Once you realize how easy it is to make really good smoky BBQ sauce at home, you might never buy bottled again!
I know. It’s super easy to just grab a bottle of barbecue sauce at the store. But do you know how easy it is to make your own? And from ingredients you probably already have on hand? And in about 15 minutes?
I do, and I’m sharing the recipe with you. And maybe best of all, this recipe isn’t just good—it’s really good. It’s everything you want in a barbecue sauce. It’s sweet, spicy, and smoky. And you can even adjust it to make it more or less so—if you like a sauce that’s sweeter, or spicier.
Scroll down to read more about how it all comes together or click here to jump straight down to the recipe.
Homemade BBQ Sauces
You might remember when I shared a recipe for a Basic Homemade BBQ Sauce—with only three ingredients!—and that’s still my go-to when I’m short on ingredients and time. Or when I just want something super simple. But when I want my barbecued foods to have more depth, more flavor—more oomph—this is the recipe I use.
Like I said earlier, you can easily adjust the recipe to your taste. If you like it sweeter, just add some more brown sugar. If you like it spicier, just add more cayenne. If you want it totally mild, cut down on the cayenne, or leave it out altogether. And if you want it more or less smoky, just adjust the smoked paprika. You can also add a little liquid smoke if you want it smokier. But beware—a little of that goes a long way.
Using This Smoky BBQ Sauce
Some of my favorite ways to use this sauce are on grilled chicken, grilled pork chops, grilled pork tenderloin, and ribs. But it’s also great as a burger topping, a sauce for pulled pork sandwiches, a dipping sauce for french fries, or even a pizza sauce for barbecued chicken pizza!
If you do a lot of grilling, you might want to make a double batch. Then stash it in a jar or bottle in your fridge—perhaps in the spot where you used to keep the store bought stuff?—and enjoy amazing homemade sauce again and again. Plus, I’ve got plenty more ideas for using leftover BBQ sauce that you’re sure to love.
Yum! – Christine :)Print
Once you realize how easy it is to make really good barbecue sauce at home, you might never buy bottled again!
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- Pinch of ground cloves*
- 1 tsp. hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Combine everything except the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt to taste and set aside to cool.
Love this recipe? I’d appreciate it if you could scroll down and add a *5 star rating* to help others know they’ll love it as well!
*The original recipe that I posted here called for 1 teaspoon of cloves. I had feedback in the comments below that the cloves were way too prominent. I agree and believe that 1 teaspoon was a typo. I have changed it to a pinch, which gives a subtle hint of spicy clove, and definitely not the overpowering flavor others have experienced. My sincerest apologies for this mistake. Thank you to those who let me know about it. Your comments help so much!
This post originally appeared in April 2019 and was revised and republished in October 2023.