Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Did you know that in just fifteen minutes or less, you can make a homemade barbecue sauce that rivals any bought in the store? But wait. That is not all. It’s going to save you some money in your pocket too. Sound like a good deal? We certainly think so. It’s so good that it’s earned the nickname liquid smoke around the block in our neighborhood.

Who knew that a delicious homemade bbq sauce could be so easy to make? Skip out on those store bought brands and make this simple recipe for yourself. This recipe makes the perfect blend of flavors. It tastes fantastic on grilled chicken, ribs, wings, sandwiches, pulled pork, meatballs, you name it. You will never want to spend your money on those name-brand bottles again.

Making your own sauce takes just minutes, but often it’s even easier to pick up a bottle at the store. This homemade barbecue sauce may have you rethinking your trip to the store.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce | 3 ingredients | Recipe on PocketChangeGourmet.com - homemade barbecue sauce

For as long as I can remember, I have been making this barbecue sauce. A few days ago, when I asked Doug to put some chicken breasts in the slow cooker with barbecue sauce, he asked me for the recipe. Even though I have it memorized because 1) it’s so easy you can’t forget it, and 2) I’ve made it so many times I know it by heart, I told him it should be on one of the blogs. Then with a quick search, we realized that we have never shared the recipe. We needed to fix that.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce | 3 ingredients | Recipe on PocketChangeGourmet.com - homemade barbecue sauce

With just three ingredients that I bet you have on hand, you can whip up this barbecue sauce in minutes. We use it in a number of recipes, including some for meatballs, chicken, pork, and even just for dipping.

Feel free to add some other ingredients you think might be good in our recipe. Make it spicy, tangy, or just however you like it. One of the fun things about cooking is that you don’t always have to follow a recipe precisely by the book. A few ingredients that friends and family have liked to add to it include Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, chili powder, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  See? We told you there are plenty of ways to customize this barbecue sauce recipe. Read on, and we’ll give you even more options.

Again, you’re welcome to improvise a little and put your twist on our barbecue sauce recipe, but make sure to grab some ketchup, sugar, and vinegar, and get ready to get started.

Here’s the Recipe for Our Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Alright, it’s time to get started on making your delicious homemade barbecue sauce. Grab a bowl to mix the ingredients, prep the crock pot for your meat on the side (how about some tasty ribs?), and get ready for a myriad of mouth-watering flavors. You won’t want to wait to taste it.

One of the best things about this recipe is it only calls for three main simple ingredients that you are likely to already have on hand.

First, start by measuring three-fourths a cup of ketchup and add it to your mixing bowl. Then, measure out one-half a cup of packed brown sugar and stir it in. Finally, you are going to add in one tablespoon and then one teaspoon of vinegar. Make sure it is stirred in well so that the sugar blends. Using a whisk is the easiest way to blend all of your ingredients. Feel free to store the leftover ingredients inside of your fridge in a sealed container.

Now it’s time to heat it up. When the sauce is warmer, it seems to bring out the flavor of the meat better. Pour your sauce into a medium saucepan and keep the heat of the stove between medium and low heat. After all, you don’t want your sauce to burn and stick to the sides of the pan! Bring your sauce to a light boil (slightly bubbling) and then let it simmer for twenty to thirty minutes.

Once the sauce has thickened a bit, feel free to add a pinch of salt and pepper according to your preferred taste. You can also add in some red pepper flakes and another splash of hot sauce. Finally, remove the barbecue sauce from the heat and allow it to cool before serving.

Get Creative with It

Want to add some fun variations to our homemade barbecue sauce recipe? We have just the thing. Feel free to use any of the ingredients we mentioned earlier to give it an extra kick. The simple three-ingredient recipe we listed is sweet and tangy. For those of you who like an extra kick, add a splash of hot sauce into the mix.

If you want to add in some Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, soy sauce, garlic, or garlic powder, that is up to you. We’ve even heard from a few folks who added in maple syrup or mustard in it. While we personally prefer spicy or slightly tangy flavors, to each his own. As we said, it all depends on taste. Feel free to make substitutes as needed.

How Long will the Homemade Barbecue Sauce Last?

This is one of the questions that we are asked most frequently. How long will the homemade barbecue sauce last? We have some good news for you. This recipe keeps very well in the refrigerator. Pour it into an airtight container like a mason jar (after it has cooled, of course). The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Let’s just hope that it lasts that long with a hungry family around. In our house, it’s always eaten up in a day or two!

Get storage jars at Walmart.com

Ways to Use Your Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Are you wondering how to use your homemade barbecue sauce? For those of you who are new to cooking, we have a few tips for ways to eat this delicious recipe. As we mentioned earlier, you can use it on chicken, meatballs, ribs, pulled pork, meatballs, sandwiches, and even pizza. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use this homemade barbecue sauce recipe:

  • Chicken: How many times have you eaten grilled chicken with a side of barbecue sauce? Each time, I’m sure it’s been delicious. Just imagine how good your homemade barbecue sauce is going to taste on it. Whether you are eating grilled chicken by itself, having chicken wings, or enjoying a tasty salad, you really can’t go wrong. It’s so easy and delicious!
  • Meatballs: These are one of our all-time favorite appetizers. Seriously. How can you go wrong with meatballs? Whether you decide to make some turkey or beef meatballs, the homemade barbecue sauce will pair with them beautifully. Bon appetit!
  • Pizza: Okay, hear us out. Have you ever had barbecue sauce on pizza? If your answer is no, you haven’t truly lived. Add your sauce to some pizza dough, sprinkle some grilled chicken on, and voila. You have yourself a barbecue chicken pizza. Yum.
  • Ribs: Can you even enjoy ribs without some delicious barbecue sauce to give it just the right taste? We’ll go ahead and answer that question for you: no. Ribs are tender, savory, and amazing on their own. With this sauce, they are twice as good.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce | 3 ingredients | Recipe on PocketChangeGourmet.com - homemade barbecue sauce

5 from 1 reviews
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Prep time
Total time
Perfect for Meatballs, Chicken, Pork and more. Recipe from PocketChangeGourmet.com
Serves: 1 cup
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vinegar
  1. Mix all ingredients together with a whisk
  2. Store leftovers in fridge in a sealed container

 What’s your favorite recipe to use Barbecue Sauce on?


  1. This looks yummy! It also seems like it would be so much healthier, without all the junk they put in it for storing. Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

  2. This looks wonderful! I will be using this on my meatloaf, sloppy joes and pork steak, for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Bravo! I never buy BBQ sauce! Hopefully you’ve inspired everyone to do the same, and make their own!

  4. Simple yet sensational, used this recipe with my meatloaf and it was stunning.
    Thanks for sharing

    • So excited you liked it Tanya! It’s been an old stand by for years in my kitchen.
      Happy Cooking!

  5. What type of vinegar do you recommend?

    • Lori, we normally use a simple white vinegar but have made it with anything from apple cider vinegar to rice vinegar. That is the beauty of this sauce recipe you just can’t go wrong. So go ahead and use what you have. – Doug

  6. I ran out of bottled made this and I must say it was easy yet very delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. I made this to use on pork chops. I added a little bit of chili powder and onion and garlic powder to give it a boost.

  8. Very easy and very tasty!!

  9. I’ve always wondered how to make my own barbecue sauce, so I’m really glad I know how to now. It doesn’t sound hard to make at all, as it is three ingredients. I can’t wait to try this out next time we use the grill!

    • Madeline from Pocket Change Gourmet says

      Hi Petunia- so happy it will help you out! Let us know how it goes!

  10. Wow, just 3 ingredients, who knew? I didn’t 🙂 I’ll be giving this a whirl to see how it compares to shop bought (probably much better!) thanks for this, I tend to have these ingredients to hand but often not the BBQ sauce, now I know how easy it is to whip up a batch it will save me a few trips to the shop I’m sure

  11. Wow ! It looks super tasty ! I will try this recipe as soon as possible, thanks 🙂

  12. I’m having a BBQ Garden party in two weeks and I’m out looking for inspiration. I was thinking Pork, but I want to make it special. This is my first party in my new home (I just moved to Stockholm), and I want to to stand out. I’m no expert chef, but I like to cook. Thanks for this post and the inspiration. Much needed 😉

  13. Wow! Very impressive! Tried it and it was amazing! Made baby back ribs and everyone went crazy. Thanks!

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