Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Homemade Kansas City-Style BBQ Sauce

Posted by: Maggie

Who here loves BBQ? I do, I do!

Actually, I was kind of indifferent towards it until Jeff and I got together 3 years ago. It's one of his favorite foods, and I learned to love it too.

I didn't realize for a long time how many different variations of barbeque sauce existed, and that if you go to a BBQ joint in South Carolina, Texas, or Missouri you're going to be getting drastically different versions of what they all claim as barbeque sauce. In South Carolina, they have a vinegar and mustard-based sauce, while the Texas kind is thin, slightly spicy, and not sweet (at least based on my delicious experience at Hill Country in DC!)

I've tried quite a few varieties, but my favorite by a landslide is the thick and sweet Kansas City-style sauce. I was on a Sweet Baby Ray's kick for awhile, and then I started making the Neely's recipe. It's super delicious, but I wanted something darker with more depth of flavor. I discovered this recipe last week, and with a couple very minor tweaks I knew I had perfection on my hands.

If you're wondering what I put this sauce on, you'll have to come back tomorrow! I decided to break up the sauce and meat portions of the recipe so that it wouldn't be too long.

Here's what you'll need:

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup steak sauce
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons tamarind paste*
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, pepper, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together ketchup, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, lemon juice, steak sauce, molasses, honey, hot sauce, brown sugar, and tamarind paste.

In a large saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the chili powder mixture, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. This helps to release their oil-soluble flavors and gives the sauce more depth. Add the wet ingredients, and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid off. The sauce will thicken during this time. Taste the sauce, and adjust seasonings. I ended up adding an extra squirt of both honey and molasses since I like my BBQ sauce sweet.

If you don't want chunks of onion and garlic in your sauce, pass the sauce through a mesh strainer. I just left them in since I liked the texture it added.

*This is optional, since it may be difficult for you to find. I located it either in the Thai or Indian section at Whole Foods (I forget which since I spent about 20 minutes in the aisle trying to find it!), and the jar looks like this.

Source: Adapted from AmazingRibs.com (a fantastic resource for all things BBQ - I spent a long time reading his site!)


  1. Oh this looks yummy! I love BBQ sauce on everything.

  2. I love this type of BBQ sauce. More what I grew up with. NC has several different types to and everyone here has a favorite! Thanks for sharing this one.

    1. That's what I'm here for :) This is definitely my fave type!

  3. Im always looking for new BBQ sauce recipes. This one sounds wonderful. I love that there is tamarind paste in it!

    1. I'm really glad I was able to find it - I'm going to have to figure out something else to use it in!

  4. I want to smear this on anything and everything. I especially love the tamarind in it.

  5. This is my favorite style of bbq sauce too. The ingredient list looks like it would make the perfect sauce! Love the dark color too.

  6. We decided a few months ago to stop buying BBQ Sauces and make our own. I'm always on the hunt for a new recipe and this looks and sounds fantastic. I will most definitely have to make this one soon. Thanks for sharing :o)

  7. This looks fantastic. I've been looking for a good BBQ sauce recipe for ages, this this might be the one..

  8. Sounds excellent! Can't wait to give it a try!

  9. It's a really good sauce however for me, the chili powder mixed with the onion/garlic was a bit overpowering once mixed with the liquid ingredients. Otherwise this is really a great tasting sauce :)

    1. Thanks for the feedback Alec! The great thing about recipes like this is they become better every time you make them since you can tweak them to your personal tastes. Hopefully you'll make it again with adjustments for how you like it :)

  10. I live in San Antonio, and find it interesting that you refer to a 'Texas Style' as thin based on some place in Washington DC. I grew up on thick, sweet sauce, with a kick like a mule that my mama made from scratch, similar to what you have here. You get pretty close to what I have loved for oh so many years. Its a pretty darn good sauce!

    1. Haha. Yeah, that was probably a faux pas on my part, although in my defense, I know quite a few Texans who agree that the mentioned DC place is some good BBQ :) I used to travel to San Antonio about once a month for work, and sadly never tried BBQ there! (although I ate some damn good Tex-Mex) I'm curious if there are different BBQ styles even throughout TX?

  11. What is the refrigerater life of this? And about how big was the container you put it in (how much does it make)?

    1. Hi Nichole! It makes about 6 cups. I'm not sure what the refrigerator life would be...since it contains onions (which presumably will go bad quickly since they're fresh) I would probably want to use it within a week. The website that I adapted the recipe from says a month, but that seems a bit risky to me.

  12. How much does this recipe make? I'm thinking about making this and giving it as gifts.


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