Dr Pepper Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce made with Dr. Pepper soda, onion, tomatoes, orange juice, vinegar, honey, and cayenne. Great with pork ribs or brisket.

Dr Pepper Barbecue Sauce
Elise Bauer

Please welcome Hank Shaw as he continues on his tour of barbecue sauce recipes with this Dr Pepper BBQ sauce. ~Elise

Cooking with cola or root beer is common, so we figured why not cook with Dr Pepper?

Using soda as the base for a barbecue sauce does two things right off the bat: You get sugar and you get acid. You can literally make a glaze out of nothing more than soda. We went a little further with this recipe, making it a full-on BBQ sauce.

If you don’t like Dr Pepper, you can substitute another dark soda; I’d recommend root beer. And you don’t technically need to put the sauce in the blender, but it does make a smoother sauce that goes on meats better.

What to use this sauce with?

We first did it with slow-cooked pork country ribs, but you could also use it on regular ribs, pork shoulder, ham, beef ribs, or brisket. I bet it would be good on chicken, too, although we haven’t tried it.

You do need to cook this sauce down to get the full flavor, so give yourself some time. Once it’s done, you can store the sauce in the fridge for at least a week.

Dr Pepper Barbecue Sauce

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 95 mins
Total Time 100 mins
Yield 2 to 3 cups


  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Dr Pepper
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes, about 15 ounces
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.

  2. When the onions are just beginning to brown, add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Simmer for 30 minutes.

  3. Pour the sauce into a blender or food processor and purée it until it is smooth. (Note that if you are using a blender, either work in batches, filling the blender no more than a third of the way at a time with the hot sauce, or slowly add the sauce while the blender is running on low speed.)

  4. Put the sauce into a saucepan, bring to a simmer and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 1-2 hours.

    The sauce will store for several weeks in the fridge.