer BBQ Sauce hot or chill it first, but do not leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Store: Store Root Beer BBQ Sauce in an airtight container, preferably a glass jar, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Freeze: Cool Root Beer Barbecue Sauce completely and place a freezer safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 6 months and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.

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Root Beer BBQ Sauce

5 from 3 votes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Course: Sauce
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Root Beer BBQ Sauce is an easy recipe for a finger-lickin good barbecue sauce. Sweet and tangy bbq sauce made from scratch, perfect for dunking or grilling!


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion , chopped
  • 12 ounces root beer , 1 1/2 cups
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Add oil to a dutch oven on medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until they start to brown, stirring occasionally, about 5-6 minutes.

  3. Add in the root beer, tomato sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and stir until combined.

  4. Cook for 30-35 minutes until the mixture has cooked down by half and thickened.

  5. Use hot or store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 12 servings, Amount per serving: 88 calories, Calories: 88g, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 332mg, Potassium: 176mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 153g, Vitamin C: 3g, Calcium: 23g, Iron: 1g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Root Beer BBQ Sauce

Root Beer BBQ Sauce collage

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  1. We grilled the other night and I made this sauce to go with it! So delicious!! My family enjoyed this sauce! Can’t wait to make it again!

    1. After retesting, I realized it doesn’t need the cornstarch. I’ve removed it from the ingredient list. Thanks for letting me know it was still showing up. Hope you enjoyed it!

  2. this sounds delicious. could I use diet root beer soda? I’m not a fan of diet but it’s the only kind of soda we have since my husband and son drink it. Will it leave a funny taste as I feel diet soda has a funny taste or will the other ingredients mask it? thanks for your help.

    1. I’ve not tested it but I would assume the taste might be a bit different but not as noticeable as you might think. If you decide to try, I’d love to know what you think. Thanks!