Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

Kansas-City-BBQ-SauceWe are big barbecue lovers over here, ribs, pulled pork and brisket make for an amazing meal. But the sauce has to be right. Like perfection. Sometimes I crave my tangy-vinegar based Eastern Carolina Barbecue Sauce. But lately I’ve been wanting something sweet with a little bit of smoke on the side.

Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce is known for its balanced sweet-smoky-spicy flavor. It can be hard to achieve since the sweetness can easily overpower the other flavors. However, I’ve been playing and tweaking and I think I’ve finally gotten it. Practice makes perfect!

The sauce is thick and somewhat dark brown. It’s powerful and ornery with lots of attitude. I love this sauce on pulled pork and all kinds of other barbecue. I have been spending a lot of time learning about all the different regional styles of barbecue, it’s fascinating and it’s not just about the sauce.


There are rubs, the way meat is cut and how it’s smoked. I hope I get to visit all the different barbecue regions one day and figure out which one I like best. For now I will stick with this sauce and see where it takes me.

Homemade Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce
Recipe Created by Cathy Pollak for NoblePig.com | Serves: Makes 4 cups


1/2 cup raisins
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons dark molasses
2 Tablespoons steak sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1-1/2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes while they plump up. Drain.

In a large saucepan, saute onion in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue sauteing for about 30 seconds more or until fragrant.

Place drained raisins, onion-garlic mixture, balsamic vinegar and remaining one Tablespoon olive oil into blender. Puree until smooth.

In the same saucepan you sauteed onions in (you don't have to clean it), add pureed mixture and the rest of all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat and reduce by half, leaving sauce uncovered; about 30 minutes.

Serve with your favorite barbecue. I have found sauce tastes best when it has sat for a day and the flavors have melded together. Keep refrigerated.


Cathy owns a vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She is a food writer for Davis Life Magazine and blogs daily about wine, food and everyday living.  She lives with her husband and two sons.  You can visit her at noblepig.com.