How to Make Kansas City BBQ Sauce - Backyard Boss
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How to Make Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Kansas City is known for many things, but none quite so much as their delicious contributions to the world of BBQ. At the heart of nearly all Kansas City BBQ inventions is some variation on the venerable sweet and tangy Kansas City BBQ sauce. Fathers around the nation looking to become backyard grilling and BBQ legends in their own homes and neighborhood need to learn to ditch those store-bought imitations and cook the real deal right in their own homes. Luckily, it really is not that hard. And when you’re done with KC, take a trip on over to Memphis.

Kansas City BBQ Sauce Ingredients

ketchup mustard bbq sauce yougurt
Image Credits: Victoria Shes on Unsplash
  • 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cooking apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste (read below for how to make homemade tomato paste)
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • crushed celery seed
  • dill weed

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Make Kansas City BBQ Sauce

barbecue tomato sauce
Image Credits: Dennis Klein on Unsplash

Step 1: Mix Water And Ketchup

Start with 1 ½ cups of water and ½ a cup of tomato ketchup and mix them together in a bowl until well blended. Tart ketchup is preferable, but sweetened ketchup is acceptable.

Step 2: Add Cider Or White Vinegar

½ cup of cooking cider or white vinegar should be gradually added to the mixture, which will become increasingly thin and start to shows its true bite with a powerful aroma.

Step 3: Make Tomato Paste

Add 1/3 cup of thick tomato paste. The secret to a sensational sweet and tangy Kansas City BBQ sauce is to make the tomato paste instead of buying cheap store-bought canned tomato paste. Making tomato paste takes time but the process is simple: cut tomatoes up, let them blanch for around 30 seconds in boiling water before icing them for an hour or so.

Add generous amounts of sea salt then let them simmer on low, or medium heat for around an hour in a fresh pot. Leave the seeds in if a blender with a fine setting is available as the seeds capture the flavor of the tomato at its freshest. If that sounds too complex then go to the local supermarket and get some canned tomato paste.

Step 4: Add Molasses

Add 1/3 cup of molasses to the mix. Experiment with different molasses flavors as this truly makes or breaks any Kansas City style BBQ sauce and there are so many flavors to choose from.

Step 5: Use Sugar

Add 2 tablespoons of white sugar and 1 tablespoon of packed brown sugar. The mixture of brown and white sugars will blend well and help thicken the base. Furthermore, the different melting points and physical characteristics of the two types of sugar will create a rich sweet medley of flavor.

Step 6: Stir Liquid Smoke

Stir in a teaspoon of liquid smoke for added flavor. Liquid smoke does generally take a long time to stir in, so do not be surprised if this is one of the longest steps in the entire process.

Step 7: Boil The Base

Being to slowly bring the base to a boil, a process that should be done over 5 to 6 minutes of cooking while following the next step. A non-stick pan is highly recommended for this process.

Step 8: Add And Mix Other Ingredients

Mix half a teaspoon of each of the following ingredients in a small measuring cup: onion powder, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce. Add to this a ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, crushed celery seed, and dill weed for additional flavor. Once these ingredients are mixed together, it is time to add them slowly to the sauce base and stir as the base begins to approach the boiling stage.

It is important to note that the sauce should not reach a hard boil, but should only start to bubble slowly before going on to the next step. The goal is to have all of the ingredients together and thoroughly stirred by the time the sauce reaches a soft boil.

Step 9: Simmer The Sauce

Once the sauce has reached a boil it is time to let it simmer on low heat and stir until it thickens. This process might take as long as 30 minutes and now would be a good time to add additional flavors if desired. Some choose to add a pinch of citrus during this stage. It might be a good idea to experiment over time to see what works and what doesn’t.

To Wrap Up

Ribs with BBQ sauce
Image credit: Canva

That is all it takes to make amazingly sweet and seriously tangy Kansas City BBQ sauce at home! As you can see this recipe is very easy but can significantly increase your barbecuing experience. You can use this for your meat or veggie recipes, and you can even eat it with grilled bread, that’s how tasty it is. If you want it to last as long as possible, store it in an airtight container. However, If you want to learn more, we have an entire article about when to apply your sauce during the cooking process (and how much!) and some interesting BBQ recipes.