'Meathead' Goldwyn shares his recipe for Kansas City barbecue sauce

Meathead Goldwyn is known as “the barbecue whisperer.” His website, Amazingribs.com, is billed as the world's most popular outdoor cooking website. His recently released cookbook “Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling,” has risen quickly to become the No. 1 bestselling cookbook in the category of Barbecue and Grilling on Amazon.com. Check out his recipe for Kansas City barbecue sauce, a thick, tomato-based sauce that evolves from sweet, tart to spicy.

"The original Kansas City–style sauces were vinegary, hot, and not sweet. In the past 50 years, a contemporary style has emerged, the prototype of which has been KC Masterpiece — tomato based and sweet, often laced with molasses.

"The best KC sauces are brass bands with multiple layers of flavor from multiple sources of sweetness (brown sugar, molasses, honey, and onion); multiple sources of tartness (vinegar, lemon juice, hot sauce, and steak sauce); multiple sources of heat (chili powder, black pepper, mustard, and hot sauce); and other flavorings such as Worcestershire and garlic. Because they are thick and tomato-y, they sit on top of the meat, not penetrating very far. That's the idea behind my recipe. Try it and you'll never use the bottled stuff again."

KC Classic by Meathead Goldwyn

[Can be used for pulled pork, chicken, and ribs.]

Makes 6 cups

Takes about 45 minutes


2 tablespoons chili powder

11/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups ketchup

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup yellow ballpark-style mustard

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup steak sauce

1/4 cup dark molasses

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon hot sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed


1. Prep. In a small bowl, mix the chili powder, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, mix the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, steak sauce, molasses, honey, and hot sauce.

2.Cook. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chili powder mixture and stir for about 2 minutes to allow the flavors to bloom. Add the ketchup mixture and stir. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 15 minutes to thicken it a bit.

3. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a little of whatever you think it needs. The sauce may taste a bit vinegary at first, but that will be less obvious when you use it. Remember, it is going on meat and will be cooked once again, which will alter its flavor profile. Strain it if you don't want the chunks of onion and garlic. I like leaving them in because they give the sauce a rustic, homemade texture.

4. You can use the sauce immediately, but I think it's better when aged overnight.

Notes: There are many different brands of steak sauce, and they all have different flavor profiles, but what we want here is the meaty, savory depth they call umami in all of them, so use whatever you have on hand.

Secret optional ingredients: Add 2 tablespoons tamarind paste. This exotic ingredient has a sweet, citrusy flavor and really brightens a sauce. If you can't find it in an Indian or Asian grocery store, order some online. If you want a smoky flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke. But if you are cooking outdoors you shouldn't need it.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting