Homemade Spicy Barbecue Sauce

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Spicy barbecue sauce with enough heat to bite the back of your throat and just barely sweet enough to balance that heat, this is the sauce I was craving.

Spicy BBQ Sauce

My family loves spicy barbecue sauces. I’ve played with a few recipes this year. I found this delicious Homemade Barbecue Sauce a few months ago and we love it. I like my barbecue sauce on the thicker side with just a little sweetness and that sauce fit the bill.

It’s become one of the standard sauces that we reach for any time a barbecue craving hits. When we want something tangier, I love this Tangy Memphis BBQ Sauce. For a fruitier sauce, everyone goes nuts for Tangy Peach Barbecue Sauce.

Still, I hadn’t quite found the spicy sauce I was looking for. I wanted something with plenty of heat!

Spicy BBQ Sauce Recipe

So, the hunt for the perfect Spicy Barbecue Sauce continued. As I experimented with different ingredients, I kept coming up ultimately dissatisfied with the end results.

Today, I decided to try again. I had a very long list of ingredients that I wanted to try this time. As I was adding things to the sauce and tasting as I went along, I suddenly realized that I had exactly what I wanted.

I stopped there and very happily asked my husband to taste the sauce. He was thrilled with it. I will be quadrupling this recipe next time I make it and freezing the extra to have for future meals.

Spicy homemade bbq sauce

This is a pretty spicy sauce as it is written; however, if you like more heat, feel free to increase the Tabasco and cayenne. I served this sauce over pulled pork and it was an instant hit.

This homemade barbecue sauce gets its spiciness from Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper. Ketchup and brown sugar provide a sweet backdrop for the spice and tang from apple cider vinegar. A dash of smoked paprika adds a smoky flavor that makes such a difference.

Homemade Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Easy Spicy BBQ Sauce

It only takes 5 minutes to whip up a batch of great tasting spicy barbecue sauce. Simply mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until combined and thickened.

I love the way this sauce tastes served warm, but it’s good as a dipping sauce at room temperature, too!

Spicy Barbecue Sauce is delicious anywhere you’d enjoy your favorite bottled sauce. I can’t wait to try it in Pulled Pork Tacos or in these BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes. This sauce also makes a fantastic dipping sauce for chicken or even Oven Fries.

As I was tasting this for the first time, I also thought it might make a nice addition to these Neato Frito Over-stuffed Burritos my friend Rebecca makes. If you have an instant pot, it’s delicious over these Baby Back Ribs too.

Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

We’re big fans of barbecue recipes in this house. As such, I’ve made many homemade barbecue sauces over the years that we love!

If you like the sweet and spicy combination in this sauce, you’re also bound to like the Sweet and Spicy Homemade Barbecue Sauce too. It’s just a tad sweeter than this Spicy BBQ Sauce and my whole family calls it one of the best sauces ever.

You don’t need to be a bourbon drinker to enjoy this Sriracha Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. With flavors of chile and maple, that sauce is declared a winner by everyone who tastes it. Bonus: your kitchen smells amazing while it’s cooking!

Homemade Barbecue Sauce freezes wonderfully. I often make multiple batches of any of these sauces at a time and store a couple of bottles in the fridge with the rest in the freezer.

Having great-tasting homemade barbecue sauce ready at a moment’s notice makes dinnertime easier. Use these recipes anywhere you enjoy tangy sweet barbecue flavor!

If your family prefers traditional ketchup try our easy Homemade Ketchup recipe.

Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Spicy BBQ Sauce

A homemade barbecue sauce that delivers plenty of heat with just the right amount of sweetness.

Serve this BBQ sauce with Chicken, Pulled Pork or smothered on burgers for a meal the whole family will love. Feel free to double, triple or even quadruple the recipe to have lots on hand to freeze!

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Spicy BBQ Sauce

Homemade Spicy Barbecue Sauce

4.76 from 29 votes
Spicy barbecue sauce with enough heat to bite the back of your throat and just barely sweet enough to balance that heat, this is the sauce I was craving.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 12 ounces


  • 1 cup ketchup   I use Heinz original
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano


  • Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Stir to combine and simmer 5 minutes. Use warm or let cool, pour into a jar and refrigerate until needed. Enjoy!


Calories: 32kcal · Carbohydrates: 8g · Protein: 1g · Fat: 1g · Saturated Fat: 1g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g · Monounsaturated Fat: 1g · Sodium: 314mg · Potassium: 93mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 7g · Vitamin A: 209IU · Vitamin C: 2mg · Calcium: 11mg · Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 6/27/12 – recipe notes and photos updated 5/16/22}

Spicy BBQ Sauce

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. debbie says

    Perfect! My favorite store-bought BBQ sauce is no longer available so I tried this. Far better than the store-bought! I made it exactly as the recipe described, just upped the cayenne pepper and tobasco a smidge since i like a lot of heat. Just what i wanted for BBQ chicken. I just mixed the ingredients and did not warm on the stove. I always boil my chicken leg/thigh quarters for about 30 minutes before I put them on the grill with the BBQ sauce. Slather the sauce on each side a couple of times while flipping to get a nice crust on the chicken. I like to serve with carolina yellow rice or rice-a-roni chicken flavor, along with a fresh green salad.5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      You can skip it for this recipe, Kami. Typically, you’d be able to substitute basil or thyme for oregano, but I honestly think I’d just skip it for the sauce.

  2. Francina says

    I ran out of store bought bbq sauce. I quickly looked up a recipe and found this one. Absolutely delicious! No more store bought for me. Thank you so much!5 stars

  3. Ryan K. says

    This recipe is fantastic. I love the spicy BBQ sauce at my favorite BBQ place in Luther, IA (pop. 181). This recipe is very close. Sent it to my brother who loves to smoke too and he gave it the same stellar approval. GREAT RECIPE!!5 stars

  4. Iona Relf says

    I absolutely LOVE this recipe!
    My husband and I like having BBQ pulled pork, but always find home-made and store-bought BBQ sauces are way too sweet (even the ones that say “spicy”!)
    I was so excited when I read this, and even more so when we tasted it!
    I’ve made it 2-3 times already, and am about to do so again!
    Thank you so much for sharing and filling the gap for a PROPER spicy BBQ sauce!! X5 stars

  5. Trish Stewart says

    This sauce is very much like the one I make, but I add cocoa to my sauce. It takes it to another dimension in flavour! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes. I love them!5 stars

  6. Jan says

    Made this masterpiece today. We will no longer look for a bbq sauce recipe, because this one is absolutely perfect!!! Plan to use it in gift baskets, too! WOW AND THANK YOU!!!5 stars

  7. Jennifer says

    Hello! Excited to try this; quick question, can I sub Louisiana Hot sauce instead of Tabasco? Thank you!!

  8. Savannah says

    Way too much ketchup. It ended up tasting like spicy/sweet ketchup. I ended up doubling all the other ingredients, added some lime juice and chili powder, which helped. Not the best recipe unfortunately. 🙁2 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Sorry to hear that it wasn’t to your tastes, Savannah. Most BBQ Sauce recipes have a base of ketchup and we really like this one as written. I’ve never tasted a barbecue sauce with lime, but I bet it was unique and I’m glad it worked for you.

  9. Kenny says

    So the other day I made hot sauce with basket of fire peppers. WOW it is hot but good,so I substituted that for the tobasco sauce. What an awesome combination. Tastes great and can’t wait to use it on some chicken. Glad I found your recipe. Thanks5 stars

  10. Vincent says

    Best BBQ sauce I’ve had, it’s a staple in my house. I make quite a bit of BBQ gathering with family and friends and every time that sauce is on the meat I’m cooking or dipping sauce for whatever side dish I get nothing but compliments. I substitute the yellow mustard with a old fashioned mustard for a bit more flavor. I also substitute Tabasco with a hot sauce with more flavor ( chipotle style ). Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  11. johnny s hastings says

    This homemade bbq sauce beats any sauce I’ve ever bought at any store hands down. It is so delicious that I decided to make a lot more of it just to have on hand for when I smoke meats. It’s the bee’s knee’s. Seriously you must try it. Delicious! 5 stars!5 stars

  12. Don says

    Outstanding!!! I added a tablespoon of Hosin sauce and 1/4 cup of Waldon Farms Strawberry syrup….. Wow! This good on EVERYTHING!5 stars

  13. Ellen Woosley says

    i tried this. i never use Heinz. always Hunts. it was not spicy enough. had to doctor it up. I dont use mustard. it is a good base and better than bought bbq sauce.5 stars

  14. matt garrity says

    Interesting, i chose to sub tabasco and cayenne for 1TBsp homemade hot sauce and yowza. Added 1Tbsp honey as my hot sauce is a wee too hot.

    Appreciate the backbone to play about with.

    Anyone ever use vanilla ? Seems Coke or Dr P would add too much liquid

    • Mary Younkin says

      Tabasco and cayenne is a great combination for barbecue sauce, Matt! I haven’t tried adding soda to this particular recipe, so I’m not quite sure how that would affect the consistency of the end result. A splash of vanilla might work well, though.