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Recipe | Homemade Barbeque (BBQ) Sauce From Ketchup

San Jose, CA, USA

Over the past year of dining out and getting take out during COVID, I've amassed quite the collection of ketchup packets with various brands and restaurant names from Heinz, Sysco, In-N-Out, McDonalds, Hunt's, the generic "fancy ketchup," and more. 

I've started what I call the "Condiment" bag. Quite literally, a standard lunch-sized brown paper bag with the word "Condiments" written on it in a black Sharpie marker. Since it's creation, it has been filled with a combination of ketchup, salt, pepper, mustard, mayonnaise, Chick-fil-a's polynesian sauce, Chick-fil-a's special sauce, soy sauce, and sriracha sauce packets collected over some time from all of my husband and my eating out. I felt bad wasting potentially useful condiments by throwing them away and decided on starting the collection, figuring that I would use these for some of my cooking adventures. 

One day, I looked in the fridge and saw raw beef short ribs thawing, and I knew it was the perfect time to put my condiment collection, as I call it, to the test. The test of repurposing ketchup to barbeque sauce. After all, my condiment bag was filled to the brim. 

So, without further ado, here's my little recipe I adapted after scouring websites for recipe suggestions and trying to make use of the ingredients (condiment or not) I already have.


D. L. Samuels on Unsplash

Ingredient list and amount needed:

  • Ketchup  1 1/4 cups
  • Water  1/2 cup
  • Brown sugar  1/4 cup
  • Soy sauce (can substitute with 1:1 amount of Worcestershire sauce)  3 tbsp
  • Garlic powder  2 tsp
  • Smoked paprika  1 tsp
  • Black pepper (coarse)  1/2 tsp


Mix all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer the mixture in medium heat until thickened. Let the sauce cool to use. 


My Results:

The ketchup-turned-BBQ sauce beef short ribs were a success for the most part. It was even "picky eater" approved. My only personal suggestion for improving the recipe would be to decrease the vinegar-y aftertaste by adding a little more paprika or perhaps liquid smoke flavoring to make that barbeque taste more smoky...or fresh-off-the-grill. I didn't have any liquid smoke flavoring, so paprika was my only choice. 

To get a measure of how much ketchup I had exactly (because these were in condiment packets, remember?), I squeezed every bit of each packet into a small soup bowl. By soup bowl, I used one of the bowls as pictured below. Each soup bowl with ketchup at the brim was my eyeballing equivalent of "1 cup."

M. W on Unsplash

This part doesn't have much to do with the recipe, but I wish I had gotten a picture of the sauce and my final product with the ribs. It's always memorable cooking adventure and feeling when the dish is "picky eater" approved (at least for my household)!


So, how did you like my first recipe or leftover condiment hack? Let me know how the experience went for you in the comments below and send any recipe improvements my way!

Nicole G.

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