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!
Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

Homemade BBQ Sauce

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


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




  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.


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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290 comments on “Homemade BBQ Sauce”

  1. Pingback: What We’re Eating, 4/29-5/5 | Wholesome Notions

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

  3. 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

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  9. 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!!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!! 

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  18. 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!

    • 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! :)

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  20. 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! :)

  21. 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?


    • 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!

  22. 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! :)

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  24. 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.  

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  26. 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!! :)

  27. 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!

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

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  31. 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! 

  32. 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.

  33. 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!

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  39. 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.

  40. 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!

  41. 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 :)

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  43. 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! :)

  44. 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.


    hope this helps :)

  45. 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! :)

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

    • 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!

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

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  50. 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!