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. 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!

    • 5 stars
      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.

  2. 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

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  5. Do you think If I could freeze this? 

  6. 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! :)

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


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  9. 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!

  10. 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 :)

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  12. 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!

  13. 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. 

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  15. 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!

  16. 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

  17. 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).

  18. Thank you!  can you use fresh tomatoes?

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  20. This is the best and easiest BBQ sauce.

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

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  24. 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!

  25. 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!

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  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.

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  30. 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!

  31. 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.  

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  33. 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!

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  35. 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!

  36. 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!

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

    Much appreciated! Merci!!!

  38. 5 stars
    *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! :)

  39. 4 stars
    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!

  40. 4 stars
    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!!

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  42. 5 stars

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  44. 4 stars
    I just made this, except I added 4 Datil Peppers (everything went into blender first) then cooked about 20 minutes. Oh MY gosh!!!!! Amazing!!!

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

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  47. 5 stars
    Can this BBQ sauce be frozen to use at a later date?

  48. 5 stars
    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.

  49. 5 stars
    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.