Killer Homemade BBQ Sauce

By Polly Conner

A little tangy, a little sweet, and a little heat. This Homemade BBQ Sauce has it all and only requires a few ingredients.

A few years ago, I remember we put drumsticks on the grill and realized we were out of BBQ sauce. Luckily one of our neighbors had a little left that they graciously let us finish off. BUT, growing up in a pre-packaged food world, I had been shaped to think I needed to go to the store to buy condiments rather than make it on my own.

Since then, we’ve developed and now use this Killer Homemade BBQ Sauce and not have had to mooch off my neighbors since!

This sauce is the bomb. It’s a combination of sweet-smokey-tangy flavors that are brought out even better on the grill. In fact one of our readers told us…

“Seriously guys, you should be trumpeting your BBQ sauce recipe from the rooftops. Since I first used this back in testing your last book, I haven’t purchased a bottle of BBQ sauce because they all SUCK in comparison to your recipe!”

JoAnn S.
Mom, Recipe Testing Team Member, and Thriving Home Reader

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce?

  • Apple cider vinegar – Gives great tang and flavor, but white vinegar will work in a pinch.
  • Ketchup – We suggest buying all-natural or organic to avoid additives and HFCS.
  • Dark brown sugar – Light brown sugar will work, if you don’t have dark.
  • Molasses – This is the ingredient you may not have on hand. I store it in the refrigerator and it keeps a long time.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Mustard powder – I’ve subbed a squirt of yellow or dijon mustard before with success.
  • Crushed red pepper – Add more if you like hotter sauce.
  • Garlic powder

How to Make Homemade BBQ Sauce

Simply dump all the ingredients in a mixing bowl (or measuring cup like I did).

Easy homemade BBQ Sauce. With just a few pantry ingredients you can make your own sweet-smokey-tangy bar-b-que sauce in minutes!

Stir stir stir. Probably should have used a mixing bowl and whisk at this point. #hindsight

Next, bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Then let it simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes over medium-low heat until it thickens.

Ah, done. Let it cool and then ladle it into a mason jar. Refrigerate or freeze it (see how to below), and you are good to go! No more bugging your neighbors. Oh wait, am I the only one who does that?

Can You Freeze BBQ Sauce?

Yes! Just let the sauce cool completely. Then, pour it into a small freezer bag, mason jar, or freezer container with lid. Seal and freeze. (If using a mason jar, be sure to leave at least 1 inch of headspace at the top.)

Recipes That Use Homemade BBQ Sauce

You’ll love using your amazing homemade bbq sauce in some of these recipes from our site.

BBQ Shredded Beef Sandwiches

With just a few ingredients, you’ll have fall apart, tender beef ready to go for sandwiches. Make these in the Instant Pot or the Slow Cooker.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Is fall apart tender pork more your speed? Give these amazing pulled pork sandwiches a try in the Slow Cooker.

BBQ Chicken Sliders

With 3 simple steps, you’ll have finger-licking good BBQ Chicken Sliders.


Killer Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1.5 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


Homemade BBQ Sauce is the best way to zest up your meal. YUM! Includes freezing instructions.


  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup all-natural ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder


Make It Now:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, place all ingredients together. Stir with a whisk until well combined.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes until it thickens.

Freeze For Later: Let the sauce cool completely. Then, pour it into a small freezer bag, mason jar, or freezer container with lid. Seal and freeze. (If using a mason jar, be sure to leave at least 1 inch of headspace at the top.)

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these safe methods and use according to your recipe.

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