Sonny’s BBQ Sauce

Sonny’s BBQ Sauce is rich, thick, sweet and spicy. This homemade barbecue sauce is perfect for ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and more.

a bowl of homemade Sonny's BBQ sauce and ribs on a plate

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This recipe came out of the Ladies Home Journal. The publication of the magazine ended in 2014.

A few topics divide Americans based on where folks are from, and the best BBQ sauce is one of them. Each region of the country lays claims to its own particular style of sauce, and whoa to anyone who asks for Texas-style BBQ sauce in Memphis or Baltimore-style sauce in Oklahoma.

Of course, you are free to enjoy whatever regional sauces you prefer despite where you grew up. And if you can’t get enough of the vinegar-forward taste of South Carolina barbeque, you can’t go wrong with Sonny’s Smokehouse BBQ Sauce. This recipe adds its own unique twist to the classic South Carolina style by including ancho chile peppers for a little smokiness along with ketchup and butter to balance out the acidity. Skip the bottle and give this homemade BBQ sauce a try.

Making BBQ Sauce the Right Way

BBQ sauce isn’t difficult to make. Even your first attempt will most likely turn out a fair bit tastier than any national brand you can buy. However, there are a few tricks worth knowing if you want to make better BBQ sauce from scratch.

When it comes to BBQ sauce, the goal is to develop the most flavor you possibly can. One of the best is to use only the highest quality and freshest BBQ sauce ingredients you can find. Spices expire and lose their flavor quicker than you might think. So, if you can’t remember the last time you replaced the spices in your cabinet, pick up some new ones from the store before making your homemade BBQ sauce.

If you want to get the most from those new spices, take the extra step of toasting them. It takes only a minute or two but really brings the BBQ sauce to the next level. To keep your spices from overcooking, you need to toast them in two separate batches.

Put a thick-bottom pan over medium-low heat and add the peppercorns. Gently swirl the pan to keep the peppercorns moving and stop them from burning. After about a minute, when you can start to smell them, immediately remove the pan from the heat and dump the peppercorns onto a plate to cool.

Next, add the powdered spices to the pan. Without turning the heat back on, shake the pan vigorously and continuously. The residual heat in the pan should be enough to toast the spices. Scrap the toasted powdered spices onto the plate with the peppercorns, and let cool.

Tips For Making and Serving Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • Don’t rush the cooking process. You want to thicken the sauce to allow it to cling to your meat and caramelize perfectly for the best results. That requires eliminating as much water as possible by cooking at a constant low temperature. Using a heat diffuser on top of your burner and occasionally stirring will help prevent your sauce from scorching.
  • Try this recipe on pork ribs. While Sonny’s Smokehouse BBQ Sauce is great on everything from chicken to beef, it is particularly good when slathered on pork ribs. Whether you prefer baby-back ribs or St. Louis style ribs, they are better with this sauce.

Check out some of our other BBQ recipes on YouTube!


Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Ancho chile peppers
  • Water
  • Ketchup
  • Cider vinegar
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Paprika
  • Dry mustard
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Black peppercorns
  • Lemon
  • Butter
Sonny's BBQ Sauce ingredients

How to Make Sonny’s BBQ Sauce

  1. Toast anchos in a large skillet over medium heat, turning once until they are softened.
  2. Transfer anchos to a saucepan, add water, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
    ancho chile peppers and water in a pan
  4. Remove anchos, reserving water.
  5. Remove and discard seeds and stems from the anchos.
  6. Puree anchos and reserved water in a blender until smooth.
  7. Place ancho puree, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, paprika, and pepper in a saucepan. Squeeze juice from lemon half into the mixture and add the lemon half.
  8. Bring sauce to a boil; reduce heat and gently boil for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove lemon half and stir in butter.
    homemade Sonny's BBQ sauce in a pan

If you find this sauce tart, you can add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar.

ribs and a bowl of homemade barbecue sauce on a plate

Favorite Sauce Recipes

Be sure to check out more of my easy sauce recipes and the best restaurant copycat recipes here on CopyKat!

a bowl of homemade Sonny's BBQ sauce and ribs on a plate

Sonny’s BBQ Sauce

Make amazing Sonny's barbeque sauce just like they make it.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Barbeque sauce, Sonnys BBQ Sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 106kcal


  • 2 ounces ancho chile peppers
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup butter


  • Toast anchos in a large skillet over medium heat, turning once, until they are softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Transfer anchos to a saucepan, add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer anchos for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand 10 minutes.
  • Remove anchos, reserving water. Discard seeds and stems. Puree anchos and reserved water in a blender until smooth.
  • Transfer ancho mixture and remaining ingredients, except lemon and butter, to a saucepan.
  • Squeeze juice from lemon half into the mixture and add lemon half.
  • Bring sauce to a boil; reduce heat and gently boil for 30 minutes.
  • Remove lemon half; stir in butter.
  • Makes 4 cups.


Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 402mg | Potassium: 340mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2465IU | Vitamin C: 4.5mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1.5mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Baltisraul

    To make this low carb, just use Heinz sugar free ketchup. Since I’ m out of BBQ sauce, I will triple this batch and make tonight for our smoked chicken thighs & legs. I just love being retired. So does my wife! haha

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