Homemade Barbecue Sauce

There are just 4 weeks left of summer, and I’m not ready to say hello to Fall. I know many of you might already be dreaming of cooler temperatures and pumpkin-everything, but I’m over here savoring the last few weeks of summer fun and getting my menu together for an epic Labor Day barbecue.

Weck jar full of homemade DIY BBQ sauce on a wood cutting board in a white marble kitchen

It’s such a nostalgic holiday filled with memories of the whole extended family, potluck sides (everyone has a specialty — I’ve listed mine below) and the sound of cicadas outside while we gathered to eat. Nothing was fancy or curated, and that made it perfect. And the cornerstone of  the entire meal was the barbecue sauce.

Family Secret Recipe BBQ Sauce

Okay, so maybe this isn’t so much a secret anymore, but good things are meant to be shared. This tangy and sweet homemade barbecue recipe lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Outside of all the classic ways to use barbecue sauce, we have found so many uses for it. I’ve used it to glaze meatloaf, to spice up baked beans, and mixed it into my favorite buttermilk Ranch recipe for all the salads. My boys like to drizzle it on quesadillas and southwest style pizzas.

Person making homemade DIY BBQ sauce & squeezing lemon into a pot on a cooktop stove


You’ll need to start with this homemade ketchup as your base because it brings incredible flavor, acid and a freshness that store-bought versions don’t measure up to. If you don’t have the time, look for low sugar, small batch, organic ketchup.

Second secret? Honey AND molasses. There’s plenty of acid and tang in this recipe, between lemon juice, tomato kethchup and mustard. Those ingredients need to be balanced properly, so honey and molasses are KEY to rounding out the flavor in the sauce. You’ll thank yourself for skipping the heaps of refined sugar in the bottles sauces from the stores.

Better Than Storebought Barbecue Sauce

Make this sauce and everyone at your barbecue will be asking for the recipe. It’s light years better than any store-bought version minus preservatives and insane amounts of sugar.

I promised my favorite potluck recipes. Here they are!

Seven Layer Mediterranean Dip

Lebanese Potatoes

Spicy Hummus


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If you make this recipe, we’d love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #THEFRESH20 so we can see what’s cooking in your kitchen.

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • Author: The Fresh 20
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes


Classic tangy, sweet and delicious barbecue sauce from scratch



  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ onion roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup homemade ketchup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  3. Add ketchup, molasses, honey, lemon juice and mustard.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add salt to taste.

Person making homemade DIY BBQ sauce & squeezing lemon into a pot on a cooktop stove Person making homemade DIY BBQ sauce & squeezing lemon in a pot on a cooktop with a full Weck jar

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