Basic Barbecue Sauce Recipe


Fire up your grill and get ready for some serious smoke.

Basic Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Although I love barbecue sauces of all types, the standard around my house is still the tomato-based variety that's ingrained in our collective American consciousness. While choices of sauce abound at any local megamart, I've yet to find one that rivals making my own from scratch.

This basic sauce base takes about 15 minutes to make from start to finish and consists of ingredients that are almost always on hand in my kitchen. Knowing the ease of making homemade and the quality of the end product, I cannot comprehend why bottled sauces are so popular, especially since this standard base is merely a launching point for infinite varieties.

I'll make a huge batch at the beginning of the season and continue to modify it in smaller batches with new flavors. Adding some sautéed onions adds a nice robustness, throw in some jalapeños to give it a kick, pineapple juice for a tropical sweetness, and so on. With so much opportunity for experimentation, all of which probably yield better results than those supermarket bottles, I hope you'll make the switch to homemade barbecue sauce, if you haven't already.

Adapted from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen.


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite barbecue rub
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. 1.

    Combine all of the ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer until dark, thick, and richly flavored, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a clean jar and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for several months.