Homemade BBQ Sauce (with no ketchup)

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Homemade bbq sauce is so much tastier than the bottled version.  With this easy and customizable recipe you can control the tang, the sugar, the spice level, and can leave the HFCS on the shelf.

Homemade bbq sauce takes just minutes to make, but tastes so much tastier and is more wholesome than the bottled version. Try this recipe today!

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I have been on the hunt for the perfect homemade bbq sauce recipe for awhile.  I hate buying the bottles of bbq sauce at the store.  They are plenty tasty, but most of them contain mostly sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and I knew making my own couldn’t be too difficult.  I tried quite a few variations before coming to this one, which is perfect for my family’s tastes.  It’s just spicy enough, not too vinegary, and not too sweet.

The best part about this homemade bbq sauce is that this recipe can totally be customized to you.  It’s so easy.  If you like more spice add extra cayenne.  Too sweet? You can cut down a bit on the brown sugar.  Want a more natural sweetener, try honey.  The adaptations are endless.

When you tell your friends you made homemade bbq sauce they will be so impressed.  The funny thing is, this is literally one of the easiest recipes in my arsenal.  Promise.  Granted, there are quite a few ingredients, but if you look closely at the recipe they are almost all spices.  You will also notice by looking at the recipe that there is basically one step to making this sauce.  Put all the ingredients in a pan and boil/simmer it.  That’s it.

Homemade bbq sauce takes just minutes to make, but tastes so much tastier and is more wholesome than the bottled version. Try this recipe today!

One thing that was hard for me to find in my quest for the perfect bbq sauce recipe was a delicious recipe that didn’t have ketchup.  I had the same problem coming up with the perfect recipe for homemade baked beans. Don’t get me wrong, I actually LOVE ketchup.  My husband teases me every time I dip a chicken wing or chicken finger in ketchup.  Hey, some childhood habits you just never kick, okay!?  Anyway, I DON’T love using ketchup in my cooking.  The main reason is because ketchup is processed and high in sugar (even the natural kinds) so when I use it in my cooking I don’t realize that I’m adding lots of extra sugar.  I prefer to keep my ingredients list a little more simple.  That way, when I dump in 3/4 C brown sugar (like I do in this recipe) I know that’s all the sugar I will be using.

This recipe makes a big batch.  I chose to do it that way because I hate part cans of this and that hanging around.  Besides, after you taste it you’ll thank me for the big batch.  If there’s no way you can possibly get through so much barbecue sauce before it goes bad in the refrigerator (I’d say after 1-2 weeks), try freezing it.  You can freeze it in ziploc bags, or mason jars filled not quite to the top.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for the perfect homemade bbq sauce.  Let me know if you make it by tagging me on fb, twitter, instagram, etc…

Have you ever tried homemade bbq sauce?  What makes bbq sauce perfect, should it be sweet and tangy, hot and smoky, or all of the above!?

Homemade bbq sauce is such an easy recipe to add to your arsenal. So much tastier than the bottled version, and it takes only minutes to make.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Homemade bbq sauce is so much tastier than the bottled version. The best part is it only takes a few minutes to whip up your own, suited to you and your family's tastes!


  • 2 15- oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 6- oz can tomato paste
  • 1 C red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C molasses
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • tsp Salt tt, ~1


  1. Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. It will probably sputter like crazy, so if you don't want to be cleaning your entire stove afterward, stir regularly.
  3. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. When finished and cooled, sauce should be slightly thick. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, or freeze in ziploc bags or mason jars for a few months. Use in any recipe calling for bbq sauce.

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  1. Hey Amanda!! Would you have any idea how to use real tomatoes in this rather than tomato sauce or paste? Simply looking for ways to use up our garden tomatoes.

    1. Hi Lindsay! I have been working on a tomato sauce recipe from fresh tomatoes, but haven’t perfected it yet. My best guess would be to Puree the tomatoes, put them through a strainer, and then cook them down until they are the same consistency of storebought tomato sauce that it might work as a substitute, but no guarantees! If you succeed at something, let me know!

  2. I have had success using my emulsion blender (or even a Nutri Bullet) where it purees up the skins and leaves no chunks. You will need to reduce a little longer, because there is usually more liquid than the canned tomato sauce.

  3. Do you think white distilled vinegar could be substituted? Unfortunately it’s the only vinegar I can use right now due to food sensitivities.

    1. White vinegar should be fine! I am not familiar enough with canning to know if you can use a water bath, but I have frozen it in the past with success to make it last longer! Good luck!

  4. Lynne
    Did you try the water bath? I am guessing it would work if sterile. One of the big BBQ restaurants in Vancouver sells their sauces (jarred) with over a year expiry date on them.

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