Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

This Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce is a sweet and smoky all-purpose sauce.

This simple, tangy BBQ sauce goes with just about everything. It uses just pantry ingredients and takes just minutes to prepare.

Brush it on chicken, ribs, shrimp or pork chops. Spoon it over brisket, pulled pork or chicken, or smoked sausage.

Plus it just happens to be naturally gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free. Plus a simple swap makes it Paleo and refined sugar-free, and you can make it vegetarian or vegan, too!

healthy bbq sauce in a pot on top of a red striped towel with a spoon above it holding some of the sauce

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

This homemade BBQ sauce is an all-purpose sauce.

It has a bit of vinegar but it’s not a vinegar-forward sauce. It’s not too spicy (although you can make it spicier) or too sweet (you can make it sweeter).

And by making it yourself, you don’t get the tons of sugar and high fructose corn syrup that dominates so many store-bought brands.

It’s thick but pourable and goes with just about anything you’d ever want to put BBQ sauce on.

What you need

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients. Almost everything is what you already have in your pantry or is easy to find.

Plus this recipe is so easy to customize. I’ll explain simple swaps and substitutions below.

You’ll notice this is a BBQ sauce with no ketchup. That way we get to control exactly how sweet and tangy the sauce is since different ketchup brands can change the flavor.

Ingredients:

Tools:

healthy bbq sauce in a pot on a red striped towel with a spoon holding the sauce above it

How to make this tangy BBQ sauce

Get ready, there’s a lot to get through here:

  • mix all the ingredients in the saucepan and heat until warm

And…that’s it! That’s all you have to do. In just minutes this easy BBQ sauce is ready to go.

Substitutions and variations

  • If you want it spicier, add cayenne powder.
  • If you want it sweeter, add more maple syrup or date syrup.
  • If you want it tangier, add more apple cider vinegar.
  • If you want it thinner, add water a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • If you want it thicker, simmer it until it reduces to your desired consistency.
  • If you don’t have maple syrup or date syrup, you can also use the same amount of honey or coconut sugar.
  • For a Paleo barbecue sauce: Worcestershire sauce usually has a small amount of sugar in it. So if you want to make this sauce, replace the Worcestershire with the same amount of coconut aminos.
  • For a totally refined sugar-free barbecue sauce: replace the Worcestershire with the same amount of coconut aminos.
  • For a dairy-free barbecue sauce, use ghee instead of butter. (Ghee is clarified butter, meaning the milk solids have been removed, leaving only the fat behind; if you’re strictly dairy-free, ghee might not work for you.)
  • For a vegetarian/vegan barbecue sauce: Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies (don’t worry, you can’t taste them), so to make it vegetarian and vegan, use gluten-free soy sauce (tamari) or coconut aminos instead. Swap out the butter/ghee for palm shortening or your favorite vegan butter substitute.

How to use this BBQ sauce

There’s so many great ways to use this sauce!

  • Brush it on chicken (like on this Baked BBQ Chicken), pork chops (like on these Oven BBQ Pork Chops), shrimp, salmon or ribs for the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Spoon it over brisket, pulled pork or chicken, or smoked sausages.
  • Spread it on pizza crust and top it with chicken, diced red onion, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

tangy bbq sauce in a pot with a brush resting on it, next to a pan of pork chops with the sauce on top

Storage

The BBQ sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

It can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in saucepan over medium heat.

 

Other homemade sauce recipes

If you’re looking for something different from traditional BBQ sauces, try my Tequila Pineapple BBQ Sauce. It’s a bright, tangy sauce that can also be alcohol-free and Whole30 friendly!

Or check out my list of 10 toppings you can make in 10 minutes. You’ll find a ton of great sauce recipes there, like pesto, chimichurri, yogurt curry sauce and, my favorite, a 2-ingredient balsamic aioli.

You also might like my Nut-Free “Peanut” Sauce that takes just minutes to make.

 

bbq sauce in a pot with a whisk and a brush with a striped red towel underneath
healthy bbq sauce in a pot on top of a red striped towel with a spoon above it holding some of the sauce
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Homemade BBQ Sauce

This easy homemade BBQ sauce takes just minutes to prepare from pantry ingredients. You can have all the smoky, tangy flavor without all the sugar and high fructose corn syrup of store-bought brands. Plus you can make it as spicy or sweet as you want!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bbq sauce, easy bbq sauce, healthy bbq sauce, homemade bbq sauce
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 6 tablespoons dark maple syrup or date syrup
  • 4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (preferably grass-fed) or ghee
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons unsulphured molasses (regular or blackstrap)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (optional but recommended)

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and whisk until blended. Heat over medium heat until warmed through.

Notes

Substitutions and variations
  • If you want it spicier, add cayenne powder.
  • If you want it sweeter, add more maple syrup or date syrup.
  • If you want it tangier, add more apple cider vinegar.
  • If you want it thinner, add water a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • If you want it thicker, simmer it until it reduces to your desired consistency.
  • If you don't have maple syrup or date syrup, you can also use the same amount of honey or coconut sugar.
  • Worcestershire sauce usually has a small amount of sugar in it. So if you want to make this sauce Paleo and/or refined sugar-free, replace the Worcestershire with the same amount of coconut aminos.
  • To make sure it's dairy-free, use ghee instead of butter. (Ghee is clarified butter, meaning the milk solids have been removed, leaving only the fat behind.)
  • Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies (don't worry, you can't taste them), so to make it vegetarian and vegan, use gluten-free soy sauce (tamari) or coconut aminos instead. Swap out the butter/ghee for palm shortening or your favorite vegan butter substitute.
Storage
The BBQ sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
It can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in saucepan over medium heat.

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