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Homemade BBQ Sauce

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This Kansas City-style homemade BBQ sauce recipe is super quick and easy to make, and full of the best tangy, smoky and slightly-sweet flavors that everyone is sure to love!

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

Friends, have you ever tried making homemade BBQ sauce?

If not, it’s time. ♡

And as a KC girl, I’m going to vote that you make this Kansas City-style bbq sauce recipe! It’s super-easy to make — just stir everything together and simmer for about 15 minutes — and it’s full of that famous tangy, smoky and slightly-sweet blend of flavors that we all love in Kansas City.

We use this sauce regularly in our house to make traditional bbq chicken, pulled pork, ribs and baked beans. But it also works great as a pizza sauce (hello, bbq chicken pizza ♡) and as a glaze (on meatballs, meatloaf, etc). And of course, you’re welcome to get creative and add it into everything from soups to salads, tacos, burgers, casseroles and more.

So many ways to use homemade bbq sauce. So let’s make a batch!

Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe | 1-Minute Video

How To Make BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

To make this homemade bbq sauce recipe, you will need the following ingredients (amounts included in the full recipe below):

  • Tomato sauce: One can of plain tomato sauce (just puréed tomatoes, no extra ingredients).
  • Apple cider vinegar: To add some tang to the sauce.
  • Honey: I really prefer the taste of honey as the natural sweetener in this bbq sauce. But you could also sub in brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • Tomato paste: To intensify the rich tomato flavor in this sauce.
  • Molasses: A must in Kansas City bbq sauce!
  • Worcestershire: If making this sauce vegan, be sure to use a vegan brand of Worcestershire.
  • Liquid smoke: To give the sauce those important smoky notes.
  • Spices: A combo of smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder and salt. Plus a few optional pinches of cayenne, if you would like to give the sauce some heat.

Best BBQ Sauce Recipe

How To Make BBQ Sauce:

This bbq sauce recipe couldn’t be easier to make! Simply…

  1. Combine ingredients. Stir everything together in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then let it continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.
  3. Serve. Then that’s literally it — your sauce is ready to go and use in any of your favorite recipes!

Homemade BBQ Sauce | Vegetarian, Gluten-Free and Vegan

Possible Recipe Variations:

Want to customize your own BBQ sauce recipe a bit? Feel free to:

  • Make it gluten-free: To make gluten-free BBQ sauce, just be sure to use gluten-free liquid smoke. (I recommend Wright’s or Colgin.)
  • Make it vegan: To make vegan BBQ sauce, just be sure to use vegan Worcestershire. (I recommend Annie’s.)
  • Make it sweeter: Add more honey, to taste.
  • Make it smokier: Add a touch more liquid smoke, to taste.
  • Make it thicker: Simmer the sauce for longer until it reduces to your desired consistency.

Easy BBQ Sauce Recipe

Ways To Use BBQ Sauce:

There are so many great ways to put a batch of homemade BBQ sauce to delicious use! Some of our faves include:

  • Traditional bbq meat: Grilled or pulled chicken, pulled pork, ribs, burnt ends, etc.
  • Baked beans: BBQ sauce is a simple and delicious way to flavor a batch of baked beans.
  • Burgers: Use it as a spread on your favorite burgers.
  • Pizzas: Use it in place of pizza sauce. (Hello, bbq chicken pizza!)
  • Soups/salads: Mix it into broths to flavor soups, or use the sauce as a dressing for your salad.
  • Tacos/quesadillas/burritos: BBQ sauce is a great way to give your favorite Mexican dishes a different twist.
  • Dipping sauce: And of course, it’s always a great dipping sauce for everything from chicken nuggets to veggie sticks to cocktail meatballs and more!
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Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: About 2 cups 1x

Description

This Kansas City-style homemade bbq sauce recipe is sweet, tangy, smoky, and perfect on just about everything.


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients.  Whisk all ingredients together in a medium saucepan.
  2. Simmer. Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer (uncovered) for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce has slightly thickened.
  3. Serve. Use the sauce immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 1 week.


Notes

Vegan option: To make vegan bbq sauce, just be sure to use a vegan brand of Worcestershire. (I recommend Annie’s.)

Gluten-free option: To make gluten-free bbq sauce, just be sure to use a GF brand of liquid smoke. (I recommend Wright’s or Colgin.)

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300 comments on “Homemade BBQ Sauce”

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  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. I’m making this for our cookout tomorrow!

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

  7. So much better than bottled!

  8. What an awesome idea, so easy too!

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

  12. Sounds just perfect!

  13. Love this Ali! Can’t believe it’s vegan – got to try it out!
    https://youtube.com/addalittlefood

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

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

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

  16. 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. 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!

  18. 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?

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

  20. 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. 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. 

    GREAT RECIPE!

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

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

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

  28. 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 :) 

  29. 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.

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

  30. 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).

  31. It’s great to find a bbq recipe that doesn’t call for ketchup. I’m trying to eliminate the vile high fructose syrup completely from my diet. Most sauces are full of it. Thanks for this!

  32. Hi! I just made this for a casserole and it is awesome! I have been wanting to change a lot of things over to homemade and I finally tried this. Thanks for posting!

  33. I made a batch of this BBQ sauce. Plenty of compliments & turned out very good. Thanks so much for this recipe.

  34. I just made this sauce tonight, it taste so good, I finally found one with no ketchup. Thank you.

  35. looking forward to trying this on my next batch of Brisket!  Was wondering though it said to use within a week?  Does it go bad that quick?  Happy cooking!  Cheers……Jonny

  36. Thank you so much! Just made this and it is great. I have been unhappy with bbq sauce recently. It seems to be either sweet and sour or smokey and hot but this is a perfect balance of all four. Yummy!!

  37. Sounds delicious!  Can it be frozen?  No way I would be able to use 2 cups worth in a week.

    • Thanks, Debbie! Yes, you can freeze it, though I would put it in a container instead of a freezer bag. Hope you enjoy it!

  38. Hi there, what is the difference between tomato sauce and tomato paste? Here in Scotland tomato sauce is ketchup and paste would be tomato puree. Sounds amazing I hope I can find the right ingredients here to make it.

    • Hi Ryan! Tomato paste is much more concentrated, and is very thick, dark, rich and sweet. It’s usually sold in a little can or tube. Tomato sauce is thinner, and more mild, reminiscent of a basic marinara sauce. I hope that helped answer your question!
      : )

    • Ah, tomato sauce in the US is more like a tomato puree (no other ingredients added). And tomato paste is a really thick reduced paste.

  39. Thank you for this MUSTARD FREE Bbq sauce recipe!!! I’m allergic reaction to mustard and all its mustard seed counter parts and I’m so happy to have stumbled across a TASTY sauce!! 

  40. Ali,
    I am so proud of myself! I made your homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce and chicken (too) and it was so delicious! I am not a good cook so this was amazing for me. Thank you!
    I have leftover sauce from 2.5 weeks ago. Is it still safe or will I need to get rid of it? :(
    I so appreciate cooks like you who are will to share.
    BTW, the chicken was so delicious, it never got a chance to be photographed!
    Joy

    • Aww that’s great Joy, we’re happy to hear that! We’d say if the sauce still smells okay, and doesn’t have any mold growing on it, it should be okay (we always do a taste test first). Sorry we’re late to responding to this by the way, thanks for giving the recipe a try! :)

  41. I made this as a base sauce for another sauce, this was so good I kept some of this just because.  The one thing that I didn’t do that this calls for is to let it simmer, if I had done that then my sauce would have been thicker.  Overall, it was easy and tasted amazing.

    • Hey Richard, we’re happy to hear you enjoyed the BBQ sauce, thanks for giving it a try! :)

  42. Hi!

    If I wanted to use brown sugar, would I swap out the honey for the sugar? And would that be dark brown, or light?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Toni! You could most definitely swap out the honey for some sugar, and either dark brown or light would be fine. We hope you enjoy the sauce!

  43. I’m from Australia and our bbq sauce here is terrible. I came across a sauce in Aldi called Sweet Baby Rays hickory and brown sugar sauce and thought I’d give it a try. I mixed it with slow roasted pork and my husband and I loved it so much that I would make it on special nights. As I started running out I panicked since Aldi doesn’t sell it anymore (it was a one off) so I searched for a recipe to make up for it. Your recipe stood out from the rest because all ingredients are natural so I just had to try it. I compared it to the Sweet baby rays sauce and it’s almost identical! The fact that it also fits my clean eating lifestyle is an added bonus! Thank you so much for this recipe, I can’t wait to cook with this sauce for the rest of my family!

    • Oooh all of this is great to know Veronica, thanks for sharing with us! We hope you and your family love the BBQ sauce recipe! :)

  44. This has become my go to base sauce, I usually double the batch and then put it in the fridge and use it to to sauce my meats for the week.  

  45. Just a clarification on a couple of things:

    1. When you say 1 can of tomato sauce – is this crushed tomatoes or pomodoro?

    2. I want to make a homemade BBQ sauce for bonbonierre for my wedding but need something that will keep. If the jars are properly sterilised, will this keep longer? Any tips for adding anything that will make it keep longer? 

    • Hi Josh! Good questions. I just used the can of tomato sauce that is essentially crushed tomatoes, not seasoned. And unfortunately I’m not a canning expert, but have been told that this recipe holds well if canned properly. Have a great wedding!! :)

  46. Used your recipe for BBQ sauce….it is amazing!!!  My family & friends all loved the pulled chicken I made with it in my crock pot.  Could not have been easier.  Question for you.  Could this be made in a larger quantity and frozen for later use?

    • Hi Ruth, we’re so happy this sauce is a hit with folks! Good question, and yes, you could totally make a larger batch of this and freeze it!

  47. Can you freeze this?   Is there a way to make this that it has a shelf life longer than a week?

  48. This is the best BBQ sauce I have ever tasted! There is no reason to buy store bought sauce, when this is so easy and so delicious! 

  49. One fourth cup tomato paste? Leaving 2 tbsp. from the small can?  I hate that! Small partially empty csns of tomato pasre in my fridge is so annoying. I either use the whole can, substitute ketchup, or just omit…depending on the recipe.

  50. I was looking for a homemade BBQ sauce and found this one. I had all the ingrediants in my pantry. So I made it. I have to say this is one of the best BBQ sauces. I made the sauce as instructed then put it in a slow cooker with left over turkey from Thanksgiving. I now have the best BBQ pulled turkey. I topped it off with a homemade relish I bought at a famers market. Thank you for the insperation.

    • Thank you Nancy, we’re so happy you loved this, and that you were able to make delicious use out of your leftover Thanksgiving turkey! :) Thanks for giving the recipe a try!