Homemade BBQ Sauce

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 | 1-Minute Video

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

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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 vegan, be sure to find a brand of worcestershire sauce that is vegan. I recommend Annie’s.

**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.


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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

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243 comments on “Homemade BBQ Sauce”

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  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!