Kentucky Kandy: A Sweet and Bourbon BBQ Sauce

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Kentucky BBQ Sauce Kansas City

This is a recipe that I’ve fine-tuned over the years. It is a Kansas City BBQ sauce-meets-Kentucky BBQ sauce recipe. It’s perfectly sweet, spicy, and smoky!

When winter breaks and the weather starts to get warmer, it means grilling season is right around the corner.

American BBQ

To me, nothing is more American than barbecue. And with the BBQ comes the sauce!

Most sauces get their names from the regions they hail: North Carolina Vinegar Sauce, Lexington-Style Dip, South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce, Texas-Style Mop or Basting Sauce, Kansas City-Style Sauce, Alabama White Sauce.

There are thousands of BBQ sauces out there. And like this Kentucky bbq sauce, they range in flavors from sweet to tangy to spicy to vinegary. Each sauces color is also as unique as its flavor. I like to sample them all: like a glass of fine wine, a mug of craft beer, or a sip of good whiskey.

Some sauces are keepers and others are real duds.

Tip: here is more info and tips on homemade BBQ sauce.

My Staple BBQ Sauce Recipe

I believe that every cook should have a feather to put in their cap. Something they call their own. This is a recipe that I’ve tweaked and fine-tuned over the years. It is a Kansas City BBQ sauce-meets-Kentucky BBQ sauce. The classic Coke & Brown Sugar with a hint of Bourbon is really what sets this recipe off. It is the perfect blend of sweet, a little spice, and even a little smoke.

The next time you grill ribs, chicken, or even a tenderloin, you will have this in your arsenal. So, invite family and friends, and fire up that grill or smoker. I promise they’ll be impressed when you tell them you made this Kentucky BBQ sauce yourself!

Kentucky BBQ Sauce Kansas City

Kentucky Kandy BBQ Sauce

This is a recipe that I've fine-tuned over the years. It is a Kansas City BBQ sauce-meets-Kentucky BBQ sauce recipe. It's perfectly sweet, spicy, and smoky!

Prep Time
10 minutes
Active Time
20 minutes
Total Time
30 minutes
20 ounces
Estimated Cost



  1. To begin making this Kentucky BBQ sauce, warm the oil over medium heat and add the garlic, chili power, cumin, and black pepper.

  2. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly and remove from heat.

  3. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, return to heat, and simmer for about 15-20 min, stirring occasionally.

  4. For a smooth sauce, you can either blend it or pour through a strainer while still warm.

  5. Let cool and refrigerate.


This Kentucky Kandy BBQ Sauce will keep for 30 days refrigerated in an airtight container (I use Ball Jars).


Serving: 1ounce | Calories: 53kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 189mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
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Do you have a favorite Kentucky or Kansas City style BBQ sauce recipe? Share it!



About Frederick Schramm

Fred was born someplace, a while back. During his childhood, Fred enjoyed spending his time doing stuff. During high school, he developed a passion for this one thing and continues to pursue it to this day. Upon graduation, Fred matriculated at some illustrious University where he majored in a subject. When not at work, Fred spends time with others engaged in activities. Oh, and he's a joker!

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  1. Aurora says

    Coke? All the sugar content in Coke and the brown sugar and that considerable amount of sugar found in ketchup… where is the “Natural” where is the “Healthy”? Thanks but No thanks. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, there is a certain standard expected of a “Naturals” web site or blog and this simply is not up to that standard of using no sugar (minimal amounts of honey, dates or fruit to sweeten) using healthy ingredients and certainly no ingredients like Coke.

    • Matt Jabs says

      Thanks for your comment Aurora, we understand your concerns. You can use Mexican coke which uses cane sugar, or you can omit it. This style of BBQ sauce does have a lot of sugar in it and we certainly didn’t invent the style. But if you’d like to use maple syrup, that would work. We recommend you either substitute to suit your standards or you can always just skip the recipe. I hope this helps.