This post may contain affiliate links meaning if you buy from them, I will make a few pennies, at no cost to you. See disclosure here.

KFC Honey BBQ Sauce is a delicious tangy barbecue sauce served at KFC restaurants. The BBQ sauce is so easy to make at home with this copycat recipe!

basting brush dipping into jar of honey bbq sauce.

Honey BBQ Sauce

I am not a huge fan of meat, but I love homemade sauces like Jack Daniels Sauce or honey mustard sauce.

I especially like to make copycat sauces.

This homemade copycat KFC Honey BBQ Sauce is great on chicken, ribs, steak, whatever you like to put BBQ sauce on.

pot of copycat kfc honey bbq sauce with spoon.

In Michigan, it was 60 degrees yesterday and we got about 5″ of snow today and it’s not done snowing yet.

Despite the weather, Bob wants to BBQ all the time. He has his new smokers (smokers plural, because one wasn’t enough…) on the back deck and has been using it all winter.

mason jar of kfc honey bbq sauce with basting brush.

This sauce has a tomato paste base and is thick, tangy, and sweet.

Bob used the sauce on the chicken wings he grilled and I used it in the baked beans that I made. I’ve watched cooking shows make BBQ sauce before, but I must not have paid attention to how simple it is.

It’s really easy to make.

How to make KFC Honey BBQ Sauce

Making barbecue sauce is surprisingly simple and takes everyday ingredients like tomato paste, vinegar, honey, and brown sugar.

You pour them all into a saucepan, simmer until thickened, and boom. BBQ Sauce!

The only ingredient you might not have on hand is Liquid Smoke, but you should be able to find that at any grocery store.

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • Tomato Paste
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Apple Cider or White Vinegar
  • Honey
  • Liquid Smoke
  • Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ground Celery
  • Paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne (optional)
overhead shot of labeled ingredients portioned out to make honey bbq sauce.
  • Heavy Bottom Saucepan – This 1.5 qt saucepan will be so useful in your cupboard. I love that it has a lid!
  • Liquid Smoke – As I mentioned, you should be able to find this at your local grocery store, but if you’re like me and order from Amazon multiple times per week, you can find it online, too.
  • Basting & Pastry Brush – This brush has multiple uses in the kitchen. I prefer this silicone version for ease of cleaning.
saucing basting brush being lifted from a mason jar of bbq sauce.

What is Liquid Smoke?

Liquid Smoke can be found in the condiment/salad dressing aisle of your grocery store (or on Amazon, of course) and is a liquid that is used in place of cooking with wood smoke that gives a similar smoky flavor.

basting brush sitting on top of a mason jar of bbq sauce.

Other delicious dishes to serve at your next BBQ

Connect with Persnickety Plates!

Follow along on my social media so you never miss a post!

I made a fun group on Facebook for sharing recipes, asking questions, and talking about food. I’d love to have you! Request to join HERE.

Also, sign up to receive an email in your inbox for each new recipe:


If you MAKE & LOVE this recipe, share it on Instagram and tag me @melissa_pplates and/or #persnicketyplates so I can see it. I LOVE seeing what you make & I’ll share it in my stories!

It is VERY HELPFUL to me and other readers if you leave a review after you make my recipe. Please come back & let me know how it turned out!

basting brush dipping into jar of honey bbq sauce.
4.52 from 54 votes

KFC Honey BBQ Sauce Copycat Recipe

Servings: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
KFC Honey BBQ Sauce is a delicious tangy barbecue sauce served at KFC restaurants. The BBQ sauce is so easy to make at home with this copycat recipe!


  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • ½ cup water + 1-2 more Tablespoons (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon hickory flavored liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground celery
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper optional


  • Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. If too thick for your liking, add the additional 1-2 tablespoons of water.
    6 ounces tomato paste, ½ cup water, 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup dark brown sugar, ¼ cup honey, 1 teaspoon hickory flavored liquid smoke, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon ground celery, ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Stir until ingredients are well combined and bring to a boil.
    1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!



Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 312kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 1855mg | Potassium: 956mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 72g | Vitamin A: 1441IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Originally published April 15, 2012

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Thank you for posting this! This is my favorite BBQ sauce recipe. I usually tweak it to taste a little, adding more honey and molasses and doubling it! Great to cooked pulled chicken in the slow cooker with!

  2. 5 stars
    Oh man, this recipe is exactly spot on!! Takes me back to the 90’s! Thank you original poster!! The easiest outcome was to pick up fried chicken from your favorite place. Get the chicken nice and hot, apply a coating of this great sauce and bake again for a few minutes. Oh man absolutely the best!!