Homemade BBQ Sauce for Pork, Brisket or Chicken

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My homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe for pork, brisket, or chicken is made with molasses for a tangy, sweet, and slightly smoky flavor that perfectly complements barbequed meats! It also makes a tasty dipping sauce for breaded chicken tenders or even French fries. Plus, this barbecue sauce is ready in just 30 minutes!

A bowl of homemade BBQ sauce with a wooden spoon on a table.

Why You’ll Love This Homemade BBQ Sauce for Ribs!

Easy BBQ Sauce Recipe. Made from simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, this quick BBQ sauce gets a little zing from its raw apple cider vinegar base and sweetness from rich molasses, giving you the perfect balance of flavor!

A Delicious Way to Celebrate. Make this your go-to recipe for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or any other festive summer event when BBQ is on the menu!

Homemade Touch. Once you make homemade BBQ sauce for ribs, brisket, and more, you may never buy the bottled stuff again! Store it in the fridge and use it in any recipe that calls for barbecue sauce.

All it takes is five minutes to mix it up and a quick half-hour simmering on the stove! Zesty, with just the right amount of sweetness, you’ll love using this sauce all Summer long on all your favorite grilled and smoked meats —oh, and it tastes phenomenal with these Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries!

Ingredient Notes

  • Vinegar | You can use either raw apple cider vinegar or the less expensive filtered apple cider vinegar. However, the benefit of using raw apple cider vinegar is that it is less processed and has more flavor complexity. 
  • Tomato ketchup | Use ketchup as the standard tomato base for this BBQ sauce.
  • Molasses | Thick and rich, molasses brings smoky-sweet notes to the sauce that complement the natural flavors of the BBQ pork, chicken, or brisket. 
  • Mustard | Mix in some yellow mustard for a tangy BBQ sauce.
  • Brown sugar | Add extra sweetness with dark brown sugar. For a more mild sweetness, use light brown sugar.
  • Salt and pepper | Balance the sauce flavors with sea salt and coarse ground black pepper.
  • Chili powder | Add chili powder for a subtle hint of heat.

How to make Homemade BBQ sauce for Pulled Pork

Skip the grocery store trip and make this simple best BBQ sauce recipe in these easy steps!

STEP 1 | Boil the ingredients

First, add all ingredients to a heavy saucepan, bringing them to a boil over medium heat. Continuously stir until the brown sugar dissolves.

Barbecue sauce in a saucepan on a hot pad.

STEP 2 | Simmer, then serve or store

Then, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 or 30 minutes until the desired thickness is achieved.

Serve warm with your choice of meat, or cool and refrigerate to use next time you make BBQ chicken tacos, saucy chicken wings, or slow cooker pulled pork!

Tips from the Home Chef’s Kitchen

I use my medium saucepan — use a larger one if you are doubling or tripping the sauce recipe.

A glass mason jar comes in handy when storing the sauce for later.

Many staple groceries we keep stocked in the kitchen are easier to make than you think! So, after mastering this simple barbecue sauce recipe, try my Homemade Blueberry Jam and this delicious Pickled Okra Recipe for Canning.

Spooning sauce into a mason jar sitting on a plate.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Spicy BBQ Sauce. For a sauce with more heat, use cayenne pepper. Add a little at a time and taste until you reach the desired spiciness.
  • Extra Smoky BBQ Sauce. Add liquid smoke to the recipe if you like your BBQ sauce with a robust, smoky flavor.
  • Molasses Substitute. Molasses isn’t something everyone has stocked in their pantry, but you still want those sweet flavors to come through in your homemade sauce. If preferred, you can substitute it with maple syrup.
  • Add more flavor with common BBQ sauce ingredients, like garlic powder, dry mustard, onion powder, or Worcestershire sauce.

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • This barbecue sauce will last up to two weeks when it is stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. I like to keep my sauce in a canning jar or a microwave-safe glass container to heat the sauce quickly.
  • You can also store it in a freezer bag to freeze it for long-term storage. Before using it again, move the container to the fridge to thaw overnight, then reheat or warm it before serving.
Barbecue sauce in a mason jar on a plate with a spoon of BBQ sauce resting on a plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you thicken homemade barbecue sauce?

One thing we learned about making this Homemade BBQ Sauce is that the longer it simmers, the thicker it gets. You can adjust the cooking time depending on your preference for a thicker or thinner sauce. You might want a thinner sauce for mopping ribs as they smoke, but I like my sauce a little thicker for dipping and basting.

What kind of BBQ sauce is best for pulled pork?

A traditional southern-style BBQ sauce with a balance of tanginess, sweetness, and a hint of heat is a popular choice for smothering pulled pork. Thinner sauces are also ideal for pulled meat because it get into all the cracks and crevasses for maximum sauciness!

What are the four types of barbecue sauce?

There are four general categories of BBQ sauce — tomato-based, vinegar-based, mustard-based, and mayonnaise-based. Each style is delicious, but the different flavor profiles complement various BBQ foods, from BBQ pizza to chicken wings to tender ribs.

Can BBQ sauce be vegan or vegetarian?

Sure! You can especially make a homemade BBQ sauce vegan or vegetarian by checking the labels of the ingredients you use. 

Looking for More Homemade Sauce Recipes?

Why use a store-bought sauce when you can make it at home for less? Using fresh ingredients and skipping the preservatives and shortcuts makes any homemade sauce better than the bottled version! Try this Yum Yum Sauce the next time you make fried rice, Tzatziki Sauce for wraps, burgers, and more, or this fun Semi-Homemade BBQ Ranch Dressing & Dipping Sauce!

A bowl of homemade BBQ sauce with a wooden spoon on a table.

Serving Suggestions

Use your very own homemade BBQ sauce for easy recipes, like this crowd-pleasing BBQ Chicken Pizza, delicious BBQ Turkey Stuffed Peppers, these Easy Smoked Baby Back Ribs, or classic Juicy Grilled Chicken!

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Spooning sauce into a mason jar sitting on a plate.

Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

Make this tangy, sweet barbecue sauce with just five ingredients and in just 30 minutes! So much better than store-bought!
4.69 from 19 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Grilling & Smoking
Cuisine American
Servings 20 servings
Calories 58 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup tomato ketchup
  • cup molasses
  • 4 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients to a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the brown sugar dissolves.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the desired thickness is achieved. Serve warm with pork, or cool and refrigerate to use later.

Notes

Yield: 2-1/2 cups
Nutrition facts based on a serving size of 2 tablespoons.
    • I use my medium saucepan — use a larger one if you are doubling or tripping the sauce recipe.
    • A glass mason jar comes in handy when storing the sauce for later.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 58kcalCarbohydrates: 14gSodium: 363mgSugar: 13g

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword baby back ribs, bbq, pulled pork
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.

Beyond the Recipe

A few years ago, my husband got an electric smoker for Christmas, and since then, he’s been obsessed with smoking meats. Our entire family loved the turkey breast he smoked for Thanksgiving, and smoked ribs are always a favorite for July 4th picnics.

Recently, he started experimenting with making his own barbecue sauce. Several taste tests later, we found the best homemade barbecue sauce! An added benefit is that it’s an easy recipe without special ingredients — everything can be found right on my pantry shelf!

Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    It looked good. Walked to the kitchen and made it. I determined it’s not just good, but delicious. Plan to make more to store. I will keep this for more of my bbq recipes when in a hurry. I used it for a sweet n bbq smoker recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Sheila, this recipe looks so delicious! I love a good BBQ sauce so I am so happy to share it to my Pinterest for you and all our readers. 🙂

    Happy 4th of July to you and your family,
    Barb 🙂

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