Simple BBQ Chicken Sauce

Better Barbecue Chicken Sauce
Debbie Smirnoff/Getty Images
Ratings (118)
  • Total: 18 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 8 mins
  • Yield: About 2 cups
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
21 Calories
1g Fat
4g Carbs
0g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Simple yet delicious, this barbecue chicken sauce is easy to make and packed with flavor. It will bring forth nostalgic memories of childhood cookouts and summer evenings, sitting with friends and family enjoying barbecued chicken with a humble but tasty sauce.

There are plenty of barbecue sauces on the grocery store shelf, but many of them have added spice, smokey flavor, or other ingredients that may not please everyone at the dinner table. If you can't seem to find a jarred barbecue sauce you and the family enjoy, give this recipe a try the next time you grill chicken—it will become the new family favorite.


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (use less or omit if desired)

Steps to Make It

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Tips and Additional Recipes

It is all well and good to have the best barbecue sauce, but if you don't apply it to the chicken at the right time you could end up ruining your meal—or at the very least not getting the full benefits of the sauce. Many cooks baste their chicken or meat too early, causing the sauce to burn, while others add the sauce after the food is off of the grill—which means the sauce won't be able to penetrate the meat and flavor throughout. The right time to brush the chicken with the barbecue sauce is about 10 minutes before it is ready—this way, the sauce has enough heat and time to caramelize but not scorch.

It can seem overwhelming when gazing at the supermarket barbecue sauce shelf—you'll find sauces from different parts of the country, sauces made by famous people, sweet, spicy, and smokey sauces...the list goes on and on. That is one reason why making your own barbecue sauce is a good idea, in addition to the fact that you know what is going into it. If you are looking for a chicken barbecue sauce with a little more "something," there are plenty of homemade recipes to choose from. Cornell barbecue chicken sauce has just six ingredients—including egg—making for a quick and easy alternative. The kids may love apple bbq sauce, featuring unsweetened applesauce and molasses in the ingredient list. For something different, apricot-chili glaze will bring a bit of Asian flair to the barbecue.