I'm Goin' to Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce

I'm Goin' to Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce

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This sauce has a rich tomato-molasses base with a touch of peppery heat. Chicken, pork and even brisket will benefit from the addition of this delicious concoction.


  • 5 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon chili garlic paste
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 Cup water
  • 1/2 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup ketchup
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flake


Calories Per Serving161

Folate equivalent (total)8µg2%

Pre-heat the 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.

Add 5 ounces of tomato paste to the pan. Toast it over the heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to come to a slow simmering boil.

Cover the saucepan. Cook until steam just begins to escape from under the lid. Spin the lid to engage the Vapor Seal. Immediately reduce the heat to low.

Continue cooking over low heat for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the sauce to cool. Store in sterilized jars. The sauce will stay fresh for 1-2 weeks.

Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Grilling season is ramping up, and all of my Sauced thoughts have turned completely to barbecue. I've always preached the merits of homemade sauce over just about any bottle, but there's an art to building the best barbecue sauce, and I hope to get you on the right path to understanding how simple changes in proportions of fairly common ingredients can completely redefine a sauce.

I'll wager that when most people think of barbecue sauce, they're picturing a thick, sweet, and tangy tomato mixture—that's Kansas City style and probably the most fitting place to start this exploration.

I've been shifting away from using ketchup in my sauces lately but that sweet, deep tomato flavor is the perfect base for a Kansas City sauce. A sizable amount of ketchup is added to sauteed onions and garlic, then combined with molasses and brown sugar (for extra thickness and sweetness), a little vinegar (adds the tartness), and to keep the sugar in check you'll need mustard, chili powder, black and cayenne peppers for some heat.

There's a good reason Kansas City sauce has become the most ubiquitous of all the barbecue sauces: versatility. It works great on everything from ribs to chicken to beans, or it can be a dip or a baste. Because of its thickness, the sauce doesn't bake in much, rather it sits atop the meat, and its high sugar content means it can burn quickly over hot coals. It's best to use the sauce lightly with a little extra vigilance while grill-side.

Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

I didn’t realize that there were different types of barbecue until I was an adult.

I spent most of my growing up years in Kansas City, and, for me, “barbecue” just meant Kansas City-style barbecue.

I’ve come to appreciate other kinds of barbecue, but Kansas City-style is still my favorite. I love a good thick, tangy, sweet, tomato sauce – like this Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce.

Since we go through so much barbecue sauce, I’ve started making my own when I have the time. It’s really simple to throw together, and it’s make with ingredients that I always have on hand.

Also, one of the great things about making your own sauce is that you can adjust it to suit your tastes. My older daughter is picky when it comes sauces, but she loves this recipe.

Give it a try, and I hope you’ll love it, too!

If you’ve tried this homemade Kansas City style barbecue sauce recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes! You can SUBSCRIBE to receive my latest recipe newsletters or FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST for even more delicious food.

Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce is sweet, a little spicy, and a little tangy. It’s just what you think of when you think BBQ Sauce. You can buy the stuff at the store or you can make and tweak your own!

Barbecue Sauce is one of those things I’ve always played around with. I mean, we’ve all mixed ketchup and mustard right? Barbecue just happens to be a really fun recipe to constantly play around with to see if you can improve it. The store bought stuff might be okay, and you could doctor that up if you’d like, but really, really good homemade barbecue sauce is something to be proud of. Before you know it you’re entering rib-offs and selling your own sauces!

The Sauce and Rub are equally important parts to KC BBQ. The rub is used to marinate the ribs overnight and as an ingredient in the sauce. So these two recipes really go hand-in-hand. Both were developed specifically for oven-baked ribs.

Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Cook Time: 720 minutes
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp (32g)
Calories: 25 Calories


2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce


Sauté onion and garlic in butter in a medium saucepan.

In a separate small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients.

Add to saucepan simmer for 30 minutes. For a thinner sauce, reduce cook time, and for thicker sauce increase cook time.


  • For the Rub:
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For the Ribs:
  • 2 racks pork ribs, baby backs or spare ribs
  • 4 to 6 fist size chunks of medium smoking wood, such as oak or hickory
  • 1 recipe Kansas City-style barbecue sauce
  • Type of fire: Indirect
  • Grill heat: Low

The Meatwave

Life in a sea of ribs. That's how I've been living recently as I try to come up with my final competition recipe before the first comp in the end of March. While I'll still probably live and die by Mike Mill's ribs for my personal taste, those may not score well with the current trend of sweet toothed judges. So there have been many stops along the way to find the right amount of sweet, while staying true to myself with a balance of spices and heat as well. These Kansas City-style baby backs were instrumental in finding my way to a well rounded, yet sweet, rib.

While the Kansas City sauce helped me make inroads on my own, it's the rub I devised for these ribs that was most influential. I'm used to rubs that give equal weighting to sugar, salt, and spice, but this rub hits hard with the sweet. Brown sugar forms the base, which lends a deep molasses taste to the final ribs, with the other spices paying compliments to its sugary overlord. Even so, the rub does find a nice combination of spice while still letting the sweetness be the dominante trait.

I've also been playing around with the amount of rub on the ribs as well. In the past, I've gone strong and heavy, not letting any speck of meat go uncovered with rub. For these racks, I scaled back a tad. One reason was the thought of making my ribs too sugary was off-putting, the second was to try to find a nice play between the flavor of the meat and rub, with the smoky pork doing more heavy lifting than normal.

Rubbed and rested, they were ready for the pit. Nothing special done here, just five hours at 225 over a mixture of oak and apple wood.

Finally, the ribs ended with a baste of KC-style sauce. This thick and sweet sauce coated the ribs heavily, but after cooking down for half an hour in the smoker, it created a nice shiny coat that was a perfect thickness to make a saucy, but not overly messy rib.

All-in-all, these were decent ribs. They were sweet, sticky, with a nice spice and great smoky flavor&mdashwhen the average person says they want ribs, this is exactly what they're thinking of. For me though, they don't represent ribs to the full potential&mdashthose that deliver a creativity of flavor that makes a rib unique and special. This is what I'm trying to achieve for competition, but at least these Kansas City ribs were big in helping me find my way.

Published on Tue Feb 14, 2012 by Joshua Bousel

Kansas City-Style Ribs

  • Yield 4 servings
  • Prep 15 Minutes
  • Cook 5 Hours
  • Total 5 Hours 15 Minutes


  • For the rub
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 racks pork ribs, baby backs or spare ribs
  • 4 to 6 fist size chunks of medium smoking wood, such as oak or hickory


  1. Mix together the brown sugar, paprika, white sugar, celery salt, kosher salt, granulated onion, granulated garlic, chili powder, white pepper, and black pepper in a small bowl to make the rub.
  2. Remove the membrane from the back of the rack, and trim the ribs of excess fat. Rub each rack liberally with the rub. Wrap ribs in foil or place in a large container and store in the refrigerator over night (optional).
  3. Remove the ribs from the fridge while preparing the smoker or grill. Fire up smoker or grill to 225 degrees, adding chunks of smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place the ribs in the smoker or grill, meat side up, and smoke until the ribs have a slight bend when lifted from one end, about 4-5 hours for baby backs or 5-6 hours for spare ribs.
  4. In the last 1/2 hour of cooking, baste the top of each rack with barbecue sauce and continue smoking. Remove from the smoker, slice, and serve.

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James Everything sounds good. Now get out there and see what the judges have to say.
Is Grillin On The Bay your first comp? Posted Tue, Feb 14 2012 3:28PM

Josh @James Yup, GOTB will be my first. You going to be there? Posted Wed, Feb 15 2012 9:49AM

James I'm trying to talk myself into doing it again this year. Here are my excuses not to enter: it is the same day as my birthday, I have to work tonight and I froze my ass off last year. It was 27 degrees last year, which makes me not want to compete again in March.
If I don't compete this year, I will definitely be there as a spectator. This is my 3rd season of competing so I know most of the teams pretty well.
I know that I am definitely doing Willie-Pallooza in April! Posted Wed, Feb 15 2012 7:28PM

James I have to work *that night. Posted Wed, Feb 15 2012 7:29PM

Josh @James I was there last year, glad I wasn't cooking so I could go inside and warm up. With the warm weather this year, hopefully that won't be an issue.

I hadn't heard of Willie-Pallooza before. sounds tempting. I also have apps in for BBQ Brethren and Hudson Valley in August. Any other in the area I may not know about? Posted Wed, Feb 15 2012 7:38PM

Chris That's the part the keeps me from wanting to compete - purposely cooking different than what I would want to eat.

It looks like you are really making progress in your testing. Posted Sun, Feb 19 2012 12:39PM

Generique Sounds good. Thanks for everything. Posted Tue, Feb 21 2012 10:15AM

Josh @Chris Yeah, it's a hard thing to overcome. One side of me thinks I'll go in there with my favorite spicy ribs that are so good they'll change the tide, but I also know that's not going to happen. I'm working on striking a balance between my personal taste and cooking for the judges. I had something pretty good now that's not overly sweet with a nice spice at the end. we'll see how they fare. Posted Tue, Feb 21 2012 10:26AM

Mark I wouldn't say that spicy ribs are looked down upon any more than ribs that are finished with an overly sweet sauce. Ribs aren't hot wings and they're not (always) a dessert either. There can be too much spice just like there can be too much smoke or sweetness or saltiness or umami - if you believe it exists. Maybe things are different with NEBS but that's what I've seen as a KCBS CBJ anyway.

I'd imagine you've already done this but make darn sure to read over the rules for your competition. I've seen entries disqualified for something as minor as a stray piece of rice that ended up in the turn-in box. It's a shame when that stuff happens.

Good luck on your first competition! Posted Mon, Feb 27 2012 1:40PM

thyromine Thanks for the recipes. I add turmeric to meat pretty much 100% of the time I cook it. Hard to live meatless ). Posted Tue, Mar 10 2015 4:05AM

provillus Because my husband has diabetes, I omitted the brown sugar and maple syrup. The result was a nice savory taste. I loved the %u201Cpull-away%u201D texture it was just right. I'm putting this in my favorites binder. Posted Sat, Mar 14 2015 11:54AM

acheter kamagra I do love meat and can not imagine your dinner without a piece of meat))) Posted Tue, May 5 2015 11:14PM

vigrx plus I reckon ribs need to be cooked a lot longer than this. I would give them four or five hours on a lower heat. vigrx plus review. Posted Wed, May 20 2015 5:02PM

curemed Ribs. One of my most favorite dishes. The photo look very appetizing ) Posted Mon, Mar 21 2016 1:59PM

If you like barbecue, you probably know that each region of the US has its own style of sauce. Aside from their distinct cooking methods and meat cuts, sauces tell the regional story about barbecue. In short, these sauces serve as their identity, which is why I think we should explore their differences.

This vinegar sauce is spicy and acidic in flavor. Instead of tomatoes, it relies on vinegar (typically cider). It typically contains salt and other spices, such as crushed red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne.

Burnt ends to baked beans: Kansas City barbecue recipes to try for Super Bowl

The Kansas City Chiefs are set to go up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV on Sunday, but you don't have to be a KC fan to make some of their delectable barbecue recipes for game day! Kansas City is known for having arguably the best barbecue in the country including great brisket and pulled pork, but what they're really known for is their burnt ends — those yummy trimmings off the brisket that were once discarded but are truly the stuff that sandwich dreams are made of.

In addition to their slowly smoked meats, KC is known for its signature barbecue sauce — it's a thick, sweet sauce with a hit of spice that's slathered on meats at over 100 KC restaurants that each serve up their special brand of meaty goodness. Read on for the recipes that will take your Super Bowl supper to the next level, no matter which team you're rooting for!


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Kansas City Burnt Ends

Pitmaster Megan Day of Burnt Finger BBQ says that a slow smoke is what infuses the flavor deep into the meat. Don't forget that tangy, Kansas City-style sauce and return the meat to the smoker once you've slathered it on to create some caramelized, finger-licking goodness.

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