Homemade BBQ Sauce

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This Homemade BBQ Sauce is so much better than anything you can get at the store. It requires just a handful of ingredients, takes just 5 minutes to prep, and has the perfect smokey, spicy, and sweet flavor.

Wooden spoon stirring a pan of barbecue sauce.

Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

This is your sign to stop buying store-bought BBQ sauce!

Okay…I guess it’s okay to grab a bottle once in a while if you’re in a time crunch, but only for emergencies. This homemade BBQ sauce is so much better! 

It’s the perfect balancing act of smokey, sweet, and spicy flavors that will really make your mouth water.

And the best part? You probably have all of the ingredients you need on hand already! 

Just toss everything together in a saucepan and let all those flavors meld together for about 30 minutes. That’s all there is to it!

What is BBQ Sauce Made Of?

  • Tomato Sauce: Plain old tomato sauce creates the perfect sweet base for our BBQ sauce.
  • Ketchup: Ketchup adds to the tomato flavor with a little extra tang.
  • Molasses: Adds a rich sweetness.
  • Brown Sugar: I recommend light brown sugar. Dark brown sugar is more rich, and the molasses has that covered.
  • Liquid Smoke: A little goes a long way! 
  • Seasonings: Our homemade barbecue sauce is seasoned with a simple blend of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
Ingredients for kansas city style bbq sauce.

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

Scroll to the recipe card below for full instructions and ingredient amounts!

This easy BBQ sauce recipe takes just 5 minutes to prepare! Here’s how:

  1. In a saucepan, whisk together all of the ingredients. Heat over low-medium heat until simmering, then keep at a simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, then cool completely. Serve or store.
Ingredients for barbecue sauce in a pan.

Tips and Notes

  • Go easy on the salt. Start with less and only add more after you do a final taste test to make sure you get the flavor just right.
  • Make it smokier. The liquid smoke already brings a delicious smokey element to the sauce. BUT, if you like it a bit smoker, try swapping the regular paprika out for smoked paprika.
  • Spice it up. Want to heat things up? Sprinkle in some extra cayenne powder. Only do so after a taste test. A little goes a long way! 

Serving Suggestions

As you probably already know, BBQ sauce is so incredibly versatile. Serve it any way you’d serve the store-bought stuff! 

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for this barbecue sauce to accompany:

Bbq sauce on a sandwich.


This BBQ sauce will last in an airtight container or jar with a lid in the fridge for up to a week. Be sure to let it cool completely at room temperature before storing it.

Is It Worth Making Your Own BBQ Sauce?

Yes! Making homemade BBQ sauce could not be easier (just 5 minutes of hands-on time), is made with super simple ingredients, and is so much tastier than the store-bought stuff. 

Plus, you can customize the flavor to your liking by adjusting the ingredients to suit your tastes! There really is no downside to making BBQ sauce at home.  

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Spoon dipping into a pan of bbq sauce.

BBQ Sauce Recipe

4.7 from 6 votes
Print Pin
Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12 Servings


  • 1 ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • cup molasses
  • 1⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, smoked or sweet
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup ground black pepper


  • Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Then, simmer over low-medium heat.
    1 ½ cup tomato sauce
    1 cup ketchup
    ⅓ cup molasses
    1⅓ cup light brown sugar
    2 teaspoons liquid smoke
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    ¼ cup ground black pepper
  • Continue simmering for 30 minutes before turning the heat off.
  • See post for tips, FAQs, and storage instructions.

Suggested Equipment


*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of ¼ cup of bbq sauce. Actual calories will vary.
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.
*Photos courtesy of Karla Rae Photography.


Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 162kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 389mg | Potassium: 392mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 379IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2mg
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