Barbecue sauce for chicken

Simple BBQ Chicken Sauce Recipe


Derrick Riches

Derrick Riches

Derrick Riches is a grilling and barbecue expert. He has written two cookbooks.

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Updated on 08/30/22

Tested by

Tracy Wilk

Tested by Tracy Wilk

Tracy Wilk is a professional pastry chef, recipe developer and chef instructor, and, most importantly, a firm believer in sprinkles.

Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process

The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

This easy BBQ sauce imparts moisture and flavor to grilled chicken, and it can be used on beef, pork, and even tofu or tempeh. With the perfect combination of tang and sweetness, the sauce isn't overpowering and won't drown the charred and smoky profile of your grilled meats. Made with simple ingredients, our recipe doesn't have high levels of sugar or sodium like store-bought sauces do. Experiment with the seasoning to find your favorite balance, more cayenne and chili powder for a spicier version, or more sugar and paprika for a sweeter and stickier sauce.

Make the sauce on the day of your cookout in less than 15 minutes, or save some time and prepare ahead; the sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Our recipe uses simple seasonings and spices. If you want to go one step beyond, make the ketchup at home to ensure that all ingredients are natural and no additives or preservatives are in it. By doing so, you can also be sure the BBQ sauce free of soy and gluten, as most regular kinds of ketchup do contain wheat or soy.

Click Play to See This Simple BBQ Chicken Sauce Come Together

"The best part about making your own BBQ sauce is it allows you to modify it as you like. If you want a little more kick, add some additional cayenne pepper. If you’re watching sugar, reduce the sweetness if needed. Add it onto chicken and meat before they finish cooking for a fresh bite. " —Tracy Wilk

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons paprika

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  2. Heat up a medium saucepan on medium-low. Add all of the ingredients, but just 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  3. Taste for flavor and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne if you'd like a spicier sauce.

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using.

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

  5. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg

When Do I Apply the BBQ Sauce?

The right time to brush the chicken with the barbecue sauce is about 10 minutes before the chicken is ready. By doing so, the sauce has enough heat and time to caramelize but not scorch. Many cooks baste their chicken or meat too early, causing the sauce to burn. Because BBQ sauces have sugar, if you add them too early they will burn and impart a nasty flavor to your meats. Other cooks add the sauce after the food is off of the grill so it doesn't have enough time to penetrate the meat and flavor throughout. The right time is when the chicken is almost done but not quite ready to come off the grill.

How to Use BBQ Sauce

This sauce can be used in a variety of ways, not just to brush chicken or other meats. Here are some ideas:

  • Use it as a dipping sauce for french fries, potato wedges, mozzarella sticks, or zucchini fries.
  • Mix it with 1/2 cup of mayo and use it as a spread for sandwiches or burgers, or to drizzle on mini hot dogs.
  • Use the sauce on pulled pork recipes or leftover shredded chicken to make juicy sandwiches or tacos.
  • Add some sauce to a cold pasta or potato salad.
  • Add some BBQ sauce to the cooking liquid of your favorite meatball recipe.

Helpful Links

How to Grill Like a Professional

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Homemade BBQ Sauce (for chicken, ribs, etc.)

Published . Last updated By Elizabeth Lindemann &nbsp&nbsp/&nbsp&nbspThis post may contain affiliate links.

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5 from 7 votes

Homemade BBQ Sauce takes only 5 minutes to make with pantry ingredients you probably already have, so it’s a great way to save money, and it’s absolutely delicious! This thick barbecue sauce recipe has tang from apple cider vinegar and mustard, sweetness from brown sugar, with a base of ketchup and a secret ingredient for a salty, savory punch. Use it as a dip or in any favorite BBQ recipe!

OK I’ll just tell you- the secret ingredient is soy sauce! Many recipes use Worcestershire sauce in homemade BBQ sauces, but I never have any around, so I used soy sauce instead.

The soy sauce is used instead of salt, and it’s a great vegetarian substitute for Worcestershire sauce in barbecue sauce (Worcestershire has anchovies, so it’s not vegetarian). So you can rest assured this homemade BBQ sauce recipe is vegetarian (vegan, too!).

Use this BBQ sauce when making oven baked bbq chicken or oven bbq salmon, or as a dip with homemade chicken nuggets. You can even use it as a pizza sauce on bbq chicken pizza!

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Ketchup – Ketchup is the base for this recipe, but I think in a pinch you could substitute with a mix of tomato sauce and tomato paste. If you do, you may need to simmer the sauce for longer, as it will need to thicken, and adjust seasoning to taste as it may need more sugar, spices, and soy sauce.
  • Yellow mustard – You can also use 1-2 tablespoons mustard powder, but I really like the color and flavor prepared yellow mustard adds.
  • Apple cider vinegar – this will add the best flavor, but you can use white vinegar in a pinch (a little less in amount).
  • Brown sugar – this can be substituted with other sweeteners or a combination, such as white sugar, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, and/or molasses. I think a granulated sugar works best, as it will caramelize really well when you cook with the sauce.
  • Soy sauce – the secret ingredient which makes this so yummy! You can use salt instead in a pinch, and use gluten-free soy sauce if needed. Liquid aminos may also be used.
  • Spices: Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Black Pepper, Cayenne pepper. Smoked paprika may be substituted with regular or sweet paprika, and cayenne may be omitted (or increased) depending on spice level preference.

How to make Homemade BBQ Sauce

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan.
  2. Stir together and heat up for about 3-5 minutes, or until all the sugar has dissolved.

Told you it was easy! If you like, you can simmer for a little longer to make a thicker sauce. And you should let it cool for a little while before storing it.

How to store homemade bbq sauce

After allowing the BBQ sauce to cool off for a little while, you can put it in a jar or airtight container.

Refrigerate for up to about 2 weeks, or freeze for up to about 6 months.

Recipes to use Barbecue Sauce

  • Use it as a glaze on grilled or baked bbq chicken, or bbq salmon.
  • Bust out the air fryer for bbq ribs.
  • Use it on pulled pork sandwiches or shredded beef bbq sandwiches.
  • Spread it on top of meatloaf instead of ketchup- here’s a mini meatloaf recipe and a BBQ meatloaf meatballs recipe.
  • Dip oven baked french fries, homemade potato chips, homemade chicken nuggets or chicken tenders into BBQ sauce.
  • Use it as a pizza sauce on bbq chicken pizza.

Other homemade sauce / condiment recipes

  • Honey Mustard Sauce
  • Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • Restaurant-Style Salsa
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Almond Butter
  • Peanut Butter

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Filed Under: All Recipes, Dairy Free Recipes, Gluten Free Recipes, Grain Free Recipes, Homemade Basic Essentials, Sauce and Condiment Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes
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Chicken in barbecue sauce recipe - European cuisine: Main courses.

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    Energy per serving













    * Calorie content is calculated for raw products


    1 piece

    Barbecue sauce

    100 g

    Dried herbs

    10 g

    Olive oil

    50 ml


    5 cloves

    Cooking instructions

    2 hours


    1 Crush garlic, mix with olive oil and dried herbs.

    Cheat Sheet How to prepare the garlic

    2 Wash the chicken, pat dry with paper towels, rub with salt and pepper and coat with the garlic mixture. Then put on a baking sheet, tie the legs and wings with thick threads, as shown in the photo. Put the chicken in an oven preheated to 250 degrees for 15 minutes.

    Oven thermometer tool

    3 Remove the chicken, apply some of the barbecue sauce with a special brush and place back in the oven at 180 degrees for 1.5 hours. During this time, open the oven several times and apply the sauce to the chicken. Coat the chicken for the last time and put in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 minutes.

    4 Half an hour before the chicken is cooked, you can add sliced ​​potatoes, pouring them with oil with garlic and herbs (see step 1).

    5Bon appetit!

    popular queries:

    Comments (1):

    Dasha KovalevskayaAugust 5, 2015


    everything turned out just like in the pictures, incredibly tasty.

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