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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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291 comments on “Homemade BBQ Sauce”

  1. This looks really good! Do you think it would last longer if I canned it?

    • Thanks Olivia, we hope you enjoy! While we haven’t tried canning this ourselves, we think it should can beautifully as long as you follow the proper canning procedure.

  2. We don’t get cans of tomato sauce in Australia – do you mean the ready made tomato sauce you squeeze onto pies and stuff?  Just trying to narrow down the equivalent product here..

    • Hi Teresa! Yes, tomato sauce, just not marinara sauce or pizzas or pastas. We hope that makes sense!

  3. I am allergic to tomato, and have to make my own bbq sauce and the like. I have come up with a carrot/beet mixture I use in place of tomato sauce and this recipe worked well with that sauce! I am going to make a batch again tomorrow :)

  4. Looking for a good KC BBQ sauce recipe that doesn’t use ketchup, and I think I just found the one I want to try.
    Also, no big deal, but I just wanted to point out that you have your asterisk mixed around in your recipe for the liquid smoke and Worcestershire.

    • Hey Josh. Good eye! Thanks for letting us know (fixing it now). We hope you enjoy the sauce! :)

  5. if anyone is looking to do this in the UK the tomato sauce is like passata and the paste is tomato puree, molasses can be bought in Holland and barratt or online and the liquid smoke can be found in tescos.

    https://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=290673151
    https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/food-drink/molasses/#so=sort_topseller&totalNumRecs=2

    hope this helps :)

  6. Have you ever tried to can this bbq sauce?

    • We haven’t, but it should can beautifully if you follow the proper canning method! We hope you enjoy! :)

  7. hi what’s the Molasses ingredient please? Is it sugar?
    And the tomato sauce – is this ketchup or purée?
    Regards

    • Hi Lisa, molasses is very thick and dark (almost black). It’s refined sugarcane. If you can’t find any, you can just use dark brown sugar. And the tomato paste is neither ketchup nor puree. It’s a concentrate made from cooking tomatoes down and reducing their moisture until they are a rich, thick, dark paste. We hope this helps!

  8. Can you omit Worcestershire sauce? I can’t find one with decent ingredients 

  9. Hi I am in  Australia and I’ve never heard of liquid smoke – what is it please? 

    • Hi Jay! Liquid Smoke is an extremely concentrated condiment that is made by channeling smoke from burning wood chips through a condenser. That process quickly cools the vapors, causing them to liquefy. It brings hickory/mesquite/applewood-type flavors to foods that you want to have a “smokey essence.” Basically it’s great to add to meats/dishes that you want to have a “smoked” flavor without actually smoking anything — generally you just add a dash of the liquid to dishes. Here’s an article on it, if you’re interested in reading more. If you can’t find any, the closest substitutes would be Lapsang Souchong (a smokey tea), smoked paprika, or smoked salts. We hope all of this is helpful!

  10. Sounds delicious! Would it change the flavor too much if I omitted the liquid smoke? What would be a more natural alternative? Thank you!

    • Hi Bailey! No, we don’t think that would have a huge impact. We hope you enjoy this!

    • Never used liquid smoke until today. It’s only 2 tsp. Gives it a kick. Try it, you’ll like it and no, you won’t die.

  11. I love this bbq sause I need to know how to can it can you tell me how thank you steve

    • Hi Steve — we’re glad to hear you enjoy this! We haven’t tried to can this ourselves, but know people have. As long as you have the proper materials and follow the traditional canning method, it should work fine. :)

    • Steve do a search for Linda’s pantry. She is on YouTube and Facebook and she does a lot of videos on canning. I think she even has a video Canning barbecue sauce

  12. Do you think If I could freeze this? 

  13. Hi this recipe looks really very good the only thing is I don’t have is the Worcestershire sauce is there any thing I can substitute it with. Thank you 

    • Thanks Susan — we hope you enjoy! Hmmm, if you don’t have Worcestershire sauce, you could try mixing a little soy sauce with hoisin sauce and a touch of white or apple cider vinegar. That should be somewhat close! :)

  14. Sounds delicious. be nice to have ago at making own. Thanks for sharing.

    Simon

  15. Oh my! This makes me hungry, and I just finished a ridiculously delicious breakfast (duck egg omelet with vegan cheese due to allergy, jowl bacon crispy chunks and sauteed red onion – yowser for holiday weekend brunch!)  Thanks for the freezing approval – I am living solo, and unlikely to use an entire batch in a week, but it looks like it fits the flavor profile I enjoy!

  16. We love this bbq sauce. Made a batch about 3 months ago and I kept it in the fridge in a mason jar and have used it all along and still good today (without proper canning method). Also, I don’t use liquid smoke and it is still delicious :)

  17. Just made this sauce, its actually still on the stove lol. But let me say its absolutley delish! I was out of Worcestershire sauce but its still great! Cant wait to put it on some chicken. This will be my go to from now one. Thank you!

  18. You should know that honey and Worcestershire sauce are both non-vegan. It makes no difference to me, since I’m going to put this on meat, but some folks might be thrown off by the claim that this is a vegan recipe.

    • Hi Todd! Please see our note about the Worcestershire sauce at the bottom of the recipe. Also, folks can use agave instead of honey. 

  19. just a suggestion! 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar will overpower the sauce no matter what you do afterwards.

    Start out with the base – and cut way back on the sugar as well – you won’t be needing it to counter act the acetic acid. Then adjust by adding vinegar a tablespoon at a time – and taste as you go along!

  20. My husband is a BBQ sauce snob.  All BBQ sauce is either to sweet, to vinaigrey, to hot, or has to much mustard.   So when he said this was good and the best he had ever tasted.  I knew it was a keeper.  I took you suggestion and added 1/8 of a tsp of cayenne pepper. He said ” this has everything you want in a BBQ sauce, it’s vinagerey, sweet and has just a little kick. 

    • Oh wow, what a high compliment! We’re so glad you guys (especially your husband) loved it! :D

  21. If canning this recipe, how long do I hot water bath the pints?

    • Hi Becky! We haven’t tried canning this ourselves, but if you follow the traditional canning procedure, you should be fine (should be about 20 minutes, according to other sites).

  22. Thank you!  can you use fresh tomatoes?

  23. This is the best and easiest BBQ sauce.

  24. Very good. Much appreciated.
    Merci from Ontario!

  25. Made this sauce tonight. Didn’t have molasses but used pure maple syrup. It was amazing.  I had cooked a pork Boston butt yesterday in the slow cooker. All I can say is YUM.  THANKS for an easy, tasty recipe. 

    • Thanks for sharing, Sandy — we’re so glad you enjoyed it and that it worked well with the maple syrup!

  26. Would this be considered a good base if one wanted to make a flavored barbecue sauce such as raspberry chipotle?

    • Oooh we think that sounds amazing, Laura! We haven’t tried using this as a base for that, but we think it’s worth a shot!

  27. Hi Ali-

    Just made this and used it on the 2-INGREDIENT SLOW COOKER BBQ CHICKEN recipe. Fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing both.

  28. I just made your recipe for the Clean Bbq sauce…Oh…Em…Gee!!! So good!!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. And, hubby approved? I would love to know approximately how many calories pet serving.

    • Thank you, Debra — we’re so happy you both enjoyed it! :) As for the calories per serving though, we’re sorry but we aren’t sure. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  29. Worcestershire sauce has ingredients I don’t want in my body.  I used it but reluctantly.  Is there a substitute for this ingredient that produces the flavor desired. I’m sorry but I want to be totally chemical free.   Worcestershire sauce has hydrolyzed soy protein, corn syrup, Carmel coloring, polysorbate-80…none of which are very healthy. These are the foods Americans are getting sick on.  

  30. How long would I process if I canned the sauce?

    • Hi Kristina! We haven’t tried canning this ourselves, so we aren’t able to say. However, according to other recipes, we would say about 20 minutes. We hope you enjoy!

  31. Hi! I’m allergic to apples (and ACV) Can i use white vinegar or some other vinegar to substitute? 

    • Hi Jessica! We think you would probably be okay to just use white vinegar. We hope you enjoy this!

  32. Wondering if you know how many carbs this sauce has in it? Looking for a low-carb option for BBQ’ing.

    • Hi Tawnya! We’re sorry but we are unsure of the nutrition facts/amount of calories in this recipe. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  33. Third batch. I actually quadrupled it. I’m good for a while\1

    Much appreciated! Merci!!!

  34. *For a natural liquid smoke substitute, I recommend smoked paprika.
    This recipe is great! I use brown sugar for extra sweetness in addition to the honey or agave. Just like our a little sweeter. Other than our personal preference, this recipe is highly recommended.

    • Thanks, Lindsey, we’re g lad you like it, and yes, the smoked paprika is an excellent natural substitute for the liquid smoke! :)

  35. I hate bbq sauce. But when I made this one I added extra bits and took bits away until it was perfect for me. Best recipe ever!

  36. I made this today! I used it for my BBQ Chicken pizza and it was PERFECT! I used it as my “pizza sauce” and also tossed my cooked chicken in a bit before topping the pizza. Most so called sweet sauces are too acidic or too spicy but this one was just PERFECT. I can’t wait to make chicken fingers or anything else to dip into this yummy sauce! I took a pic of my pizza but couldn’t attach here or even on FB. Oh well…2 thumbs up!!

  37. Delicious

  38. I just made this, except I added 4 Datil Peppers (everything went into blender first) then cooked about 20 minutes. Oh MY gosh!!!!! Amazing!!!

  39. Hi just wondering what kind of molasses I should use – blackstrap, cooking, or fancy? Thanks!

  40. Can this BBQ sauce be frozen to use at a later date?

  41. Made this last night and was the best BBQ Sauce ever. I did not have Tom. Sauce so used Ketchup.
    Slow cooked Pork Ribs in Guiness,Onions and Garlic for 4 hrs .
    Covered Ribs in the sauce and cooked on BBQ.
    The best Ribs I’ve ever had and I’m 66yrs old.

    Thanks for the Kansas Sauce recipe.
    Ian

  42. Made this today and it is easy and yummy. I used a 24 oz of marinara sauce and skipped the paste (didn’t have any). I added everything else including the cayenne pepper. Happy to not have such a sweet sauce like you get from most commercial brands. Obviously you can sweeten it up if that is what you prefer, but it has a nice balanced flavor.

  43. This is now my go-to BBQ Sauce! SO much better than store bought, and without all those nasty fillers like corn syrup or excess sugar. You can adjust the sugar content here, which I did by omitting agave/honey, since I prefer a tangier BBQ rather than sweet; also I used brown sugar instead of molasses – just as a flavor preference. Ali – I love your recipes and this food blog. There are a million out there and this is my favorite and the first place I look for recipe ideas!

    • How much brown sugar did you use?

    • Thank you for this recipe. Most that I have seen use ketchup for the base, which I think is to sweet.
      I did put the cayenne in as recommended (1 tsp) and also added 1 tsp white pepper.
      I could eat it by the spoon full.
      Thank you.

  44. Instead of onion and garlic powder, I sauteed 1/2 of a chopped up yellow onion and added 2 large cloves of diced garlic to the mix. Heated the sauce, and pored over ribs in the crockpot. Shouldn’t do it, but had to taste the ribs after about an hour. Oh, boy, such good sauce. Thank you.

  45. Don’t think my first comment posted. Changed the onion and garlic powder to sauteed yellow onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Did the unthinkable of testing the crock pot with the sauce over the ribs. Oh my, it is delicious. A keeper. Thank you!

  46. This turned out so yummy and was perfect for the meatloaf I made. I used a simple syrup infused with Lapsang souchong (smoked tea) instead of the liquid smoke and compensated by using less honey. I also used a bit more garlic, onion, and cayenne. Will be using this recipe again!

  47. Excellent…loved it!

  48. Nice easy recipe. Tastes great. Will go well on my pulled pork for tonight.

  49. I loved this sauce didn’t want liquid smoke because I made Hungarian ribs and sauerkraut it was very good just as it reads NO changes. I wish ppl would just make the recipes as is or “not” ost a review.

    • Thank you, Shelbel. I couldn’t agree more about not posting if you’re going to change up some stuff. Then you’re only reviewing your own recipe. This is especially true if someone makes several changes then makes negative comments.