How to make canned BBQ Sauce that is shelf stable. This bbq sauce recipe is the best homemade bbq sauce simmered slow on the stove using fresh tomatoes. It’s loaded with black pepper, tangy vinegar, flavorful spices, molasses, and hickory liquid smoke just like our favorite bottle of Texas BBQ sauce! I love to make this recipe for long-term storage and pull out as many as I need throughout the year!

homemade bbq sauce recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure.

The best bbq sauce is homemade! Try our other favorite homemade condiments like our Honey Mustard Sauce, Canned Ketchup Recipe (Heinz Copycat), Marinara Sauce, and Pizza Sauce Recipe.

Watch How To Make BBQ Sause: 

Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is not only good for basting or marinating meat we love to cook it with our braised pork ribs or top it over pulled chicken sandwiches! It’s so good as a steak sauce or for dipping grilled chicken kabobs. Everyone should have this condiment for their cooking!

This is not your boring bland bbq sauce or white bbq sauce made of mayonnaise. Here in Carolina, we like it peppery, smoky, and tangy! This recipe for bbq sauce was adapted to recreate my favorite bbq sauce brands that I buy at Aldi, like Burman’s Texas-style BBQ sauce. It has got to be one of my favorite bbq sauces and is a spot-on copycat to my favorite bottle of sweet and tangy bbq sauce! I have canned batches of this bbq sauce, and this recipe has been tested over and over again for successful results.  

The Best BBQ Sauce Base:

The most flavorful base for a classic bbq sauce is a tomato base. Canned tomato paste shortens the simmering time and sometimes prepared ketchup is used instead since it’s plenty seasoned and sweet and tangy, to begin with. I like to make bbq sauce as a way to use up all my fresh tomatoes and the longer simmering time doesn’t bother me a bit. I simply know how good this sauce turns out to be, so, I will happily stock up my pantry shelves with this homemade goodness.

This is an easy bbq sauce using fresh tomatoes, you just cook the tomatoes until they get mushy then puree them right in the pot with a stick blender, no food mill or blanching required! I like to do this with my ketchup recipe too and it blends into a smooth sauce base! Here is how to make a tomato base using fresh tomatoes;

  1. Cook quartered tomatoes until they get soft and mushy. They will usually release a lot of tomato juice and the juices should boil. 
  2. Using a stick blender puree the tomatoes in their juices until smooth. 

bbq sauce tomato base

Note: you could run the blended tomatoes through a mesh sieve to discard any seeds or small skins, a food mill is great for this kind of process. However, I think the hand blender helps thicken the base from all its natural pulp. 

What is Texas BBQ Sauce?

Frankly, there are many different regions and types of barbecue sauce. Aldi carries Regional-style bbq sauces in the Kansas City flavor, Memphis-style, Carolina-style bbq sauce, and Texas-style. Each is known for its sweet and tangy flavors, however, traditional texas style barbecue sauce is heavier on spices like cumin, chili powder, black pepper, and lots of onion flavor. The consistency is a little on the thin side but it can still sit on top of the meat.

Hickory Liquid Smoke vs Mesquite

Liquid smoke is a highly concentrated liquid that is condensed from wood to flavor food. It comes in different wood flavorings such as “Mesquite” or “Hickory”. Both have their unique smoky flavor, which I why I like to mix and match. For more of a Sweet Baby Ray’s flavor, add more mesquite or hickory for a Texas-style bbq sauce.  

BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

BBQ sauce recipes are mainly vinegar-based. This homemade bbq sauce recipe is ideal for canning although you can easily recalculate it to a smaller portion for refrigeration. Typically, I would use tomato juice from fresh tomatoes, however, you can begin with store-bought tomato juice, tomato sauce, or paste diluted with water as the base. 

ingredients for homemade bbq sauce

  • Tomato Base: start with plain tomatoes they can be fresh, canned, or tomato juice in a bottle!
  • Vinegar: white distilled vinegar is 5% acidic and great for making this sauce.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: is a flavorful fermented condiment loaded with umami flavor.
  • Spices: I seasoned my bbq sauce with, cayenne pepper (don’t worry this is not a spicy bbq sauce), ground mustard, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, dehydrated onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, chili powder, black pepper, white pepper, and ground all-spice.
  • Sweeteners: a combination of honey, molasses, and brown sugar is used as the sweetener.
  • Liquid smoke: I particularly like the hickory flavoring liquid smoke for this bbq sauce. It has the perfect wood smoke smell without actually smoking.
  • Thickener: If you’ve made my Ketchup recipe you will know that I used Thermflo as the thickener. You can make this as thick or thin as you want with this cornstarch-looking powder, however, omit it if you choose to cook it down. This is how to thicken bbq sauce without changing the flavor.

Healthy Barbecue Sauce: make a sugar-free bbq sauce by using a natural sweetener like Xylitol in combination with honey. You could also sweeten with part pineapple juice and honey for the sugar. This homemade bbq sauce is gluten-free and Keto-approved.

How To Make Barbecue Sauce:

It’s easy to make homemade bbq sauce, just making it from scratch can be lengthy from all the simmering time and prep of fresh tomatoes. The overall concept is simple if you don’t mind all the cooking time needed. Growing your own tomatoes and supporting local farms is a great way to source tomatoes and if you are left with too much, bbq sauce freezes well so your options are many if you don’t wish to can.  

  1. Prep the tomatoes; wash, trim, and quarter. Transfer to a large pot.
  2. Bring tomatoes to a boil.
  3. Blend tomatoes with a stick blender and run them through a mesh sieve or use a food mill if you don’t want seeds or little skins in your sauce. It will still be a smooth sauce without that those extra steps. 
  4. Add all the spices and seasonings.
  5. Cook bbq sauce down for about 2 hours.
  6. Thicken with Thermflo.
  7. Pack into jars.
  8. Water bath for 20 minutes.
  9. Finished.

  Note: Be sure to use pure salt with no additives such as kosher salt, pickling salt, or sea salt when making.

Tools For Canning BBQ Sauce at Home:

I know, you may be thinking this does not sound like an easy bbq sauce, but I tell you canning is not so bad. I have been canning for years and invested in super helpful equipment that makes canning even easier. You don’t have to buy expensive equipment to make bbq sauce, use your biggest pot to slow simmer the sauce, and canning jars can be found at Walmart or even the Dollar store sometimes. Here is everything you will need to make bbq sauce at home if you plan to cook batches of homemade foods, time and again.

  • 42-quart Stockpot- is primarily for giving the jars a water bath. A water bath is a process, of placing filled jars into a pot, filled with water. You would then bring everything to a boil to lock in the temperature needed for the jars to seal. I like this huge pot as I can fit more than a dozen of quarts at a time when canning.
  • 24-quart Stockpot- for simmering the bbq sauce. In my video to make bbq sauce I used this same pot to simmer my sauce and then water bath since I only had several jars from this single batch. You could buy a water bath canner with a rack insert, but basic equipment works too if done safely. 
  • Quart canning jars with lids, about 7-quart jars, is how much this recipe makes.
  • Jar lifter tongs and funnel for easy handling. 

Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad?

Barbecue sauce can be canned, refrigerated, or frozen. Canning bbq sauce is a long-term option to consider if you want to prolong the storage time without the need of taking up your freezer space or going bad. Although some homemade sauces keep well refrigerated for several months it’s best to freeze them or can them to prolong the shelf life.   

To test if your canning seal has formed, you will want to push down on the center of the lid after 24 hours. If the lid pops up and down it has not been sealed. Any kind of clicking sound is a sign the air was not vacuumed shut by the water bath process. In this case, you will need to refrigerate the bbq sauce or place the jar in the freezer. Barbecue sauce is good for several months in the fridge and if you keep it in the freezer it will last for up to 6 months or more. 

Tip: if freezing bbq sauce in a glass jar make sure you leave headspace for room to expand (water or liquid can expand during freezing.) 

Ways To Use BBQ Sauce:


What is BBQ Sauce Made of?

Barbecue sauce is a condiment perfect for grilling or simmering. Its main ingredients are vinegar, tomatoes as the base (sometimes ketchup), liquid smoke, spices, and sweeteners like molasses, and sugar. Generally, a good bbq sauce is well seasoned with black pepper and ground mustard. Sometimes yellow prepared mustard is used to make Carolina-style bbq sauce. It’s mainly used for basting meat, cooking with ribs, or as a marinade for grilling. 

Is BBQ Sauce Gluten-Free?

The only thickener I use in condiments like bbq sauce or ketchup is Thermflo. Thermflo is a canning starch perfect for canning or even freezing! It is gluten-free and derived from waxy maize (corn). 

What is a Water Bath? 

A water bath in canning is when you heat a pot with water and jars to boiling point. Simply fill glass jars to the headspace and loosely cover with lids (don’t seal shut or else lids can bulge). Then place into a boiling water canner or large pot. Pour enough warm water to cover at least up to half, quart-sized jars. Bring this to a boil and time the water bath process from the time it boils. Once the jars are removed from the water, tightly seal each jar shut and allow to cool at least 24 hours before checking if they are sealed. 

Is it Necessary to Sterilize jars before Canning? 

I do not sterilize jars before canning if I am processing in a boiling water bath of 10 minutes or more. Anything under 10 minutes of processing should be sterilized, to do this you’d need to place empty jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes, then pack. 



Perfectly Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce Tips:

  1. Barbecue sauce is a strong vinegar-based condiment, use generously to get that tang!
  2. Brown sugar, molasses, and honey are all sweeteners to balance out all that acidic flavoring from the vinegar.   
  3. A Texas-style, bbq sauce is infused with hickory liquid smoke, mesquite has a different smoky flavoring.
  4. Go heavy on the dried onions and coriander, every spice was tested to replicate the Texas bbq sauce we love. 
  5. Play around with the sweeteners to see what you like better, more honey less sugar, etc.
  6. Thermflo is a thickener specifically for canning, you can buy it at bulk food stores or Mennonite Bakeries.  
  7. Bbq sauce from scratch can be cooked down instead of using a thickener. 
  8. Use fresh tomatoes for optimum flavor! Homemade bbq sauce without ketchup is so much more flavorful using honey, vinegar, and spices So much better than the sauced bbq sauces at the store and you can adjust the sweetness. 
  9. You can cook bbq sauce over low in a big roaster or crockpot overnight. 
  10. To make a healthier bbq sauce sweeten it with apple puree, pineapple juice, honey, or pear puree like a Korean bbq sauce. 
  11. It’s not every day that you make bbq sauce so, the ingredients may seem lengthy but are so rich in flavor. Don’t skip any ingredients in bbq sauce. 
  12. To make spicy or hot bbq sauce add additional chili pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. 

Canned BBQ Sauce Recipe: 

BBQ Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 10 quarts
Author: Alyona Demyanchuk
How to make BBQ Sauce to can. This bbq sauce recipe is the best homemade bbq sauce simmered slow on the stove. It's loaded with black pepper, tangy vinegar, fresh tomatoes, spices, molasses, and hickory liquid smoke just like our favorite bottle of Texas BBQ sauce! I love to make this recipe for long-term storage and pull out as many as I need throughout the year! The best bbq sauce is homemade!


  • 1 24-quart stockpot (for simmering bbq sauce and water bath)
  • 7 quart-sized canning jars with lids



  • 12.5 pounds fresh tomatoes (or 5 quarts of blended tomato juice from fresh or canned tomatoes)
  • 2 quarts white distilled vinegar plus 1/2 cup
  • 31/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cups Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup Liquid smoke (half Hickory and half Mesquite)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup finely minced onion
  • 1 cup Thermflo (for thickening sauce)


  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground mustard
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp nutmeg plus 1/2 tsp
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp garlic salt
  • 5 Tbsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground-all-spice



  • tomato base
    To make tomato juice wash, trim, and quarter tomatoes. Transfer to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. When the tomatoes are mushy add onions and blend with a hand blender until smooth.
  • how to cook bbq sauce on the stove
    Add the remaining ingredients except for the Thermflo. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until cooked down (about 1 1/2-2 hours.)
  • Meanwhile, remove 1 1/2 cups of the bbq sauce to mix with the Thermflo later.
  • how to thicken bbq sauce
    Place the Thermflo into a medium mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the cooled and reserved barbecue mixture to make a slurry. Gradually whisk it into the pot of bbq sauce. Bring everything to a boil and remove from heat.
  • how to water bath bbq sauce for canning
    Pour bbq sauce into jars up to the headspace. Loosely close each jar shut and place it into a water canner or large pot. Fill with water about 3/4 full of the quart jar. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Process for 20 minutes, covered after it boils.
  • removing jars
    Remove jars and twist each band tightly shut, using a kitchen towel. Allow jars to cool for at least 24 hours before checking if they are sealed.
  • Once sealed bbq sauce keeps for 1-2 years on the shelf.


  • Half a bushel of tomatoes makes 10 quarts of tomato juice. 
  • Thermflo must be combined with cooled bbq sauce. It will clump into a mass if using hot bbq sauce or liquid. 
  • Note: all spices are ground. I do think coarsely ground black pepper works better for bbq sauce. 

Nutrition per serving

Serving: 1quartCalories: 1068kcalCarbohydrates: 263gProtein: 5gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 5293mgPotassium: 2104mgFiber: 5gSugar: 238gVitamin A: 2477IUVitamin C: 92mgCalcium: 337mgIron: 7mg

New Be featured here!

Hashtag #yesalyonascooking on both Instagram and Pinterest to be seen here!


Leave a comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


    • Guerry

    If substituting clear jel for thermals is it measure for measure?

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Yes, you can substitute either in equal amounts.

    • Guerry

    If substituting clear jel is it measure for measure?

    • Guerry

    Can this be canned in pints and if so how long to waterbath?

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Hi, yes it can. I’d do the same amount for quarts just to be safe.

    • Chilla

    How long do you think a jar would stay good for once opened and stored in the fridge? I’m currently brewing some in the slow cooker and I’m trying to decide if I should use small canning jars so it’s more accurately portioned for what my family typically uses in a week or 2. Thank you!

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Hi Chila, it lasts a while (at least a few months) in the fridge after opening.

    • Sharla

    By trimming tomatoes, do you mean that I need to take the seeds out and the skin off?

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      No, I mean cut off the top core and any dented spots.

        • Sharla

        Ok! So I see by another comment that you usually leave the skin on, but do you usually leave the seeds in also?

          • Alyona Demyanchuk

          Yes, I typically leave the skins on and blend the tomatoes with my immersion blender right in the pot.

    • Dolan

    Do you leave the skins on the tomatoes

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Yes, I usually do.

    • Janet

    Is this recipe gluten free

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Hi Janet, Therm-flo is considered gluten-free.

Explore Recipes

See What Others Made!
#yesalyonascooking on pinterest or instagram to be featured

As Seen On

  • Mashed
  • Yummly
  • Parade
  • BuzzFeed
Alyona’s Cooking