I'm going to tell you how easy it is to make store bought BBQ sauce taste better with a few simple ingredients. You can use this spruced-up sauce on your favorite BBQ recipes like ribs and chicken!
I love this hack for making store bought BBQ sauce taste like a complex, homemade condiment! I've researched all kinds of regional BBQ and developed awesome recipes, and know there are flavor differences that you sometimes can't get from a jarred sauce.
I make a lot of homemade BBQ sauce because I can control all the flavors, from smoky, spicy, or boozy, to sweet and sticky, tangy, and mild.
I'll tell you how to create these unique flavors in half the time using store bought sauce.
Adding a few ingredients to a jar of sauce can add smokiness and depth of flavor. You probably have everything in your kitchen already.
Let me know how it went!
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Store bought sauce that tastes like homemade
Every BBQ pit master has their own secret recipe for barbecue sauce. Some mix together a huge list of ingredients, some simmer their sauce for hours to blend flavors, and others won't even tell you what their secret is!
You can make your own pit-master-worthy condiment, and I'll tell you how to doctor up bottled BBQ sauce so it's easy!
How to use it
This doctored up BBQ sauce tastes like a homemade BBQ sauce for ribs when you add your favorite additions.
Use it on chicken, pulled chicken or pork, beef brisket, and even kebabs.
Check out my Memphis BBQ sauce for some flavor inspiration, or make your own Southern BBQ sauce recipe using this semi-homemade trick. Add my mop sauce to make bottled BBQ sauce a North Carolina style basting sauce.
How To Doctor Up Bottled BBQ Sauce
You can punch up BBQ sauce with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or fridge.
Grab a bottle of store bought BBQ sauce and follow my recipe, or create your own. Think of that pre-made barbecue sauce as a blank canvas! Add smoky, spicy, or tangy flavors.
You can get super creative and add some texture and flavor with chopped kimchi, bacon bits, sautéed onions, or jalapeños, fresh herbs, or fruit like pineapple and peaches.
Regional BBQ Sauce Flavors
Check out all my regional barbecue recipes here, and take note of the great variety of flavors.
You can look to North Carolina for that tangy, vinegar-based sauce that I use on my pulled pork or brisket. The base is a simple mop sauce, that can be a great addition to a bottled sauce.
South Carolina BBQ loves a little spice, so add yellow mustard, and/or hot sauce like Frank's RedHot or Louisiana-style to your jarred sauce.
A Memphis BBQ Sauce is a true finishing sauce great for chicken, pork, and ribs. I add honey or cane syrup, onion, cider vinegar, allspice and cinnamon spices to a jarred sauce to recreate my homemade version. It is a sweet, tangy, and thinner BBQ sauce.
Kansas City BBQ is known for its ribs, and a doctored up BBQ sauce is perfect to add during the last couple minutes on the grill. A thick, rich, and sweet BBQ sauce will do here.
Texas loves some real Tex-Mex heat and smoky flavor. Add chipotle, chili powder or jalapeños to a jarred sauce for an easy gourmet drizzle. I use a spicier sauce on my Texas Beef Brisket.
What Can I Add To Barbecue Sauce?
The simple recipe for making BBQ sauce better is below. But if you want to get creative, use some of these ingredients in your barbecue sauce recipe.
- Spices like: Smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne, coriander, onion powder
- Fresh herbs like: rosemary, oregano, parsley
- Chipotle chilis in adobo
- Bacon bits
- Sautéed onions or Jalapeños
- Mop sauce or vinegar
- Hot sauce like Frank's RedHot or Tabasco
- Yellow mustard
- Brown sugar, honey or molasses
- Crushed Pineapple
- Grape jelly
- Soy sauce, fish sauce, and/or sesame oil
- Liquid smoke (just a little)
- Orange juice concentrate
What To Make For A BBQ
Whether you're making the main dish or the sides, a BBQ can be a classic American meal. Here are some ideas of what to serve at a BBQ:
- Homemade BBQ Meatball Subs
- Fancy Hot Dogs & Sausages
- Memphis Smoked Bologna Sandwich
- North Carolina Pulled Pork
- Kansas City Style Ribs
Side Dishes For A BBQ
Good sides for a BBQ are typically salads, baked beans, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Pasta Salad
- Corn on the Cob
- Potato Salad
- Boston Baked Beans
- BBQ Baked Beans
BBQ Sauce FAQs
Here's how to spice up BBQ sauce: Add anything with heat! You can add anywhere from a pinch to a few tablespoons of spice depending on what the ingredient is. Try some cayenne, chipotle chilis in adobo, hot sauce like Tabasco, chili oil, or red pepper flakes. Add a little at a time to taste.
Opened or doctored BBQ sauce can last 2 to 4 months if stored airtight in the refrigerator. That's great news for grill masters. Ingredients sugar as vinegar and sugar make it resistant to easy spoilage.
If the opened sauce comes in contact with bacteria you'll notice mold, or if there is an off smell, please discard.
Thin thick or sticky BBQ sauce by adding flavorful liquids like mop sauce, vinegar, alcohol like bourbon, fruit juices, pureed fruit, or beef or chicken broth.
More BBQ Sauce Recipes
Better Store Bought BBQ Sauce
- 1 jar (18-ounces) BBQ sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons minced chipotle in adobo
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and then remove from heat. Use immediately or let the sauce cool to room temperature.
- Store sauce in the fridge for up to a month.
Try these finger-licking-good BBQ recipes
- Homemade BBQ Baked Beans with Molasses
- Memphis Smoked Bologna Sandwich
- Dang Delicious Slow Cooker Brisket Sandwiches
- Memphis BBQ Sauce
- Homemade BBQ Meatball Subs In Under An Hour
- North Carolina Pulled Pork Recipe
- Kansas City Style Ribs Recipe To Make On Your Grill
- Terrific 10 Ingredient BBQ Rub From Your Pantry
About Tara Teaspoon
I’ve been in the food publishing business for over 20 years, creating recipes & food-styling for magazines, books, television & advertising. Order my new cookbook & stick around for amazing things to eat.
Oh my goodness! What great ideas! I began by adding a bit of harissa - we do like our sauces HOT at our house. It was terrific and we intend to work our way through some more things on your list. Thank you, TaraTeaspoon!!!