How to Make a Basic BBQ Sauce

This Basic BBQ Sauce is a tantalizing blend of tangy flavors and smoky goodness. Get ready to ignite your grilling game with this finger-licking delight.

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

Perfect for grilling enthusiasts and flavor enthusiasts alike, our sauce will elevate your dishes to new heights. Ignite your taste buds and impress your guests with this finger-licking delight. Whether you’re marinating, glazing, or dipping, our BBQ sauce is your secret weapon for deliciousness. Get ready to take your BBQ game to the next level and savor the flavor adventure!


This basic BBQ sauce is versatile and can be used as a marinade, glaze, or dipping sauce for various meats, including chicken, ribs, or pulled pork. Feel free to adjust the ingredients according to your taste preferences by adding more or less of certain spices or sweeteners. Enjoy your BBQ!

  • Ketchup
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Sweet paprika
  • Dry mustard
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

How to Make Basic BBQ Sauce

Our BBQ sauce is crafted with premium ingredients including ketchup, paprika, apple cider vinegar, dry mustard, and a blend of spices.

  1. To a small saucepan [paid link] with a tight-fitting lid, add the ketchup.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and whisk [paid link] together to fully combine.
  3. Simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Recipe tips and kitchen tricks

  1. Taste as you go: Regularly taste your dish while cooking to adjust seasonings and ensure the flavors are balanced.
  2. Mise en place: Prepare and organize your ingredients before you start cooking to streamline the process and avoid scrambling for items later.

Recipe Variations

  1. Spicy BBQ Sauce: Add some heat by incorporating ingredients like hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or chili powder to your basic BBQ sauce recipe.
  2. Smoky BBQ Sauce: Enhance the smoky flavor by adding a splash of liquid smoke or smoked paprika to your BBQ sauce.
  3. Honey BBQ Sauce: Replace some or all of the brown sugar in the recipe with honey for a touch of sweetness and a unique flavor profile.
  4. Bourbon BBQ Sauce: Infuse your sauce with the rich and distinctive flavor of bourbon by adding a splash or two during the cooking process.
  5. Asian-inspired BBQ Sauce: Incorporate ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil to give your BBQ sauce an Asian twist.
  6. Mustard-based BBQ Sauce: Swap out the ketchup in the recipe with mustard to create a tangy and zesty variation of BBQ sauce.
  7. Fruit-infused BBQ Sauce: Experiment with adding fruit puree or juice, such as pineapple, mango, or peach, to infuse your BBQ sauce with a fruity sweetness and complexity.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Brush it on grilled chicken: Use the BBQ sauce as a glaze or marinade for grilled chicken pieces or chicken wings for a flavorful and juicy result.
  2. Dip for finger foods: Serve the BBQ sauce as a delicious dipping sauce for a variety of finger foods like chicken tenders, onion rings, or sweet potato fries.
  3. Pulled pork sandwiches: Toss cooked pulled pork in the BBQ sauce and serve it on a soft bun for a classic and mouthwatering BBQ sandwich.
  4. Ribs coated in the sauce: Slather the BBQ sauce generously on slow-cooked ribs, whether they’re oven-baked, grilled, or smoked, to add a sticky and lip-smacking glaze.
  5. Grilled vegetables with a twist: Brush the BBQ sauce on grilled vegetables like corn on the cob, zucchini, or bell peppers for a delightful smoky-sweet flavor that enhances the natural taste of the veggies.

frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the shelf life of BBQ sauce? BBQ sauce typically has a shelf life of about 1 to 2 years when unopened. Once opened, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 months.

Can I use BBQ sauce as a marinade? Yes, BBQ sauce can be used as a marinade for various meats. It adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat when allowed to marinate for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Is BBQ sauce gluten-free? Not all BBQ sauces are gluten-free, as some may contain ingredients like soy sauce or malt vinegar [paid link] which contain gluten. However, there are gluten-free BBQ sauce options available in the market or you can make your own using gluten-free ingredients.

Can I freeze BBQ sauce? Yes, you can freeze BBQ sauce. It’s best to transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bag, leaving some room for expansion. Frozen BBQ sauce can last for 3 to 4 months in the freezer. Thaw it in the refrigerator before using it.

How can I make BBQ sauce less sweet? To reduce the sweetness of BBQ sauce, you can add ingredients like vinegar, citrus juice, hot sauce, or mustard to balance the flavors. Adjusting the sugar or sweetener content and increasing savory spices can also help to achieve a less sweet taste.

Wine and Cocktail Pairings

Wine Pairings:

  1. Red Wine and Steak: A full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec pairs beautifully with a juicy steak, complementing the richness and flavors of the meat.
  2. White Wine and Seafood: Crisp and acidic white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay go well with seafood dishes like grilled fish or shrimp, enhancing the delicate flavors of the seafood.
  3. Rosé Wine and Light Fare: Rosé wine, with its refreshing and fruity notes, pairs wonderfully with light and fresh dishes like salads, grilled vegetables, or charcuterie, creating a harmonious balance.

Cocktail Pairings:

  1. Margarita and Mexican Cuisine: The vibrant and tangy flavors of a classic Margarita, made with tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur, perfectly complement the spicy and flavorful dishes of Mexican cuisine.
  2. Martini and Appetizers: A classic Martini, whether it’s a gin or vodka-based version, pairs elegantly with appetizers like olives, oysters, or cheese platters, allowing the flavors to shine through.
  3. Mojito and Summer Fare: The refreshing combination of mint, lime, rum, and soda in a Mojito makes it an ideal pairing for light and summery dishes such as grilled seafood, fresh salads, or tropical fruit desserts.
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 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American, barbecue
Servings 16 servings (2 TBSP each)
Calories 127 kcal


  • 2 Cups Ketchup
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp Dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper (more or less to taste)


  • To a small sauce pan with a tight-fitting lid, add the ketchup.
  • Add all the other ingredients and whisk [paid link] 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
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

5 thoughts on “How to Make a Basic BBQ 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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