Are you a fan of barbecue? If so, you’ve likely heard of the different regional styles of BBQ throughout the United States. One of the most popular styles hails from the heart of the Midwest: Kansas City and that’s what we’re basing my infamous BBQ sauce on.
Known for their sweet and tangy sauces, Kansas City BBQ has become a staple in homes and restaurants across the country and is most likely the BBQ sauce you’ve been picking up at the supermarket.
But what exactly goes into that iconic Kansas City BBQ sauce? Let’s dive in.
To make authentic Kansas City BBQ sauce, here’s what you’ll need:
- Ketchup: This forms the base of the sauce and gives it a rich tomato flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar: This provides a tangy flavor and helps to balance out the sweetness.
- Brown sugar: Another source of sweetness for the sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce: Adds depth of flavor and a salty umami taste.
- Mustard: Dijon or yellow mustard adds a slight tang and helps to emulsify the sauce.
- Lemon Juice: for some unexpected brightness.
- Butter: creates a creamy, thick texture.
- Spices: Garlic, onion powder and cayenne (optional): Adds a savory taste to the sauce as well as heat.
Each of these ingredients plays a crucial role in creating the perfect balance of flavors. The ketchup acts as a base and provides the sauce with its signature tomato tanginess. Brown sugar adds sweetness, while white vinegar adds acidity. Worcestershire sauce brings a complex savory flavor, and mustard provides a slight kick. The onion powder and garlic powder add depth and aroma, while black pepper (and cayenne) provides a subtle heat.
Steps to Make Authentic Kansas City BBQ Sauce:
- Start by combining all the ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk everything together until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
- Next, transfer the sauce to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Allow the sauce to cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened slightly and the flavors have melded together.
- Finally, remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more salt, pepper, or sugar to achieve the perfect balance of flavors.
After making this a few hundred times, there are a few tips to keep in mind:
- It’s important to let the flavor develop by refrigerating the sauce for at least a few hours before use. This will allow the flavors to meld and intensify, resulting in an even more delicious final product.
- When it comes to using your Kansas City BBQ sauce, it’s worth considering how much sweetness you want in your dish. If you’re planning on using the sauce to glaze ribs or chicken, you may want to add a little extra brown sugar or honey to the mix, to create a sticky, caramelized coating. Conversely, if you’re using the sauce as a dipping sauce, you may want to reduce the sweetness slightly.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment! Kansas City BBQ sauce is incredibly versatile and can be used in all sorts of dishes. Give it a taste as it’s simmering as well as when it’s cool. You can always readjust the sauce to your liking.
How to Use BBQ Sauce:
If you’re a fan of pulled pork, try mixing Kansas City BBQ sauce with your favorite coleslaw and using it as a topping for your sandwich. The combination of tangy slaw and sweet sauce is a match made in BBQ heaven.
Another fun way to use Kansas City BBQ sauce is as a pizza sauce. Spread a generous amount of the sauce onto your pizza crust, then top with shredded BBQ chicken, red onions, and mozzarella cheese. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly for a unique twist on traditional pizza.
But why stop there? Kansas City BBQ sauce can add a unique flavor to all sorts of dishes, from grilled chicken to baked beans. Try mixing it into meatloaf mix for a tangy twist, or use it as a marinade for steak kabobs.
Homemade Kansas City BBQ Sauce
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It’s super easy to make your own BBQ sauce and this one has been my go to for over 15 years. There isn’t anything it doesn’t go great with!
- 1 Cup Ketchup
- ½ Cup Water
- ¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- ¼ Tablespoon Black Pepper
- ½ Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- ½ Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ Tablespoon Butter
- 1 teaspoon Yellow Mustard
- ½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to simmer.
- Simmer uncovered, stirring often for 15-20 minutes.
- The sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15-20 minutes