Homemade BBQ Sauce takes only 5 minutes to make with pantry ingredients you probably already have, so it’s a great way to save money, and it’s absolutely delicious! This thick barbecue sauce recipe has tang from apple cider vinegar and mustard, sweetness from brown sugar, with a base of ketchup and a secret ingredient for a salty, savory punch. Use it as a dip or in any favorite BBQ recipe!
OK I’ll just tell you- the secret ingredient is soy sauce! Many recipes use Worcestershire sauce in homemade BBQ sauces, but I never have any around, so I used soy sauce instead.
The soy sauce is used instead of salt, and it’s a great vegetarian substitute for Worcestershire sauce in barbecue sauce (Worcestershire has anchovies, so it’s not vegetarian). So you can rest assured this homemade BBQ sauce recipe is vegetarian (vegan, too!).
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ketchup – Ketchup is the base for this recipe, but I think in a pinch you could substitute with a mix of tomato sauce and tomato paste. If you do, you may need to simmer the sauce for longer, as it will need to thicken, and adjust seasoning to taste as it may need more sugar, spices, and soy sauce.
- Yellow mustard – You can also use 1-2 tablespoons mustard powder, but I really like the color and flavor prepared yellow mustard adds.
- Apple cider vinegar – this will add the best flavor, but you can use white vinegar in a pinch (a little less in amount).
- Brown sugar – this can be substituted with other sweeteners or a combination, such as white sugar, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, and/or molasses. I think a granulated sugar works best, as it will caramelize really well when you cook with the sauce.
- Soy sauce – the secret ingredient which makes this so yummy! You can use salt instead in a pinch, and use gluten-free soy sauce if needed. Liquid aminos may also be used.
- Spices: Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Black Pepper, Cayenne pepper. Smoked paprika may be substituted with regular or sweet paprika, and cayenne may be omitted (or increased) depending on spice level preference.
How to make Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan.
- Stir together and heat up for about 3-5 minutes, or until all the sugar has dissolved.
Told you it was easy! If you like, you can simmer for a little longer to make a thicker sauce. And you should let it cool for a little while before storing it.
How to store homemade bbq sauce
After allowing the BBQ sauce to cool off for a little while, you can put it in a jar or airtight container.
Refrigerate for up to about 2 weeks, or freeze for up to about 6 months.
Recipes to use Barbecue Sauce
- Use it as a glaze on grilled or baked bbq chicken, or bbq salmon.
- Bust out the air fryer for bbq ribs.
- Use it on pulled pork sandwiches or shredded beef bbq sandwiches.
- Spread it on top of meatloaf instead of ketchup- here’s a mini meatloaf recipe and a BBQ meatloaf meatballs recipe.
- Dip oven baked french fries, homemade potato chips, homemade chicken nuggets or chicken tenders into BBQ sauce.
- Use it as a pizza sauce on bbq chicken pizza.
Other homemade sauce / condiment recipes
- Honey Mustard Sauce
- Homemade Taco Seasoning
- Restaurant-Style Salsa
- Enchilada Sauce
- Pizza Sauce
- Almond Butter
- Peanut Butter
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Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Medium Saucepan
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce gluten-free if needed
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper more or less depending on spice level preference
- Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and stir together until combined.
- Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar has dissolved and the ingredients are well combined (about 5 minutes). If you want a thicker sauce, let it simmer uncovered until it's thickened to your liking.
- Allow the sauce cool and serve as a dip or in any recipe that uses barbecue sauce. Store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.
- To make this paleo-compliant, use a natural sweetener (like maple syrup or honey) instead of brown sugar, compliant ketchup, and be sure to use liquid aminos or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
- To make this gluten-free/grain-free, be sure to use GF soy sauce or liquid aminos.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: