Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce

a jar of Best barbecue sauce recipe

Learn how to make Homemade BBQ Sauce from scratch and the world is your oyster! This easy recipe is ready in 15 minutes and perfect for sandwiches or ribs or just licking off the spoon. (Yes, it’s that good.)

a jar of Best barbecue sauce recipe
  • Legit BBQ Sauce Flavor—No Corn Syrup Needed. Head to the grocery store or scan recipes for homemade BBQ sauce online; you’ll see ketchup and high-fructose corn syrup everywhere you look. Determined that none of these ingredients are necessary to make an award-winning BBQ sauce, I came up with this recipe and let me tell you, it’s a banger.
  • The Sauce You Need for All The Things. Thick and rich with smoky-sweet undertones from molasses, this versatile, finger-licking-good BBQ sauce recipe is perfect for chicken, Crockpot Ribs, a Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwich, Air Fryer Chicken Wings, and brisket.
  • Ridiculously Easy. Not only is making your own homemade barbecue sauce from scratch infinitely more delicious than anything you’ll find at the store, but it is also EASY. While this may not be one of those 3 ingredient BBQ sauce recipes (most of those include ketchup, FYI), it is still super simple and a dead ringer for the best barbecue sauces I’ve tried at legit BBQ joints. 
homemade barbecue sauce for brisket, pulled pork, chicken, or ribs in a mason jar with a spoon

5 Star Review

“This is the best recipe ever for BBQ sauce. I made this recipe this afternoon and it is so good I can eat it with a spoon.”

— Beverly —

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

The Ingredients

  • Tomato Sauce + Paste. For the tomato flavor, I used tomato paste and tomato sauce instead of ketchup. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. The vinegar adds much-needed acidity to our sweet and tangy barbecue sauce recipe. 
  • Maple Syrup + Molasses. To sweeten things up, I used a little maple syrup and molasses. I love the way the maple plays against the strong flavors in the spices (like in my Easy Baked Beans), and both of these ingredients make the sauce rich and thick too.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. Another key component in my quest to find the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and tangy. Worcestershire sauce is intensely savory and instantly adds a long-simmered flavor to the sauce.
  • Seasonings. Smoked paprika, dry mustard, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper results in a classic, balanced combination of flavors. While it’s optional, adding a dash of cayenne pepper gives just the right amount of heat.

The Directions

ingredients for the best bbq sauce in a mixing bowl
  1. Stir. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan.
a mixing bowl with a whisk stirring homemade barbecue sauce without corn syrup
  1. Cook. Simmer the barbecue sauce for 10 to 15 minutes (cover the pot a little, it splatters). Stir. Taste. Adjust. Taste some more because SO GOOD.
Award winning bbq sauce recipe being poured into a jar

Recipe Variations

  • Spicy BBQ Sauce. The recipe, as written, is more spicy-sweet than truly spicy, so if you prefer a homemade BBQ sauce with a serious kick, I’ve included the option to add some cayenne or even a tablespoon of hot sauce.
  • Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce. Simply swap the maple syrup for the same amount of honey. (This version I especially like on Grilled Salmon in Foil.)
  • Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. If you love my Bourbon Chicken, try this variation. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup bourbon whiskey with the tomato sauce (the more you add, the stronger the taste will be). Cook as directed, extending the simmer time for a bit if the bourbon flavor is too strong.
  • Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce. You also can use a Tennessee whiskey like Jack Daniels (follow the above directions for bourbon BBQ sauce) for your own version of this popular store brand.

Serving Ideas

The beauty of this easy sauce is that it can be used in any recipe that calls for premade barbecue sauce, or you can use it to spice up your favorite protein.

  • Ribs. You can use this homemade BBQ sauce for these Crockpot Ribs and Instant Pot Ribs.
  • Salad. I love using this sauce to make my favorite BBQ Chicken Salad.
  • Chicken. This is a delicious BBQ sauce recipe for chicken recipes like these Maple Bourbon Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. Or this Crock Pot BBQ Chicken (just add the sauce, plus chicken breasts or thighs to your slow cooker, and dinner cooks itself!). It would also be a yummy base for BBQ Chicken Pizza.
  • Meatballs. Brush it over these Baked Turkey Meatballs for a different flavor spin.
  • Salmon. Try brushing it over a side of salmon and then cooking the salmon according to the directions for this Baked Salmon in Foil.
  • Burgers. Use this tangy sauce to make a cowboy-style burger slathered in homemade BBQ sauce, melty cheddar cheese, and fried onions.
homemade barbecue sauce no ketchup in a jar

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Use Real Maple Syrup. Not pancake or breakfast syrup! You want real maple syrup, and preferably one that’s dark in color, which means it has a more assertive maple flavor.
  • Don’t Forget to Cover the Pan. Homemade BBQ sauce can make a mess of your stovetop if it’s simmering too vigorously and those tomato stains are a pain to clean up.
  • Adjust to Your Liking. The beauty of making your own barbecue sauce is making it your own! Taste it and add a little of this and a little of that until it’s just the way you like it.
a jar of Best barbecue sauce recipe
Print Add to Collection Go to Collections

Homemade BBQ Sauce

The BEST barbecue sauce from scratch. An easy tangy and sweet homemade BBQ sauce recipe without ketchup. Ready in 15 minutes!
Course condiment
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Calories 390kcal
Author Erin Clarke / Well Plated


  • 15 ounces tomato sauce (1 standard can)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste (1 standard can)
  • cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional but encouraged)


  • In a medium saucepan, stir together all of the ingredients: tomato sauce, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, dry mustard, garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
    ingredients for the best bbq sauce in a mixing bowl
  • Cover with a lid slightly ajar so that the pot is mostly covered to deter splattering, but steam can still escape and the sauce can reduce. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.
    a mixing bowl with a whisk stirring homemade barbecue sauce without corn syrup
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Enjoy immediately or let cool and store for later use.



  • TO STORE: Homemade barbecue sauce may be stored in an airtight container (I like to use a mason jar) in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • TO FREEZE: Store barbecue sauce in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before use.


Serving: 1cup (of 2) | Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Potassium: 2445mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 76g | Vitamin A: 3271IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 223mg | Iron: 8mg

Related Recipes

Better than store-bought! Check out one these other heathy homemade sauce and dressing recipes: