The Best Tangy & Thick Sweet Onion BBQ Sauce

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Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce. Rich smoky, sweet and tangy. This ketchup based bbq sauce contains, molasses, brown sugar, sweet red onions, apple cider vinegar, mustard and a few other ingredients!  It’s simmered until it’s thickened and flavorful. So good,  you’ll want to slather it on everything or eat it straight from the spoon

A bowl of thick bbq sauce
Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how BLESSED you are ~ Unknown

If you read my blog, you already know that we are moving to Kansas for a year. We were originally going to rent a place but then we decided to buy one instead. 


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I can’t wait to get the move over. I also can’t wait to finally savor some Kansas City BBQ for once! If you don’t know about Kansas City BBQ sauce, well it’s pretty famous and a big thing. Summer is going to be so much fun! BBQ sauce time!  In the meantime, I’ll stick to my favorite bbq sauce recipe inspired by our move and Kansas City BBQ.

Update: We have been in Kansas City for almost a year! It’s been fun and quite an experience. FYI, the people here are so darn friendly! I always find myself chatting it up with strangers here. I love it. Kansas will be missed but we will be back since my husband is from Omaha..not far from KC.  We’ll be back in DC this summer.  FYI, Kansas City bbq is even better than I thought! So yummy!

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  • This bbq sauce recipe is pretty basic, nothing difficult about it but it’s seriously the best bbq sauce ever! It’s very forgiving. You can add more seasoning if you like..or eliminate the onions…but why would you do that…it’s what makes the sauce so flavorful.   If you don’t like your sauce too chunky with onions you can smooth the sauce out a blender. Okay back to the recipe, simply sauté the onions on the stove until translucent about 3 minutes.  Add the molasses, vinegar, dark brown sugar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce,  and the rest of the sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan. 
  • Let the BBQ sauce come to a boil then simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.  
  • The longer you simmer the sauce, the darker, thick and flavorsome the sauce will become. 
  • Pic one below shows the ingredient in the bowl. Photo 2 is what it looks like mixed. I put it in another bowl for picture purposes. It just looks better that way and I love my cute bowl..#thatsthefoodbloggerinmedontmindme. Thought I would just mention that because I honestly, don’t want to mislead anyone. 

Step by step tutorial on how to make the best bbq sauce


  • Remember to simmer the BBQ sauce stirring occasionally for about 25-35 minutes until the sauce is thickened to your liking. If you want it thinner then simmer for half the time.  
  • Slather on, BBQ chicken sliders, pulled pork or chicken, pulled beef, drumsticks or wings, burgers, pork chops or ribs! 
  • Let your sauce hang out in the fridge for a day. It will help all the flavors meld resulting in a more flavorful smoother sauce. 
  • Make sure you use a good quality  molasses 
  • Liquid smoke helps mimic the flavor of smoked meats without having to smoke anything at all. Liquid smoke is optional since the sauce is still absolutely delicious without it.  
  • Store BBQ sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
A bowl of thick bbq sauce

Sweet Tangy Thick and Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

April Boller Wright
Easy and Homemade BBQ Sauce made without ketchup - rich, sweet, tangy, thick and rich thanks to the molasses, vinegar and the rest of the tasty ingredients.  This BBQ sauce is much healthier too because it's tomato based. So good,  you'll slather it on everything! 
4.93 from 27 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 8 servings


  • 3 tsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp spicy mustard
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup ketchup **plus additional 2 tablespoons
  • 5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 pinches onion powder
  • 3 pinches chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup diced onions
  • tsp liquid smoke for taste **optional see notes**


  • In a skillet over medium high heat add the vegetable oil or butter. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Saute until translucent and softened. 
  • Add the sautéed onions, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, spicy mustard, lemon juice, ketchup, liquid smoke, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder chili powder and pepper to a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil then set stove to low, Cook the bbq sauce for 20-35 minutes stirring occasionally until thickened to your liking. **See notes for tips to make a smoother sauce. 


Tips to make this bbq sauce

  • Remember to simmer the BBQ sauce stirring occasionally for about 25-35 minutes until the sauce is thickened to your liking.
  • Let your sauce hang out in the fridge for a day. It will help all the flavors meld resulting in a more flavorful smoother sauce.  
  • Make sure you use a good quality  molasses  
  • Liquid smoke helps mimic the flavor of smoked meats without having to smoke anything at all. Liquid smoke is optional..It's still absolutely delicious without it.   
    ***I used 1/4 tsp of liquid smoke. A little goes a long way. For starters I suggest you add maybe even less than and taste. If you want it more smokey then add a bit more and more until you like the flavors. 
    Oh one more thing, some people realize they don't like the flavor of liquid smoke in their bbq.
    So another suggestion is to simply do a taste test. Place a bit of the sauce and mix it with a tiny bit of the liquid smoke and taste. Decide if you want to add the liquid smoke to the rest of the bbq sauce. 
  • Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  
Recipe was updated 3/6/2019
Keyword bbq sauce, easy bbq sauce, homemade bbq sauce, thick bbq sauce
Like this? Leave a comment below!Let us know how it was!

If you liked this bbq sauce recipe, check out how I used it in my slow cooker & instant pot bbq pulled beef sandwiches

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If you know of any GOOD bbq spots in KC, please leave a comment below! We will definitely add them to my to do list before the move! 

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  1. Jennifer Palacz says:

    I just made this and it was delicious! My friends raved about it. I used it on chicken thighs. I didn’t have liquid smoke but believe I’d prefer it without. It has just enough sweet and heat without being too hot. I would definitely make this again and again.4 stars

    1. So glad y’all liked it! Thanks for leaving great feedback :)!

  2. Thank you for the cooking tips to make BBQ sauce. I can’t wait to try this recipe, I would make the sauce smooth.5 stars

  3. So I don’t know why I never thought of simmering my bbq sauce. I bet you are spot on about how the cooking deepens the flavour. I also love the addition of molasses and the onions. I can’t wait to try this!5 stars

  4. Homemade spice and sauces are the best, This barbecue sauce looks amazing . With this sauce in hand , we can have lots of options wide open5 stars

  5. Delicious sauce – just the way I like my bbq sauce to be! The amount of ingreidents is incredible and I can imagine how tasty this sauce is on top of my favorite grilled food!5 stars

  6. Can’t wait to make this bbq sauce. Just love all the flavours in it. I can imagine how good ribs would be with this!5 stars

  7. I can’t believe I have never made my own BBQ sauce… You have convinced me! I have had such a hankering for some juicy ribs and this is just the sauce that they need to be slathered up with. YUM!5 stars

    1. Juicy ribs with bbq sauce sound so good! Thank you so much Heather!

  8. This is a great recipe, and thank you for the tip about the liquid smoke! I added it and think it really adds that nice bbq flavor. I used an immersion blender on mine and it was perfectly smooth just like a restaurant. Delicious!5 stars

    1. Thanks so much Sophia! Omg I have an immersion blender and I silly, I didn’t even think to add that to the recipe notes. I’m going to add it now just in case someone else likes their sauce smooth! Love the immersion blender idea. It’s much easier than using a blender or food processor! Thanks again and I’m glad you enjoy the bbq sauce!!

  9. I’m a little jealous you’ve been able to enjoy all that KC barbecue, but at least I can enjoy this delicious sauce! It’s so tasty, and I’ll be making it a ton this spring and summer.5 stars

    1. I’m going to miss Kansas City Bbq for sure! Thank so much Amanda!!

  10. Oh my – this homemade sauce is a big deal. I’m not a fan of BBQ sauce because sometimes they make it too bland, so I need to make this one this summer.5 stars

    1. I think you’ll love this homemade bbq sauce. No where near bland! Thank you Linda!

  11. i’ve always wanted to visit kansas city! i hear the bbq is awesome 🙂 homemade bbq sauce is just the best. i love that you used molasses in this recipe, I’ll have to try it!5 stars

  12. Never thought homemade bbq sauce will be so easy. Thanks for the recipe and you have a lovely blog.