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Classic Kansas City Barbecue Sauce

Yield: Yields about 3 cups.

Both this sauce and the Memphis sauce for barbecued chicken are tomato based. This Kansas City sauce is a little sweeter and, with the addition of butter, a little more round in flavor.


  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. onion salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 cups tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar; more to taste
  • 2 Tbs. prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
  • 4 Tbs. butter, cubed and chilled


  • In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (You may want to have a lid handy to protect yourself and your kitchen from any sputtering.) Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated.


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Reviews (6 reviews)

  • mmmaguire | 05/30/2021

    Really delicious!

  • sarielizabeth | 07/02/2015

    Best bbq sauce I've ever tasted. It's completely ruined every other bbq sauce for me.

  • Jason123 | 04/03/2015

    I've been making this bbq sauce for years. Delicious! Never buy bottled again.

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