Here’s a Barbecue Sauce recipe that’s every bit as Sweet Baby Ray’s famous sauce. It’s all natural, made by you, and only takes a few minutes.
At last, the hunt for the perfect sweet style barbecue sauce is over. This sauce has everything going for it: it’s easy, it’s straightforward, and it tastes incredible.
Do it yourself so that you can skip all the fillers, additives, and corn sugar that industrially made sauces have to prolong their shelf life. You can whip up a big batch of sauce, use it, freeze it, or give it to friends. They’ll love you for it!
Making Homemade Barbecue Sauce for a big BBQ party? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Barbecue Sauce ingredients:
Right off the bat, there are a couple ingredients that make this bbq sauce award winning: tamarind paste, hickory smoke, and pineapple juice.
The pineapple juice shouldn’t be too difficult, but tangy tamarind paste can be tricky. It can be found in well stocked Indian or Asian grocery stores.
Using tamarind concentrate is optional, but you can also make a good substitute for tamarind paste by mixing together brown sugar and lime juice in equal parts to get the amount you need.
Liquid hickory smoke is an ingredient that you probably walked by a million times without noticing it. It’s usually sold in a little bottle in the spice aisle: Colgin, Stubbs, and Wright’s are a few name brands. A little goes a long way.
Here’s what you need to make your own bbq sauce:
- Ketchup. Look for an all natural or organic tomato sauce for the best results, like Annie’s.
- Brown sugar.
- Pineapple juice.
- Tamarind paste. Also known as tamarind concentrate, made from the sour-sweet pulp of the tropical fruit.
- Liquid hickory smoke. This magical ingredient gives a great smoky taste to the sauce.
- Prepared yellow mustard.
- Garlic powder.
- Onion powder.
- Chili powder.
- Cayenne powder.
- Apple cider or distilled white vinegar.
- Salt and pepper.
How to make homemade Barbecue Sauce:
If you're a visual learner, these pictures show you how-to—but for the actual recipe with specific amounts, look towards the bottom of the page!
- This is so simple! All you have to do is whisk everything together in a non-reactive saucepan (glass, stainless steel, or enamel coated steel is just fine) over medium high heat until the sauce just boils.
- Then turn down the heat and cover the saucepan. Simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes to let the flavors mingle.
- Give the sauce a taste, and adjust if needed.
- Maybe it needs just a little more tang? Add vinegar.
More sweetness? Add a tiny bit of brown sugar.
More smoke? A little bit of hickory smoke.
More spice? More cayenne, or your favorite hot sauce, like Frank’s Red Hot.
- Then, let cool and pour the sauce into jars. Refrigerate the sauce when you’re not guzzling it! It keeps for at least a week, and can be frozen if you’re cooking ahead.
How to make Barbecue Sauce sugar free:
Looking for a keto barbecue sauce? You can absolutely use this recipe. Here’s some tips:
Make sure that your ketchup is sugar-free. (If you can’t find sugar-free ketchup, use equal parts tomato paste.)
Make the sauce using erythritol (or your choice of another low carb sweetener) in place of brown sugar and molasses.
Double check that there’s no extra sugar in the tamarind pulp brand that you buy, or omit it altogether.
“I want barbecue sauce on my..”
- Ribs. Brush this glossy sauce on as a finishing touch to baby back or spare ribs on the grill.
- Chicken. This is a fabulously easy homemade barbecue sauce for chicken, especially Barbecue Chicken.
- Pizza. Hello, BBQ Chicken Skillet Pizza!
- Potatoes. French fries, roasted potato wedges, even hash browns. Better than ketchup!
- Pulled pork. The easiest, most wonderful slow cooker pulled pork with barbecue sauce, right here. Pile it high on buns, pour on a little extra sauce— and don’t forget the pickles.
Barbecue Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup 100% pineapple juice
- 4 tablespoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste optional
- 2 teaspoons liquid hickory smoke
- 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 tablespoon apple cider or distilled white vinegar optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk all ingredients together in a non-reactive saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and allow the sauce to just come to a boil.
- Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or longer.
- Taste and add a vinegar if needed, and salt and pepper, to taste.
- Transfer to a large jar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- This recipe calls for tamarind paste which is made from the tropical
tamarind fruit. It can be found in well-stocked grocery stores in the
ethnic foods section, Asian, or Indian markets. It has a tangy, rich
flavor. It can be omitted or substituted with 2 tablespoons ketchup
plus 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce, or 1 1/2 tablespoons brown
sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar or citrus juice.
tangier, sweeter, more vinegary, spicier, or saltier. Adjust the
seasonings according to personal preference.