This Coca-Cola Barbecue Sauce is reminiscent of a classic barbecue sauce, but with a little razzle dazzle, zesty pop of Southern favorite, cola. You’ll love this homemade BBQ sauce that’s loaded with pantry staple ingredients like worcestershire sauce, ketchup, spices, and more. Slather this sauce or drizzle over ribs, sliders, pulled pork, chicken wings, and so much more. It’s so delicious!

cola barbecue sauce in small glass jar with spoon

It’s that time of year where we’re nearing the end of July and folks are already calling it the end of the summer season. Meanwhile, I’m over here saying heck nah. Bruh, fall isn’t even until late September, people! Yours truly is still heavy on all things summer and so, we’re keeping it rolling. I’ve got this epic summer-inspired, homemade barbecue sauce for y’all! My cola barbecue sauce is begging to be a part of your cookouts this season (and really, any other time)!

Cola Barbecue Sauce 🙌🏾

Have you ever made your own barbecue sauce before? Well, if you haven’t, you definitely have to give this one a whirl because it is damn good, peeps. My Cola Barbecue Sauce is sooo easy to make and filled with pantry staple ingredients that you likely already have on hand in the cupboard. The addition of cola brings an extra pep and zest to this barbecue sauce. Fun fact: Cola is a favorite among Southern cuisine, and it’s used to bring more depth to a variety of dishes.

⇢ Summer eats in rotation include my Peach Sweet Tea, this crowd-favorite Seafood Boil situation, and of course, this Southern Potato Salad! 😋

ingredients for southern cola barbecue sauce on white surface

What You’ll Need To Make This Cola Barbecue Sauce Recipe:

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Ketchup: A standard ingredient in homemade barbecue sauce recipes to bring a good amount of tomato flavor to the sauce.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Adds some acidity to the sauce for a well-rounded flavor.
  • Worcestershire sauce: A pantry staple, bottled condiment that gives a boost to so many dishes, like stews and sauces. It has a unique combo of flavors from various ingredients. Also, it kinda acts like an umami flavor bomb, too.
  • Tomato paste: Brings more concentrated, robust tomato flavor.
  • Molasses: Adds more smoky flavoring and depth-filled pizzazz.
  • Brown sugar: Balances the tomato ingredients, and is dreamy in BBQ sauce.
  • Hickory liquid smoke: This ingredient is a super clutch way to bring a level of deep, intense smoky flavor to the barbecue sauce…chef’s kiss.
  • Spices: I use chipotle powder, smoked paprika, and onion powder.
  • Cola: A can of cola is fine and dandy on its own, yes. However, using cola in cooking brings a distinct acidity and caramel-like complexity to dishes. It elevates and enhances this cola barbecue sauce so nicely, gahhh.

How To Make This Homemade Barbecue Sauce:

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ketchup, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, liquid smoke, chipotle powder, paprika, and onion powder- stirring well to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.
  2. Add the cola, stirring well to combine with the mixture. Continue simmering the sauce, stirring every so often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.
  3. Afterwards, let sauce cool completely and then transfer into an airtight container. Keep sauce stored in the refrigerator at all times and it will keep for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy this cola barbecue sauce on ribs, sliders, pulled pork, chicken, and so much more!

Friends, this cola barbecue sauce is insanely easy, right?! Now, I’m not knocking store-bought BBQ sauce for its convenience, but homemade is always better. 😤

cola barbecue sauce in saucepan with whisk

Cola & Southern Food History

Soft drinks like Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, 7-Up, Cheerwine, Sun Drop, and others have long been steeped into the fabric of Southern cuisine. Just like sweet tea is synonymous with the American South, so is a love of soft drinks in both Southern cooking and baking. Did you know that most of today’s leading brands of popular carbonated “soft” drinks have Southern roots?

In the Deep South, hot weather and thirst-ravenous lips made Coke an integral part of life. I believe it was in the 1960s when Coca-Cola first made its way into the baking space, and it became one of the most popular cakes. Since then, folks use cola in recipes like cakes, loaves, sauces, marinades, as a meat tenderizer, and much more. Some eventually dubbed it as Cola Cuisine, the intersection of the South’s beloved soda and its application in food.

Cola & The Cooking Process

You might be thinking- What does cola do exactly? And that’s a great question! Cola is basically carbonated water, sugar, and syrup with cola flavoring and natural caramel color. Because of its color and flavor tones, it is great to use in dark batter cakes or dark colored sauces. Just like how red wine (or white wine) enhances dishes, so does cola. It brings a level of complexity and depth to the cola barbecue sauce, and compliments all the other ingredients.

black hand grabbing ribs with cola barbecue sauce on platter

Cola Barbecue Sauce & Serving

The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to serving up this barbecue sauce. First up, we love it on oven-baked ribs (this sauce + juicy ribs= 😭🙏🏾🤞🏾) or it’s perfectly paired with pulled pork, too! Alternatively, this sauce can be used on chicken, sliders, burgers, and all other foods you would pair with barbecue sauce. Pssst, whenever I make a batch, I also use it for dipping my chicken tenders into lol. This cola barbecue sauce is a gift to your taste buds!

Storing Your Barbecue Sauce

After cooking, let sauce cool completely and then transfer into an airtight container (we love storing in weck jars, mason jars, or deli containers). Keep the cola barbecue sauce stored in the refrigerator and it will keep for up to 2 weeks. It can be eaten straight from the fridge like any other condiment or brought to room temperature if you prefer.

cola barbecue sauce in small glass jar with spoon

Y’all gotta try this Cola Barbecue Sauce and lather it up all over your ribs, chicken, pork, and everything else. It’s delicious! Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

More sensational eats on the site:

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
cola barbecue sauce in small glass jar with spoon

Southern Cola Barbecue Sauce

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star No reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: about 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Southern

Description

This Coca-Cola Barbecue Sauce is reminiscent of a classic barbecue sauce, but with a little razzle dazzle, zesty pop of Southern favorite, cola. You’ll love this homemade BBQ sauce that’s loaded with pantry staple ingredients like worcestershire sauce, ketchup, spices, and more. Slather this sauce or drizzle over ribs, sliders, pulled pork, chicken wings, and so much more. It’s so delicious!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons hickory liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or sweet/regular paprika)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup Cola

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ketchup, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, liquid smoke, chipotle powder (or chili powder), paprika, and onion powder- stirring well to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.
  2. Add the cola, stirring well to combine with the mixture, and cover the saucepan with a lid- leaving a little vent for steam to escape. Continue simmering the sauce, stirring every so often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.
  3. Afterwards, let sauce cool completely and then transfer into an airtight container (we love storing in weck jars, mason jars, or deli containers). Keep sauce stored in the refrigerator at all times and it will keep for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy this cola barbecue sauce on ribs, sliders, pulled pork, chicken, and so much more!

Notes

  1. Please read blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.