How to Make Basic Barbecue Sauce

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There's nothing like homemade barbecue sauce to use on grilled and oven-baked meat recipes. But why use store-bought sauces that are filled with artificial ingredients when you can make a delicious and healthier version at home? This simple recipe uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and can be made in just 30 minutes!

(Julia Mueller/Demand Media)
(Julia Mueller)

Things You'll Need

  • 2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (this can be found in the condiments aisle at your grocery store)
  • 1-½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, optional
  • Large saucepan
  • Whisk or spoon
  • Large glass jar with a lid
Step 1

Gather all of the ingredients for the sauce. It may seem like a lot, but you probably have almost everything on hand already!

(Julia Mueller/Demand Media)
Julia Mueller
Step 2

Add all of the ingredients to a large saucepan and whisk over medium heat.

(Julia Mueller/Demand Media)
Julia Mueller
Step 3

Bring sauce to a full (but controlled) boil, whisking continuously. Lower heat to a simmer and allow sauce to cook uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until thickened.

(Julia Mueller/Demand Media)
Julia Mueller
Step 4

Remove sauce from heat and allow it to cool. As the sauce cools, it will thicken more.

(Julia Mueller/Demand Media)
Julia Mueller
Step 5

Pour cooled sauce into a large container with an air-tight lid (such as a jar). Secure the lid and refrigerate until ready to use. Store sauce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

(Julia Mueller/Demand Media)
Julia Mueller

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Tips & Warnings

  • Adapt this recipe to your own personal taste. For a sweeter sauce, add more honey. For a spicier sauce, add more cayenne pepper. For a smokier sauce, add a more liquid smoke.
  • The honey in this recipe can be replaced with brown sugar.
  • For more depth of flavor, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of whiskey.
  • Be sure to keep close watch on the sauce while it simmers, as it will spatter out of the saucepan if it gets too hot. Stir occasionally for the best results.

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