Basic Barbecue Sauce

My husband and I have been working for months to develop a homemade BBQ sauce because while we already make our own seasonings and sauces at home.

We did not want to start with ketchup as our base and instead began simply with a can of organic tomato sauce. What we finally achieved was a basic barbecue sauce that is great as a stand-alone sauce but that is also the framework for many other flavors and styles of sauces. With this basic barbecue sauce as our base, the possibilities are endless.

A jar of homemade BBQ sauce made from tomato sauce instead dof ketchup.

I’m a person who eats quite by my mood and while I may crave a sweet, spicy or smoky sauce one day, I may not feel like that the next time we have a barbecue. This original barbecue sauce is made with just the fundamentals, so it’s perfect for even my fussy eater.

This recipe makes enough for a couple of BBQ chicken pizzas or for several BBQ Pork sandwiches. However, if you are basting a bunch of chicken or ribs, you may want to double it.

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This basic barbecue sauce is a great stand-alone sauce but can also be the framework for many other flavors and styles of sauces.

Basic Barbecue Sauce

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
This really is the BEST homemade bbq sauce recipe! Barbecue sauce is a staple at any cookout. This basic BBQ sauce recipe uses tomato sauce instead of ketchup which gives it a distinct flavor.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Sauce
Cuisine American, barbecue
Servings 16 servings (2 TBSP each)
Calories 127 kcal


  • 1 (15 oz) can organic tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp (approx. 1 whole lemon) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar


  • To a small sauce pan with a tight fitting lid, add the can of tomato sauce.
  • Add all the other ingredients and whisk together to fully combine.
  • Simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.


Serving: 2tbspCalories: 127kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 5gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 1339mgPotassium: 482mgFiber: 6gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 4445IUVitamin C: 2mgVitamin E: 3mgVitamin K: 10µgCalcium: 82mgFolate: 24µgIron: 4mgZinc: 1mg
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5 thoughts on “Basic Barbecue Sauce”

  1. There isn’t anything even remotely bad about MSG. No science has ever backed it up and in fact, science has debunked it thousands of time. If you research it for yourself, you’ll find it’s actually better than regular table salt. Just don’t use too much of it as it’s still a sodium. It can give you the same effects as salt but without adding the taste of salt. Which is perfect in a great many recipes. But because it doesn’t add a salt taste is why many people add too much of it, thinking they haven’t added enough because they can’t taste salt and continue to add more.

    • Hi Michael,

      Your positive experience with MSG does not mean that MSG is safe for everyone to consume. Whether you believe it or not, people who are sensitive to MSG or have an allergy to MSG must avoid foods with high amounts of naturally occurring free glutamate as well as the chemical additive MSG.

      An individual’s reaction to MSG is not limited to Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS) such as you have suggested. CRS is characterized by symptoms like headache, sweating, rapid heartbeat and tightness in the chest. These symptoms usually occur within minutes of eating the compound, often while the diner is still in the restaurant.

      The effects of MSG in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome and the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, were observed to be headache (including migraine), diarrhea, gastrointestinal pain and bloating, extreme fatigue, muscle pain and cognitive dysfunction — all of which improved when subjects were put on a diet low in free glutamate, and which returned with re-introduction of MSG. (This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study). In contrast to CRS, symptoms in fibromyalgia patients tend to begin somewhat later, hours after ingestion, making it more difficult for these people to identify the food-related trigger.

      Does everyone react to these additives? No, some people can consume relatively high amounts of free glutamate without any symptoms and you probably fit into this category. However, research DOES SHOW that a subset of the population IS SENSITIVE and can benefit from avoiding MSG (and other sources of free glutamate) in food.

      The only way to test for sensitivity is by avoiding excess free glutamate for a period ranging from two weeks to a month. One can do this by eating whole, non-processed foods, using whole herbs and spices, making marinades and salad dressings from scratch, and avoiding foods which naturally have higher amounts of free glutamate, like soy sauce, fish sauces, Parmesan and other aged cheeses, and large amounts of tomato sauce.

      I have done this food elimination diet myself and found it eliminated my migraine headaches almost entirely. With this diet, we also found that high amounts of MSG cause other neurological symptoms for me as well – such a numbness and tingling in my face. The differences are between an MSG allergy and an MSG intolerance.

      To determine MSG allergy testing is needed to confirm an allergic reaction to MSG. Because an MSG allergy and intolerance cause similar symptoms, allergy testing will be used to determine whether or not your body produces immunoglobulin E antibodies or IgE. These antibodies are specific to allergic reactions that could lead to further complications. If you have an allergy to MSG, your immune system overreacts to the chemical because it doesn’t recognize it. The body will attack the MSG and trigger the creation of various chemicals, causing most symptoms.

      MSG intolerance differs from an allergic reaction because it is the result of the digestive system not being able to process the chemical. This can lead to various symptoms, such as tightness in the chest, headache, sweating, burning in the neck, nausea and facial numbness and pressure, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.

      The moral of the story is simple: Blanket statements like “MSG isn’t bad for you” are misguided — they give a false perception of safety to a compound that not everyone should be consuming.

      To read more about the most recent SCIENTIFIC STUDIES:
      Another article from LIVE STRONG:

      Scientific Research on MSG, Brain cells, and Migrain Headaches:


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