Award Winning BBQ Sauce Recipe {Best Competition Tip!}


Award Winning BBQ Sauce Recipe

Delicious homemade award winning BBQ Sauce recipe!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 1 quart
Calories 216 kcal


  • 1 c Ketchup
  • 2/3 c Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 c Beer
  • 1/2 c Soda
  • 1/3 c Real Maple Syrup or Molasses
  • 6 oz Tomato Paste
  • 3 tbs Mustard
  • 3 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbs Sea Salt
  • 1 tbs Dry Mustard
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbs Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbs Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne


  • Go right down the list and add all ingredients to a pot, one at a time, with your burner on low/simmer.
  • Start with ketchup, then add the beer and coke to thin.
  • Then add all dry ingredients - this will save you from having to dry out your measuring spoons before adding the wet ingredients.
  • For best results, mix using a whisk.
  • Once all ingredients are added, turn burner up to high and bring to a boil.
  • Turn off and let sit until cool.
  • Dump into any container, store in fridge for as long as you want!
Keyword Award Winning BBQ Sauce

Award Winning BBQ Sauce RecipeIt was about 5 years ago that I was sitting on my couch watching Tyler Florence make homemade BBQ Sauce on The Food Network.  I already loved BBQ and thought to myself…I could do that.  That could be fun…and tasty.  Yea, I could do that.

It only took about 3 years and probably 50 attempts to finally nail this Award Winning BBQ Sauce recipe that we could use on our team, SLABS a’ Smokin, for our competition meats.

Make This BBQ Sauce Recipe Your Own

I worked on this recipe for 3 years folks.  I’m STILL tweaking it and you should too because I want you to experiment and have fun.  You need to take this recipe and make it yours, to your tastes.

If you want to kick it up a notch for a spicier Memphis style barbecue sauce?  Try adding a 1/2 tsp or more of cayenne.  Want it more tangy, like the Carolina’s?  Add a tbsp or 2 of red wine vinegar.  No, you prefer it sugary STL style?  Then throw in 1/4c of honey and some more brown sugar.

So get out a big pot, put on an apron, and get to creating.  Once you go homemade with your BBQ sauce, you’ll never go back.

The BBQ Sauce Recipe for Award Winning Chicken and Ribs

This is a sweet sauce with a bit of “twang”.

The sauce works incredibly well with chicken and ribs.  Here is the recipe for our Award Winning Smoked Chicken Thighs if you want to see the sauce in action!

This sauce can be used with pulled pork or brisket with adjustments.  For use with pulled pork you will want to thin this out with some apple cider vinegar. The increased acidity helps the sauce cut through the fattiness of the pork butt.  To use it with brisket I would leave out about half of the brown sugar and double up on the black pepper.

58 thoughts on “Award Winning BBQ Sauce Recipe {Best Competition Tip!}

  1. I want to try this along with sone others. But can someone tell me why all bbq recipes call for ketchup as the first ingredient? If your already making your own sauce it seems reasonable to make the ketchup, I mean break ot down into ingredients. Ketchup is expensive and I don’t want to use it all up making bbq sauce. Its just tomato past and sugar anyway right?

  2. Hey Kevin! I tried this sauce on my chicken wings after tossing them in a cayanne pepper and flour mix before baking them and them then finishing them off on the grill for some charr and they were incredible.

    If you can put up some more sauce recipes i could try that would be fantastic. Im from Australia and this is some of the best sauce/wings ive ever had in my life.

  3. i have made this recipe for years – I lost the physical piece of paper with the recipe and spent, no kidding, over an hour scouring the internet for this recipe. It’s that GOOD.

  4. I’ve made this several times, and my son said this is a keeper. I was wondering if I could can this.

  5. Great recipe! I used Dr. Pepper for the soda and subbed out the beer for Jom Beam Devil’s Cut. I also played around with the seasoning as it was cooking to strike the right balance for my taste. I was surprised how food it turned out!

  6. I tweeked this sauce up to 20 ingredients and substituted the beer for tequila, the cola for root beer. One of the best sauces I have had in my life. I will be enter this sauce in a competition. Will let everyone know how everything turns out.

  7. I didn’t have any tomato paste, so I used pizza sauce. I like that the recipe just says beer – I added the beer I thought would deliver lots of flavour. I choose my homebrew Porter. And yes. It was nice.
    Anyway, followed recipe otherwise. Woohoo good. Thank you.

    1. Good question Kyle – once all ingredients are added, I usually keep it at a low boil for just a few minutes, then simmer for a few, then turn it off and let it cool down on the stove.

  8. Kevin – I’m trying to get a feel for the best ways to modify this sauce for general use. Have you had the best results adding liquids (ie..juices/fruit preserves) or dry spices/seasonings or a combination of both?

    1. Great question, Ryan – and it’s all of the above. All depends on your preferences. If you like thinner sauce, start with liquids. If you like thicker, use spices/seasonings. I find a combo of both to be best, as the spices will start to make the sauce grainy tasting if you add too much. Have fun with it!

  9. Can anyone confirm how much is ” 1c”; like ” 2/3c Brown sugar “; is it supposed to replace grammes

  10. There must be wildly different strengths of tyme in different brands or regions because I’m with the crowd that the flavor killed an otherwise good sauce . I swear it got stronger after sitting for a day too. The day I made it I could taste the sweet and the spice, it was good but had a strong tyme finish that lingered. After a day I could taste nothing but the tyme and it was inedible.

    1. What kind of thyme did you use? I don’t know if this recipe means fresh thyme or dried. But if you substitute dried ground for fresh you only use 1/3 of what a recipe calls for. Maybe this is why it was overpowering? I am too lazy to store fresh thyme and hope it keeps fresh so I buy dried ground in a jar. I always know I need to use much less in a recipe in place of fresh thyme leaves.

  11. Used this recipe with a fresh onion sauteed with a bit of olive oil, a bit of oregano instead of thyme becauce the thyme here isn’t very good, I used 6 cloves of fresh garlic and one half celery stick, finely chopped. All this cooked down before adding tomatoe .I used balsamic vinegar, some red wine vinegar, brown sugar, german sweet mustard, a very thick tomatoe paste , sea salt , black pepper and a half of jalopeno pepper. Very nice sauce came out. Make any texan very happy.Showing greece how its done, came out just great.

    1. I heated the sauce with the thyme in it then strained the sauce to remove the thyme to solve the overpowering taste. Really kept the original Bar BQ flavor in tact.

  12. Just for what it’s worth, I made this sauce as an afterthought alongside following you smoked pulled pork recipe. I personally thought the pork much better than the sauce. But everyone (and I mean everyone) complimented me on the sauce. And a number wanted the recipe. So thanks a lot!!!!

  13. I found the thyme flavor to be overpowering as well. I will probably cut down on it in the future. Other than that the sauce is really delicious. I added a bit more cayenne for heat. Thank you for the recipe. Your website is great!

    1. The thyme does get more mild over time. But you’d be fine to cut thyme to 1 tsp if you think it’s overpowering. Let me know if it tastes different after a few days in the fridge…

  14. I have a picky eater with a particularly strong palette. He doesn’t care for the taste of beer in sauces. Can I use 1 cup of soda instead of 1/2 and 1/2, or would that make the sauce too sweet (and/or burn)? Anything you would suggest as an alternative to alcohol?

  15. I used paisano wine instead of beer and mountain dew for the soda. It was awesome. It tasted like Arby’s sauce with a kick. Thanks for all the info on this site. I’ve been cooking my whole life and been smoking for a few years. Before finding your site my BBQ was pretty good but now its outstanding. I use temp range and time as a guideline. This has really helped me get over the hump and turn out consistently tender BBQ. The chicken thighs are addictive. Thanks again!

  16. I just used this as a base (I’ve never made BBQ sauce), but used more maple syrup + pomegranate molasses in place of the brown sugar and a full cup of bavarian smoked beer for the liquid component. Also added a dash of fish sauce and bourbon.

    It’s so amazing that I can hear angels singing.

  17. It sounded good, but I just got done cooking it and the thyme is overpowering the rest of the flavors. I’m going to let it rest overnight and check it again in the morning. I’m not sure what happened. I used thyme leaves (dried) and not the powder. Any thoughts on what might have happened?

    1. Well, I usually use thyme powder, not leaves. That could be a difference. Other than that, I’d say just double check your measurements and be sure you used the right amounts of everything. I’ve never had an issue with the thyme being overpowering. Side note – I always think the sauce tastes better a day or two later.

    2. Try using fresh thyme, dried herbs always have a stronger flavor than fresh. And not to mention that the over all flavor will be better.
      You also might want to add 1/8 tsp fish sauce {I know this sounds weird, but it has to do with Umomi}


  18. I’m going to try this using real cane syrup I have 2 large bottles that nobody likes on pancakes so this would work great.

  19. Delish!

    I’m going to my friends house for a rib festival and I was in charge of my teams sauce. I used this as a base and loved it. Used a smokey hot mustard and keens hot mustard to give it some kick. Also added some cinnamon for a sweet first taste. Used bud light lime as I figured the lime could come in handy. Also added some hot sauce from barbados. End result was a sweet smokey first taste, then a nice kick of a heat after. I used your suggestions of more cayenne, mustard powder and vinegar.

    Let’s hope my team wins! It has in my eyes! Thank you

    1. For beer, there is no particular brand I use but I usually stick with either a porter or a pale ale. I do use Coke, but I think you could also get away with Sprite/7Up. I use soda mainly for the sugar content and thinning of the sauce – with flavor. Hope that helps!

  20. Hi Kevin. I have a question. Do you think I can use this sauce in a Crock Pot to make Slow Cooker Spare Ribs?

    Thank you.

    1. You bet, Irene. This is a great middle of the road sauce. I would change it according to your tastes – especially with ribs. For instance, I like a bit more tang and kick in my ribs, so I increase the vinegar by a tbs, the dry mustard by a tbs, and the cayenne by 1/2 tsp. If you’re the opposite and like it sweeter, then decrease those ingredients and increase the brown sugar, molasses and syrup. Maybe by 1/4c each or so. If you want to add a bit of smoke flavor, try adding 1 or 2 tsp of Liquid Smoke.
      Let me know how they turn out!

      1. Actually, was a bit ahead of you. LOL! I did try the liquid smoke (Mesquite) and it was AWESOME! I used Dark Brown sugar with the molasses,and my fiance LOVED IT! Now he puts it on EVERYTHING!

        I’m no math wiz, but I doubled the recipe. I put the 1st part of the sauce in the crock pot, put the babyback pork ribs in, then put in a cup of water. Just enough to cover the ribs. Let it go for 6 hours on high, or 8 hours on low. The meat fell off the bone!

        I used the remaining sauce on the ribs when they were done. Man what a feast!

        Thank you for your recipe. You’ve inspired me to experiment and create. 😀


  21. What kind of soda do you recommend? If cola, what could you recommend to substitute. Trying to get away from the caramel coloring.

    1. Brian – ha! Yep, real maple syrup (not Mrs. Buttersworth). Why? Well, I like the taste better than molasses. Personal preference. And I’m a big believer in hitting all the taste buds so you need a form of sweet in there to balance the spice. If you doubt, then use molasses – or a mix of the two. I’ve mixed before – it’s good.
      Bottom line – make it your own. Pull back on the sweet or add more to your taste preferences. This is a great base recipe that goes well with anything and is very easily tweaked to make it perfect for you and your guests.

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