How to Make BBQ Sauce with Ketchup and Grape Jelly

Creating a flavorful barbecue sauce at home is easier than you might think, especially when you’re equipped with a couple of unexpected pantry staples: ketchup and grape jelly. With these simple ingredients, you can achieve a perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors that complement any BBQ dish. This sauce adds a homemade touch to your meals and allows you to customize the taste according to your personal preference.

Combining ketchup and grape jelly may seem unusual, but it’s a tried-and-true base for an easy-to-make barbecue sauce that works wonderfully for glazing meat or as a dipping sauce. It’s all about mixing these components in the right proportions and adding a few additional spices or ingredients you probably already have on hand. This way, you can whip up a delicious, crowd-pleasing condiment without any fuss.

Table of Contents

Essential Ingredients for a Sweet and Tangy Sauce

Creating a delicious BBQ sauce with a perfect blend of sweetness and tanginess requires a combination of key ingredients. Below you’ll find the essential components to make your homemade sauce a hit.

The Base: Ketchup and Grape Jelly

The harmonious mix of ketchup and grape jelly creates the foundation of your grape jelly BBQ sauce, striking a balance between fruity sweetness and savory depth.

Enhancing Flavors with Additional Ingredients

To elevate your BBQ sauce beyond the basic sweetness and tanginess:


  • Brown Sugar: Adds a deep caramel note.
    • Quantity: 1/2 cup
  • Honey: A natural sweetener giving smoothness to your sauce.
    • Quantity: 2 tablespoons
  • Molasses: Offers a warm, smoky sweetness.
    • Quantity: 1 tablespoon


  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Introduces a sharp tang to cut through the sweetness.
    • Quantity: 1/4 cup
  • Mustard: Injects a mild heat and complexity.
    • Quantity: 1 tablespoon


  • Salt: Enhances all the flavors within the sauce.
    • Quantity: 1 teaspoon
  • Black Pepper & Cayenne: Provide a gentle heat that enlivens the sauce’s profile.
    • Quantity: 1/2 teaspoon each
  • Onion Powder: Offers a subtle savory note.
    • Quantity: 1 teaspoon

Depth of Flavor:

  • Worcestershire Sauce: Contributes to the umami flavor and complements the sweetness.
    • Quantity: 1 tablespoon
  • Liquid Smoke: Imparts a smoky barbecue essence as if it’s been slow-cooked over wood.
    • Quantity: 1/2 teaspoon

Mixing these ingredients together will not only enhance the foundational sweetness of your BBQ sauce but also introduce a complexity that makes it irresistibly tangy and flavorful.

Cooking Method: Creating Your Sauce

Creating a luscious grape jelly barbecue sauce is simple; it’s all about combining the flavors and letting them simmer to a perfect thickness.

Combining the Ingredients

First, grab a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients with some room to stir. You’ll want to start by measuring:

  • 1 cup of ketchup
  • 3/4 cup of grape jelly

Place your saucepan over low heat and pour in the ketchup. Add the grape jelly next. Using a whisk, combine both the ketchup and grape jelly until they are fully blended. The base of your BBQ sauce is now taking shape. The grape jelly adds a unique sweetness that will contribute to the overall flavor complexity of the barbecue sauce.

Simmer to Perfection

Once combined, continue to heat the mixture on low. This step is crucial as the simmer allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. Keep a keen eye on your sauce, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes. As the sauce simmers, it will start to thicken. This is when the magic happens, and your sauce transforms from a liquid to a thick, rich condiment ideal for any barbecue dish.

Remember to taste as you go, ensuring the balance of flavors meets your preference. If it’s too sweet, consider a dash of vinegar or lemon juice to add some acidity and round out the taste. Once your BBQ sauce reaches the desired consistency, remove it from the heat. It’s now ready to slather on grilled meats or as a tasty dip. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with this homemade grape jelly barbecue sauce!

BBQ Sauce Uses and Pairings

Creating a BBQ sauce using ketchup and grape jelly gives you a unique blend of sweet and tangy flavors that can enhance a variety of dishes. Understanding how to apply this homemade sauce can transform your meals.

Glazing and Marinating Techniques

Marinating meat with grape jelly BBQ sauce imparts a rich flavor and helps to tenderize tougher cuts. Marinating time can range from 30 minutes to overnight, depending on the type of meat and your desired intensity of flavor.

  • Chicken: Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour before grilling.
  • Ribs: For ribs, an overnight marinate ensures deep flavor penetration.

When glazing, apply the sauce towards the end of cooking to avoid burning the sugars in the grape jelly. This technique creates a sticky, caramelized coating that’s irresistible.

  • Grilled Meat: Brush the glaze on in the last 10-15 minutes of grilling.
  • Meatballs or Meatloaf: Glaze during the last quarter of your baking time.

Serving Suggestions

Your homemade BBQ sauce can serve as a condiment, a dipping sauce, or an integral part of a dish. Here’s how you can incorporate it into various meals.

Condiments and Dipping Sauces:

  • Serve as a dipping sauce for wings or chicken tenders.
  • Spread over burgers as a flavorful condiment.

Integrated in Dishes:

  • Pulled Pork: Mix into slow-cooked pulled pork to add moisture and flavor.
  • BBQ Chicken: Baste chicken on the grill to keep it juicy.

Texture and Taste:

Your sauce adds not just flavor but also texture. Aim for a balance where the sauce is thick enough to cling to the meat, enhancing the overall eating experience.

Presentation Tips:

For an appealing presentation, drizzle extra sauce over your plated meats to add visual appeal and a burst of flavor.


Frequently Asked Questions

Creating a BBQ sauce with ketchup and grape jelly is simple and can yield delicious results. Below are answers to some common questions that might come up as you’re making your sauce.

What ingredients do I need to add to ketchup and grape jelly for BBQ sauce?

To enhance your BBQ sauce, consider adding apple cider vinegar for tanginess, mustard for spice, Worcestershire sauce for depth, garlic powder, onion powder, and a touch of smoked paprika for complexity.

How can I adjust the sweetness of my grape jelly and ketchup BBQ sauce?

If the sauce is too sweet, you can balance it with a splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice. For extra sweetness, consider adding more grape jelly or a bit of brown sugar.

What are some good pairings for BBQ sauce made with grape jelly and ketchup?

This BBQ sauce complements the flavors of grilled chicken, pork chops, or meatballs. It can also be a tasty dip for fries or a topping for burgers.

How long should I simmer my ketchup and grape jelly BBQ sauce?

Simmer the sauce for at least 10 to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together and the sauce to slightly reduce and thicken.

Can I use grape jelly and ketchup BBQ sauce as a glaze for ribs?

Absolutely! Brush the sauce onto the ribs during the last 30 minutes of cooking to create a sticky, flavorful glaze.

What’s the best way to thicken a BBQ sauce that includes grape jelly and ketchup?

If your sauce is too thin, continue to simmer it to reduce and naturally thicken. For a quicker thickening, you can mix in a cornstarch slurry (1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water). Add this mixture to the sauce and heat until it reaches your desired consistency.

Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.