This homemade sweet and tangy BBQ sauce recipe is a tantalizing balance of sweetness and acidity. Smoky, sweet, and savory, with an acidic kick, this finger-licking-good BBQ sauce comes together in just 15 minutes.
Looking for the perfect pairing for this BBQ sauce? Then try my Oven-Baked Ribs recipe, next! Or make it a feast and check out my Southern Collard Greens, Peach Cobbler, Cornbread with Honey Butter recipes, next!
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This sweet and tangy BBQ sauce recipe has been a beloved family jewel for generations. My dad, a Southern man from Georgia, was known for many great things; one of them being his sweet and tangy BBQ sauce recipe.
I recall summer nights as a youngin’ eating slow-cooked ribs slathered in the best homemade BBQ sauce. If you have never made your own BBQ sauce before, you will be surprised at how easy it is to make. So say goodbye to bottled barbecue sauce and hello to your new favorite BBQ sauce recipe.
Why This Recipe Works
- Signature taste – The addition of liquid smoke gives the sauce a nice little pep mixed with a nice little tang from the apple cider vinegar.
- Customizable – This BBQ sauce is meant to be sweet and tangy, but if you want to add a little bit of heat, feel free to add red chili flakes.
- Free of Additives – I’ve tried many sauces in my day, and what I most love about easy sweet and tagy BBQ sauce is that it’s free of additives and unnecessary ingredients.
- Versatile Sauce – This spring and summer staple goes well on grilled veggies, chicken, burgers, salads, ribs or whatever your heart desires! So go ahead and whip this up real quick–you can thank me later.
Tools You’ll Need
Ingredients You Will Need for Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce
Making your own BBQ sauce is simple and a lot better than store-bought brands. And you’re just 10 ingredients away from sweet and tangy saucy goodness!
- Ketchup – Serves as the base of the sauce.
- Brown sugar – Where this BBQ sauce gets its sweetness.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Lends this BBQ sauce its tanginess.
- Salted butter – A little bit of fat for a wholesome mouthfeel.
- Mustard – Compliments the apple cider vinegar for the perfect amount of tangy flavor.
- Lemon – This recipe calls for a halved lemon that cooks with the sauce until it’s nice and thick, then the lemon is discarded.
- Liquid Smoke – A small amount is added to lend this BBQ sauce its signature smoky taste.
- Pimentón or Smoked Paprika – Pairs with the liquid smoke for that whisper of smoky flavor.
- Seasonings – Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
How To Make Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce
You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make homemade BBQ sauce. Once you experience the ease of making your own, you’ll opt out of purchasing store-bought brands.
- Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 mins, until sauce thickens.
- Done! Lather this saucy goodness on ribs, chicken, grilled veggies, burgers, salads–the possibilities are endless!
- Sweeter Sauce – Add more brown sugar.
- Thicker Sauce – Simmer for longer until desired consistency is reached.
- Smokier Sauce – Add more liquid smoke.
- Spicy Sauce – Add hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or red chili flakes.
- More Flavor – Use soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce for more complex flavor; either sauce contributes an umami taste. Garlic powder and onion powder add savory flavor.
Ways to Use Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce
The ways in which you can use this sweet and tangy BBQ sauce are endless! Use it as the secret ingredient in your favorite recipes. Some of our favorite ways include:
- Salad – Top on a cobb or chicken salad and you are good to go.
- Pizza – Pepperoni pizza dipped in a whisper of BBQ sauce never hurt anybody. Try it and I guarantee you will become a fan.
- Oven-Roasted Potatoes – Roasted potatoes are my kryptonite and one of my favorite ways to eat them is with BBQ sauce–absolutely delicious.
- Oven-Baked BBQ Ribs – Homemade BBQ sauce for ribs is hands down, the best! Who says you need a grill to make delicious fall-off-the-bone ribs? I’m here to dispel those rumors and share that you can have the same quality of ribs right from your oven. Check out my Oven-Baked Ribs recipe.
- BBQ Eats – Everything from pulled pork to grilled chicken. If you can grill it, BBQ sauce will likely go well with it.
- Burgers – A thick, juicy cheeseburger, with a nice layer of BBQ sauce always sounds like a good idea to me!
- Grilled Vegetables – One of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy BBQ sauce. Try it on grilled asparagus, zucchini, onions, and corn.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes BBQ sauce better?
Enhance basic BBQ sauce by adding sweet, spicy, tangy, or savory elements. Popular additions include honey, molasses, lemon juice, mustard, and hot sauce.
How long does homemade BBQ sauce last?
Want to know the best part about this homemade barbecue sauce? Having leftovers for future eats! Store the remaining sauce in a sterilized mason jar and keep refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Looking for More Sauce Recipes
Loving this Sweet and Tangy BBQ Recipe?
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Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce
- Sauce Pan
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon pimenton or smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon water
- Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to boil, then lower heat to a a simmer.
- Cook for 10 mins, until sauce thickens.
- Allow to cool and place in a sterilized container. BBQ sauce will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.