Made without ketchup, this recipe for sweet and tangy Homemade BBQ sauce is not only healthier than store-bought barbecue sauce, it tastes better too!
Homemade Barbecue Sauce adds the perfect finishing touch to dishes like Instant Pot Ribs, BBQ Chicken Burgers, or Slow Cooker Drumsticks.
Why Homemade is Best
Trying to purchase barbecue sauce at the store without high fructose corn syrup is next to impossible. And most recipes for homemade BBQ sauce start with a base of ketchup that is high in sugar, to begin with, and then add copious amounts MORE sugar to the sauce.
This healthier recipe for BBQ sauce is made without ketchup and uses significantly less sugar than most recipes. It is perfectly sweet, perfectly smokey, and perfectly tangy. It truly is the BEST recipe for Homemade BBQ Sauce.
You will never want to purchase store-bought BBQ sauce again!
Ingredients for BBQ Sauce
- Tomato Sauce: This gives the barbecue sauce a tomato base, without the need to add ketchup to the sauce.
- Tomato Paste: The tomato paste will help to thicken up the sauce, and give it a really rich flavor, just like it had simmered for a long period of time.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar will give the barbecue sauce the tang it is known for and the acidity of the vinegar will help round out the flavors.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce will add rich, savory notes to the sauce. It is one of those ingredients that pack a lot of flavor into a dish.
- Honey: Feel free to use pure maple syrup in place of the honey. Both work well to sweeten the BBQ sauce and add additional flavor to the sauce.
- Molasses: Molasses is rich and robust and adds incredible flavor and depth, along with sweetening the sauce. It is best to use unsulfured molasses.
- Brown Sugar (optional): If you like a sweeter BBQ sauce, adding a bit of brown sugar will give this sauce a delicious, sweet finish. However, you can omit the brown sugar for a BBQ sauce with a finish that has more tang than sweet.
- Pineapple Juice: I know, I know this sounds like an odd ingredient, but the pineapple juice helps to naturally sweeten the barbecue sauce. Feel free to use water or apple juice in place of the pineapple juice.
- Spices: Smoked paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, cayenne, salt, and pepper round out this sauce to help it be full of the classic flavor you know and love in barbecue sauce. You can certainly reduce or omit the cayenne pepper if you are sensitive to heat.
How to Make Homemade Barbecue Sauce
- In a medium saucepan combine the ingredients.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently. You are looking for the sauce to just begin to bubble.
- Once bubbles begin to form, turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring occassionally, until the sauce thickens, about 25 to 30 minutes. You may need to put the lid on the pot as the BBQ sauce will splatter a bit while it cooks.
How to Store BBQ Sauce
Homemade Barbecue Sauce should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. It will not last as long as store-bought sauce, because there are no added preservatives.
However, you can freeze barbecue sauce and always have it on hand. To freeze, place cooled BBQ sauce in an airtight freezer-safe storage container or bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
- Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce: Use gluten-free Worcestershire sauce.
- Sweeter BBQ Sauce: Add an additional tablespoon or two of honey and/or brown sugar as desired.
- Low-Sodium BBQ Sauce: Use salt-free tomato sauce, low-sodium Worcestershire sauce, and omit the salt from the seasonings.
Ways to use BBQ Sauce
- After cooking, glaze Instant Pot Ribs, Instant Pot Chicken Wings, or Instant Pot Chicken Thighs with homemade BBQ sauce and finish under a preheated broiler to crisp up.
- Toss shredded pork butt, like Slow Cooker Pulled Pork or Instant Pot Pulled Pork, with 1-2 cups of barbecue sauce for the most delicious BBQ pork.
- Add barbecue sauce and cheese to ground chicken, to make irresistible BBQ Chicken Burgers.
- Make perfect Barbecue Chicken and serve it in a BBQ Chicken Salad.
- Serve BBQ sauce as a dip for Chicken Tenders or Oven Fries.
If you enjoyed this recipe for Homemade Barbecue Sauce, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Homemade BBQ Sauce
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup 100% pineapple juice or water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if desired
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the tomato sauce, tomato paste, pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, dry mustard, garlic, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Bring to a gentle bubble over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and let cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens about 20 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Am thinking of trying this soon. Have you ever cooked it in a crockpot and left the lid off to let it thicken?
I have not tried that myself. It should work, but I would recommend checking it every 15 minutes to be sure it does not thicken too much or char.
Love this homemade bbq sauce! This is my new go-to!
This is perfect timing for 'Grilling Season"!! Homemade sauces are one of my most favorite things and if it's healthy, all the better! So good
So glad you enjoyed Beth!