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How To Make BBQ Sauce: Kansas City Style

ribs with homemade kansas city barbecue sauce

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.

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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. 

pulled pork sandwich with barbecue sauce

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 kansas city barbecue sauce ready to brush on meat

How to Make Kansas City Barbecue Sauce

Serves: varies | Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients
2½ cup ketchup
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cayenne pepper

How To Make BBQ Sauce 

Step 1: Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a medium size mixing bowl and whisk together to combine thoroughly.

bowl of ingredients for homemade kansas city barbecue sauce

Step 2: Pour sauce into slow cooker or medium size sauce pan. If you’re using the slow cooker select low heat, place the lid on it, and you can pretty much let it go for an hour or two. If you’re using the sauce pan, place over very low heat and put the lid on to prevent splatters. Whisk every 10 minutes to prevent the sauce from burning for an hour.

Step 3: Let sauce cool to room temperature. Then transfer the cooled BBQ sauce into a glass container and store it in the refrigerator.

jar of homemade barbecue sauce with brush and bowl

ribs with homemade kansas city barbecue sauce

How to Make BBQ Sauce: Kansas City Style

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • cup ketchup
  • cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a medium size mixing bowl and whisk together to combine thoroughly.
  • Pour sauce into slow cooker or medium size sauce pan. If you’re using the slow cooker select low heat, place the lid on it, and you can pretty much let it go for an hour or two. If you’re using the sauce pan, place over very low heat and put the lid on to prevent splatters. Whisk every 10 minutes to prevent the sauce from burning for an hour.
  • Let sauce cool to room temperature before transferring into a glass container and storing in the refrigerator.

Notes

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.

Tried this recipe? Let us know how it was!

5 from 2 votes
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