Perfect BBQ Sauce Recipe is the best blend of tangy, rich, smoky, and slightly sweet flavors!  This BBQ sauce is ready in 20 minutes and perfect on any meat!

bbq sauce recipe in jar

Perfect BBQ Sauce Recipe:

The BEST BBQ sauce ever you guys, to go along with my Pulled Pork recipe from Monday!  They’re the perfect combo.  Although we’ve been known to slather this sauce on Baked Chicken Breast, Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs, or even a burger!  I know I’m pulling the Kansas girl card again, but I do know my BBQ sauce!  I’ve been fortunate enough to have Kansas City BBQ whenever I want, and also sampled some different versions from around the country.  I think that my homemade sauce is kind of a mash up of all the things I like best about each sauce.  One thing I’ve never been a fan of is an overly sugary, syrupy, bbq sauce.  Mine has the right amount of sweetness without overtaking the dish and muddying up the other flavors!  Let’s talk about what’s in it!

bbq sauce ingredients in a pot

BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

  • You’ll need a cup of tomato sauce, any kind will do.  I try to make sure I get no sugar added, but that’s just personal taste.
  • Ketchup!  Don’t run away!!  I don’t even like ketchup, and I promise you this bbq sauce doesn’t taste like it.  But, after testing and testing, I like the tomato sauce/ketchup combo best.  If you really don’t want to use the ketchup, you can use a second cup of tomato sauce.
  • Apple cider vinegar.  I don’t recommend any other type for this recipe.  I’ve tried with white vinegar, rice vinegar, and red wine vinegar during testing and apple cider is the best.
  • Dark brown sugar:  Light is ok if that’s what you have but keep in mind that dark brown will have a richer flavor.
  • Molasses!  Can’t have this bbq sauce without it.  It adds some amazing deep flavor.
  • Seasonings:  Worcestershire sauce adds a that salty touch and kind of almost a “meaty” flavor.  Then we use a dab of dijon (don’t worry it adds tang but doesn’t make the sauce taste of mustard), plenty of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika (for that hint of smoky flavor), salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Don’t skip the cayenne, it doesn’t make it too hot!

Keep in mind that I have tested this recipe for years and have had it perfected for well over ten years!  We love this combination of spices and flavors and the savory, sweet, tangy goodness that you get in every bite!  This sauce will be piping hot when done, but of course carefully give it a taste and feel free to add more sugar if you like a sweeter sauce, or more smoked paprika if you like your sauce more smoky…etc.  Once prepared, you can store this sauce in a sealed container for up to one week.  Or, you can freeze the cooled sauce and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months!  I love making a double or even triple batch of this and keeping it in the freezer to have for later, because we’re pretty much always craving it!

bbq sauce in a jar



5 from 10 votes

Perfect BBQ Sauce Recipe

Perfect BBQ Sauce Recipe is the best blend of tangy, rich, smoky, and slightly sweet flavors!  This BBQ sauce is ready in 20 minutes and perfect on any meat!
Servings 16



  • In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes until thickened.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly before using.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.


NOTE:  I've found that this sauce is best with the tomato sauce/ketchup mixture.  The sauce does not taste like ketchup when finished.  If you absolutely don't want to use ketchup, you can use a second cup of tomato sauce.
NOTE:  This sauce, once prepared can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If freezing, thaw in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before using.
NOTE:  You can substitute light brown sugar for dark if necessary.


Serving: 2TBSP, Calories: 50kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Rate & review this recipe below!




Hey! Nice to meet you! I'm Nichole!

Welcome to The Salty Marshmallow! I'm a mom, animal lover, photographer, & kitchen mess-maker. Here you will find the result of my decades-long passion for chasing the best flavors in the kitchen, all meant to be cooked by regular people with busy lives just like you and me.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I love this BBQ! I actually made your pulled pork recipe with this homemade BBQ sauce. It was delicious. I don’t think I will buy BBQ sauce ever again!

  2. 5 stars
    I never really managed to get a BBQ sauce quite right but I will be definitely trying this ASAP – it looks and sounds amazing – cant wait to try it!

  3. 5 stars
    With our all time favorite barbecue, it’s definitely need a perfect sauce that will blend and match it’s quality. This is very timely also as summer is coming, we need this kind of sauce for our getaway on the beach.

  4. 5 stars
    Love to make my own sauces! Great use of spices in this one tastes great in my southern fried chicken burger! Thanks for the share!

  5. I’d love to try proper Kansas BBQ, I’m from the UK and we don’t really do smokehouse food justice. Glad to see this sauce can be frozen too, will try the recipe soon!

  6. 5 stars
    Kansas City BBQ is THE best! I struggle to get it as good as when we eat out, so I cannot wait to try this recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    I love a sweet and smoky bbq sauce, all these ingredients look amazing and I can totally see why ketchup could work!