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Kansas City BBQ Sauce

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This homemade KC BBQ sauce is perfect for ribs, pulled pork, brisket, or as a dipping sauce for your BBQ favorites. The longer it sits, the better the flavors will develop, so consider making it a day ahead for the best taste experience.


Units Scale
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to heat preference)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Sauté the Aromatics:
    • In a saucepan over medium heat, add a bit of oil and sauté the minced garlic and diced onion until translucent and fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  2. Combine the Ingredients:
    • To the saucepan, add the ketchup, ground cumin, chili powder, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, lemon juice, molasses, and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
  3. Season the Sauce:
    • Mix in the celery seed, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well to ensure all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  4. Simmer:
    • Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and to ensure the flavors meld together.
  5. Adjust Seasonings:
    • Taste the sauce and adjust with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you desire more sweetness, add a little more brown sugar. For more acidity, a splash more vinegar can be added.
  6. Blend (Optional):
    • For a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce right in the pot, or transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth.
  7. Cool and Store:
    • Allow the sauce to cool completely before transferring it to a jar or bottle. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Author: Lucas Krammes
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