How to Make BBQ Sauce from Scratch: 5 Homemade Recipes

From soaking the meat in salt water for preservation to restoring aged meats by cooking them in stews, sauces have been around forever. Consider sauce to be the music to your lyrics. With the perfect blend of sweet and salty, hot and sour, the right sauce brings harmony to your entire dish.

How to Make BBQ Sauce from Scratch: 5 Homemade Recipes

Learn How to Make BBQ Sauce

Some sauces have been around for so long, they’ve become household staples. One such sauce is barbecue sauce. With its sticky texture and strong salty-sweet taste, you either love it or you hate it.

A History of BBQ Sauce

It is believed that BBQ sauce originated in Ancient Europe. Many of the core ingredients of classic barbecue sauce were often used to age and cook meats in the olden days. Grape juices made from aged and fermented wine were used to baste and cook meats. Modern recipes call for vinegar to provide that sharp, acidic hint to the sweet sauce.

Around the same time, meat was often preserved in a brine mix of salt water, herbs, wine, and vinegar. These same meats were cooked using smoke to make the meat last longer and taste better. These flavors laid down the foundation for the present day version of BBQ sauce.

It’s also quite fascinating to see that the first recipes of BBQ sauce show a good amount of butter forming the base of the sauce. This was seen mainly in France where butter forms the base of many classic dishes.

But for now, we’re looking at BBQ sauce for the present time. This sticky, sweet, salty sauce with a consistency similar to a warm caramel and the essence of a barbecue grill makes us weak at the knees. We’re giving you the 5 best recipes for the ultimate BBQ sauce that’s ten times better than any store-bought version. But, if you’re just not the type to prepare your own, here’s our list of the best store-bought barbecue sauces.

1. The Classic BBQ Sauce

This one has all those typical flavors you may generally associate with BBQ sauce. With a balance between the salty sweet flavor and the smoky spiciness, this one is perfect if you just want a classic dinner of steak and chips.

What you’ll need

  • 2 cups of your favorite ketchup
  • ¼ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons honey (avoid using flavored honey, such as lavender, etc. as this will affect the flavor of your sauce)
  • ½ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (you can also use half a clove of fresh garlic instead)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce such as Tabasco (optional)- you can add a bit more for a spicier flavor


  • Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and place it over medium heat. Keep whisking the mixture till it starts bubbling and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Keep it on the heat till it thickens and attains a syrupy consistency. This will take around 10 minutes.
  • You can either serve it up straight away or cool it down and refrigerate it in an airtight container. It should be consumed within a week of making it.
  • This recipe will yield around 2 cups of BBQ sauce.

2. The Cola BBQ Sauce

Spruce up your homemade BBQ sauce with some coke. This recipe is sweet and spicy and tangy from the cola and you’ll love it with everything, whether it’s some delicious slow-cooked ribs or a bucket full of tender chicken wings.

What you’ll need

  • 1 regular can Coca Cola (don’t even bother with Diet)
  • 1 cup of your favorite ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar (you can even substitute these for molasses)
  • ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes ( if you don’t like the flakes in your sauce, you can use chili powder instead)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (or mustard powder)


  • Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepot and cook over medium heat. Stir for a few seconds, then reduce the heat and let your sauce cook over low heat till it’s thick and dark red. You will need to stir this frequently. The thickening process may take up to 20 minutes.
  • This sauce can be used for up to 2 weeks. When not in use, keep it covered in your refrigerator.
  • This recipe yields 1 ½ cups of BBQ sauce.

Nutritional Information

Each Tablespoon of this sauce contains:

  • Calories (kcal): 25
  • Fat (g): 0.25
  • Carbohydrates (g): 6
  • Protein (g): 0.5
  • Sodium (mg): 120
  • Dietary Fiber (g): 0.5
  • Total sugars (g): 5

No saturated fats or cholesterol contained in this recipe.

3. The Mustard BBQ Sauce

Making BBQ sauce from scratch means you can flavor it exactly the way you want. If you’re one of those people who love a spicy mustard kick to their barbecue sauce, then this recipe is the one for you. And if you’ve never been a fan of tomatoes, don’t worry because this sauce doesn’t have any. With the sourness from the mustard and a strong chili kick, this sauce isn’t for the faint of heart. Slather it onto some char-grilled beef or even toss it through a vegetable salad to spruce up your meal.

What you’ll need

  • 1 ¼ cup of your favorite mustard (not honey mustard)
  • 2 teaspoons of hot sauce such as Tabasco or any other sauce of your preference
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter
  • ¾ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


  • Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan.
  • Place it over a gentle heat and cook till thickened, stirring occasionally. This will take around 15 minutes.
  • This recipe yields around 2 ¼ cups.

4. The Instant BBQ Sauce

If you’re having a barbecue in your backyard, this sauce might just become a party favorite. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s super delicious. So even if you run out, you can whip up some more in less than 5 minutes! It’s sticky, it’s sweet, it’s got a hint of spice to it. Even kids will love it. In fact, they’ll even be able to make it themselves because there’s no stove usage involved. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, don’t worry. This sauce can make the perfect dip for some crispy, golden fries.

What you’ll need

  • ¼ cup of your favorite ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (you can use the paste or powdered version)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish paste
  • ½ tablespoon chili sauce such as Tabasco or any other


  • Whisk everything together in a bowl till fully combined and you’re done!
  • Cover and refrigerate the sauce until it is ready for use.
  • Yields around ½ cup of sauce.

Nutritional Information

Around 2 tablespoons of sauce contain:

  • Calories: 126
  • Sugars (g): 30
  • Calcium (mg): 30
  • Carbohydrates (g): 31.4
  • Protein (g): 0.5
  • Sodium (mg): 193
  • Fat (g): 0.3

This sauce does not contain any cholesterol or iron.

5. The Slow Cooked BBQ Sauce

You may have heard stories about how the best homemade BBQ sauce is the one that’s been cooked on the stove forever. This sauce sits on the stove for an hour to allow all the flavors to fully develop. This way you’ll end up with a rich, flavorful sauce that could become a family favorite. Using simple ingredients that you’re likely to have in the pantry, this recipe will transform basic flavors into a deep, smoky sweet sauce. This one deserves a fillet of Wagyu beef, but it’s also perfect with a Sunday night roast.

What you’ll need

The Tomato Base

  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ cups plum tomatoes
  • ½ cup tomato puree (paste)
  • ½ cup diced green peppers
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf

The BBQ Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon tomato base
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite tomato ketchup
  • 115 grams of butter
  • ¼ cup room temperature water
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce such as Tabasco or any other
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (powder or paste)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (avoid using red wine vinegar)
  • ½ teaspoon salt ( you can use packaged seasoning mix)
  • Finely chopped parsley


For the tomato base:

  • Blanch the tomatoes for a few seconds in boiling water and then remove their skins (you don’t want that strange leathery skin coming in the way of your smooth sauce).
  • Heat up the oil in a medium saucepan and add the chopped onions. When the onions start turning lightly golden, add the tomatoes and press them down with your stirring spoon.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat till everything is combined and the tomatoes have broken and combined in the sauce. This may take up to an hour.
  • For the BBQ sauce, you’ll only need about a tablespoon but you can store the rest and use it with some tacos or as the base for some delicious tomato sauce pasta. You can even use it as the perfect accompaniment for some crispy, gooey mozzarella sticks!

For the BBQ sauce:

  • Whisk together all the ingredients (except the butter) in a large saucepan. Place the pan over a gentle heat and simmer for around 30 minutes to combine everything.
  • Once the sauce has thickened and become smooth, remove it from the heat and whisk in the butter. This will give your sauce a delicious, smooth texture and a tempting glossy sheen.

Our Final Thoughts on How to Make BBQ Sauce

Whether you end up going for the classic sweet and smoky sauce or prefer a bit more a tang or spice, barbecue sauce is a delight either way. Don’t be afraid to be a little experimental. You can even add stone fruits such as peaches or plums to bring out their naturally sweet flavor and tartness in the sauce. This is also a great way of reducing the number of processed sugars you use in the mix. Whatever you choose, BBQ sauce can be very forgiving. Cover up any mistakes by adding in more of the tomato base and rebuilding the flavors in your sauce.

This versatile sauce can be paired with anything, whether it’s a slab of red meat or even a spruced up Caesar salad. You can bottle it up and store it to use any time you’re craving something salty, sticky and delicious. If you’re not in the mood to cook anything, just use the BBQ sauce as a dip for some chips or even nachos. Either way, it always tastes great.

References Used for These Recipes

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