Our Very Favorite Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Super easy, nice and tangy, and with just the slightest touch of heat, this has been our go-to homemade barbecue sauce for years. Got 20 minutes? Make some!

Total Time: 20 minutes

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We like lots of homemade sauces, dips, and dressings around here. They tend to taste so much better than store-bought, and we know exactly what goes into them. Plus, they’re super budget-friendly. So it’s pretty much a win all around.

Our very favorite homemade barbecue sauce (it's so easy!) | Kitchen Treaty

This homemade barbecue sauce is no exception. It does start with store-bought ketchup (I have yet to tackle the homemade version of that), but I figure that when I choose a ketchup with natural ingredients and no high-fructose corn syrup, I’m starting off on the right foot.

Tangy, just a little tingly, a tiny bit spicy, and so, so easy to make, our go-to homemade barbecue sauce comes together in less than 20 minutes – and most of that is just simmering time.

It’s the base of a Crock Pot barbecue chicken recipe that my resident carnivore loves, as well as the sauce that makes these barbecue pulled spaghetti squash sandwiches. And I cannot wait to try making baked barbecue tofu with it.

Our very favorite homemade barbecue sauce (it's so easy!) | Kitchen Treaty

It’s actually an adaptation from this Crock Pot southern barbecue recipe on About.com’s Southern Food Guide. (I feel like About.com might be a strange place to find great recipes, but I’ve found those posted by Diana Rattray are really, really good.)

We’ve been making this sauce for years now, and now that barbecue season is heating up (get it? heating up?! sorry), we can’t wait to break it out to brush on and mix into all sorts of good things.

Psst: this stuff is also going to make an appearance in an oh-so scrumptious pizza recipe I’m sharing very, very, very soon. Like, tomorrow soon. So y’all come back now, ya hear? (I feel like that phrase is appropriate in a post about barbecue sauce).

Our Very Favorite Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Yield: About 2 1/2 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

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Super easy, nice and tangy, and with just the slightest touch of heat, this has been our go-to homemade barbecue sauce for years. Got 20 minutes? Make some!


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)


  1. Add all ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and continue simmering for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in an airtight container. Keeps refrigerated for up to one week.
Adapted from About.com

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Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.

51 Responses to “Our Very Favorite Homemade Barbecue Sauce”

  1. Looks yummy! I love BBQ sauce on my veggie burgers. I’ve been meaning to try a homemade version. Cannot wait to give this a shot! :)

  2. I love BBQ sauce. I’ll put that on anything. I’ve never made homemade ketchup either, but there is a book called 101 things to make at home and ketchup is one recipe. Looks good!

    • I need to check out that book! I have to admit, I’ve looked at recipes for homemade ketchup and I’m all, dang, THAT many tomatoes?! But my garden WILL be plentiful this year (dangit!) and I’ll have lots to work with. I have decreed it so! ;)

  3. I love bbq sauce so much! This makes me crave summertime barbecues, flip flops, and sunglasses. Great recipe!

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  5. I always thought that I didn’t like barbecue sauce, but then a few years ago I tried it again and I was hooked. And it’s SO much better when you make it yourself!

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  7. This looks exactly like what I need to make for my son’s graduation party barbecue shredded chicken sliders. Yum! The original recipe called for bottled sauce, but homemade is always so much better . . . and cheaper! I like your blog, by the way!

  8. I was out of bbq sauce and I made this for my bbq ribs ooo its soo good :)

  9. i luv bbq sauce, it changes the whole dish to a different level. Whenever i make a sauce its always ketchup or soya base with lots of chilies. I would someday try out your bbq sauce and hope i will like it. Thank you for your recipe.

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  13. Just tried it today for dinner with pulled pork and found it to be great! Used only 4 tablespoons of ketchup and completely skipped the brown sugar as my family doesn’t like things too sweet. Will definitely make again. Thanks for the recipe!

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  17. YUM! I just put this in the crockpot with some chicken. I used your base recipe, then added 3 tbsp (ish) of honey, 1/2 tsp mustard, some onion powder, some oregano and some cinnamon to make a honey husband. Thanks for the recipe!

  18. I have bn in industry, but neva had this recipe,im moving out to try,now…..Love bbq sauce.give us mo

    • I’m thinking about making bbq sauce as christmas gifts for my clients, is there a recipe that can be made a cpl months ahead of time?

      • Sounds like a perfect weneked to me. :)We braved the horrible weather to go have dinner with a couple of friends and their little girl, and it was wonderful. Then we did lots of playing inside the house, because it’s still snowing around here……….. Happy Monday!

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  20. Light or dark Soy sauce-without knowing that it will change the flavour enormously!

  21. This is a really great, easy and flavorful recipe. Thank you. I also cannot wait to make the spaghetti squash sandwiches. I spiced it up a bit by adding some crushed chipotle peppers. I also started with my own ketchup. It is time consuming, but so worth it. I don’t use fresh from the garden tomatoes. I start with a can of organic tomatoes. It’s less intimidating.

  22. Just a question, can you replace the chili flakes with smoked paprika for a more smokey rather than spicy sauce? Thanks :)

    • Hi David,

      Sure, that sounds fabulous! You’ll definitely lose some of the heat (not that the chili flakes add a ton to begin with) but I bet it would be delicious.

  23. Could I prepare this recipe and can it? Would it stay good in pantry if I do the water bath process to seal in sterile jars? Thanks

  24. So easy and great taste. Being diabetic I used tomato purée and sweetener to reduce sugar levels works a treat

  25. So easy and great taste. Being diabetic I used tomato purée and sweetener to reduce sugar levels works a treat

  26. What kind of Soy sauce are you using for the recipe please? I have light soy sauce (often used for the table) and a much stronger,slightly thicker Dark Soy sauce.Which one I use will definitely affect the flavour significantly!

    • That is a really great question, Krista! I am no soy sauce aficionado … I just use plain old Kikkoman’s. It’s labeled “naturally brewed all-purpose soy sauce” on the front of the bottle. My guess is it’s a lighter soy sauce.

  27. I actually misread the recipe (I noticed that after simmering the sauce) I thought it was 2 spoons of ketchup.. But it still tasted great! I will surely make it again! Next time I will use the right proportions :) Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  28. hello
    my name is Chuck, i like to smoke meats on my smoker. i think the drippings will make a good tasting base. of cource i will experiment for a good recipe by adding extra ingredients.
    i also want to smoke fish. i live in n. Tx

  29. i really need to know how long i can keep this stuff

  30. This is very simple and hits all the right notes. The fresh garlic is worth it! We live overseas and sometimes pay an arm and a leg for not-so-great imported sauce, but I see that coming to an end now. Thanks!

  31. I added a little extra of everything but ketsup. Also added some Keepow syrup it don’t taste so ketsupy.

  32. You mentioned the barbecue chicken recipe in this post, Have you made a write up for it? It sounds great! :)

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  34. This sounds pretty easy to make. I’ve been using Sweet Baby Ray’s (like many people) for quite some time, but it’s about time I put together my own homemade sauce and this looks like a potential winner. I think I want to create a variation though, something with a bit more punch in regards to the heat. Any suggestions for spicey things up a bit?

    • I like to increase the crushed red pepper flakes for more heat, or add a bit of powdered cayenne pepper. Or good ol’ Tabasco! I’m sure there are all kinds of awesomely crazy stuff you could do to it to make it super spicy like steeping hot peppers or some such but I’m kind of a wimp. ;)

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