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How to Make BBQ Sauce from Scratch

How to make BBQ sauce from scratch

Let’s make BBQ sauce from scratch! It’s a great way to get the same flavours you crave, without all of the additives and refined sugar present in most store bought sauces.

To get your perfect sauce, there’s no one recipe that needs to be followed. Instead, its a delicate balance of the key BBQ sauce components that will make up the flavour you’re looking for. It’s always going to start with a tomato base and then a personalized combination of acid + sweet + salt + spice + smoke.

How to Make BBQ Sauce from Scratch

The formula and notes below are to make 2 cups of BBQ sauce. Adjust quantities accordingly. 

Tomato base

Start by cooking down onions and garlic until they are translucent and very fragrant – about 10 minutes. Then add the tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes.

1 red onion, diced
2 gloves of garlic, diced
2 cups organic tomato sauce, or pureed tomatoes


A classic choice is apple cider vinegar but you could you any vinegar you like. Some people also like to kick it up a notch with some fresh squeezed lemon juice. Use 1/2 cup


The sweet isn’t just about adding sugar, there is an opportunity to add some rich flavours here. To make a healthier sauce use sweeteners that aren’t refined. 1/2 cup of sweet. Good choices include:

Blackstrap molasses
Maple syrup
Date syrup (check this one out!)


Season your sauce as you would any other, no need to over do it.


This part is very personal. Opt for a standard hot sauce like Tabasco, sprinkle in some red chilli flakes or my personal favourite, use a smoke chipotle hot sauce to get some smoke with your spice.


Speaking of smoke, we don’t just need to stop with the smoke that comes in some hot sauces. I love smoked paprika on pretty much everything so there’s no way it’s not making itself into my homemade BBQ sauce.

Mix it up

Once you’ve got this base down there’s no end to how you can mix up your homemade BBQ sauce. Other great additions include:

Mustard (honey, dijon or ground mustard seeds)
Fruit (pureed mango, pineapple, etc.) If using fruit, cut back on the initial ‘sweet’ that you add
Spices (cumin, fennel, etc.)

The final steps

The last two steps are to blend the sauce in a high powered blender of food processor to eliminate chunks and then set it to a low and slow simmer for about 45 minutes. There you have it, the easy formula to make BBQ sauce from scratch at home!

I would love to hear about the combinations you’re using. Drop me some suggestions in the comments below.



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