BBQ Sauce Recipes for Summer Cookouts

There’s nothing quite like the perfect barbecue sauce to top off that tender cut of meat at your cookout. Grocery store shelves are loaded with BBQ sauce options, from spicy to tangy to sweet. 

But it can be a gamble trying to pick the right brand and flavor to suit your tastes. Instead, you can save money and achieve the exact flavor you want by making your own barbecue sauce at home! 

Some helpful tips to keep in mind when whipping up your homemade blend: 

  • Mason jars are ideal for storing barbecue sauce 
  • Make the sauce 24-48 hours ahead of time to give flavors time to meld
  • Store leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 7 days 
  • If you won’t use all of the sauce within 7 days, you can freeze it for up to 3 months 

Here are three popular BBQ sauce recipes:

Memphis BBQ Sauce

This recipe captures the tangy, sweet flavors of Memphis barbecue in a fantastic silky sauce with just a hint of heat. 


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pureed onion 
  • 2 tbsp  minced garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ​prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp mild chili powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 15 to 20 seconds, just until fragrant.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (vinegar last). Reduce heat and simmer over low for 12 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. 
  3. Remove sauce from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.

St. Louis Barbecue Sauce

St. Louis style barbecue has many influences, so there are many different ways to prepare it. Here is one of the most popular, tried-and-true recipes. 


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (use less if preferred)
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring all of the ingredients to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Sauce should be thin, but not watery.
  2. Allow barbecue sauce to cool for 20-30 minutes before using.

Kansas City BBQ Sauce

This Kansas City barbecue sauce recipe is the traditional thick sweet sauce you love with the spice you crave. If you really love heat, double the cayenne pepper!


  • 1 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ​brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp celery salt
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cayenne (use more for desired level of heat)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be good and thick. 
  3. Remove pot from heat and allow the sauce to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before using it. If making ahead of time, cool sauce for 30 minutes and then store in an airtight container.

Now that you have some great bbq sauce recipes, what are you going to put your sauce on? Try one of these plant-based burgers at your next cookout!

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