Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
September 1, 2020 | Updated on March 15, 2023

This sweet and tangy bbq sauce recipe has been a beloved family jewel for generations. Gather up your ingredients and in 15 minutes, you will have best homemade bbq sauce you’ve ever had!

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!

sweet and tangy bbq sauce

Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce

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 lathered in my dad’s homemade bbq sauce–finger-licking-good.

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 bbq sauce and hello to your new favorite bbq sauce.

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 a bbq 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! Go ahead and whip this up real quick–you can thank me later.

Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Making your own bbq sauce is simple and a lot better than store-bought brands.You’re 10 ingredients aways from sweet and tangy saucy goodness.

All you need is:

  • 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 prefect 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.

Customize Your BBQ Sauce

What’s great about making your own bbq sauce is you can customize the ingredients and alter the flavor to your liking.

  • 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 or red chili flakes.

How to Make Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce

You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make homemade bbq sauce. Once you see and experience the ease in making your own, you’ll most likely opt out of purchasing store bought brands.

  1. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 mins, until sauce thickens.
  2. Done! Lather this saucy goodness on ribs, chicken, grilled veggies, burgers, salads–the possibilities are endless!

How Long Does Homemade BBQ Sauce Last?

Want to know the best part about this bbq sauce? Having leftovers for future eats! Store remaining sauce in a sterilized glass jar and keep refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Ways to Use Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce

As I mentioned, the ways in which you can use this sweet and tangy bbq sauce are endless! Some of our favorite ways include:

  • Salad: Top on a cobb or bbq 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, See my Oven-Baked Ribs recipe.
  • BBQ Eats: Everything from hot links to 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.

Looking for More Great Recipes?

Keep the comfy-feels going with these good eats:

We love this Sweet and Tangy Sauce

Are you loving this homemade sweet and tangy bbq sauce, too? Leave a comment below and share your love for this recipe on Instagram and Pinterest. We love to see you get down in the kitchen. Happy eating!

sweet and tangy bbq sauce

Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce

5 from 1 vote
This sweet and tangy bbq sauce recipe has been a beloved family jewel for generations. Gather up your ingredients and in 15 minutes, you will have best homemade bbq sauce you've ever had!
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 1.5 cups
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Sauce
Cuisine American


  • 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.
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @whisperofyum on Instagram and hashtag it #whisperofyum!
sweet and tangy bbq sauce


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Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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