Homemade BBQ Sauce

Today I'm sharing my favorite homemade bbq sauce recipe. It's sweet, smoky, tangy, and super tasty. Plus it's incredibly easy to make, and naturally vegan and gluten-free.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com #bbq #glutenfree #vegan

I realized the other day that I have now lived in Kansas City for nearly a decade.


That’s like a third of my life!  Oh wait, that is a third of my life.  Or to be accurate, 10/31sts of my life.  Close enough.

Whatever the fraction, basically all of my post-college life has been spent making my home here in KC.  And I love it more here with every passing year.

I love it mostly for the ridiculously amazing people who live here and have become friends and neighbors and coworkers over the years.  I love it for the amazing local restaurants, and bars, and coffee shops, and food trucks, and farmers markets that have become my favorites.  I love that it’s the “City of Fountains”.  I love it for the quirky neighborhoods that each have their own personalities.  I love it because people smile and wave at one another freely here.  I love it because it’s home to the coolest church, and book club, and neighbor nights that I have ever known.  I love it because feels like home.

But of course, you can’t live here for a decade without learning to love one more important thing: Kansas City Barbecue.

So today, I figured it was about darn time I share with you this Kansas City food blogger’s take on homemade BBQ sauce.  It may just rock your socks off.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com #bbq #glutenfree #vegan

To be sure, everyone around the country does BBQ differently.  But here in Kansas City, we like our BBQ sauce sweet.  We like it thick.  We like it smoky.  We like it tangy.  And it had better be finger lickin’ good.  :)

What we don’t like are the copious amounts of high-fructose corn syrup that fill most bbq sauces sitting on grocery store shelves.  Totally unnecessary.  And totally not “Kansas City”.  Here, we actually have a little secret for sweetening our sauce that is totally natural, sweet but not too sweet, and full of extra amazing flavor: molasses.  Do yourself a favor and pick up a jar to make this sauce today.

The other big secret about Kansas City bbq sauce?  It is ridiculously easy to make homemade.  Like, it takes less than 5 minutes to prep.  Watch.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com #bbq #glutenfree #vegan

All you have to do is throw all of the ingredients into a saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Then let it simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes over medium-low heat until it thickens.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com #bbq #glutenfree #vegan

And then a batch of delicious homemade bbq sauce is ready to go.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com #bbq #glutenfree #vegan

And then, you must make a Very Big Decision — what do with it!

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com #bbq #glutenfree #vegan

One idea would be to make these Skinny BBQ Chicken Wings that I blogged about back in January.  You could also slather it on any other meats or veggies that you wanted to pop on the grill.  It would be perfect with a BBQ chicken pizza or salad.  Or a sandwich.  Or some skewers.  Or even try adding a few spoonfuls to some salsa (a local favorite!).

I promise, you can’t go wrong.

Cheers to a decade of life and bbq in KC!

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com #bbq #glutenfree #vegan

Homemade BBQ Sauce

In my humble Kansas City opinion, this really is the best homemade BBQ sauce recipe! It's sweet, it's tangy, it's smoky, and it's perfect on just about everything. It is also naturally vegan and gluten-free (*see note below).


  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 Tbsp. worcestershire*
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke**
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • (optional: a few pinches of cayenne powder for extra heat, which I recommend)


Whisk all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer (uncovered) for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has slightly thickened.

Use the sauce immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

*If you are making this sauce gluten-free, be sure to find a brand of liquid smoke that is certified GF. I recommend Wright's or Colgin.

**If you are making this sauce vegan, be sure to find a brand of worcestershire sauce that is vegan. I recommend Annie's.

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | gimmesomeoven.com #bbq #glutenfree #vegan

Leave a Comment:


  1. Kathryn — July 3, 2014 @ 5:10 am (#)

    It’s crazy how fast time flies isn’t it? Especially when you’re really living + making the most of life. I’m so excited to try your authentic BBQ sauce recipe : )

  2. Bri | Bites of Bri — July 3, 2014 @ 6:29 am (#)

    I love reading other people’s recipes for bbq sauce. I have a tried and true one I love, but I still cannot wait to try yours. There are different categories for bbq sauce, ya know?

  3. Julie — July 3, 2014 @ 6:51 am (#)

    Definitely going to try this. Just as a side note regular Worcestershire (Lea & Perrins) is not vegan as it includes anchovies. Annie’s make a vegan one.

  4. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — July 3, 2014 @ 7:05 am (#)

    You are my hero!!! I’ve made homemade BBQ sauce a few times but not nearly enough and my husband could eat oatmeal with BBQ sauce if I let him. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Ali's Mom — July 3, 2014 @ 8:32 am (#)

    I’m making this for our cookout tomorrow!

  6. Cassie — July 3, 2014 @ 9:13 am (#)

    The Kansas City Girl in me LOVES this sauce. I’ll have to share this with Paul…he is our BBQ-sauce-maker!

  7. Cara — July 3, 2014 @ 12:09 pm (#)

    So much better than bottled!

  8. Matt Robinson — July 3, 2014 @ 12:57 pm (#)

    What an awesome idea, so easy too!

  9. Matt @ Plating Pixels — July 3, 2014 @ 1:21 pm (#)

    This looks great! I just posted a sweet and spicy beer barbecue chicken recipe. I’ll have to try your recipe with the liquid smoke.

  10. Nathalie C. — July 3, 2014 @ 6:07 pm (#)

    I love a good BBQ sauce…homemade is always better than store bought to me. So much more flavor and I actually know what I’m putting in it.

  11. Carol at Wild Goose Tea — July 3, 2014 @ 6:53 pm (#)

    Wow we readers are lucky with an honest to goodness Kansas City Barbecue Sauce. I pinned it. Sounds delicious and quite doable.

  12. Meredith — July 3, 2014 @ 10:57 pm (#)

    Sounds just perfect!

  13. Millie | Add A Little — July 4, 2014 @ 2:05 am (#)

    Love this Ali! Can’t believe it’s vegan – got to try it out!

    • Katelyn — August 20, 2014 @ 9:54 pm (#)

      This isn’t vegan. This recipe calls for worcestshire sauce. Most worcestshire sauces are made with fish sauce.

    • Ali — August 22, 2014 @ 8:11 pm (#)

      Hi Katelyn, I use Annie’s organic worcestershire sauce for vegan recipes. I’ll add a note about this in the recipe.

  14. Lindsey — July 4, 2014 @ 9:25 am (#)

    I’m a little embarrassed it say I’m a born and raised Kansas Citian and I have never attempted to make BBQ sauce myself! But with so many options to get here in town, I always have a go to (toss up between Gates and Oklahoma Joes). I’m definitely going to try this one out though, Ali, it looks amazing!

  15. Medeja — July 5, 2014 @ 5:29 am (#)

    It is very handy to have such recipe for home made BBQ sauce :) Thanks for sharing.

  16. Summer — July 6, 2014 @ 1:47 pm (#)

    We have been looking for a good BBQ recipe, but it’s hard to find one that does not require 1) tons of corn syrup or 2) a bottle of store-bought BBQ sauce. Making BBQ sauce with BBQ sauce makes no sense. We will be making this one soon! :) Thanks so much!

  17. Shirley @ Maggie's Oven — July 7, 2014 @ 7:30 am (#)

    My husband will love it. I’ve tried to make BBQ sauce once and as you can imagine it was a failure :). Now this recipe is easy enough, even for me. Thank you for sharing.
    Do you think i can store it in the fridge for more than a week? If not in the fridge, do you know other ways to store the sauce? I just want to make more of it and use it along the summer.
    Thank you!

    • Ali — July 18, 2014 @ 2:54 pm (#)

      Yes! You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Or I believe it could also be canned.

      Good luck!

  18. Anita — October 16, 2014 @ 12:43 am (#)

    Ali, I have been looking for a BBQ sauce for a while, now we are heading into summer, the tomato sauce? Is that tomato ketchup or tinned tomatoes blended kind of sauce?

    • Ali — October 17, 2014 @ 10:17 am (#)

      The recipe just uses canned (basically pureed) tomato sauce. :)

  19. Tom — October 27, 2014 @ 6:43 pm (#)

    I LIKE your sauce. Wonderful addition to my collection of regional BBQ Sauces. Go Royals!

  20. Jessica — December 23, 2014 @ 4:51 pm (#)

    This recipe is INDEED delicious, however, I added 1/4 c brown sugar and it really brought it home. Great kick with the smoked paprika and black pepper. My boyfriend thought I bought the sauce!!! Super delish!

  21. Judy Squire — January 14, 2015 @ 9:21 am (#)

    Lived in KC my whole life. I have tried all kinds of bbq sauces, even went to North Carolina and tried theirs. Needless to say KC has me hooked! Love this sauce over chicken, beef or pork! Like that i know what is in it! I use my homemade tomato sauce, local honey, local molasses, and Braggs vinegar. Got some simmering right now for bbq beef sandwiches tonight for dinner. 


  22. Vanessa — January 18, 2015 @ 11:05 am (#)

    I had a wing feast; made 3 flavors. This bbq sauce was one life them. It was everyone’s favorite! In fact, my guests all said that I should use only bbq next time! This sauce is legit!!!!

  23. Roberta holloway — January 20, 2015 @ 2:05 am (#)

    where can I get (or how do you make), Liquid Smoke in England – just seen answer to my other question regarding tomato sauce Thanks

  24. Stephanie — January 25, 2015 @ 6:56 am (#)

    This BBQ sauce is amazing! I have been looking for a vegan BBQ sauce to make and this tastes so good. I left off theworsterchire sauce because I didn’t have any, and loved the recipe anyway. Thank you! This is now a staple in my kitchen  

  25. Gretchen — January 25, 2015 @ 5:31 pm (#)

    Sounds yummy! Though just a note-if people want it vegan, they need to use the agave and not the honey. 

  26. Marguerite Mains — January 27, 2015 @ 2:36 pm (#)

    Fantastic addition to family recipes….loved it with pulled pork

  27. kelly — February 3, 2015 @ 12:54 pm (#)

    What if I don’t have liquid smoke? How will it taste?

    • Ali — February 3, 2015 @ 9:19 pm (#)

      It should be alright; just not as smoky. :)

  28. Kym — March 9, 2015 @ 3:23 pm (#)

    This is AWESOME!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your receipe. We had a commerical BBQ sauce that we would use that didn’t contain HFCS, however, after many years they changed their receipe & started using HFCS :( . We have been searching for almost 3 years for a BBQ sauce that we all liked. Today I decided to try your receipe, & all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. Both of my kids (teenagers) came into the kitchen wanting to know what smelled so delicious. I let them try the BBQ sauce & I finally had to banish them from the kitchen because every time I turned around they were ‘tasting’ it! I love that I could use ingredients that I already had in my kitchen, so everything that went into it was organic, sans the liquid smoke. We are all so happy that we finally have a BBQ sauce that we like again, thanks to you :) 

    • Ali — March 19, 2015 @ 1:13 pm (#)

      Kym, this makes me so happy, thank you! I’m thrilled you all love it! : D

  29. Terry Scott — March 12, 2015 @ 3:29 pm (#)

    Ive made allot of BBQ sauces over the years but found I strayed away from that certain something that makes BBQ sauce so good. I tried yours on 50 pounds of smoked pork shoulder, it is delicious. I did add dark brown sugar, just didn’t seem right not to, but this is the one I’ll be using from now on.

    • Ali — March 18, 2015 @ 1:24 pm (#)

      Thanks Terry, I’m glad it worked out for you, and you can never go wrong with brown sugar (especially for BBQ)! Cheers!

  30. K. Chew — March 20, 2015 @ 10:29 pm (#)

    Thank you so much for this great recipe!  It’s so nice to know that I can whip up a great barbecue sauce myself and not have to get the store bought ones with high fructose corn syrup and chemical preservatives.  I’ve added some peach and apricot preserves to it and am going to try it on crock pot chicken wings which are broiled before serving (another Pinterest idea).

    • Ali — March 21, 2015 @ 10:48 am (#)

      Thank you, and peach/apricot preserves sounds amazing – great idea! : )


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