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Anyone who has been down the condiment aisle at their local grocery store can attest to the dozens of different varieties of BBQ sauce on offer. Each has a unique flavor and style, and it can be tempting to purchase multiple bottles in the search for the perfect taste. However, there's no need to spend lots of money on this versatile sauce! A single bottle of generic BBQ sauce can be doctored up at home and made to suit a variety of tastes and uses. Here's how.


Measure one cup of tomato based BBQ sauce into a small saucepan and place on low heat.

Mix together one teaspoon each of white and brown sugar. Add to the BBQ sauce, whisking to incorporate. Alternatives to sugar include honey, cocoa powder, molasses, or a small amount of cola. Fruit syrups and jams are also excellent sweeteners; a spoonful of raspberry or cherry jam will add a pleasing taste to the sauce.

Bring sauce to a simmer and allow sugar to dissolve (or if using alternatives to sugar, to allow ingredients to come together). Simmer longer for a thicker sauce or add a small amount of water if a thinner sauce is desired.


Measure one cup of tomato based BBQ sauce into a small saucepan and place on low heat.

Add a souring ingredient. The most commonly used souring agent for BBQ sauce is vinegar. White vinegar is perfectly acceptable but more flavorful varieties, such as sherry, red wine, or apple cider vinegar will add a more robust flavor to the sauce. Tamarind paste makes a good substitute for vinegar and will create a thicker sauce, which is perfect for basting.

Simmer the sauce for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend together. If a taste test indicates the sauce has become too sour, gradually add brown sugar until the taste is improved.


Determine the desired heat level for the sauce and select ingredients accordingly. A mild, mellow sauce requires onions, garlic, and crushed red chili flakes. A hot sauce requires a sliced jalapeno pepper or other chilies (seeded for medium heat, seeds left in for a scorcher).

For a mild sauce, saute finely chopped onions and garlic in a bit of oil. Add a small handful of crushed red chili flakes and a spoonful of water. As soon as the water boils, add a cup of tomato based BBQ sauce.Allow ingredients to simmer for roughly ten minutes to develop the heat.

For the hot varieties, slice peppers and simmer in a few spoonfuls of water until the spice can be smelled in the air (approximately two minutes). Add BBQ sauce and continue to simmer until heated through.For a less hot iteration cut small slices in the sides of the chilies, rather than cutting through them completely.This will prevent the seeds from spreading through the sauce and make it less spicy.

A 30-second spicy BBQ sauce recipe is as simple as adding bottled hot sauce to your preferred BBQ sauce brand. Mix well and serve as a dipping sauce for wings or fries.


Be particularly careful when working with fresh chilies. Always wash your hands after handling them and avoid touching your eyes after touching chilies.

About the Author

Melissa Wright

Renee Shah has been a freelance writer since 2007, specializing in writing about history as well as travel and immigration law. Her articles have been featured on various websites. She graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park with a Bachelor of Arts in history.