Best Ever BBQ Sauce

In Texas, barbecue is practically a food group, but no matter where you live, summertime and barbecue go hand in hand.  Of course, where there is barbecue, there must be sauce!  Different regions of the country have decidedly distinct takes on which ingredients constitute the best barbecue sauce, and this Texas girl does favor a bit more sweetness than a true Texas barbecue sauce would probably dictate.  So after a lot of experimenting and tweaking, I finally came up with a recipe that exemplifies my idea of a perfectly balanced barbecue sauce.


This versatile sauce is slightly sweet, slightly smoky, and slightly spicy, making it mouthwatering on everything from brisket to ribs to chicken to pulled pork.  But the best thing about it is that you can adjust it to your taste just as easily as I did to mine.  How strong is your sweet tooth?  Increase or decrease the brown sugar and honey accordingly.  Do you gravitate towards a smoky sauce?  Tweak the amount of smoked paprika, or substitute regular paprika in its place if you don’t care for the taste of smoke.  In the same way, you can achieve more or less heat by adjusting the cayenne and black pepper.

In addition to being able to create a barbecue sauce that perfectly pleases your palate, you will simultaneously avoid all of the icky ingredients that can be found in the bottled variety.  Once you make homemade barbecue sauce yourself and figure out how easy and delicious it is, you’ll never again buy a bottle at the grocery store.  Seriously, I could almost eat this stuff with a spoon.  It’s that good.  So what are you waiting for?  Barbecue season is upon us, and the fruits of your grill will thank you for this one.

Best Ever BBQ Sauce

Yield: approximately 5 cups

Best Ever BBQ Sauce

This barbecue sauce is slightly sweet, slightly smoky, slightly spicy...and 100% delicious!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 8 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sautee garlic for a minute until it turns a light golden brown.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Mix together until thoroughly incorporated. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened and glossy.
  3. Store leftover sauce in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


You know those icky ingredients I was referring to? In order to avoid them, make sure the ketchup you use for this recipe is natural or organic.

The sauce is even better the next day after the flavors have mingled for awhile!

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 Adapted from Allrecipes.com


This post is linked to Pin It Monday Hop #14 at Pursuit of Functional Home.



  1. I love to make everything from scratch and love this idea. Thanks for all the mix ideas. Do you think this would freeze well? Have you ever kept it longer in your refrigerator? I know the store bought stuff stays forever in there but of course has junk in it to make it last. Got any thoughts for keeping longer? Thanks again for all your creative and helpful recipes!!!


    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Terri! I have not tried freezing this, but I imagine that it would work. Since it’s tomato based, I’m guessing it would act like a spaghetti sauce (and do just fine) as far as freezing? I will admit that I’ve kept it longer than two weeks in the refrigerator…probably up to a month and it was still perfect. You’ve already mentioned that you are aware that it can spoil more quickly than store-bought sauce because of its lack of preservatives, so I think you can use common sense and stretch it a little longer as long as it’s properly refrigerated, doesn’t smell/taste weird, and doesn’t start growing mold. 😉

      Glad you found some recipes on the site that you can use! I’m sure I’ll keep adding recipes for more from-scratch mixes, because that’s what I prefer using, too. 🙂 Good luck with the BBQ sauce freezing experiment (come back and let us know if you try it!) and I hope you have a great week!

  2. I have made this twice now. The first time I used pasta sauce instead of tomato sauce (I didn’t realize they were not the same thing*). I also didn’t put any paprika in because it must have fallen out of the cart when I went to buy the spices (I had to buy pretty much everything I hadn’t been cooking very long). It was pretty good.

    Last Sunday I made it again using almost the proper ingredients and it was excellent. My friend commented that it was almost perfect, it just needed more salt. Which was funny because I couldn’t find the salt so I didn’t put any in. I also used pre-minced garlic from a jar. So I would say that this is a really good BBQ sauce recipe. And it is easy to make, even for a beginner.

    *I started making the sauce on Sunday and I realized that I was out of tomato paste. I ran to the store to grab some and low and behold there was this thing called “tomato sauce” sitting on the next shelf. And it was a different thing then “pasta sauce”. You learn something new everyday 😉

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I’m so glad this recipe was a success for you, Michelle, even with a few not-quite-right ingredients. 🙂 And I’ve never had a pasta sauce-flavored BBQ sauce before…I bet that gave it a nice Italian spin! 😉 Seriously, though, thank you so much for sharing your experience and results…I hope you enjoy this recipe for many years to come! Have a great rest of the week!

  3. hey, I’m from australia so to me tomato sauce = tomato ketchup, what do you mean by tomato sauce? Thanks!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Kat! I’m so sorry for my delay in replying to this…I’m catching up on comments after taking some time off for Thanksgiving. In America, tomato sauce is different than ketchup. Its texture is not as glossy and it’s nowhere near as salty as ketchup. This is what canned tomato sauce that you buy at the grocery store looks like in the states: http://www.hunts.com/products/tomatoes/tomato-sauce
      It’s basically very smoothly pureed cooked tomatoes, and I would say it’s closer to unseasoned spaghetti sauce than ketchup. Does that make sense? I think you could substitute ketchup in this recipe, but I wouldn’t add any additional salt without tasting it first. Hope that helps! 🙂


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