RECIPES:
Jun 29, 2022

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
While you can always go with your favorite store bought BBQ sauce, I love making my own.

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There exist a wide array of regional barbecue sauces from the more vinegar-based North Carolina sauces to the mustard-focused sauces of South Carolina and ketchup-based sauces of Kansas City. This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is based on the St. Louis style BBQ sauce. It’s  similar to Kansas City sauce in that it is ketchup based and sweetened with brown sugar and molasses but prominently features apple cider vinegar. This BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy and thick enough to spread over ribs or drizzle over pulled pork. Use this homemade sauce in any recipe that calls for BBQ sauce! 

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Ketchup – The base of my BBQ sauce recipe is ketchup which adds body and provides a bold flavor. 
  • Apple cider vinegar – The addition of apple cider vinegar helps to thin this sauce as well as balance the sweeter elements. It adds a tangy flavor without overpowering the sauce like white vinegar would. 
  • Brown sugar – Brown sugar is added as a sweetener to this sauce. The sauce is simmered until the sugar dissolves.
  • Worcestershire – The fermented condiment adds depth of flavor and a bit of salt to the recipe. Worcestershire is made from a mix of vinegar, molasses, anchovies, garlic, tamarind extract and chili pepper.
  • Molasses – While some recipes use either brown sugar or molasses to develop the sweet flavor, I use both. I love the honey-like texture and complex flavor it adds. 
  • Dijon – While some BBQ sauces (especially recipes from South Carolina) focus heavily on mustard, it is a background ingredient, used to add depth of flavor and balance the sweetness. 
  • Spices – I use a combination of black pepper, garlic powder and mustard powder with a touch of cumin and cayenne to add flavor to this BBQ sauce recipe. 

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

Step 1: Combine all ingredients.

Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire, molasses, mustard, and spices to a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Step 2: Simmer sauce.

Whisk to combine then bring the mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.

Step 3: Use or store. 

The BBQ sauce can be kept for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

How to Store Homemade BBQ Sauce 

Once the sauce is made, allow it to cool completely to room temperature. Add it to an airtight container and store, refrigerated, for up to two weeks. 

Swaps and Substitutions 
  • If you prefer a tangier sauce, reduce the brown sugar by half. 
  • For a spicy BBQ sauce, add ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes.
  • For a more garlic forward sauce, add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. 
  • For a smokier BBQ sauce, add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke (a little goes a long way).
  • If you are looking for a thinner BBQ sauce, whisk 1 tablespoon of water at a time into the sauce until you achieve the desired consistency. I prefer a thinner sauce for brushing onto ribs while they are on the grill.
Serving ideas 

Use this recipe in place of grocery store BBQ sauce.

  • I like to use this sauce to brush on a rack of ribs on the grill or in the oven.
  • Drizzle the BBQ sauce over a pulled pork platter or pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw. 
  • Brush onto grilled chicken breasts or thighs.
  • Make a BBQ chicken pizza with chopped barbecue chicken, a drizzle of ranch, thinly sliced red onions and cilantro.
  • Pair with baked beans.

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Serves 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions:

  • Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire, molasses, mustard, and spices to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk to combine then bring the mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • The BBQ sauce can be kept for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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