Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce Copycat Recipe

4.47 / 5 ( 79 Reviews )
51 Comments Jump to Recipe

Easy bbq sauce recipe - sweet baby ray's copycat

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! There is power in knowing the ingredients and being able to make your own adjustments.

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 recipe ingredients

There are quite a few ingredients for our copycat Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce recipe, but they are still pretty simple and easy to find:

  • 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 copycat 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, add cornstarch dissolved in water while the sauce simmers.

Easy Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce copycat recipe

I searched many recipes and decided on two that I thought had potential. Made both of them the same day, then 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. Success!

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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How to make BBQ sauce like Sweet Baby Ray's

Easy bbq sauce recipe - sweet baby ray's copycat

Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce Copycat Recipe

The ultimate copycat recipe to make your own homemade Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce!
4.47 / 5 ( 79 Reviews )
Print Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 20
Adjust Servings: 20



  • 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.
  • For a thicker sauce, add the cornstarch and water mixture. Then simmer for up to 15 minutes, until desired thickness is reached. Keep in mind that it may thicken slightly more as it cools.
  • Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

Once cooled, you may portion and freeze the sauce. Then thaw in the fridge and use as needed. Or you can store this in the fridge for up to a month (if it lasts that long!)


Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 317mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g
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, #StayHome, 4th of July, Father's Day, Spring, Summer, Super Bowl Party, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Meatless
Categories: BBQ, Copycat, Stove Top

Comments & Reviews

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

  • 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!

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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!

  • 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”.

    • 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. 🙂

  • 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

    • 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!

  • I’ve no idea how close this is to Sweet Baby Rays…but it is good stuff! And be brave and play with it… I like to add more cayenne…but I have to keep that separate! I also do not use corn starch! I also reduce the sugar and molasses by about a 1/4 total… I also make a dry mix for pre-seasoning…

    • I like the idea of reducing the sugar and the dry mix. Wow, you have some great ideas, Bill! You are brave to play around with the bbq sauce recipe and I love it. I bet you’ve come up with some amazing creations. 🙂 Thank you for your comment and review!

  • Melanie – thanks for a great (and simple!) copycat SBR sauce recipe! It is delicious and undoubtedly much better for you than the store bought kind. On a more personal note, it’s so refreshing to see a food blog hostess embrace comments where readers suggest changes/edits to your recipe without being snippy about it. You encourage others’ ideas and welcome their input – that makes you top-notch in my book! After all, isn’t that what cooking is about? Sharing ideas, teaching others and personalizing to your own tastes. Kudos for being a great cooking blogger, Melanie. <3

    • Wow! Thank you, RJ. I’m glad you like the recipe and I really appreciate your compliments about food blogging. That really is what recipes and cooking are about for me – adapting, finding something you enjoy, and sharing it! I especially love the sharing part, well, and eating the food part too. I feel like no recipe is ever just mine, it always starts with inspiration or foundation in another recipe, so I like to link back to the source. When I find something worth sharing, I love to share it! Thank you for making my day with your kind words, RJ!

      • Oops, missed giving you 5 stars the first time around! I actually came back to print this out (I wanted it handy for next time I make it!) and realized I hadn’t given credit where due. Keep sharing the love, recipes and sense of family I feel here!!

  • I made this and did some changes. I can’t have molasses so I use black honey. I also added a teaspoon of chili powder. Amazing. I am going to make a big batch and can it. I left out the corn starch and water. The consistency was perfect. I also make my brown sugar with black honey. Thank you

    • Awesome! Thank you for sharing your adaptations, Laura! Sounds like that may be a better way to sweeten it to avoid some of the more processed sweeteners. 🙂

  • Thanks for the recipe, Melanie. I ran out of SBR’s and am too lazy to run to the store today! Was planning to make a version of my grandmother’s BBQ sauce, but really wanted SBR’s. Happily, I have all the ingredients in the house. Had to open a can of crushed pineapple for the juice, so we will have cottage cheese w/pineapple along with our ribs tonight. I don’t need a lot of BBQ sauce, so I halved everything…all except I used 1/4 of the light brown sugar (instead of dark), because I’m trying to limit our sugar intake a bit. Our family needs a little more than a pinch of cayenne. Opting not to use the cornstarch. The only addition I made was a tsp of white vinegar (which is in my grandmother’s recipe)….gives a little sweet/sour kick. I’m sure I’ll make a bigger batch later sometime, and I will perusing your blog to check out other recipes. Thanks again!

  • Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar sauce is my all-time favorite, but I had to give it up because I recently discovered that I am allergic to pineapple. Any sub suggestions for the pineapple juice?

    • Maybe orange juice or grapefruit juice would work? Or apple juice with some lemon or lime juice mixed in? I’m not sure how it will turn out with a substitution, but it might be worth a try!

  • On the top of your bottles of your sauce, it says,
    “The Sauce is the Boss!”
    You need to re-do the wording to say,

  • Fantastic!
    This is definitely a keeper

  • My takeaway from trying this is that the secret to mimicking SWEET Baby Ray’s is to just load up a standard BBQ sauce recipe with lots and lots of sugar. I didn’t care for the amount of molasses and felt that vinegar better served the recipe instead of pineapple juice so I went ahead and doubled it and made it more like the BBQ sauce that I normally make (but with way more sugar). Still, I love pineapple juice so I now have a bottle of it in my fridge. I’ll call it a win.
    If you’re like me and you already have a good recipe for BBQ sauce but you have that one weird uncle who puts Sweet Baby Ray’s and hot sauce on literally everything, just set some of your BBQ sauce aside and load it up with brown sugar. If he starts to complain that it’s not authentic SBR just give him more alcohol and act like you agree with him on the government’s plan to control our minds through fluoridation and ultrasonic rays (that always worked with my uncle anyway).

  • Almost every recipe I have made of yours I absolutely love. The only thing I don’t like on your website is that the products you recommend are all made in China. Other than that it’s awesome!!

  • Is this recipe safe to preserve by canning?

  • Made this exactly as the recipe states. Sorry, but this is now where close to Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. It does make a decent tasting sauce, but I use Sweet Baby Ray’s all the time and this is not it.

  • Made this many times we love it

  • I only changed a couple of things and now this is my husband’s favorite BBQ sauce (which says a lot)! My modifications: decrease brown sugar to 1/2-3/4 c.; Add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 Tbsp Worsectershire sauce; completely omit any water and cornstarch. Thank you for the recipe!

4.47 from 79 votes (69 ratings without comment)

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