Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

January 11, 2018

Kansas City Style BBQ sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Rich from the molasses, bright from the acidic tomatoes and vinegar, and just the right amount of heat from the chili powder.

Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce


What is Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce?

I was fortunate enough to visit Kansas City last year for my second Guinness World Record and eat at the best restaurants around. You can read about that trip HERE if you’d like. It was pretty darn amazing. I packed my days there with BBQ for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are famous for their burnt ends, and the best complement for tender smoked beef is a great sauce.

Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce has got it’s own flare and flavor. Most Kansas City style sauces are tomato based, almost all have molasses, and from the ones that I tasted, they all give you a little kick of heat at the end from chili powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or a combination of the three. This homemade version hits all of those major flavor components with my own Hey Grill, Hey twist.

Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

This sauce is great to make and eat the same day, but if you’ve got the time it is even better the next day. That extra day in the refrigerator gives all of the ingredients time to hang out and get comfortable with each other, resulting in a smoother and more delicious sauce. If you end up with any extra sauce leftover, it lasts great in the refrigerator. Make sure you keep it in an airtight container and it should last you at least two weeks.

Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce Recipes

Here are a few of my favorite recipes that would be absolutely delicious smothered in this Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce. Just click the image to head straight to the recipe.

Burnt Ends Sandwich with Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce  Bourbon Brown Sugar Pulled Pork Recipe with Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

BBQ Smoked Pork Belly with Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce


4.67 from 6 votes
kansas city style bbq sauce
Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
8 hrs 30 mins
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 3 cups
  • 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before transferring to an air tight container.
  2. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. Will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator if sealed tightly in an air tight container.
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33 thoughts on “Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

  1. Is there something I can substitute for the peach butcher paper? I can’t find that in town. Maybe parchment paper? I saw that on one website.

  2. I put this question on the BBQ Sauce page but it is actually for the brisket.

    Is there something I can substitute for the peach butcher paper? I can’t find that in town. Maybe parchment paper? I saw that on one website.

  3. Parchment paper contains small amounts of silicone to prevent sticking when baking. It does not breathe like butcher paper.

  4. I just made this recipe tonight. A few comments on this:

    1. Really love the overall flavor. Certainly sweet and spicy. I would put less Chili Pepper in, say 1/8 tsp. 1tsp is certainly for those that love very spicy. I would, but the family doesn’t like it that spicy.

    2. The recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of salt. That is a LOT of salt for a sauce. I put in 1 TSP and turned out great. 1 Tablespoon would certainly have been used with a dry rub.

    3. Use either a soup blender or a regular blender (wait until it has cooled off, or you will create so much steam and blow the lid), to blend in the crushed tomatoes. Otherwise, the texture will not be the same as smooth ‘que sauce typically is.

    I’ll be making the burnt ends later this week! Cannot wait to try it out.

  5. I bought two large Packer Briskets today totally 34 pounds. We have a 20 person dinner planned for next week, and your video and instructions have convinced me to turn at least one of the points, if not both, into burnt ends with your sauce!
    We use the Sous Vide method and charring with a flamethrower, so no need to take the brikets to 190.
    We smoke at 140 for three hours raw, then Sous Vide at 145 for 36-48 hours. Create the bark with a flamethrower, and using your recipe, we’ll cut the cubes from that and heat them to about 190, while the flats will be medium rare.

  6. This is really good! So much better than anything store bought. I was wondering if anyone has tried to can this? I can freeze it, but would prefer to can some for future use. Thanks

    1. My advice is to follow the recipe as written. That is how I created and developed this recipe, but of course I understand that people are going to take my recipes and adapt them for themselves.

  7. Hi as i m from india and we dont bring pork at home. We eat only fish, mutton and chicken. So i request you to send some fish chicken receipes with ingredients that we easily get here. Thank you.

    1. I made this with chicken tonight and it was amazing. The only thing I changed was when done simmering, I put it into the blender to smoothbout the tomato. Great sauce recipe.

  8. I decided to grill chicken last night, and didn’t want the same old store bought BBQ sauce. I had almost all the ingredients on hand for this recipe except for molasses, so I substituted maple syrup.

    Because my husband and I are trying to watch our sugar and salt intake for health reasons, I left out the brown sugar and salt. Canned tomatoes, and ketchup already contain salt. And ketchup contains sugar. In place of the brown sugar, I added a splash of cabernet sauvignon.

    This BBQ sauce was AMAZING. My husband kept raving about it, and he is pretty picky when it comes to homemade BBQ sauce. This is definitely a keeper. I want to can it and give it away to family and friends for Christmas.

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