Spicy Sweet Barbecue Sauce

Hosting a barbecue for friends this weekend? Knock their socks off with this spicy and sweet Barbecue Sauce. This tangy barbecue sauce is perfect when served with pork and beef barbecue! Makes 32 servings.

Barbecue sauce spills over the top of a jar, shown with a spoon

When I began tossing around the idea of a huge barbecue feast in celebration of Winston’s completion of the bar exam, I talked to my mother. She told me that she went to a party with friends years ago and tasted the best barbecue sauce she had ever tried. (And that’s saying something – the woman lives in Memphis, one of the barbecue hotspots in this country!)

Lucky for me, she had the recipe, and she sent it my way.

It makes a huge pot full of barbecue sauce. So if you’re not making a ginormous barbecue feast, you could half this or even quarter this and have more than enough sauce.

Overhead view of barbecue sauce in a glass jar next to a spoon

I misread the original ingredient of “red pepper” as cayenne pepper (and not red pepper flakes, which is apparently the original iteration), and I was stunned by the heat of this sauce.

After adding a bit more brown sugar, we were in business, and everything tasted good… spicy and sweet, just the way barbecue sauce should be.

Close up image of jar of barbecue sauce with sauce dripping down the side

Spicy Sweet Barbecue Sauce Essentials

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Get the look!

Barbecue sauce in a glass jar next to a spoon

Need something to put this barbecue sauce on?

It’s fabulous on RibsPulled Pork or even these Pulled Pork Coleslaw Eggrolls!

Check out how to make it below, and enjoy!

Glass jar of sauce next to spoon
Yield: 9 ½ cups BBQ sauce

Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes

Hosting a barbecue for friends this weekend? Knock their socks off with this spicy and sweet Barbecue Sauce. Tomato juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cayenne, black pepper, dried mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, all spice, ginger and basil come together to create this tangy barbecue sauce that is perfect when served with pork and beef barbecue! Let the sauce marinate overnight, then serve with barbecue the next day.


  • 46 oz. 100% tomato juice
  • 1 ¼ cups low sodium soy sauce (10 fl. oz.)
  • 1 ¼ cups Worcestershire sauce (10 fl. oz.)
  • 3 cups ketchup (825g)
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar (730ml)
  • 3 cups brown sugar, packed (640g)
  • 2 medium lemons, juiced (about ¼ cup)
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (5g)
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard (7g)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (4g)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (3g)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (3g)
  • 1 teaspoon ground all spice (2g)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (3g)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (2g)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper (3g)


  1. Mix ingredients in a large Dutch oven.
  2. Heat over medium-low heat, and cook for 2-3 hours, or until cooked down by half. It will have thickened significantly, and the ingredients will be combined (instead of lumpy, as they are in the beginning.) You can do this over higher heat, though I do not recommend that because the sauce will splatter all over your stovetop and backsplash as it bubbles.
  3. Let cool, then transfer to jars. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Serve at room-temperature with your favorite slow-cooked meats and sides.


This recipe makes a TON of barbecue sauce. (Once cooked down, it will yield about 9 ½ cups of BBQ sauce.)

You should be able to half it if you don't need a lot. However, if you do make the whole batch and don't use it all, freeze what is left over in an ice cube tray for later use!

The serving size is ¼ cup.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 660mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 1g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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The photos and recipe for this Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce were originally published on September 5, 2011. The photographs, along with the text of this blog post, were updated on July 18, 2017.

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  1. Yum. We’re big fans of barbecue sauce here! I once made my own and started with a can of Dr. Pepper. It was actually a really delicious sauce. I think I may try that again!

  2. So first order of business when you move to Dallas will be to have a cookout! Drew will grill and you can bring the sauce 🙂

  3. Your article mentions a confusion between “red pepper” as cayenne pepper (and not red pepper flakes). The ingredient list mentions only cayenne pepper. Did you use both or just the cayenne pepper? Thanks much. The sauce sounds awesome and want to try it soon.

    1. Enzo, I only used cayenne pepper in this recipe due to the confusion… and it has QUITE a kick. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it! Thanks!

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