How to make the best BBQ sauce


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It’s hardly impossible to talk about barbeques without a reference to the sauce. Like frosting on a cake, your barbecue sauce gives your smoked meat the extra kick it needs to take it from plain and ordinary to spectacular.

The idea of adding sauces to food dates back several centuries ago. Prehistoric chefs most likely discovered that they could improve the taste and flavor of their meat with salt, leaves, seeds, wine, vinegar, and oil. Hence, the use of barbeque sauce for smoked meat.

The earliest BBQ sauces were made mainly from a mixture of vinegar, pepper, and salt. But these days, there are a lot of ingredients that can be used to prepare this sauce and many variations depending on your specific preferences.

Today, there are bottled, on-the-shelve barbecue sauces you can simply pick up from the store. But most BBQ enthusiasts agree that this type of barbecue sauce isn’t like the real deal. They are considered by many and lacking in flavor and variety and they simply don’t taste as great as the home-made sauces. If you feel this way too, then learning how to make your BBQ sauce is important. Fortunately, with a few ingredients that you most likely have in your kitchen already, you can whip up a great-tasting BBQ sauce by following popular recipes or even come up with your own variation by switching some ingredients around.

But first, let’s talk about the basics of making BBQ sauce

Pretty much every sauce is made by either of two methods. You can either take an ingredient that is already thick (such as premade powder) and add fluids to it to thin it. But you can very well make all sauces (including BBQ sauce) this way, you may end up in jail if you do. Okay, just kidding. Maybe you won’t end up in jail but you will be committing a sacrilegious sin against the gods of smoked meat if you do.

The alternative and generally accepted grail for making barbecue sauce are to take something thin and cook it for some minutes to get rid of the excess water and thicken it up.  Most of the well-known barbecue sauce recipes follow this general pattern.

But how your barbecue will turn out in terms of taste and what it’ll look like depends largely on the ingredients you include in it. Of course, this varies widely from one recipe to the other. But generally, you can break down a standard barbecue recipe into the following parts

  1. The Sweetener: the BBQ sauce will generally contain something sweet such as honey, molasses, cola, brown sugar, syrup, or preserves. This ingredient will caramelize as you cook giving your sauce a smoky and sugary flavor. Unless you are going for a different variation, the sweetener usually takes up about ½ of the core ingredients.
  2. Something tangy: next you need a tangy ingredient. This can be anything from vinegar to citrus, mustard, or citrus preserves. This ingredient gives the BBQ sauce its signature zing and should be about a quarter of the core ingredients.
  3. Spice: to make your BBQ sauce hot, you’ll need a spicy condiment. How much of this you use and the type of spice depends on what you prefer.
  4. The wet part: the wet part of your sauce can be good old water. But it is more common to use wine, beer, or chicken stock. This part of your ingredients ensures that all the ingredients cook properly to the desired consistency. You may also use versatile wet ingredients like cola or root beer that can double as sweeteners. You should keep some of your wet ingredient close to you as you cook since you may need it to thin the sauce if it gets too thick when you’re cooking.
  5. Tomatoes or ketchup: most recipes use tomato or ketchup as the core ingredient. But there are some recipes that that don’t include this at all.
  6. Spice mix: this is another not-so-compulsory portion of your ingredients and can include pretty much anything spice you love using. This may include chili powder, garlic powder, bay leaves, oregano, cayenne pepper, liquid smoke, soy sauce, and a long list of other spices.

1.Homemade BBQ Sauce Ingredients

As you can see, your ingredient list for your BBQ sauce can be can contain pretty much anything you want it to as long as you follow the general guideline highlighted above. Your BBQ sauce will turn out great as long as you have its ingredients in the right proportion

Since there are several ingredients that you can use for this, you must get familiar with the various ingredients and their purposes. The reason for this is to avoid mixing up conflicting ingredients. You won’t this nice on your taste bud.

Generally, the ingredients for your BBQ sauce can be categorized into two broad groups: the sauce and the seasonings.

The sauces are the liquid ingredients while the spices or seasonings are the dry ingredients. Both portions are combined to form your sauce. The quantity to use depends on the recipe you are following.
  • Apple or lemon juice: this acidic juice is used to give your BBQ sauce some thang. It can be used on ribs, chicken, pork balls, and pretty much any other type of meat.
  • Molasses: this is a sweetening ingredient used to give the BBQ sauce flavor. Molasses is an extract of sugarcane or sugar beet. The bold flavor and dark color give the sauce a thick and dark texture.
  • Vinegar: This can either be apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. You can use whichever you desire. This ingredient adds flavor to the BBQ sauce. Vinegar also acts as a diluting agent to thin the entire mixture and make it easier to combine. Vinegar also has the subtle advantage of helping to control the taste of sugar in the sauce. However, be careful not to overdo it so you don’t alter the taste excessively.
  • Ketchup: usually made from tomato and some other sweetening spices, when added to BBQ sauce, it improves the taste and adds flavor.
  • Whisky; this is used as a wet portion of your sauce. It adds a malty flavor to the sauce. Whisky easily permeates into the mea
  • Liquid smoke: it adds the flavor of wood smoke to your meat. This ingredient will be particularly useful when you are cooking on an electric or gas grill with no wood smoke.
  • Brown sugar: it is a mixture of white sugar and molasses. They serve as sweeteners to the sauce and easily blend well with hot spicy flavors.
  • Honey: Pure honey is a natural sweetening flavor that can be used on your barbecue sauce either alone instead of sugar or together with it.
  • Smoked paprika: this has a rich flavor that adds some smoky effect to the sauce. It is made from smoked pepper. It can be mild or very hot depending on your preference.
  • Mustard: when mixed with vinegar mustard gives your BB! Sauce a sharp, hot flavor.
  • Tomato sauce: this is usually a combination of different sauces but mostly contains tomatoes. It adds flavor to the sauce and serves as a natural thickening for the sauce.
  • Worcheshire sauce: this is a combination of vinegar, sugar, molasses, Chile powder, and other spices. It balances the sweetness with savory flavor in the sauce.
  • Onions (powdered or granulated): it flavors to the sauce but may also be included for its health benefits.
  • Cumin; this ingredient is very important as it adds a smoky flavor to your food.  This ingredient is particularly popular for pork meat.
  • Paprika; it’s one of the most used ingredients in BBQ sauce. Paprika adds color to your sauce and also helps to balance the taste.
  • Garlic powder: this is another popular spice and seasoning
  • Kosher salt: Kosher salt is slightly different from regular salt. It is used as a seasoning for BBQ sauce because it is natural and free from additives.
  • Black pepper: it gives the meat a hot spicy taste and adds a special aroma to the sauce as well.
  • Cayenne: This is a spice that can be used as a substitute for chile pepper.


2. How To Make Different Varieties Of BBQ Sauce

One of the major advantages of preparing your homemade BBQ sauce is that you determine what you want. A simple search online and you’ll realize that there are a lot of variations of BBQ sauces. This is usually determined by the ingredients you use. Here are some possible varieties of BBQ sauce you can try:

Make it gluten-free: to achieve this you might want to select your ingredients from the scratch and ensure that all of them are gluten-free. Important ingredients to watch include ketchup, vinegar, Worchester sauce which must all be gluten-free. You can include ingredients like onion powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and lemon juice.

Make it vegan: the vegan BBQ sauce is very easy to make. What makes your BBQ sauce vegan is to ensure that it is free from animal products like; egg, meat, and honey. Other ingredients like tomato paste, vinegar, maple syrup or coconut sugar, chili powder, liquid smoke, salt, and so on can be included in your vegan BBQ sauce.

Make it sweeter: to make a sweeter BBQ Sauce sweeter, you can simply increase the amount of honey or sugar you use than the usual. Also, instead of using white vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar.

Make it smokier: alongside all the ingredients for making your regular BBQ sauce, you can add some more smoked paprika and liquid smoke. It gives you the earthy and smoky effect you want without changing the taste of the sauce.

Make it thicker: to get a thicker sauce, you just leave it longer on fire over medium heat. You might want to put more tomato sauce or molasses to thicken the sauce. You could add a thickener like arrowroot or corn flour dissolved in water then stir to thicken.

Common ways to Use BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce can be used in various ways. More than just sauce for your barbecue meat which is its traditional application, you can also use it as a dip for fries, or use it as a sauce for pizza among other applications:

  • Chicken: you can use BBQ sauce on your baked or roasted chicken to improve its flavor. It can also be drizzled over your shredded chicken or used to prepare a BBQ chicken barbecue.
  • Burgers: instead of using boring old ketchup on your hamburger, you might as well transform it into a tasty BBQ burger instead by using BBQ sauce on it.
  • Pizza: you can use conventional BBQ sauce in place of pizza sauce for your Pulled Pork Pizza or BBQ chicken pizza
  • Dip: you can also use your BBQ sauce as a dip for your potato fries and ranch dressing
  • Baked beans: you can enjoy a batch of baked beans with BBQ sauce.
  • Soups/salads: You can mix BBQ sauce into broths as a sort of flavoring for the soup. You can also use it as a salad dressing.

Some Of The Best Barbecue Sauce Recipes

The basic formula for preparing BBQ sauce is quite simple. In just two or three steps your tasty BBQ sauce can be ready to serve. The first step is to combine all the ingredients. For most recipes, you can simply mix all the ingredients in a sauce. However, some recipes require you to mix them in one batch. The next step is to simmer. Usually, it takes between 10 to 15 minutes for your sauce to thicken. Some variations require no heating at all such as the Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce. You simply mix the ingredients in a food processor and blend.

With these two steps complete, your sauce is ready to serve. You can serve hot, slightly warm, or even safe up for later. Be sure to keep refrigerated in an airtight jar till you are ready to use.


Homemade BBQ Sau0ce Recipe

Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes,

Servings: 2 cup


Ketchup (2 cups)

Apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup)

Packed brown sugar (1/4 cup)

Honey (2 tbsp.)

Worcestershire sauce (1tbsp.) -you can use coconut amino

Lemon juice (1 tbsp.)

Stone House Seasoning (1 tsp)

Hot sauce (1/4 teaspoon) – optional



  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk all your ingredients together.
  2. Allow ingredients to bubble then turn the heat down to low
  3. Leave to simmer and thicken (about 10 minutes)
  4. You can serve immediately or leave to cool slightly (can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week)



Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 6 servings


Mango (1, peeled, cored then cubed) You can use 1 1/2 cups of frozen mango instead

Garlic (1 clove)

Chipotle pepper (1)

Lime (1)

Ketchup (1/2 cup)

Melted butter (1 tbsp.)

Brown sugar (1 tbsp.)

Salt (1 tsp)


  1. Put cubed mango in a food processor along with the garlic, lime juice, and chipotle pepper
  2. Turn on the processor to high speed until the mixture is minced
  3. Add other ingredients (butter, ketchup, sugar, and salt) and puree until smooth. You can add a drizzle of water if needed so that the blender runs smoothly.


Sweet, Spicy, Smoky BBQ Sauce

Prep Time: 8 minutes Cook Time: 7 minutes

Servings: 2 cups


Ketchup (1 cup)

Cider vinegar (1/2 cup)

Molasses (1/2 cup)

Packed brown sugar (1/2 cup)

Smoked paprika (3 tbsp.)

Chili powder (2 tsp.)

Garlic powder (2 tsp.)

Onion powder (2 tsp)

Ground Ginger cloves (1 tsp)

Hot sauce (1 tsp)

Worcestershire sauce (1 tsp)

Ground cayenne pepper (1/8 to 1/4 tsp)

Salt – Added to taste



  1. Mix all the ingredients (except the salt) in a medium saucepan
  2. Bring the pan of ingredients to boil over medium heat
  3. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally as it cooks
  4. Add salt as desired


Spicy Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe

Prep time:  5 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 1/4 cups



Yellow mustard (1 ¼ cup)

Brown packed sugar (3/4 cup)

Hot sauce (2 tsp)

Butter (2 tsp)

Apple cider vinegar (1/3 cup)

Salt (1 tsp)

Black pepper (1 tsp)

Worcestershire sauce (1 ½ tbps.)



  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan
  • Cook over low heat till the sauce thickens (should take about 15 minutes)


Coca Cola BBQ Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time:10 minutes

Servings: 6 -8 servings



Ketchup (1 cup)

Worcestershire Sauce (1/4 cup)

Stone House Seasoning (1 tsp)

Coca-Cola (1 cup)

Brown sugar loose (2 tbsp.)

Hot sauce (1/2 tsp)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan
  2. Place pan over medium to low heat and leave to boil for about 5-10 minutes
  3. When the sauce thickens, remove it from heat and serve or keep refrigerated.



When you want to try something else asides from the regular store-bought bottled BBQ sauce, you will find this guide quite helpful. The good thing about sauces is how many varieties there are. You can easily switch things up depending on your preferences.