Easy Homemade Spicy BBQ Sauce

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Easily make homemade Spicy BBQ Sauce at home for all your barbecue needs! Perfect for basting meats or as a dipping sauce.

brush dipping into spicy bbq sauce

Spicy BBQ Sauce

Since being in lockdown, we’ve missed our family. We have not, however, missed cooking. We’ve done plenty of that! Anyone else feel like they’ve cooked eleventy billion meals in the last few months?

Now that it’s officially summer and our stay-at-home order has been lifted, we’re looking forward to having a small get-together in the backyard with our family for 4th of July.

Because we’ve cooked SO much lately, I picked up some bone-in fried chicken and chicken tenders from the deli, but I paired it with this homemade, spicy BBQ sauce that is so good!

Why you’ll love this spicy barbecue sauce

mason jar full of spicy bbq sauce.

We’ve missed everyone so much, we’re going to focus on spending time together instead of spending time in the kitchen or on the grill cooking.

My menu will be centered around bone-in chicken for the adults and chicken tenders for the kids (and me). 

Walmart deli also has hot sides –  potato wedges, mashed potatoes & gravy, and macaroni and cheese.

Some more easy sides to pair with the chicken are macaroni salad, coleslaw, or potato salad if you want to add some easy homemade elements. 

plate of fried chicken in front of macaroni and mashed potatoes

I always like to add a touch of homemade when I’m taking a shortcut in other areas.

How cute are these plates and serving baskets? They had plenty to choose from, I had to reel myself in.

overhead shot of patriotic paper plates & party supplies

Dipping Sauces

I’ll also add a homemade spicy BBQ sauce to enjoy with the chicken strips. It’s a bit too spicy for the kids, but perfect for me. It is so easy to put together and if you’ve never made homemade BBQ sauce, you’ve been missing out.

More dipping sauces you might like are Honey BBQ Sauce or Jack Daniels Sauce. Both have less heat and are more kid friendly.

Equipment you’ll need

Ingredients you’ll need

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.

  • VINEGAR – white distilled vinegar.
  • BROWN SUGAR – brown sugar, specifically dark brown sugar, is perfect for BBQ sauce because it has a deep, molasses flavor that is perfect for sweetness and thickening the sauce.
  • WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE – Worcestershire has a umami flavor that works well in sauces. If you don’t have any, soy sauce can be used but I would recommend low sodium.
  • LEMON JUICE – fresh squeezed lemon juice is always my preference/
  • CAYENNE PEPPER – for heat.
  • SAMBAL OELEK – Sambal Oelek is a chili pepper sauce that I also use in my macaroni and cheese. If you can’t find it, sriracha can be used or just your favorite hot sauce.
  • KETCHUP – At the base of most bbq sauces is ketchup. Use your favorite brand.

How to make Spicy BBQ Sauce

  1. STEP ONE: Add all ingredients except ketchup to a small saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce until sugar is fully dissolved. 
  2. STEP TWO: Pour in the ketchup, stir, and remove from heat.

That’s it! I told you it was easy.

chicken tender being dipped into bbq sauce

What to serve with homemade BBQ sauce

Patriotic Desserts

If you’re serving this bbq sauce at a summer cookout, you might be celebrating the 4th or Memorial Day.

For dessert, cookie bars are easy to serve to a group, but if you want to keep with the Americana theme, you can bake mini cheesecakes with raspberries and blueberries to make them red, white, and blue.

Or patriotic brownie cupcakes that are as delicious as they are fun to look at.

collage of mini cheesecakes & patriotic cupcakes

Throw some drinks, red white & blue jello shots, or homemade lemonade or blackberry lemonade, in a cooler and you’re ready to have an easy (& long awaited) get-together with your family and friends.

plate of chicken tenders with bbq sauce and mac & cheese

How to store leftovers

Homemade bbq sauce should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

What to add to BBQ sauce to make it spicy?

To spice mine up, I add both cayenne pepper and sambal oelek. You can adjust to your liking.

Other options include chili powder, hot paprika, or even curry powder for more spice than heat.

jar of bbq sauce with a brush resting on top.

Need more classic BBQ sides? Try these:

Need more sauces? Try these:

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brush dipping into spicy bbq sauce

Spicy BBQ Sauce

Melissa Williams | Persnickety Plates
Easily make homemade Spicy BBQ Sauce at home for all your barbecue needs! Perfect for basting meats or as a dipping sauce.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cups
Calories 485 kcal


  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Splash of sambal oelek or your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup


  • To a medium sauce pan, add all ingredients except ketchup. Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Reduce until sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Pour in the ketchup, stir, and remove from heat.


Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Serving: 1gCalories: 485kcalCarbohydrates: 116gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2942mgPotassium: 576mgFiber: 1gSugar: 107gVitamin A: 1032IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 104mgIron: 2mg

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.

Tried this recipe? Tag me!Mention @melissa_pplates or tag #persnicketyplates!

Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying/pasting and/or screenshots of full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Content and photographs are copyright protected.

Originally published June 25, 2020

This was originally a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions and text are mine, as always.

plate of fried chicken
collage of walmart hot deli photos

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  1. Trina says

    5 stars
    My kids love this sauce so I want to make more but how can I get the sauce to last longer than 2 weeks. Would a water bath work to extend the storage time.

    • Melissa Williams says

      I’m happy to hear they like it! I haven’t tried this method but just read this that should be helpful.

  2. Julie says

    I’m excited about this recipie! I am trying to reel my husband into a more healthy way of eating and thought that a homemade BBQ sauce is a good start. That way I know all the ingredients. I am also trying to introduce him to a little more heat and I like how I will be able to control that with the spices I choose.

    • Melissa Williams says

      Good luck reeling your husband in, I work on that daily too lol I hope you like the sauce!

  3. Bella Rose says

    How can I make it thicker?

    • Melissa Williams says

      You can boil it and let it simmer down or try a cornstarch slurry.

  4. Edric says

    Can you water bath and make shelf stable?

    • Melissa Williams says

      I have not tried so I don’t want to steer you wrong. I’d Google it 😉

  5. Sare Msrin says

    Everyone else is doing it with there stack with there chicken

  6. Liz says

    It says 400 calories??? Is that for all of it or how much? Seems like an lots of calories for a sauce

    • Melissa Williams says

      That is for the entire batch (2 cups). As always, that number is just an estimate provided as a courtesy. You’ll need to calculate it with your actual ingredients to be accurate.

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