Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce Copycat Recipe

5 / 5 (3 reviews)

the best homemade sweet baby ray's bbq sauce recipe

Make Your Own Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce

This Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce copycat recipe really does taste just like Sweet Baby Ray’s Original sauce! I did a side-by-side taste test to make sure! This sauce is perfect for grilled chicken, barbecue chicken pizza, ribs, beans, dipping nuggets, pulled pork, salad, and basically whatever you desire.

Why not just buy Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce from the store?

Well, because being able to make your favorite food products at home is awesome! You can avoid ingredients that may not be good for you, like artificial colors and preservatives, and it’s also really helpful for people with food allergies or sensitivities. On top of all that, you’ll save money by making your own sauce!


Now don’t get me wrong, we like Original Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce around here. There are often coupons and sales on for Sweet Baby Ray’s too so I can get it at a good price. However, it contains high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, and a preservative. I definitely ingest my fair share of such ingredients, but it’s is nice to reduce or avoid them when I can.

Copycat Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

sweet baby ray's bbq sauce ingredients

There are quite a few ingredients for our copycat Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon hickory liquid smoke
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/8 cup cold water (optional)

Here are some kitchen supplies I recommend with this recipe:

Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce Recipe Tips

homemade barbecue sauce like sweet baby ray's recipe

Like many sauce recipes, this barbecue sauce is pretty simple to throw together. Mix the ingredients together, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until it reaches your desired consistency. To help it thicken, I added cornstarch dissolved in water while the sauce simmered.

homemade copycat sweet baby ray's bbq sauce recipe

I searched many recipes and decided on two that I thought had potential. I made both of them the same day. Then I persuaded a few neighbors to come over and help me taste test to decide which was best. Then I tweaked the winning sauce a bit to make it even better using what I had in my pantry already. Better in mine and my neighbor’s opinions anyway. 😉

So excited that I now know how to make my own Sweet Baby Ray’s! Plus, I can portion the sauce and freeze it for later! Enjoy!

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Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce Copycat Recipe

5 / 5 (3 reviews)
Prep Time: 5mins | Cook Time: 30mins
Yield: 2 1/2 cups (40 tablespoons) | Serves: 20


  • 1 1/4 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon hickory liquid smoke
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1/8 cup cold water (optional)


  1. Whisk together all ingredients (except the corn starch in water) in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until sugar has dissolved.
  2. For a thicker sauce, add the corn starch and water mixture. Then simmer for up to 15 minutes, until desired thickness is reached. Keep in mind that it may thicken slightly more while cooling.
  3. Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator.


Once cooled, you may portion and freeze the sauce. Then thaw in the fridge and use as needed.

Recipe Adapted From: Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients: Brown Sugar, Cayenne Pepper, Cornstarch, Garlic, Ketchup, Kosher Salt, Liquid Smoke, Molasses, Mustard, Paprika, Pepper, Pineapple Juice, Water
Meal Type: Sauces, Spreads, and Dressings, Spring, Summer, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Meatless
Categories: BBQ, Copycat, Stove Top

Comments & Reviews

  • Renee

    Awesome Melanie, I am so happy to have this one!

  • tlc

    Check your ketchup first; be sure to buy one that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it. Also, I would recommend leaving out the corn starch unless it’s certified organic/GMO free. It’s sad what’s in our food. Thanks ladies!

    • Melanie

      Great advice. Thank you!

      • scott

        Whole Foods (san antonio) carries Rumford corn starch “made from non-genetically modified corn”. I’m sure it’s available from other stores and online.

        • Tony mccarthy

          Can’t you people just keep that nonsense to yourselves! We are sick and tired of hearing that crap everywhere we turn! We don’t care what you do, but keep it to yourselves, we don’t need or want your “education”!

  • Colleen

    Help! I put too much cayenne pepper in, how can I tone it down?

  • Dana

    Thank you for this recipe! This is just what I’ve been looking for! I made a few alterations based on what I had on hand- 1/2 cup of honey instead of the 1 cup of brown sugar, apple juice in place of the pineapple juice, arrowroot powder in place of the corn starch (where I am it’s cheaper than organic corn starch), no black pepper or liquid smoke… It’s so sweet.

  • Annabel McJaunay

    Hi there
    How long does it last?
    How much does it make?

    Sounds like you’ve nailed the recipe. Can’t wait to try.
    I’m hoping to bottle and give to friends and family for Christmas along with other home made goods.

    • Melanie

      Hi, Annabel. That sounds like a great gift idea! This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups. I usually end up freezing the leftover sauce if I don’t use it within a week, but I’m guessing it could be refrigerated for a few weeks and maybe up to a month.

  • Chandra

    I made this recipe today for my baby back ribs. My husband loved it and said I never need to buy bottled bbq sauce again. The only thing I didn’t have was molasses, but I used a dark honey instead. I skipped thickening with cornstarch and just let the sauce simmer (on low, low heat) for almost an hour and it was perfect. I will definitely be keeping this recipe!

  • Shawna

    This recipe is delicious. I didn’t have liquid smoke so I used smoked paprika to give it that smoky taste. I also added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

  • Jo-Ann

    Love this recipe!! We’ve made it several times & it’s excellent. We now triple the recipe so we’re sure not to run out.

    • Melanie

      Yay! Thanks for your comment, Jo-Ann. I’m so glad you like it! I’d love to hear about your favorite ways to use it too. 🙂

  • J'Marinde

    How long does this keep in the refrigerator and how does one store it?


    Please add an edit option. One usually sees their mistakes only after publishing their comments. Thanks!

    • Melanie

      I store it in the fridge in an airtight container, like a jar or glass food storage container. The sauce will probably keep for a week or two in the fridge.
      If I am going to freeze it, I portion it into plastic resealable bags, then put them all into a larger freezer bag.
      Hope this helps! Thanks!

  • Josephine B

    Thank you SO VERY MUCH for this recipe as I’ve seen a lot of recipes using SBR, but we can’t purchase it here in Australia, so now I have no excuse. Can’t wait to get to the store to buy a roast and get this going as I happen to have ALL the ingredients for the sauce in my pantry now because I always keep that WELL STOCKED. My hubby always says “you can feed an army, but there’s only two of us here”.

    • Melanie

      I agree with keeping a well-stocked pantry – then you have more options! I think this recipe is awesome, so I hope you like it too. Let us know how it works out for you over there in the Down Under. 🙂

  • Bonny

    Hi Melanie I make BBQ chicken and Chicken Taco Meat at the same time in the slow cooker in separate cooking bags on either end of the same slow cooker, switching the bags around half way through the cooking time. The BBQ Chicken calls for an 18 ounce bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce. Your recipe worked great we could not tell the difference. It was delicious. Thank you so much for the recipe. Now I need a copycat recipe for Sweet Baby Rays Honey Mustard for the same recipe. Any ideas? Bonny

    • Melanie

      Very smart with the double cooking method there! I’m so glad you like the BBQ sauce recipe. I’m not familiar with the Honey Mustard so I’m not much help with that though. Sorry! I recommend doing an online search to see if anyone else has come up with a copycat recipe for it yet. Thank you for your review and comment, Bonny!

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