I’ve always wanted to make my own barbecue sauce and I finally got around to it. I came up with this recipe that creates a sweet, spicy, and smoky barbecue sauce that is surprisingly well balanced. I chose to use tomato paste as the base rather than something like ketchup because I wanted to make sure I could control all of the flavors on my own and adjust them accordingly. This sauce is different than any store bought sauce I’ve tried, but it still definitely tastes familiar. I love this sauce and enjoy the idea that people usually can’t buy anything just like it! It goes exceptionally well with barbecue, grilled beef, pork, chicken, and even breaded items like chicken tenders.
Recommended recipes to use with this sauce:
Makes about 1.25 cups of BBQ sauce at 5 calories per teaspoon.
Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Homemade sweet, smoky, and spicy barbecue sauce.
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste (75 calories)
- 1 cup water and 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons molasses (120 calories)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (90 calories)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (3 calories)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon smoked paprika (Note: This is a key ingredient. Regular paprika won’t work! You should really use smoked paprika.)
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon corn starch to thicken (30 calories)
- Optional: 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper for heat
- Optional, but unnecessary: 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke (a little goes a long way, so be careful)
- Small sauce pan
- Spoon or rubber spatula
- Cup, tablespoon, and teaspoon measurements
- Container to store the BBQ sauce
- Bring 1 cup of water up to a medium simmer on medium-low heat.
- Add in the 3 tablespoon of tomato paste to the simmering water and dissolve it completely while bringing it back up to a low simmer.
- Add the brown sugar and molasses and stir frequently to get the sugars dissolved.
- Add the rest of the spices (salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and optional cayenne pepper) and stir the ingredients until they seem mostly dissolved. Keep the ingredients at a low simmer the whole time.
- At this point add in the apple cider vinegar and the optional liquid smoke. The liquid smoke is very strong on its own, but personally, I don’t think you even need it because the spices are smoky enough on their own. That is up to you though if you prefer more smoke flavor.
- While the sauce simmers a bit, combine the 1/4 cup of cool water with the 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a measuring cup or bowl and mix thoroughly until completely dissolved.
- After letting the barbecue sauce come up to a simmer, add in the cornstarch mixture and stir everything thoroughly.
- Once again bring the sauce back up to a simmer and you should notice it thickening up fairly quickly. Simmer the sauce for 3 – 5 minutes more. Don’t simmer too long with the cornstarch in there or the thickeners could break down.
- Let the sauce cool to room temperature before using it immediately or storing it in the fridge for later. It will last a good while in the fridge. I suggest making the sauce ahead of time and letting the ingredients blend in the fridge for a day or so to get the best flavor results.
- Place the sauce in a squeeze bottle or just place some in smaller containers for serving.