BBQ Sauce

Did you know I’m originally from Kansas City?  It’s true – born and raised there.  This means a few things in light of the fact that I now live in St. Louis:

#1 I don’t care what high school you went to.  In fact, I can’t even pronounce half of the Catholic schools here.

#2 I’m not used to cheering for a winning baseball team.  In fact, before living here, I never paid more than $10 to go to a game.

#3 Apparently St. Louis style bar-b-que exists, but I only have eyes for the stuff from Kansas City.

My family takes bar-b-que very seriously, especially the sauce.  When we eat bar-b-que it’s an event.  We go one place to get beans, another ribs, another brisket, and so on.  Everyone has their specialty, and we appreciate that.  One thing, however, that my family has never agreed on is sauce.  So many choices, so many disagreements.  Sweet?  Hot?  Vinegar or molasses based?

Well, Matt and I recently ran out of our favorite sauce, which happens to be Oklahoma Joe’s.  Since we can’t find it anywhere in St. Louis, I decided to make my own bar-b-que sauce, so I could try this recipe out.  I wasn’t really interested in making it taste like Oklahoma Joe’s, or anything else for that matter.  I just wanted to make it, see how it went and go from there.

BBQ Sauce (adapted from Farm Girl Fare)

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 1/2 cup finely chopped onions

4 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp. dark brown sugar

3 tbsp. raw honey

1/3 cup Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

1 6oz. can tomato paste

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. sweet paprika

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 tsp. salt

several grinds of fresh black pepper

1 1/2 cup water


1. Heat the oil in a large pot and add onions, cooking of medium heat until soft.  Lower heat and continue to cook onions until they caramelize (20 to 30 minutes).

2. Turn heat back up to medium, add garlic and cook for additional minute.  Stir in brown sugar and honey and cook for 2 more minutes.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the water.  Stir to combine and allow it to heat for a minute.  Add the water.  If you don’t want chunks of onions in your sauce, you can puree it at this point with an immersion blender.  (I didn’t do this.)

4. Bring to a low boil, then lower the heat so that it simmers, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 30 minutes until it reaches the desired thickness.

I didn’t want it to be too thick, so I only simmered it for about 20 minutes.  It turned out sweet, but not overly sweet, with a nice little kick.

I don’t think it’s quite ready to bust out at the next family bar-b-que meal.  Maybe by the 4th of July I can get it perfected for its debut in Kansas City.

Despite not meeting family standards yet, this still is a great sauce.  I used it in this recipe and it was fantastic.  Luckily, it made enough sauce to be able to make this meal again this week. 

What about you, are you a big bar-b-que fan?  What are your favorite bar-b-que places?  I’ve yet to find on in St. Louis I like.  Outside of Kansas City, The Salt Lick in Austin wins hands down.

  1. Golda says:

    There’s a Texas style bbq place near us, but it’s only opened seasonally and we didn’t get there last summer. Jeremy wants to try it out, but he has pretty low expectations. So far we haven’t found good bbq in Maine. Shocking, I know. I am currently trying to convince him that we should move to Kansas and one of the draws is that he will have access to KC style bbq whenever he wants it.

  2. Sacrilege! I don’t even know if I could tell you what the Catholic STL schools are, mispronounced or not! (Also not an STL native)… It’s so silly.

  3. I’m actually not a huge BBQ fan, like at all. I’m from MI and of course people eat it up there but it’s definitely not as common as it is here, or further South. It’s actually the BBQ sauce that I don’t really like! Oh well.

  4. Kristen says:

    Ha! Soooo funny about the St. Louis stuff, but so very true. You probably hate hearing people say “warsh” and “farty far” instead of wash and 44. I don’t eat BBQ but love the sauce! I’m addicted to Stubb’s. My husband is pretty particular about BBQ though, but I think he is still looking for a good place. We are going to KC in June, any recommendations? I’m sure he would love to get some good BBQ.

    • laurab says:

      Ha ha. My mom is from Oklahoma, so I grew up hearing warsh :) There are so many good places in KC. Oklahoma Joe’s is one of my favorites. It’s in a gas station, but don’t let that discourage you. Gates and Smokestack are two other really great places.

  5. Jenny says:

    I went to Ursuline Academy Laura! You WILL care, oh yes, you will! LOL Okay, so what is the difference between “pure” honey and “raw” honey? I see “pure” all over the place but have never seen “raw” anywhere that I shop. Just curious. Where did you go to highschool?

    • laurab says:

      My husband went to Vianney, so he tries to make me care :) Raw honey hasn’t been pastuerized or heated. There are lots of different claims of the health benefits of using it, but honestly, I think it just tastes a million times better than regular honey. You can get raw honey at Whole Foods Market, but I like to order it off Vitacost.com because it’s cheaper. YS Organic is my favorite brand.

  6. Kristen says:

    haha i laughed when you said I dont care where you went to highschool. Yes I ask people this and get asked this in return. (I have lived in stl my whole life)
    Have you ever tried hodak’s? I heard its really go here in stl

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