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Homemade BBQ Sauce

This homemade BBQ sauce is sweet, tangy, and as spicy as you want it to be. You’ll never want to use store-bought BBQ sauce again!

Barbecue sauce in jar with spoon

There aren’t many sauces as versatile as homemade barbecue sauce. As a vegan, I like to use it to make the best BBQ tofu, tempeh, and beans, but for meat eaters, it goes well with pork, chicken, burgers, and more. Sweet potato fries are even better when dipped in BBQ sauce, and you can pair it with cauliflower to make epic vegan BBQ wings.

Basically, barbecue sauce does it all—so it’s important to have a good recipe on hand.

This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is going to be your new go-to. It’s easy to make, and it has everything that makes BBQ sauce so irresistible—the sweetness, the tanginess, the deep molasses flavor, and the heat. You can adjust the spice level to your liking, whether that’s no heat at all or better-serve-this-with-a-glass-of-ice-water spicy. (I’m from Jamaica, so you know we always go all-in on the hot sauce here!)

Overhead view of barbecue sauce ingredients

Notes on Ingredients

Please note that this is important information on the ingredients and instructions and the FULL recipe with amounts and details can be found DOWN BELOW (scroll to it) in the recipe card.

  • Ketchup
  • Cider vinegar
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce – Soy sauce can be used as a substitute.
  • Brown sugar – I recommend using dark brown sugar, which has a richer flavor.
  • Molasses
  • Prepared yellow mustard – Nothing fancy, just your standard yellow mustard is fine.
  • Magic dust – This is my BBQ spice rub; it adds all the spices you need for homemade BBQ sauce!
  • Black pepper
  • Hot sauce – I use Tabasco, but you can use any kind you like or have on hand.

What Kind of Molasses Is Best for Homemade Barbecue Sauce?

You can use any kind of molasses you want to make barbecue sauce—sorghum molasses, blackstrap molasses, light, dark, whatever! They’ll all add a slightly different flavor to the recipe, but they work equally well.

How to Make Barbecue Sauce from Scratch

If you don’t have it on hand already, you’ll need to make my “magic dust” dry rub first. Then, follow the steps below to make BBQ sauce.

Combine the sauce ingredients. Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan set over medium-high heat and stir to combine.

Whisking barbecue sauce in saucepan

Cook the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is dark, thick, and the ingredients are incorporated.

Bowl of barbecue sauce with brush, surrounded by sauce ingredients

Cool. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the sauce cool completely. Transfer the sauce to a jar or container with an airtight lid.

Tips for Success

This barbecue sauce recipe is an easy one, but here are a few hints and tips that will help make it even easier.

  • Use a large saucepan. When the sauce mixture comes to a boil, it has the potential to spatter, but a large saucepan will help keep the sauce in the pot.
  • Adding the hot sauce. If you’re not sure how much hot sauce you want to add, you can use a small amount at the beginning of the recipe, then taste the BBQ sauce when it’s done and add more if needed.
  • Jarring the sauce. Make your life a little bit easier by using a funnel when transferring the sauce from the pot to the jar.
Barbecue sauce in jar, set on plate of BBQ tofu with brush

How to Store Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade barbecue sauce will last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator when stored in a jar or airtight container. 

Can You Freeze It?

Yes, homemade barbecue sauce freezes beautifully! Store it in a freezer bag, pressing out any air, and freeze it flat for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, you can submerge the freezer bag in a bowl of hot water until the sauce thaws.

Barbecue sauce dripping from spoon into jar

What Goes Well With BBQ Sauce?

Here are some ways to use your homemade barbecue sauce:

Barbecue sauce in jar with spoon
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5 from 5 votes

Homemade BBQ Sauce

This homemade BBQ sauce is sweet, tangy, and as spicy as you want it to be. You’ll never want to use store-bought BBQ sauce again!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 1 jar
Calories 343kcal


Magic Dust aka Dry Rub (you will only need 1 tablespoon of this):

  • ½ cup paprika
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar or coconut sugar or any type
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne powder or less to taste

Barbecue Sauce:

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup vegan Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon magic dust
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Hot sauce such as Tabasco to taste


  • Make the magic dust first (by combining all of the ingredients in a container then shaking to combine them). You will only need 1 tablespoon of it.
  • For the barbecue sauce, mix all of the ingredients together (including a tablespoon of magic dust) in a pot over medium high heat and bringing to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring until sauce is dark and ingredients incorporated. Remove from heat.
  • Allow to cool and store in a jar with an airtight lid, and use accordingly. Enjoy!


Calories: 343kcal

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