Root Beer BBQ Sauce

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

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


  • Ketchup: If you prefer a ketchup based BBQ sauce, replace the tomato sauce with ½ cup ketchup and only use ½ cup brown sugar.
  • Molasses: For a richer molasses flavor, replace ¼ 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

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!
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 , chopped
  • 12 ounces root beer , 1 ½ cups
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • 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 root beer, tomato sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and 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: 88kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 332mg | Potassium: 176mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 153IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Root Beer BBQ Sauce

Root Beer 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 upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being 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.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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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!