Homemade BBQ Sauce Basics

Fans of tomato-based barbecue sauce know that there is a plethora of different flavors and varieties available. Whether your tastes tend toward spicy or sweet, theres a BBQ sauce for you. Although the marketplace for these sauces is huge, consider adding a homemade barbecue sauce to your repertoire of favorite BBQ sauces.

Whipping up a homemade BBQ sauce is very easy. It takes little time and for the most part, the ingredients are pantry staples. Best of all, making your own homemade barbecue sauce allows you to tailor the taste to be exactly what you like.

Most homemade BBQ sauces start with ketchup as a base. To this you add your favorite spices, seasonings and other liquids to get just that taste you are looking.

For a tangy BBQ Sauce, use equal parts ketchup and vinegar (either white or apple cider). For a thicker sauce that can be made either sweet or spicy, start with ketchup and add a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce. For all of the above types, stir in some brown sugar and the spices and/or seasonings of your choice. You can also add some honey or molasses if those flavors appeal to you in a barbecue sauce.

The usual spices and seasonings to add in any amount desired to the tomato-vinegar-brown sugar or tomato-Worchestershire-brown sugar mixture include:

  • Salt
  • White or black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Allspice
  • Cayenne pepper

Play around with the amounts and which types of spices to use until you hit on the combination thats just right for you. As you experiment, add just a little bit of each spice at a time. Remember, you can always add more but you cant take out.

If youre not experimenting with the spices on your own, there are several pre-mixed spice combinations available on the market that can be added in desired amounts to create your homemade barbecue sauce.

Stir all of the barbecue sauce ingredients together until smooth and refrigerate until using. Its always a good idea to make the sauce ahead of time so that it has time to sit to allow the flavors to develop and mix together.

This method will create a very basic but still very flavorful BBQ sauce that is perfect for any type of BBQ preparation you can think of.


If you want an exact recipe to help you out with the experimentation, heres a winner.

  • 1 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Stir everything together in a small bowl until well blended. Refrigerate until needed.

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