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Kansas City BBQ Sauce recipe

Kansas City BBQ Sauce recipe

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  • Side dish
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  • BBQ sauce

This Kansas City BBQ sauce is sweet and smoky with a little bite. You'll never buy a bottle of BBQ sauce again after making this easy but impressive recipe. Once you've procured all of the ingredients, it's easy to whip up anytime.

1184 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 1 to 1.5 litres BBQ sauce

  • 500g ketchup
  • 500g passata
  • 250g dark brown soft sugar
  • 300ml red wine vinegar
  • 160g black treacle
  • 4 teaspoons liquid smoke flavouring
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:20min ›Ready in:35min

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the ketchup, passata, dark brown soft sugar, wine vinegar, treacle, liquid smoke and butter. Season with garlic granules, onion powder, chilli powder, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for up to 20 minutes. For thicker sauce, simmer longer, and for thinner, less time is needed. Sauce can also be thinned using a bit of water if necessary. Brush sauce onto any kind of meat during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Liquid smoke flavouring

Liquid smoke flavouring is available online or in some specialty shops. In a pinch, you could skip it in this recipe and still get delicious results.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(1335)

Reviews in English (1032)

by GodivaGirl

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this sauce!!!! This will be "one and only" BBQ sauce from now on. It's thick, sweet and spicy and beautiful in color! To try it out..first I cut the servings to 12. I followed the scaled measurements except only used a pinch of cayenne and chili powder. Concern was it may be too spicy for kids. I did not have celery seed, so I had to leave it out. If you like a sweet and spicy sauce you must try this recipe. I will use this on chicken, pulled pork and ribs. UPDATE: I've made this again using the celery seed and think I like the taste without it. Also for a nice thick sauce it is necessary to simmer on low for at least 20 minutes.-06 May 2008

by gymnastshulbz

Great! For anyone who like's sweet baby rays brand barbeque sauce, this is it! And advice to anyone wanting to make it, don't leave out the liquid smoke! I didn't have any, so I was just going to leave it out, but then my Dad offered to buy me some and when we added it it was SO much better and really added to the flavor. Only suggestions are that oil can be substituted for the butter or left out alltogether, the molasses can be reduced and it's still sweet, and the chili powder, cayenne, and pepper should probably be doubled. Red pepper is also wonderful for the flavor.-11 Jun 2007

by Lynne Goudlock

This is a GREAT sauce! I am catering a wedding reception the end of this month and needed a sauce I could call my own, so my kitchen was tore up from the floor up! I measured the spices and saved them for later, then I mixed up the liquids over a slow flame, I did not have any red wine vinegar, but I did have some marsala I mixed 1/4c. and the balance I used of white vinegar, I did not add the butter, I figured the fat from the meat would be enough and I wanted it to have some table time. The sauce tasted good but it had no depth, I only used 3 teaspoons of liquid smoke, and let it simmer for a while. Once I added the spices it was the bomb! This is the best sauce I have ever tasted. The spices are fantastic!! Whoever thought cinnamon would work in a bbq sauce? I told my husband, we have to go get a piece of meat to go with the sauce. Thanks for sharing, this is great!! I also simmered it for about 1 1/2 hours to thicken, Uuummm finger licken good!! I will serve it with pulled pork and baked chicken, I am sure you could serve this with fingernails, and is so goooood!-13 Sep 2006

How To Make BBQ Sauce: Kansas City Style

Go to your local grocery store and make a pass down the condiment aisle and you’ll see dozens of bottled BBQ sauces. In the late spring and early summer you’ll even see cases of it stacked on the end cap displays to grab your attention. While some of these sauces are actually really good, I’m here to tell you that you can make better at home. This homemade BBQ sauce recipe screams Kansas City BBQ, and it’s so easy to make.

If you’re not familiar with the various styles of BBQ sauce, you’re probably familiar with Kansas City style, even if you don’t know it. Thick, sweet, and a deep mahogany color are sort of the hallmarks of Kansas City style BBQ sauce and that’s what we’re making today. If you prefer a sauce that isn’t as sweet, try my less sweet and tangy St. Louis style BBQ sauce also very, very good.

How to Make a Good Barbecue Sauce

To make a good Kansas City barbecue sauce we start with four main ingredients. Ketchup, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and molasses. This is how the homemade barbecue sauce gets its texture, sweetness, and deep color. The spices added after that are all personal choice. While I often tell people to make my recipes their own, I urge you to try this one exactly as I have it written. I love this sauce on pork ribs, BBQ chicken, and my BBQ platter sandwich which brings up the next question….

What’s the Best BBQ Sauce For Pulled Pork?

This is an excellent sauce on pulled pork. That question, which I highlighted because I’m asked all the time, is very subjective.

For me, the best BBQ sauce for pulled pork is my East Carolina Style BBQ sauce (coming soon). It’s a completely different flavor profile altogether but after spending years in Eastern Carolina while in the Marines, I came to love that spicy vinegar-based sauce.

How to Make Barbecue Sauce at Home

Aside from how absolutely delicious this sauce is, what makes this one of my favorite recipes is just how simple it is to make at home. You can use either a medium saucepan or a slow cooker. I prefer the slow cooking method but if you don’t have one the saucepan will work just fine if you keep the heat low. Certainly don’t go out and buy a slow cooker just for this sauce.

I also recommend making this sauce a day ahead of time. You can use it the day you make it, but giving it time to meld together improves the flavor for sure. Just store it in a glass container as it will stain plastic.

Homemade Gates BBQ Sauce

This recipe was shared with viewers of the Martha Stewart show by none other than Mr. Gates himself. It's probably not an exact duplication of the commercially produced sauce, but it comes pretty darned close.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons celery seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 quarts ketchup (Hunt's probably, because of a Hunt's KC connection)
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of liquid smoke, hickory flavored
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine the sugar, salt, celery seeds, cumin, red pepper, garlic powder and chili powder in a small bowl. Mix the ketchup and remaining ingredients in a large bowl, then stir in the dry ingredients. The sauce can be served warm or at room temperature.

That's the recipe provided by Mr. Gates, but I do things a little different. To bring out the flavor of the spices, and to get all that sugar and salt completely dissolved I next pour the sauce into a large pan, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.

At that point, I lower the heat and continue simmering the homemade Gates barbecue sauce for 5 minutes, at which point it's taken off the heat, covered, and cooled until it can be funneled into 5 or 6 cleaned, empty bbq sauce bottles.

I like the Gates Extra Hot barbecue sauce too, and found that by adding an extra teaspoon of ground red pepper, plus a tablespoon of ground black pepper to the recipe, I get a sauce that is nice and spicy, while still having that great Gates taste.

To Make a Smaller Batch of This Gates BBQ Sauce Recipe.

You might feel that 2-1/2 quarts of barbecue sauce is too much to make at one time, so the following homemade sauce recipe will make about one bottle's worth.

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cup salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 16 ounces ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke, hickory flavored
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

For the hot and spicy version, add an extra 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper, and just shy of 1 full tablespoon of ground black pepper. Follow the above directions for combining the ingredients.

Give this Gates bbq sauce recipe a try, and if it doesn't quite suit your tastes, make an adjustment here or there to create a sauce that pleases you. Make it a little sweeter, or less salty, smokier, or even hotter than fire.

There's no law saying you have to follow recipes to the T. And anyway, playing around with recipes is half the fun of cooking!

Steps to Make It

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be good and thick.

Remove pot from heat and allow the sauce to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before using it. If making ahead of time, cool sauce for 30 minutes and then store in an airtight container.

Keep in refrigerator for 5 days after initial preparation. Warm sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave before using it. The sauce should be warm, but not too hot. Use on ribs or as instructed or serve as a side sauce.

Kansas City BBQ sauce

This is where brown sugar and ketchup, or tomato sauce, find true love - BBQ sauce love. Kansas City BBQ sauce is the style of sauce that is most commonly associated with BBQ sauce. Thick, tomatoey and sweet with some background spice are the characteristics that make up this sauce. This is not the Kansas City sauce we serve at Big Boy BBQ, but it is still a wonderful sauce that is easy to make at home. Feel free to double or triple the recipe, add or subtract the ingredients of your choice, until you make the sauce of your dreams.



Skill level


  • 1½ cups tomato sauce ( ketchup)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • ½ tsp molasses
  • ½ tsp chilli sauce
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to the simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens.

Allow to cool and then smother it on everything that takes your fancy.

Photography by Mark Roper. Styling by Vicki Valsamis. Food preparation by Lance Rosen.

This recipe was published in Temples of BBQ, by Lance Rosen (, hbk, $49). Read our review here.

This is part of our Ultimate BBQ series. For recipes, our guide to American BBQ and tips on smoking, head here.

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Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

I didn’t realize that there were different types of barbecue until I was an adult.

I spent most of my growing up years in Kansas City, and, for me, “barbecue” just meant Kansas City-style barbecue.

I’ve come to appreciate other kinds of barbecue, but Kansas City-style is still my favorite. I love a good thick, tangy, sweet, tomato sauce – like this Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce.

Since we go through so much barbecue sauce, I’ve started making my own when I have the time. It’s really simple to throw together, and it’s make with ingredients that I always have on hand.

Also, one of the great things about making your own sauce is that you can adjust it to suit your tastes. My older daughter is picky when it comes sauces, but she loves this recipe.

Give it a try, and I hope you’ll love it, too!

If you’ve tried this homemade Kansas City style barbecue sauce recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes! You can SUBSCRIBE to receive my latest recipe newsletters or FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST for even more delicious food.

A Comprehensive Guide to Barbecue Sauce Across the Country

“Barbecue sauce” is a blanket term that doesn’t necessarily do justice to all the regional styles of BBQ sauce across the country. Let’s take a look at the differences among them, from the obvious (white BBQ sauce) to the more subtle (Kansas City style vs Memphis BBQ sauce).

Summer is just around the corner, which means there’s plenty of time to perfect your grill game. Or better your barbecue, if you prefer. You ever think about the word “barbecue?” It’s a crazy word because it has so many applications. It refers to a cooking process, the implement used to cook, a meal, a gathering, and a condiment. Holy smokes! Maybe it would just be easier to talk about what barbecue isn’t. Anyway, I’m going to be narrowing down the subject of this piece to the condiment variation of barbecue—barbecue sauce.

You know that scene in “Wedding Crashers” where Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) talks about his love for maple syrup? When it comes to condiments, I feel about barbecue sauce the way Jeremy feels about syrup. You can pretty much put it on anything—sandwiches, salads, even pizza (hello, barbecue chicken pizza)!

Not the Same Thing! What Is the Difference Between Barbecuing and Grilling? There’s probably no better item to put barbecue sauce on than authentic, slow-cooked barbecue. That being said, grilled meat is a close second. As an aside, barbecued meat is not the same as grilled meat. Barbecued meat is cooked over indirect heat over the course of several hours. Grilled meat, on the other hand, is cooked over direct heat for a matter of minutes. Nevertheless, whether it’s the smoky flavor of the ‘cue or the flame-kissed flavor of the grilled variety, barbecue sauce pairs perfectly with both.

Like the method, and the varied meat types and preparations, the condiment has regional influence. That’s why some barbecue sauces are thick, whereas others are watery why some sauce is red, while others are more yellow or why some are sweet, and others are spicy. This is another reason why barbecue sauce is so wonderful—its diversity. With all due respect to Heinz and Hunt’s, ketchup is, well, ketchup. Not so with barbecue sauce! As a result, you can have a completely different gastronomic experience, sometimes within the same meal, simply by using a different regional sauce.

In advance of last year’s 4th of July holiday, Google mapped out the most popular BBQ sauce searches by state:

There were a lot of low-carb, no sugar, and keto BBQ sauce searches, but there were also some region-specific queries (including Korean BBQ). Of the traditional American barbecue sauce styles, white barbecue sauce and Carolina barbecue sauce had the best showing—but they’re all worth knowing, and making at home.

Outset Sop Mop, $13.06 from Amazon

Whichever sauce you go with, a heat-resistant silicone brush makes it easy to apply (without the risk of leaving bristles behind).

As we ease into summer and prime cook-out season, I’d suggest kicking your meal up a notch by including a few types of sauce to maximize everyone’s enjoyment. And if you really want to impress, try making your own. Here are several regionally inspired ideas:

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Combine all the ingredients, minus the ketchup, in a large, deep, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until all the ingredients are dissolved, stirring steadily, 5 minutes. Stir in the ketchup and bring to a boil. (Cover your stirring hand with a grill glove as the ketchup has a tendency to spatter.)

Step 2: Reduce the heat slightly and gently simmer the sauce, uncovered, until dark, thick, and richly flavored, about 30 minutes, stirring often. Transfer the sauce to clean jars and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until serving. The sauce will keep for several weeks.