Method and Recipe for Home Canning BBQ Sauce

Open jar of homemade bbq sauce
To can BBQ sauce, prepare your sauce according to your preferred recipe. Pour the hot BBQ sauce into the sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Seal and process the canning jars in a water bath canner for 20-35 minutes per elevation.

Is it Better to Water Bath Can or Pressure Can BBQ Sauce?

It is better to use a water bath canner for canning BBQ sauce as it is a high-acid food with a pH below 4.6. However, if your BBQ sauce contains many low-acid ingredients and you don’t add enough acidity, you may process the sauce in a pressure canner to remove the chances of foodborne illness, including botulism.

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jar of homemade bbq sauce

Traditional BBQ Sauce Canning Recipe

  • Author: Adam
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 pints 1x


This traditional BBQ sauce canning recipe stands out for its perfect balance of smoky, tangy, and sweet flavors that complement grilled meats flawlessly. The combination of carefully selected ingredients and precise proportions results in a sauce that captures the essence of traditional BBQ, making it simply irresistible and a surefire hit with family and friends.


  • 24 ripe red tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 hot red peppers, cored and chopped
  • 3 medium red or green peppers, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon canning salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • to teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1¼ cups of (5%) apple cider or white vinegar
  • A dash of Liquid Smoke to taste (optional)


  1. Start by washing and rinsing your canning jars. Keep them hot until ready to use, either by placing them in a warm oven or keeping them in simmering water.
  2. Prepare the lids according to the manufacturer’s directions and rinse or briefly soak them in hot water to soften the seal.
  3. Combine the prepared tomatoes, celery, onions, and peppers in a large pot. Simmer gently on medium heat until the vegetables are soft, typically around 30 minutes. Once softened, use a fine sieve, food mill, food processor, or blender to puree the mixture.
  4. Put the purée back into the pot and continue cooking over low heat. Continue cooking the mixture until it has been reduced to approximately half its original volume, which should take approximately 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, tie the peppercorns in a cheesecloth bag and place the bag in the pot along with the remaining ingredients. Cook the sauce slowly, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until it reaches the desired consistency of ketchup. This should take around 1½ to 2 hours. Once done, remove the bag of peppercorns.
  6. Fill the hot sauce into clean, hot jars, leaving ½ inch headspace at the top. To remove any air bubbles, run a clean utensil or bubble remover tool along the sides of the jars. Adjust the headspace if needed by adding more sauce as needed.
  7. Before sealing the jars, wipe the rims with a dampened paper towel to ensure a clean and secure seal. Apply the two-piece metal canning lids, following the manufacturer’s instructions for proper placement.
  8. Prepare a boiling water canner, adding just enough water to submerge the jars by a minimum of 1 to 2 inches. Carefully put the jars into the canner, ensuring they are upright and not touching each other or the sides of the canner.
  9. Process pint jars or half-pints in the canner according to the recommended processing time and temperature for your specific altitude and jar size:

Processing Time per Elevation

  • 0 – 1,000ft: 20 minutes
  • 1,001 – 3,000ft: 25 minutes
  • 3,001 – 6,000ft: 30 minutes
  • 6,000ft and up: 35 minutes

Post Processing

  1. After processing, carefully remove the jars from the canner using jar tongs and place them on a towel-lined countertop or cooling rack. Leave the jars to stand and cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. After the jars have cooled, test the seals by pressing on the middle of each lid. The jar is properly sealed if the lid doesn’t flex or make a popping sound. Any jars that fail the test should be placed in the refrigerator and used within a few weeks.
  3. Store correctly sealed and labeled jars in a cool, dark pantry for up to a year.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Canning Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes


  • Serving Size: 1 tbsp
  • Calories: 29kcal
  • Sugar: 5.5g
  • Sodium: 174.5mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Fiber: 0.2g
  • Protein: 0.1g

How to Add Flavor When Canning BBQ Sauce

When canning BBQ sauce, you can enhance its flavor by incorporating various ingredients depending on the taste you wish to achieve.

  • Add brown sugar for extra sweetness and a hint of molasses flavor
  • Add tomato sauce or tomato puree for a rich and tangy base
  • Incorporate spices such as paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder
  • Ketchup will add sweetness and depth
  • Mustard or jalapenos can provide a spicy and savory kick
  • Worcestershire sauce introduces a savory and umami element
Bowls of bbq sauce ingredients including spices, honey, tomato paste and herbs
BBQ sauce ingredients

What Size Jars Should Be Used for Canning BBQ Sauce?

You should use standard-sized canning jars, typically pint-sized (16 ounces) or half-pint-sized (8 ounces) jars, when canning BBQ sauce.

Pint-sized jars are suitable for larger batches or if you plan to use the sauce frequently, while half-pint jars are great for smaller portions or if you want to give them as gifts.

How Many Jars of BBQ Sauce Fit in a Canner?

As a general guideline, a standard water bath canner can accommodate around 7 to 9 pint-sized jars or 14 to 18 half-pint-sized jars. A standard pressure canner typically accommodates 4 to 7 quart-sized jars or 8 to 14 pint-sized jars.

How Long Should You Pressure Can BBQ Sauce?

The processing time for pressure canning BBQ sauce depends on the size of the jars, the altitude of your location, and the specific recipe you are using. Processing times for quart-sized jars range from 25 to 30 minutes at the appropriate pressure. For pint-sized jars, processing times range from 20 to 25 minutes.

three jars of pressure canned bbq sauce
Pressure-canned bbq sauce

How Long Does it Take to Can BBQ Sauce?

The time required to prepare the BBQ sauce will vary depending on the recipe you’re following and your cooking skills. The canning process typically takes around 1 hour.

  1. Sterilizing the canning jars and lids takes around 10-15 minutes in boiling water or according to the instructions provided with your canning equipment.
  2. The time to fill the jars with BBQ sauce will depend on the sauce volume you’re working with and your efficiency in pouring and packing.
  3. If you opt for water bath canning, the processing time in the boiling water bath canner can be 15 to 40 minutes, depending on factors like jar size, altitude, and the specific recipe you’re using.
  4. If you pressure can BBQ sauce, the processing time would typically be around 20 to 30 minutes at the recommended pressure for your altitude and jar size.

What are the Benefits of Canning BBQ Sauce?

  • Convenience: Canned BBQ sauce is readily available in your pantry whenever you need it, eliminating the need to make it from scratch every time.
  • Control over ingredients: You may customize the flavors, adjust the sweetness or spiciness, and avoid preservatives or additives.
  • Cost-effective: Canning BBQ sauce in bulk can be cost-effective, especially when utilizing seasonal ingredients or buying in bulk.
  • Health: Homemade canned BBQ sauce allows you to control the amount of sugar, sodium, and other additives, making it a healthier alternative to many store-bought options.
  • Preservation: Canning BBQ sauce allows for long-term preservation, extending its shelf life for months or even years.
  • Versatility: Canned BBQ sauce can be used in marinades, glazes, or as a condiment, enhancing the flavors of grilled meats and more.
Large jar of labeled homemade bbq sauce
Homemade bbq sauce

How to Store Canned BBQ Sauce

To store canned BBQ sauce properly, follow these guidelines:

  1. After canning, allow the jars of BBQ sauce to cool at room temperature. Once cooled, check the seals to ensure they are tight and secure.
  2. Use labels or stickers to mark each jar with the contents and the canning date. This will help you keep track of freshness and rotation.
  3. Find a cool, dry, dark location to store your canned BBQ sauce away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and excessive humidity. The temperature should remain relatively constant and be between 50°F and 70°F for optimal shelf life.
  4. Canned BBQ sauce does not require freezing for storage. Freezing alters the texture and flavor of the sauce, so it is best to store it at room temperature.

What is the Shelf Life of Canned BBQ Sauce?

Canned BBQ sauce has a shelf life of one year. However, its shelf life depends on the ingredients used, the canning process, storage conditions, and the quality of the seal on the jars. To maintain freshness, practice a “first in, first out” approach, placing newer jars at the back and using the oldest jars first.


Adam was fascinated from an early age by his father's car and his mum's kitchen. His love of home food preparation stems from her. From baking to roasting and freezing to canning, he has always followed the lessons she taught him all those years ago.

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