Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce

This recipe for Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce is so fast and easy to make, you'll never buy another bottle of the ready-made stuff. And this version has no high fructose corn syrup.

Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce is a lot like bacon. Everything tastes better when you add it. But have you looked at the ingredients on a bottle of store-bought BBQ sauce lately? High fructose corn syrup is usually the first or second ingredient listed.

Turns out it's really easy to make barbecue sauce at home. It only takes a few minutes to whip up a batch. You can use it for all kinds of things — from BBQ ribs, BBQ shrimp or sausage, pulled pork sandwiches to BBQ chicken pizza. You can even use it for my highly nutritious BBQ Natto with Shrimp recipe. (Natto is Japanese fermented soybeans — extremely high in vitamin K2.)

This BBQ sauce is a Kansas City BBQ sauce. As opposed to Texas barbecue, North Carolina, or South Carolina BBQ sauce. I don't use any sugar (with the exception of the sugar in the ketchup). Just honey and good old-fashioned molasses. I make mine mild, but you can make it hotter if you like.

Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce: Ingredients

Butter (1 tsp)
Onion (1/2)
Garlic (2 cloves)
Paprika (2 TBS)
Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (1/2 tsp)
Sea salt (1/2 tsp)
[easyazon_link identifier=”B00IOE0360″ locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Ketchup, organic[/easyazon_link] (1 cup) — use a brand without HFCS
[easyazon_link identifier=”B01EW16TCK” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Apple cider vinegar[/easyazon_link] or white vinegar (1 cup) — or lemon juice
Honey (1/2 cup)
Mustard (1/4 cup)
[easyazon_link identifier=”B000UCOQV2″ locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Molasses[/easyazon_link] (1/8 cup)
[easyazon_link identifier=”B0058NJA8C” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Worcestershire sauce[/easyazon_link] (2 TBS) — use a brand without HFCS
Chili powder or Tabasco sauce to taste

Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce: Equipment

[easyazon_link identifier=”B00008CM69″ locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Saucepan, stainless steel[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier=”B007K7Z7KO” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]enameled cast iron[/easyazon_link] (not Teflon!)

Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce: Directions

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat.

2. Chop the onion. I use my [easyazon_link identifier=”B01HC7BNJA” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Nicer Dicer[/easyazon_link] — which makes this extremely quick.

3. Add the onion and let soften, then add the garlic.

4. Add all the dry ingredients: paprika, black pepper and sea salt.

5. Add all the wet ingredients: ketchup, vinegar, honey, mustard, molasses, Worcestershire sauce. Add the chili powder to taste.

6. Let simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes and modify with seasonings to taste.

Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce: Recipe Notes

Make sure you use ketchup and Worcestershire sauce that are organic and free of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). You can find these brands at the health food store.

If you're in a real hurry you can make a shortcut version. Leave out the sauteeing of the onion and garlic in butter. Just mix together some ketchup, honey, molasses, mustard and vinegar, and season with some of the spices. Not AS good but it will still work, and I guarantee you, your family will not complain.

You can also make ahead and store in a quart mason jar in the fridge. It will keep for several weeks. Or make larger batches and freeze.

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Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce

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Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

34 thoughts on “Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce

  1. I wonder if you could make large batches and freeze it in smaller jars? I’m running out of time these days and I’m trying to figure out the bulk cooking thing for stuff like this.

    Julie’s last blog post..Making Sourdough Bread that isn’t Small and Dense

  2. going to make a batch to try- I ususally make my grandmothers- and she was from Kansas City! sounds great- molassas & worcestershire lend that smoky flavor that makes the sauce so good. Thanks for sharing, keep up the great blog!

    Tango K’s last blog post..Square .925 Wire-1 troy ounce-18 Gauge

  3. A word of note for those that don’t have homemade ketchup to use….there is a very good brand out now that a lot of stores carry. If you have a local store that carries the Best Choice brands you can find it – Clearly Organic Best Choice Ketchup comes in a 20 oz. upside down squeeze bottle. It’s ingredients are Organic tomato concentrate ( water, organic tomato paste ) , organic sugar, organic viegar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spice…………the sugar amount is very little…this is not an over sweeten ketchup by anymeans. It’s the best tasting ketchup we’ve ever boughten. And price for it costs way cheaper than buying at a Health Food Store.
    Will give this recipe a try once I can find a worchestshrie sauce that is HFCS free and Gluten Free….or maybe just play around with the recipe and see what I come up with.

    Pamela’s last blog post..Wild Yeast Sourdough Starters….

  4. Julie – Yes you can freeze it. Did you have the baby yet? Maybe the baby will come when I finally get the resources page up… hopefully today! 😉

  5. Pamela – Thanks for the rec! I buy organic ketchup at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I have also found organic Worcestershire sauce at Whole Foods.

  6. My husband and I cook competition BBQ. 🙂 I make LOTS of different styles of BBQ sauce, Kansas City style is very popular. For those of you that don’t have access to organic or homemade ketchup, just sub homemade or organic salsa. Puree before using, unless you like it chunky. Adjust your chili powder to compensate.

  7. Michelle – what a great tip!

    Kim – I try to buy organic but I don’t always buy all my spices organic. I get my honey from a local beekeeper who sells it at the farmer’s market. The molasses is blackstrap, yes.

  8. No baby yet unfortunately–maybe he or she is waiting for the resource page LOL! We are going for a long walk tonight so hopefully that will help too.

    Julie’s last blog post..Making Sourdough Bread that isn’t Small and Dense

  9. I’m looking forward to trying this! I’ve bombed on making a couple barbecue sauces myself but really want to because it would be a lot cheaper and healthier. As a Kansas Citian, I’m curious as to what type of barbecue sauce this tastes most like as we all have our preferences here among the competing barbecue restaurants and afficianados 🙂

  10. Me again :o)
    Looked over the bottles label…Natural Flavorings.
    Have you been able to find a brand that is MSG free?

  11. How the heck is it that Cheeseslave seems to be reading my mind?!?!?!?! First with the awesome mayonnaise and now with the BBQ sauce. Those were literally two things I had vowed to experiment with to make myself. Thanks so much, Cheeseslave!!!!! YOU ROCK! 🙂

  12. Hey Ann Marie, I just followed this to a T, but it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too hot to eat! Even my spicy-food-loving husband’s lips are burning. Any suggestions on how to fix this? I’d hate to waste the double-batch I just made

    Lauren Limón’s last blog post..6 Months Old

  13. I’m going to change this in the recipe to “to taste”.

    Instead of wasting the batch, just add more ketchup (you can also use tomato sauce), honey, vinegar, molasses, etc. Everything EXCEPT the chili powder.

  14. Me and my 4 year old just whipped up a batch of this BBQ sauce tonight for dinner! My 7 year old is allergic to honey so we subbed the honey for Turbinado sugar (using 3/4 cup because we like our BBQ sauce just a tad sweeter) This was SO good!!!! I loved it, and the kids loved it so this will go in my recipe archive when I’m in the mood for a Kansas style BBQ sauce! Thank you so very much Mrs. Cheeseslave!! 😉

  15. Honey has a fair bit of carbs and fructose as well. 😉 Might have to try this with erythritol and stevia–looks scrumptious! The color is just lovely, and the fact that it’s so fast to make is a plus! Thanks for sharing.

    Lauren B’s last blog post..Fluffy, Diner-Style Healthy Pancakes… Low Carb and Gluten-Free!

  16. I was so sad to read the ingredient list on Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce. First ingredient: high fructose corn syrup. Unbelievable!

    Homemade ketchup is SO easy! I can make a double or triple batch in 5 minutes. I began making it about 2 months ago, and this is our favorite recipe (adapted from Hillbilly Housewife):

    6 oz. can organic tomato paste
    1/3 cup filtered water
    2 T raw, organic apple cider vinegar
    1/4 tsp. dry mustard
    1/8 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 pinch cayenne pepper
    1 pinch allspice (optional)
    1 pinch garlic powder
    1 pinch onion powder
    1/8 cup organic evaporated cane juice

    Combine all ingredients with a wire wisk. Blend well. Place into a glass jar and chill to blend flavors.

    I’ve used this ketchup in homemade barbeque sauce, and it’s awesome!

    Off topic: Eden organic yellow and brown mustards are yummy, and very affordable at Tropical Traditions.

    Thanks for a the barbeque sauce recipe!!

  17. Thank you for the incredible recipe here. I am going to make it. I make Julia Child herb roasted chicken and I will try to adapt a recipe for a BBQ sauce to match that flavor. =)

  18. That is too complicated. Mine takes literally 2 minutes. 1 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup Modena red wine vinegar, 2 T brown sugar. Mix well. The Modena vinegar gives a really tangy complex flavor. We put it on chicken and everything. Soooo good.

  19. Hi there! I made this recipe. I found that it was too acidic. I ended up adding some butter to mellow out the vinegar. My husband like it and he thinks that when we put it on the chicken more of the vinegar will cook off. I like the addition of the mustard. I just need to tweek this for my taste and it will be great. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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