I love this Barbecue Sauce recipe. I had a couple of bushels of tomatoes cheap and love to make my own food from scratch, and preserve the summer’s bounty for the winter. This basic batch of Barbecue Sauce makes 3 pints, so you might want to double it to get a full canner load. You can make it as smoky, spicy, or flavorful as your family likes.

homemade barbecue sauce recipe

Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Recipe Type: Condiment
Enjoy on your favorite BBQ’ed meats of the summer and into the winter. Is there anything better than the satisfaction of knowing that you made this yourself? It tastes great, and stores well for the rest of the year till next summer, when it should be gone by then.
  • 12 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cups of chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 3 cups chopped red or green sweet bell pepper (mixed is good)
  • 3 red hot peppers, seeded and diced – (wear rubber gloves to handle hot peppers)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard (you can cheat and use 3 tablespoons wet mustard, works just fine)
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke of your choice, hickey or mesquite, or of your choosing.
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of white & black pepper
  1. Here is a trick you may not know: Cut a small X in the butt-end of the tomato (not were the stem was) Put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 – 45 seconds is usually enough)
  2. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water with your slotted spoon, and Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water. (Yes, you will have to keep refilling the ice every occasionally. The kids love doing this to help.)
  3. This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes! If you leave the skins in, they become tough and chewy in the sauce, not very pleasant. I normally leave skins for many of my canned tomato products, but for smooth creamy ketchup it’s has to be skinless.
  4. Removing seeds and water After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half. Now we need to remove the seeds and excess water.
  5. Squeeze of the seeds and water Wash your hands again, then Squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds. You don’t need to get to picky about it; removing most will do fine.
  6. Drain the tomatoes Toss the mashed-up tomatoes into a drainer set in a large bowl, while you work on the rest. This helps more of the water to drain off. You can save the liquid: pass it through a sieve or screen, and you have fresh tomato juice!
  7. Put the tomato pulps in a 10-12 quart stockpot, Dutch over, or kettle. Cover and simmer on medium heat about 15 minutes. Add the onion, celery, peppers, and garlic. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 30 minutes.
  8. Run this whole mixture through your food mill. Measure out about 20 cups, and return to the stockpot and simmer uncovered about an hour to an hour and a half, until the mixture has reduced by half.
  9. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, mustard, salt & pepper and flavors of your choice. You could add 1/2 cup honey( and reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup), or more spice, such as cumin, or lemon pepper. Make it more smoky, or less as your family likes it. Simmer for about an hour on very low heat, helping to reduce more to archive your desired thickness.
  10. While your wonderful homemade Barbecue Sauce is simmering in its last hour, prepare your canning supplies. 3 Pint jars, lids and rings, washed in the dishwasher, and left to sit heated, unopened till you need them.
  11. Prepare your water bath canner, and get the water ready.
  12. Once ready, ladle the hot Barbecue Sauce in to the hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids and rings. Process the jars for 20 minutes, starting when the water starts boiling again. Remove the jars and cool on a cooling rack.


Canning and Preserving Food is my passion. I love the back to nature, self-sufficient appeal to it. If I could be more Off-the-Grid I would. I grow and garden a lot of our food, and of course cook from scratch and preserve it. I love teaching local folks about how to use this age old skills, that our grandmothers had, but are starting to be lost.

Photo by Lolli from Better in Bulk, used with permission