Barbecue sauce

Homemade barbecue sauce ready for brushing.

Stay-Put Cooking is a daily kitchen dispatch while you're stuck at home social distancing. Check out the archive for more tips and tricks. 

Stay-put cooking logo

Do you have five minutes?

That’s all you need to make your own barbecue sauce. (Okay, maybe 10 if you include the time it takes to pour all the stuff into a pan.) Seriously, this ketchup-based sauce is as simple as heating up its flavor companions – molasses, yellow mustard and smoked paprika, to name a few – and getting everybody warmed up and talking to each other. Rich, tangy and popping with flavor, it’s a zillion times better than any sauce on the shelf. Today may very well be the beginning of your new saucy life.

A few notes:

  • Although optional, I highly recommend stirring in a tablespoon of butter at the end, as it amps up the mouthfeel, a sensation referred to as umami.
  • Because it contains sugar, this sauce is meant for grilled or smoked items that are just about done. Applying sauce to raw or even partially cooked items on the grill will cause a burning effect and things will not end well. Think of it as a finishing sauce, brush-lacquered during the last five minutes of cooking.
  • To prevent cross-contamination, set aside some sauce for the table.

Finger-Licking Barbecue Sauce

Excerpted from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations by Kim O’Donnel.

Makes about 1 ½ cups. Amounts may be doubled.


1 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Anchovy-free Plan B: Pickapeppa sauce)

1 teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

Optional: 1 tablespoon butter


In a small saucepan, place all of the ingredients (except for the butter) over medium heat, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Bring to gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low, stirring to minimize burning. The sauce is ready when it is heated through. If using, stir in the butter until completely melted.

Take off the heat until ready to use and gently reheat as needed.

Keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

What to Read Next