Bye-bye, bottled BBQ sauce. You’ve got some major competition with these flavorful homemade BBQ sauce recipes that contain ingredients you likely have in your pantry and fridge already. Dress up your chicken, pork, ribs, and beyond in our best BBQ sauce recipes and prepare for rave reviews.

By Karla Walsh
March 25, 2020
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Like icing on a cake or toppings on a pizza, the best BBQ sauce can take the main component of your recipe from good to great. Whether you slather them on ribs, mix with pulled pork or chicken, or use as a sauce for a takeout fakeout BBQ chicken pizza, these homemade BBQ sauce recipes are designed to elevate your entrée to new flavor heights. So walk right past the bottled varieties and try these DIY condiments instead. And don't think these sauces are only for summer grilling—you can use them year-round no matter the cooking method.

Andy Lyons

Spicy BBQ Sauce

Come summer, you could can tomatoes. Or use that tomato bounty to whip up this punchy, perfect pork or chicken topping to give your grilled fare some kick all year long. This homemade BBQ sauce recipe calls for 12(!) pounds of tomatoes and yields five pints, perfect for gifting or saving all for yourself. The pleasant level of heat from the jalapeños makes this sauce irresistible.

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Blaine Moats

Classic BBQ Sauce

Craving a classic? Turn to this, our best BBQ sauce for purists. It offers similar flavors as your favorite bottled sauce but is fresher and with fewer additives. Our Test Kitchen sampled countless batches to pinpoint the tastiest ratio of Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and molasses. With your sauce complete, try out these 19 Grilling Tips From the Pros.

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Adam Alright Photography Inc

Paleo BBQ Sauce

Meat is a mainstay on this caveman-inspired diet, but since many BBQ sauce recipes call for molasses or brown sugar (or both), Paleo diet followers usually have to eat their grilled grub without sauce. No longer. This sugar-free BBQ sauce scores a dose of natural sweetness from Medjool dates (1 Pound Dates, $14.99, Walmart), which balances out the warm spices and acidic tomatoes.

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Andy Lyons

Blueberry BBQ Sauce

We know, we know...blueberries and beef, chicken, or pork doesn’t exactly seem like the most natural pairing. But stick with us: The natural sweetness of the berries plays nicely with the more spicy and savory BBQ sauce ingredients, including Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and jalapeños. Come peak summer, when fresh blueberries are at their best, this is one of our go-to condiments.

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Jason Donnelly

Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Sweet and tangy, this horseradish-spiked rib topping is a masterpiece. At first glance, apple juice might seem like an odd BBQ sauce ingredient, but it nicely echoes the apple cider vinegar and complements the smoky paprika.

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Test Kitchen Tip: For this, or any of these BBQ sauce recipes, if you’re applying them to meats while cooking, do so with a BBQ sauce brush (such as this long-handled silicone brush, $7.15, Walmart) during the last few minutes. This will prevent the sugars from burning.

Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

Soda isn’t just for sipping. Crack open a can of Dr. Pepper to lend a nice amount of sweetness to set off the spice from white pepper and ancho chile powder. While this is one of our best BBQ sauce recipes alone, we love it even more when paired with a warm spice rub.

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Jason Donnelly

Balsamic BBQ Simmer Sauce

In winter or whenever it’s not grilling season, we love to simmer meat with this homemade BBQ sauce rather than smoking low and slow outdoors. That means every single ounce of protein is infused with the ketchup-based honey BBQ sauce. 

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Test Kitchen Tip: No honey? No problem. Switch up the BBQ sauce ingredients and use an equal amount of maple syrup instead. 

Andy Lyons

Gluten-Free Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Start this gluten-free BBQ sauce with onion and garlic (as so many great recipes start). Then finish it off with tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and all of the classic Kansas City BBQ sauce flavors you love from the bottled varieties.

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Panichgul Studios Inc

Honey-Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Now this is one spirited BBQ sauce recipe. Literally. To accent the tomato sauce, honey, and mustard, this recipe calls for a quarter cup of tequila. After you’ve given the original BBQ sauce ingredients a shot, try a bourbon BBQ sauce variation with a quarter cup of bourbon or whiskey.

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Use these homemade BBQ sauces as inspiration to cook up a BBQ chicken dinner, grill veggies to dunk in your sauce, or to start trying our other DIY ingredients you can make at home.

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