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!
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
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.
How To Make BBQ Sauce:
This bbq sauce recipe couldn’t be easier to make! Simply…
Combine ingredients. Stir everything together in a saucepan.
Simmer. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then let it continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.
Serve. Then that’s literally it — your sauce is ready to go and use in any of your favorite recipes!
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.
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!
This is the best BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted. It’s an easy recipe to make too.
I like to know how others substitute other ingredients. I don’t particularly like molasses and was interested to know about the brown sugar substitution
Made it, it’s delicious! I want to make a big batch but is this recipe good for canning for long term storage? If so how long to boil the jars of sauce? Thank you!
As far as boiling the jars of sauce you would do it until the tops of the jars pop. Then I turn the heat off and let them sit in the hot water for an additional 10 minutes before removing them.
It vaguely reminds me of bbq sauce. I’m always trying new sauce recipe and this one looked super easy and everyone gave it great reviews. Nope. Y’all gotta raise your bar, even the OP—you’re missing out. There are mind blowing sauce recipes out there.
Good <this sauce
Used to live in KC but now live in Indiana. Indy doesn’t have the BBQ sauce choices at the local grocery like KC does. Had to riff a little on your recipe due to being out of stuff like liquid smoke (used a smoked salt instead) and it turned out delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipe!
I made this to go on baby back ribs. We love the touch of sweet with the kick of the cayenne pepper in the background. I will definitely be repeating this recipe.
Put this sauce over jalapeño sausage and it was perfect. The sauce was sweet and tangy and was the perfect counter to the hot sausage! Would use it again, and was easy to make.
Absolutely love this! I make it all the time. I would recommend adding in chipotle chili powder (1/2 tsp) to spice it up a little more but that’s because I am a spice fiend. Thanks for an amazing recipe!
Purty good, adapted a little for vegan/vegetarian palate. I used canned tomatoes with green chilis, cut the honey back a bit, and marinated tofu in it. Later added garbanzos. Thanks.
I’ve lived in KC all my life. Well, I’m actually now living in a small town on just the outskirts of KC. Can’t wait to give this sauce a try. I just love BBQ but am all for trying my own rather than the stuff in the store full of chemicals.
With this recipe I stopped buying barbecue sauce.
Thanks for your great BBQ sauce/marinade recipe. I made it this morning here in my kitchen in Sydney Australia and I think it’s one of the best I’ve tasted. Will be my go to sauce for BBQ now. Will definitely be sharing it and,of course, acknowledging the source. Cheers MJ
This is only good for 1 week in the refrigerator? I’ve seen other recipes that are good up to 2 months.
WOW! I so rarely post comments, but I just made this BBQ sauce and holy cow, it’s so good! I followed your recipe exactly and it was lip-smacking good. I did end up adding 1/2 tsp. of fresh lemon juice while it was cooling, for my own personal taste preference, but it was AMAZING even without that addition. And I love that my family and I are not ingesting all of those terrible preservatives and added sweeteners from store-bought BBQ sauce and ketchup. I actually did a taste comparison with my go-to Sweet Baby Ray’s and there really is no comparison for the depth of flavor of this homemade BBQ sauce. Thank you so much for this delicious and easy recipe! I recently became familiar with liquid smoke but for those who have never used it, you can find it at your local grocery store. For anyone who’s wary about making this because of the high yield, just halve the ingredients and you’ll end up with 1 cup instead. But definitely make it – you’ll never buy bottled BBQ sauce again.
Super delicious! I didn’t have time to simmer it so I just made it in the blender. I also didn’t have any tomato sauce, so I just used ~6 oz can of tomato paste and added 10 ounces of water to get the right consistency for sauce. I didn’t have Worcestershire sauce, so I needed to added another 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1-2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar, and another splash of salt to tweak the flavor. Ok, I know it sounds like I didn’t follow the recipe at all at this point :) But everything else was the same! (oh wait, I used sweet instead of smoked paprika. . . . ) BUT REALLY, this was DELICIOUS!!!!!! So good. I’m never buying BBQ sauce ever again.
has anyone tried to do this in the instant pot? Ali do you think if i just cook for 5 min on high pressure it will be ok? i don’t have tomato sauce – only crushed tomatoes…. fingers crossed it will be ok!
Very nice recipe. I make extra bbq sauce and freeze some for bbq chicken pizza and marinates as it freezes well. I use tomato passata (what we call tomato purée in Australia) in the sauce not ketchup. I also used white vinegar as that is all I had. Delicious. Thank you for the recipe.
This is the best recipe! I substituted brown sugar for the molasses (didn’t have any) and used half balsamic vinegar for the cider vinegar (to help replace the molasses I didn’t have!) It was perfect! Such a good flavor! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Could you make this without liquid smoke? I want to make this for an upcoming event and don’t have that on hand. Thank you!
I absolutely love this recipe! Has anyone tried canning it to preserve it? Oh how I would love to have this in my pantry in pint jars! So delicious!
Delicious! Some of the best sauce I’ve ever had.
I added about quarter cup of ketchup, and little extra vinegar, I like it a little more tangy.
Will definitely make this again.
I continued using mine for about 4 weeks. I love this recipe!
Do you think you could can this BBQ sauce,?
I left out the liquid smoke and honey.. delicious and tangy.
I’d rather use the entire tomato paste can – 6 oz. Will it make a major difference or should I make an adjustment elsewhere?
Can you freeze BBQ sauce? I’m thinking about making a batch and throwing some containers in the fee freeze. Thanks!
I’ve tried quite a few bbq sauce recipes and can’t find a good one until now! This is amazing!
I just made this sauce. Instead of using liquid smoke I put 3 small chunks of oak wood on one end of my bbq and put all the dry ingredients spread out in a pan on the other end of the BBQ. Got the oak lit, sprinkled some wet hickory chips on top and once it started burning I blew it out sonit would smolder. After an hour the spices were smoked and went to making the sause. I used 1/4 cup spiced white vinegar and 1/4 cup regular white vinegar. Turned out awesome. I just want to eat it.
It’s a keeper…thanks for sharing!
We realized we didn’t have any BBQ sauce and the store was closed so we took a chance on this recipe. It’s delicious! I appreciate that it uses pantry staples, and that it’s not made with ketchup as a base. We prefer this over whatever we would have bought at the store, so it all worked out in the end!
I made this today with some “self isolation quarantine pantry” adjustments, out of necessity. I didn’t have any molasses or liquid smoke. I only have one can of tomato paste left, so I decided to save that. Otherwise made it as is. Tasted during the simmer, and it was *quite* tangy, I’m sure because I left out the paste and molasses. So I added maybe three tablespoons or so of brown sugar and that helped a lot. It’s still a little tangy but we love it! About to make instant pot pulled pork. Very easy and good for my pantry.
Thank you for this recipe, it was great! Now before I tell you that there were a couple of things I did differently, please hear me out. I usually get upset when someone gives 5* to a recipe and after reading their comments you realize they either never made it, or they totally revamped the recipe. I get it. But let me preface this to say that during Coronavirus shelter-in-place, I needed some barbeque sauce for a meal. I had less than an inch left in the bottom of the bottle. I looked for what ingredients I had on hand and realized that I have tomato sauce, so I googled “BBQ sauce made with tomato sauce” and up popped this recipe. I had most of the ingredients on hand except the onion and garlic powder. So I gave it a try, substituted fresh minced garlic for the garlic powder, and just had to make-do without onion powder. It was DELICIOUS!!! The flavor and consistency were perfect. Like you suggested, I added probably more than just a pinch or two of cayenne! Yum! Thank you again! This recipe not only saved the day, but it was so good I’ll definitely be making this again!
I’m making this right now as I type. I subbed two things.
The tomato for biota brand vegetable cocktail and coconut amino for the Worcester (2 tbsp). It looks and tastes amazing in the pot. It’ll probably turn out a little thin but so far so good!
Had everything for this except the liquid smoke. Used 2 tsp of smoked paprika and it turned out perfect! Thank you!
This is a fantastic BBQ sauce! We had two bottles of other sauce with just a little bit left, and this sauce beat them both out of the water. We won’t need to go to the store for this anymore! Thanks for sharing.
I made this today, it was good other than I could bot find where on here for how much of each ingredient. The Worcestershire sauce over powered all the other ingredients. How can I cut down the taste of Worcestershire?
I haven’t made this yet; I have two bottles of store bought I need to get through first. However, I’m wondering why it only keeps for a week in the frig. There is nothing in it which spoils that I can tell. As an aside, liquid smoke is one of the handiest things to keep on hand; it’s a natural product and I use it a lot. Definitely worth finding.
I also add pico de gallo before I simmer and it makes the sauce awesome!
I hate to even ask bc I’m so excited to try your recipe but I only have tomato paste no sauce. I have a can of whole tomatoes… is there anything that I can substitute for the 15oz of sauce or should I just wait until I can get it?
Sure thing! You can just puree the canned whole tomatoes and they will be close enough substitute for the tomato sauce. :) Enjoy!
Hey Ali this recipe looks very yummy! As I am a huge fan of sauce, I can not wait to make it at home!!
Can BBQ sauce be made without liquid smoke? I detest it !!
Sure thing, feel free to just leave it out. :)
Very very good Bbq sauce , better than store bought.
So gooooood!!!! I’m allergic to honey so I subbed with brown sugar and instead of molasses I subbed maple syrup. After simmering all together was a little chunky as the tomato can was chopped tomatoes in purée so I blended it into a smooth sauce. A-MAZ-ING!!!
(I added 1/3 Cup extra brown sugar to simmer & 1 red onion and blended It all together. Pour it over a beef brisket and slow cooked that! Soooo good! (Extra sugar + onion was for the brisket recipe) slow cooked that baby for 8 hours and wow!!)
I have now used this recipe for a smoked brisket and smoked pulled pork. Each time I added a full tablespoon of red pepper to give it an extra kick. Its absolutely amazing. How amazing you ask? Well I’ve never left a comment on a recipe before.
I just realized I was out of bbq sauce and needed some for a recipe. I am missing a lot of ingredients and did eat too many substitutions, but somehow it’s still good!!
Things I did not have: tomato paste, Worcester sauce, liquid smoke, tomato sauce. I used canned diced tomatoes I blended with extra to make up for the paste, Worcester substitution that was soy sauce, lemon juice, and some hot sauce, and no liquid smoke. Also only had regular paprika. Kind of blown away it’s not terrible! Look forward to trying the proper recipe soon!!
Could this barbecue sauce be jarred/canned at home for room temperature storage?
I’m trying to figure this out as well.
According to the USDA, you should make sure the sauce has a ph below 4.6, and process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. I used their guidelines for tomato hot sauce with vinegar for this answer.
I suggest you read the USDA canning guidelines yourself because getting it wrong can mean illness or even death.
so….can this recipe be canned?
Very good. Dig this on some get down chicken..thanks for this recipe…
This recipe is ah maze ing!! Soooo delicious! I didn’t have tomato sauce so I subbed the tomato sauce, vinegar, and tomato paste for ketchup! Used it in slow cooker to make bbq beef on a bun!
How long will this store if bottled correctly?
Went to make ribs, and discovered we didn’t have any bbq sauce in the house, which is a shocker, because we always have bbq sauce. Jumped online, found this recipe, and I’m glad I did. I made it exactly as listed, and it is perfectly tangy with a little bit of sweet. Used the leftovers the next day on pasta with veggies. Love this!
Wow!!!! So good :). I used half the amount of Worcester, but that’s just my preference. Very very good recipe.
Anyone have tried to can this sauce? Pressure canner or boiling water? How much time?
Best BBQ sauce ever BTW