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Homemade Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

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Homemade sweet and spicy Kansas City BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar and spices.

Homemade sweet and spicy Kansas City style BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar and spices.
Kansas City BBQ Sauce

This homemade BBQ sauce is so easy to make from scratch. Simply combine the ingredients and simmer on the stove for less than 30 minutes. The results are a thick, tangy sauce with the perfect balance of sweetness and spice. This Kansas City BBQ sauce is perfect on Slow Cooker Pulled PorkBBQ Shrimp, chicken, ribs, or beef.

Homemade sweet and spicy Kansas City BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar and spices.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

The best part of making BBQ sauce from scratch is that you have complete control of what goes into it, whether it’s the amount of heat or sugar. Did you know most brands of BBQ sauces and ketchup sold in the supermarket contain high fructose corn syrup? Don’t worry – I also have a homemade ketchup recipe!

My daughter Karina makes ribs with this sauce, which she claims are the BEST because of the simple homemade BBQ sauce. She made them for me recently, and I agree they were amazing. She made a rub for the ribs and then baked them in the oven for two hours. While they baked, she whipped up this BBQ sauce and then slathered it all over the ribs towards the end.

Kansas City BBQ Sauce Ingredients

While the ingredient list may be long, the ingredients require no prep, so it goes pretty fast. Just measure and pour into the pot.

  • Tomatoes: canned tomato sauce and tomato paste make up the base of the sauce.
  • Sweetener: Kansas City BBQ sauce is sweeter, so I use honey and molasses.
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Liquid Smoke: Liquid smoke is found near the BBQ sauce at supermarkets.
  • Spices: Cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, chili powder

How To Make BBQ Sauce

  1. Making BBQ sauce is easy! Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Let it cool before transferring it to a mason jar or container.
  3. Refrigerate the sauce for up to a week or freeze it in small containers or an ice cube tray for a few months.
  4. To use the sauce, brush it over chicken, meat, shrimp, etc. towards the end of the cooking time – about 10 minutes before it’s finished.

Variations

  • If you don’t like spicy BBQ sauce, leave the cayenne out.
  • If you want it less sweet, use less honey.
  • I recommend using the molasses, but maple syrup would work if you don’t have it.
  • If you don’t have liquid smoke, you can skip it, or use smoked paprika instead of regular.
  • Swap apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Ingredients.Homemade sweet and spicy Kansas City style BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar and spices.Homemade sweet and spicy Kansas City BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar and spices.Homemade sweet and spicy Kansas City style BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar and spices.

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Homemade Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

5 from 36 votes
2
Cals:65
Protein:0.5
Carbs:17
Sweet and spicy Kansas City style BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar and spices.
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Homemade sweet and spicy Kansas City style BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar and spices.
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 30 mins
Yield: 17 servings
Serving Size: 2 tbsp

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses unsulfured
  • 2 tsp all natural hickory liquid smoke Colgin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan combine all the ingredients and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Let it cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • For using on grilled meat, brush onto chicken, pork or beef the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Last Step:

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Notes

Makes 2 cups + 2 tbsp. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Nutrition

Serving: 2 tbsp, Calories: 65 kcal, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Protein: 0.5 g, Sodium: 362 mg, Fiber: 0.5 g, Sugar: 10 g

Categories:

Photo credit: Jess Larson

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143 comments on “Homemade Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce”

  1. Someone suggested using an ice cube tray to freeze portions of bbq sauce. Is there any reason it wouldn’t be advisable with this recipe? Has anyone tried freezing this? Thank you!

    1. Yes, I have put this in the freezer! I make this (from one of Gina’s cookbook recipes, looks like the same ingredients), enchilada sauce and the Mariana sauce recipes on the same day if I can and freeze them all.  I have little ice cream containers I put them in, but I’ve also cooled the sauce and put it in ziplock freezer bags per cup. No issues for me and I’ve been doing that for a while!

  2. I’ve made this multiple times for use with a recipe for crock pot pulled pork.

    This is a very good barbecue sauce! It’s got some kick, so for those of you that might not want so much heat, don’t put in cayenne. I like it just as it is.
    It is comparable to what you will find at a good southern BBQ place.

  3. How long does it last in the fridge? I have some I made a few months ago but I’m not sure if it’s still good.

  4. I’m sorry if I missed this, but wondering how many freestyle points this is? I made it last night and absolutely love it!

  5. This is simply the best BBQ sauce EVER!  Made it exactly as written and I might use a little less cayenne next time…it’s a little spicy but not too much when paired with food.  Love this sauce!

    1. Wegmans sells molasses. Its in the baking/spice aisle.
      I think just about any grocery store sells it…I’ve bought it many times over the years. TIP: make sure you don’t buy the “Blackstrap” molasses that usually sold right next to the regular because it has a different flavor profile…very strong taste!

  6. I have been making this sauce for years, so obviously I love it. Now I am vegan and I still make it. I simply swap some maple syrup for the honey. I like heat, so I add lots of cayenne and chili powder. Tonight I will be simmering my lentil meatballs in the sauce to serve as an appetizer for our guests. 

  7. This has become my got to recipe for BBQ sauce. My friend made a huge batch and sent me the recipe and I have been using it ever since. I’ll switch up the flavors and use a  mesquite flavor depending on the crowd. Love this!!!! Even if your a beginner it’s super easy to whip up. And people will be so amazed how easy it actually was for you to make it (or play it up. I’m not judging). 

  8. Very good BBQ Sauce. I substituted equal portions of Honey for the Molasses. Separate and add more cayenne to a portion for some with a kick. Family loved it. Good on pulled pork and trying on ribs today.

  9. I made this tonight to use for your pulled pork recipe and it was phenomenal! Next time I think I’ll add a less honey because it was just a little sweet for my taste but this recipe is definitely a keeper.  The sauce on the pork was perfect! Thank you!!

  10. Would it work to parboil my chicken in this sauce before putting it on the grill? I've done that with a different recipe that is also a marinade, and I like to partially cook my chicken before grilling.

  11. This is my go-to recipe for BBQ sauce… everyone loves it and asks for the recipe, and I gladly direct them to your site, Gina!

  12. What do you use for tomato sauce? I need a suggestion for a good quality one. Thanks! I love your blog 🙂