Barbecue sauce from Kansas City. But what is it like, exactly? How does it differ compared to other bbq sauces and regional variations? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you are going to want to know.
So, what is Kansas City BBQ sauce? Kansas City BBQ sauce is a thick, sweet, and tangy variation of barbecue sauce. It is typically made from a base of ketchup and molasses; giving it a syrupy and gloopy consistency while ingredients like liquid smoke give it a smoky flavor, too. You’ll often find it in restaurants across Kansas City.
In fact, Kansas City BBQ sauce is much more like your typical and traditional bbq sauce than other regional variations.
But why is that?
A lot has to do with what it is made of; which we will now take a closer look at below.
- 1 What Is Kansas City BBQ Sauce Made Of?
- 2 What Does Kansas City BBQ Taste Like?
- 3 What Does Texas BBQ Sauce Go Well With?
- 4 Related Questions
What Is Kansas City BBQ Sauce Made Of?
Kansas City BBQ sauce is typically made of ketchup, molasses, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and other spice additives for flavor. Although, the exact ingredients can vary from recipe to recipe, or brand to brand.
If we take a look at a typical home recipe we can see exactly what it is made from, and how then there are differences from branded products on the market.
Home Made Kansas City BBQ Sauce Ingredients
- Tomatoes (crushed, paste, etc)
- Brown sugar
- Vinegar (Apple Cider/Red Wine)
- Liquid Smoke
- Smoked paprika
- Ground black pepper
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Ground mustard
Sometimes you’ll see recipes with honey and herbs and spices like cinnamon and cayenne pepper too.
Branded Kansas City BBQ Sauce Ingredients
There are many different brands of Kansas City BBQ sauces on the market.
The following are just some of the most popular, and the ingredients found in each of them!
Joe’s Kansas City BBQ Ingredients
Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Brown Sugar, Distilled Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Salt, Natural Smoke Flavor, Spices, Paprika, Onion Powder, Tamarind Concentrate, Granulated Garlic, Ancho Chili Powder, Garlic Powder.
Heinz Kansas City Style Sweet & Smoky BBQ Barbecue Ingredients
Distilled White Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Tomato Paste, Water, Dark Brown Sugar, Blackstrap Molasses, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Natural Smoke Flavor, Mustard Seed, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Spices, Xanthan Gum.
Cattlemen’s Kansas City Classic BBQ Sauce Ingredients
Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Salt, Mustard Bran, Natural Flavor (Including Hickory Smoke), Spices, Onion Powder, Celery Seed, Sodium Benzoate (to Protect Quality), Garlic Powder & Sugar.
So, as you can see from the ingredient lists above, there is some variance between sauces, and as such, they don’t all taste exactly the same.
What Does Kansas City BBQ Taste Like?
Kansas City BBQ sauce is rich, sweet, and tangy, with a subtle hint of heat and smoke. It is thick in texture and consistency. However, depending on the recipe or brand, you may get peppery or extra vinegary flavor notes.
Ultimately, it depends on the recipe.
But most, if not all Kansas City BBQ sauces are united in one thing; sweetness.
This sauce typically always includes molasses. And usually quite a fair bit of them!
What Does Texas BBQ Sauce Go Well With?
Texas BBQ sauce pairs perfectly with tender, smoked beef such as brisket. It is also delicious with other meats, such as chicken (wings, legs, thighs) and pork (specifically ribs, shoulder).
Although, this thick, sweet, smoky sauce is versatile; it can be used on many different foods – even those that are not barbecue-based.
- As a dip for pizza or nuggets,
- In Burgers
- As a spread for sandwiches,
- Drizzled over Nachos,
- On hot dogs,
- Stirred into Baked Beans,
- Stirred into stews and soups,
- On meatloaves,
- In sliders
- In Potpies
And many more.
In fact, if you just want a sweet dipping sauce with a lot of flavors, this sauce could be it!
Kansas City BBQ sauce is different from other regional variations of barbecue sauce by being sweeter, richer, and more decadent due to the heavy use of molasses. It is gloopy and sticky in consistency and smoky in flavor making it the perfect accompaniment for meat and barbecue dishes.
The main difference between Kansas City and Carolina BBQ sauce is the use of molasses and sugar. Kansas City BBQ sauce uses molasses/sugar much more liberally which results in a sweeter, thicker sauce. Carolina BBQ sauce is much thinner as a result.
The main difference between Kansas City and Memphis BBQ sauce is the amount of molasses and sugar used. Kansas City BBQ sauce uses much more of these sweetening ingredients whereas Memphis BBQ sauce typically includes more vinegar, and often includes mustard too.
The main difference between Kansas City and Texas BBQ sauce is the consistency and depth of flavor. Texas BBQ sauce is not as rich; instead, it has a subtle flavor and is relatively thin in consistency. It also typically includes a range of vegetables (namely onion and celery) and bouillon, whereas Kansas City BBQ does not.
Love BBQ sauce? Then my other guides may be of interest:
- What Is Texas BBQ Sauce?
- What Is Memphis BBQ Sauce?
- What Is Carolina BBQ Sauce?
- What Is White BBQ Sauce?
- What Is Korean BBQ Sauce?
Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.