Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceIf you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I have already posted one barbecue sauce recipe here at Thorns and Berries. But I came to that barbecue sauce recipe mainly out of a desire to make a homemade barbecue sauce that was not based primarily on ketchup. And that barbecue sauce IS really delicious, seriously. But it isn’t the same as that good old Kansas City sweet and smoky barbecue sauce that everyone here loves so much. And as a result, I’ve still been stuck buying bottle after bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s just to keep our chicken nuggets edible.

Well, no more. At last I figured out how to solve the problem of a barbecue sauce recipe based on ketchup: make my own ketchup. And making ketchup turned out to be super easy and the results were delicious. So I took that delicious ketchup and then added even more seasonings to make barbecue sauce. And then YUM!!

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceFor the barbecue sauce (unlike the ketchup) I decided to go ahead and use fresh onions and garlic instead of garlic powder and onion powder. It seems like bits go over a little better in barbecue sauce than they do in ketchup, so I went for it. Yeah, it was a little bit more work, but I think it paid off.

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceStart out by prepping the onions and garlic.

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceAdd a little bit of neutral oil to a saucepan, and then toss in the onions.

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceOnce the onions have started to turn translucent, go ahead and add the garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds or so.

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceThen just add everything else!

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceStir it all up until everything is all nice and evenly blended.

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceAnd then bring the mixture to a boil.

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceReduce the heat, and simmer until everything gets nice and thick and all the flavors develop and meld together. About half an hour should do it. Make sure you stir frequently, and feel free to cover the sauce with a splatter screen or tilted lid while it cooks so that you won’t get splatters of hot spicy tomatoes in the eye.

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceOnce everything has had a chance to simmer for a while, go ahead and give it a spin with the immersion blender, if you want, to break up some of those onion bits. Also taste and add more spice if you want, or a little more salt, or whatever you think it needs. I added an extra tablespoon of brown sugar.

Kansas City Style Barbecue SauceBy the time I finished making this, I started thinking: what’s to stop me from just adding all the ingredients for ketchup and all of the ingredients for barbecue sauce in the same pot, then reduce? So I tried that too. And it works! The ingredient list is kinda long, but hey, everything has a price, right?. The flavors aren’t quite as rich and fully developed as the sauce made with my homemade ketchup that had been in the frig overnight, but it was still pretty damn good.


Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce
  • 2 Cups ketchup
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1-2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or more pinches if you dare
  1. Chop onions and mince garlic. Add small amount of neutral cooking oil to a saucepan or skillet, and preheat over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until they begin to sweat and turn translucent, 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 30 seconds.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients to pan with onions and garlic. Whisk until evenly blended.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and flavors have melded, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add sauce to blender, or blend with immersion blender if desired. Taste and add additional seasonings according to your preferences.


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