This post may contain affiliate links. Please read mydisclosure policy.
This spicy, tangy BBQ sauce is easy and super delicious. Essential to any backyard cookout and perfect on bbq chicken, ribs, and pulled pork.
What You’ll Love About This Recipe
- So good. Better than store-bought barbecue sauce.
- As sweet as you want. You can control the amount of sugar in this recipe. You can even use a keto sweetener to make this barbecue sauce keto friendly.
- Mild or spicy. Adjust the seasoning to make it more or less spicy to suit your taste.
BBQ Sauce Recipe
This recipe is a family recipe. My parents got it from a neighbor, and we’ve kept it in the family ever since. Now you can make this secret family recipe yours too!
What You’ll Need For Homemade BBQ Sauce
Homemade BBQ sauce is made with a tomato and vinegar base. Spices and sweeteners are added to enhance the flavor.
In some cases, bbq sauce recipes call for ketchup. This is an easy shortcut if you’re running low on time.
You can use ketchup in the recipe instead of tomato sauce. This also eliminates the need to use the mirepoix. See the recipe card for a quick and easy shortcut to the homemade barbecue sauce recipe.
Using tomato sauce and the mirepoix allows you to control the amount of sugar you add to this bbq sauce recipe. This is great if you want a keto or low-carb bbq sauce.
- Mirepoix – Butter or oil, sweet onion, celery, carrot, and jalapeño peppers or serrano peppers. (Skip these ingredients using ketchup instead of tomato sauce.)
- Tomato sauce – Use a low or no-salt variety of tomato sauce.
- Sherry vinegar – Or apple cider vinegar.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Lemon juice
- Dry seasonings – dry mustard, salt, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (optional.)
- Sweeteners – Molasses and brown sugar. You can use Lakanto sweetener to make this bbq sauce keto or low-carb.
- Liquid smoke – A small amount of liquid smoke adds a smokey flavor to homemade bbq sauce. Leave it out if you are using the sauce on smoked meat.
- Prepare the mirepoix. Grate the onion, carrot, and celery. Mince the jalapeño.
- Sauté. Add the butter to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is heated, add the vegetables and sauté until the vegetables are very soft.
- Bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat. Simmer on low for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
FAQs and Expert Tips
The main ingredients in barbecue sauce include; vinegar, tomato base, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and spices.
Variations are different depending on the region or origin.
Tomato-Based – Tomato-based BBQ sauces are most commonly associated with Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, and Texas BBQ.
Kansas-City barbecue sauce is thick, tangy, and sweet. It usually includes black strap molasses.
St. Louis, Memphis, and Texas barbecue sauces are tomato-based but tend to be thinner and less sweet, leaving out the molasses.
Vinegar-Based – Vinegar-based barbecue sauce tends to be more common in North Carolina. North Carolina BBQ is mainly served with pulled pork, and the vinegary sauce pairs perfectly with fattier meats.
Mustard-Based – Mustard-based barbecue sauce is popular in South Carolina. This sauce is also spicy, heavy on the vinegar, thin, and perfect for serving with pork.
Mayonnaise-Based – This creamy white barbecue sauce reigns from Alabama. It might sound weird, but this sauce is still spicy and vinegary. It’s typically served with chicken instead of pork.
What To Serve With BBQ Sauce
Sweet and tangy BBQ sauce is always good with your favorite Meatloaf Recipe.
More BBQ Recipes That You’ll Love
Here are a few essential recipes to keep on hand when grilling.
BBQ Sauce Recipe
- 2 tablespoons butter, or oil
- ⅓ cup sweet onion, grated
- ¼ cup celery, grated
- ¼ cup carrot, grated
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, or serrano peppers, finely minced
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 cans tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard (affiliate link)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- ¾ cup brown sugar, or keto sweetener of your choice
- ½ to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional
- Grate the onion, carrot, celery, and jalapeño.⅓ cup sweet onion, ¼ cup celery, ¼ cup carrot, 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers
- Add the butter to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is heated add the vegetables and sauté until the vegetables are very soft.2 tablespoons butter
- Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and bring everything to a boil.2 cans tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon cumin, 3 tablespoons molasses, ¾ cup brown sugar
- Simmer on low for 30 to 45 minutes.
Laura’s Tips + Notes
- Short-cut. Use ketchup instead of tomato sauce. Leave out the onion, carrots, and celery. Use a few teaspoons of onion powder and adjust the sweetness if desired.
- Low-sugar BBQ sauce. Replace the brown sugar with a keto sweetener, such as Lankanto brown sugar.