How to Create Your Own Barbecue Sauce

Making your own signature sauce isn't as hard as it sounds. Here's how.

Photography Ralph Anderson / Styling Lisa Powell Bailey, Rose Nguyen / Food Styling Vanessa McNeil

Donna Florio


Barbecue pit masters are often as well known for their sauces as they are for the slow-cooked meat on which they slather them. If you want to stir up your own claim to fame, you don't have to start from scratch-―just add a little of your own personality to a bottled sauce.

Whether you prefer vinegar-based, tomato-based, or mustard-based, find a brand you like, then stir in some jazzy ingredients to taste. Brown sugar, mustard, and lemon juice are must-haves, while garlic powder, minced onion, black pepper, crushed red pepper, soy sauce, and even ginger might suit your fancy. If you like a touch of smoke, a few scant drops of liquid smoke will help provide the charcoal flavor missing from foods cooked over gas. Just be sure to use a light hand here to avoid an artificial taste.

We've included a few of our favorite recipes for you to try, too. Get creative and experiment with your own variations.