Kansas City BBQ Sauce

26 reviews

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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

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Kansas City BBQ Sauce

By: Susie Bulloch
4.77 from 26 votes
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!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 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.


Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 821mg | Potassium: 412mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 537IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

**This post was originally published January 2018. It has since been updated with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.



Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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Recipe Rating

Reader Reviews

86 Reviews

  1. Dorothy says:

    For Diabetics, can you use Splenda instead of Brown Sugar?

  2. Barb says:

    Love this recipe. I use just a little less vinegar. Takes our ribs to the next level

  3. Jake says:

    Honestly just tastes like molasses. If I try to make this again, I’ll definitely cut down the molasses.

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      Sorry to hear about your experience. You can try to let it simmer for a little long if it’s not reduced enough for your preference. The 20 minutes is just a guideline since all grills, ovens, etc. are different.

  4. Brigitte says:

    The Kansas City BBQ Sauce is really quite amazing! I will definitely continue to make it.
    I just have one question;
    Can I make a large recipe and can the sauce? I think it would make great Christmas gifts.

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      The sauce is fine for canning but you may want to check the acidity with some pH strips. As far as how to can it, you should probably look at a canning pro.