Kansas City BBQ Sauce

July 30, 2019

Kansas City BBQ sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. It’s rich from the molasses, bright from the acidic tomatoes and vinegar, and has just the right amount of heat from the chili powder. It’s a classic, ketchup-based BBQ sauce that is a must-have for chicken, ribs, and more!

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Making your own homemade BBQ sauce is something I recommend trying at least once. Though, once you make some from scratch, you’ll likely find yourself making your own sauce over and over again. I personally love making food that has all natural ingredients without anything added (especially all those ingredients I can’t pronounce!), and this BBQ sauce is full of only the good stuff.

This sauce is made from a tomato and molasses base. I add in some brown sugar and apple cider vinegar for a sweet and tangy zip, and then infuse it with 8 spices to give it a well-rounded flavor with a tiny kick of heat at the end. It’s my go-to BBQ sauce when I need that perfect, quintessential sauce. It’s so good, I usually have a jar of it in my fridge at all times.

This sauce is great to make and eat the same day, but if you’ve got the time to let it sit, it is even better after letting it rest for 24 hours. 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 leftovers, it lasts great in the refrigerator. Make sure you keep it in an airtight container (I usually store my sauces in a simple wide mouth mason jar), and it should last you at least two weeks.

What is Kansas City BBQ Sauce?

I was fortunate enough to visit Kansas City in 2017 for my second Guinness World Record and eat at the best restaurants around. It was pretty darn amazing. While there, I packed my days with BBQ for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kansas is famous for their burnt ends, and the best complement for tender, smoked beef is a great sauce.

Kansas city 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 all three. This homemade version hits all of those major flavor components with my own Hey Grill Hey twist.

Bowl of Kansas City BBQ sauce next to a mason jar of Kansas city BBQ sauce on a wooden table next to a pastry brush.

How to Make BBQ Sauce

Making your own BBQ sauce at home is inexpensive, easy, and takes less than 30 minutes. Follow along with these 3 simple steps, and you will soon see how it’s totally worth it to make your own sauce at home.

  1. Boil the ingredients. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Use a whisk to combine and mix the ingredients while it comes to a boil.
  2. Simmer the sauce. Once your sauce is boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. The sauce should thicken nicely, and your house will be filled with the sweet aroma of delicious BBQ sauce.
  3. Cool and refrigerate. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool completely. You can use it immediately, but I recommend transferring it to a container with a lid and refrigerating it for 24 hours for the best flavor.

This sauce keeps well, and you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (assuming it lasts that long!). I highly recommend trying this on my Smoked Chicken recipe. The smoked chicken is moist, juicy, and it is packed with flavor when cooked with this tasty sauce. This sauce is also great to have on hand for dipping. We love to slather it on grilled and smoked meats, and use it as a dip for grilled veggies.

Best BBQ Sauce Recipes

I’m a firm believe that homemade BBQ sauce is the perfect way to finish your hard-earned, long-smoked meat. Check out these recipes below for more amazing BBQ sauce recipes:

Honey BBQ Sauce
Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce
Coffee BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce Recipe

Let’s make something delicious! I’m all about helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero. Follow the recipe below to make your own BBQ sauce at home. If you want to see more of my recipes, tips, and behind the scenes action, follow along on my social channels. You can find me on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube!

Hey BBQ Sauce lover! Did you know Patio Provisions has Signature Hey Grill Hey rubs and sauces deliciously made and shipped directly to your door? Head over there to purchase your own 3-pack of signature sauces today!

kansas city style bbq sauce

Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Kansas City BBQ sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. It's rich from the molasses, bright from the acidic tomatoes and vinegar, and has just the right amount of heat from the chili powder. It's a classic, ketchup-based BBQ sauce that is a must-have for chicken, ribs, and more!
4.82 from 11 votes
Prep Time : 5 mins
Cook Time : 25 mins
Total Time : 30 mins
Servings : 3 cups


  • 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ 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
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard


  • Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low to simmer.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely before transferring to an air tight container.
  • This sauce can be used immediately, but I recommend refrigerating overnight for the best flavor. This sauce will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator if sealed tightly in an air tight container.
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**This post was originally published January 2018. It has since been updated with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

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49 thoughts on “Kansas City 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.

      1. Perhaps I measured wrong …. but my whole house smelled of the apple cider vinegar, and it was an overpowering taste while cooking. Tamed it down with a few spoons of cane sugar. Pureed it, not a fan of the chunky tomatoes. Now tastes excellent, can’t wait to try glazing some baby backs on the smoker tomorrow!

  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.

  9. Holy WOW!!! Made this last weekend to go along with a smoked pork butt and it was a hit. Left overs were claimed by my brother in law and son. I was told I needed to make more for the next get together! Didn’t have crushed tomatoes so I substituted diced and used a hand blender to smooth everything out. Also reduced the salt as some of the other comments recommended. Lastly told everyone who would listen at work about this recipe and your site. Thanks Hey Grill Hey!!!

  10. Made this a few days ago. When I tasted it, I thought it was way too spicy due to the pepper flakes. However, 2 days later, it tasted just fine straight out of the jar and was awesome on smoked wings. It mellowed nicely.

    1. I’m so glad you like it! I try and make my sauces early enough to let them mellow a bit. It helps the flavors really come together.

  11. I have tried your bbq sauces and love them. How would you suggest canning them either by water canning or pressure canning? Any thoughts are appreciated!

  12. Merry Christmas! Staying up late tonight smoking 3 racks of Saint Louis style pork ribs. This sauce is incredible and has become my go to for many of my smoked meats. I don’t have any milk or cookies so I hope Santa’s ok with a few ribs and a side of this awesome sauce!

  13. Hi Suzie,

    I tried this and it was fantastic. Next time I am thinking to add some liquid smoke. You thoughts?
    If so how much?

  14. Made this a few times. I always double or triple the qtys.
    Everyone love it on my ribs.
    Going to make it tomorrow and try it on chix wings.

    Just a big THANK YOU for an awesome recipe !!!


  15. I made the rub and it’s excellent.
    I was born and raised in KC and your rub is as good as any I’ve had.
    One correction is Kansas City, where burnt ends originated, is in MO not KS. MY seem trivial but to a Missourian it’s very important.
    There is indeed a Kansas City, KS but not BBQ heaven we know and love.

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