Just like Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce! My homemade bbq sauce recipe is quick and easy to put together. All you have to do is combine everything in a saucepan and let it simmer. It’s tangy, smoky, sweet, and so much better than the store-bought sauce!

jar of homemade sweet baby ray's bbq sauce with a spoon lifting sauce out

This is a story of how we added a bunch of ingredients to a saucepan and made a copycat of Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce in no time!

Being from Texas means there’s no shortage of good BBQ everywhere you look. And though today’s bbq sauce recipe is not anything close to a Texas-style BBQ sauce, it is a sauce that tastes delicious on just about any kind of grilled meat, poultry, and even vegetables. Homemade bbq sauce comes together by simmering a few ingredients and tastes a harmonious balance of sweet, spicy, tangy, and smoky flavors.

We use homemade bbq sauce regularly in our household. Whether it’s to baste chicken with on the grill, or as a sauce on my bbq chicken pizza (an all-time favorite!) It goes on cheesy bbq chicken – a weeknight classic. It’s a key ingredient in my smoky southern baked beans. It’s also an ingredient in the dressing for my Crispy chicken salad, and a part of the sauce for my pickle-brined crispy chicken sandwich!

ingredients for homemade bbq sauce in saucepan before simmering

Ingredients for Homemade Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce:

  • Ketchup: is the base of this recipe. Keep in mind, you want to use a ketchup that isn’t too sweet here otherwise the bbq sauce will end up being extremely sweet with the addition of brown sugar and molasses. There are several brands that have no sugar added, I suggest using something like that
  • Brown sugar: adds sweetness to the sauce
  • Molasses: add both sweetness and a deep rich flavor to the sauce
  • Pineapple juice: adds a unique fruity flavor profile
  • Worcestershire sauce: adds an umami flavor to the sauce. Keep in mind that Worcestershire does make this sauce not suitable for my vegan friends. So if that’s you, you might want to swap the Worcestershire for one that is vegan friendly 
  • Apple cider vinegar: adds the tang that you find in bbq sauce
  • Seasonings: There’s a few select seasonings I like to use that make the best sauce! Smoked paprika is the most important one of them all. It adds so much depth of flavor. You’ll also need dry mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Keep in mind that the cayenne is optional, if you want to make this not spicy, leave the cayenne out!
  • Hot sauce: adds a bit of a kick!
  • Cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce
freshly prepared bbq sauce in saucepan

Why do you add pineapple juice to your bbq sauce recipe?

If you’re wondering why pineapple juice, it’s because I turned over the bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce and saw that it says pineapple juice right smack dap in the center there. Who would’ve even thought?

I like bbq sauce with a more smoky flavor, how can I achieve that?

The smoked paprika is meant to give this recipe a smoky flavor, and for us, it’s just the right amount. If you usually prefer a more smoky sauce, you can add 1-3 teaspoons of liquid smoke to the recipe to help boost that smokiness. I would start with 1 teaspoon and build from there based on preference!

prepared sweet bay ray's bbq sauce in mason jar on wood surface with white tea towel

How to make just like Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce:

  1. Combine the ingredients: I like to add all the ingredients in a medium saucepan along with a big splash of water and whisk until smooth. 
  2. Bring to a boil: Place the saucepan over the stove and allow the sauce to start bubbling before you lower the heat and continue to let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. The longer you simmer, the thicker the sauce will be. Don’t panic if it isn’t super thickened by the end of the cooking time. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  3. Serve: Brush the prepared sauce on meats or poultry while you’re grilling. Use as a sauce on my bbq chicken pizza or in dips and dressings!
spoon lifting prepared bbq sauce out of mason jar

How to store leftover bbq sauce:

I store the leftover sauce in a jar with a tight fitting lid. You can keep the sauce in the fridge for up to 4 weeks from when you prepared it!

If you like this recipe, you might also like:

food scene with plate full of grilled corn, bbq grilled chicken, baked beans, and coleslaw
Yield: ~3 cups

Just Like Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Just like Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce! My homemade bbq sauce recipe is quick and easy to put together. All you have to do is combine everything in a saucepan and let it simmer. It’s tangy, smoky, sweet, and so much better than the store-bought sauce!

Just Like Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce


  • 1 ⅓ cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 (6-ounce) can pineapple juice (preferably no sugar added)
  • 2 tablespoons EACH: Worcestershire sauce AND apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: dry mustard powder AND smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder, salt AND hot sauce (any kind you like)
  • ½ teaspoon EACH: black pepper AND onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional


    1. COMBINE: Add ⅓ cup water along with all the ingredients listed to a saucepan and whisk until smooth. When all the lumps have been worked out, bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
    2. SIMMER: When it starts bubbling, lower the heat so it just simmers and allow it to cook for 5-7 minutes until it thickens. Keep in mind the sauce will thicken even further as it cools so you don’t want to cook it too much longer than that.
    3. SERVE: brush on meats or poultry when grilling, as a sauce for pizza, or as a base for dips and dressings!


  • If you prefer to make this smokier, you can add 1-3 teaspoons of liquid smoke to your taste. Start with 1 teaspoon and build as desired.
  • Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks
  • To make the sauce vegan, be sure to use a Worcestershire sauce that is vegan friendly!

Have you made this recipe?

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below. You can also share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #LITTLESPICEJAR, I'd love to see what you made!