BBQ Sauce Recipe – Everything You Need to Know

An Introduction to Barbecue Sauce

Unlike something like a béchamel, there is not one single iteration of BBQ sauce. As regional tastes developed over the decades and centuries, so to the approach to BBQ sauce. Regional preferences for beef or pork seem to be one of the major motivating forces in what ingredients go into a sauce.

  • East Carolina. Most BBQ sauces can find their way home to this staple of the eastern half of the Carolinas. This sauce is known for its vinegar, pepper and pepper flakes and was often used to baste meat as it cooked.
  • West Carolina. Also known as "dip" in parts of North Carolina, this sauce is similar to the previous sauce but includes tomato product.
  • South Carolina Mustard. This German-influenced sauce features sugar, vinegar and yellow mustard; the last ingredient results in this sauce's yellow coloring. All three Carolina sauces arose with a focus on pork.
  • Memphis. Take West Carolina sauce but trade out sugar for molasses. While Memphis-style BBQ is mainly used for pork sandwiches and ribs, it is not uncommon to encounter pulled pork in just about any dish that accommodates meat. Memphis pulled pork spaghetti is a curious thing that exists.
  • Kansas City. This evolution on the West Carolina sauce is thicker, sweeter and tends to be the most prominent style of sauce throughout the United States. Notably, it does not seep into meat nearly as well as other sauces, content to just stop at the surface. "KC Sauce" arose as a response to the wide variety of meats local to the area.​​​​
  • Texas. This vintage approach to BBQ sauce involves cumin, chilis, pepper and onion while skimping on tomato and sugar. The consistency is somewhat akin to a thin soup. Texas sauce tends to function in inverse of Kansas City sauce, being quite able to penetrate deep into the fibers of any piece of meat the pitmaster blesses.
  • Alabama White. This sauce gets its eponymous color from the inclusion of mayonnaise. Other key ingredients include apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar and black pepper. This sauce is commonly used for chicken and pork, rather than red meat.
  • Pittsburgh Red. This sauce incorporates tomato products, liquid smoke, vinegar-based hot sauces and crushed walnuts.

The Main Purposes of BBQ Sauce

There are multiple uses for BBQ sauce.

  • As a condiment, drenching food right before the plate reaches the recipient.
  • As a marinade for meat prior to cooking.
  • Something to baste during the process of cooking ribs or other meats.

When it comes to using BBQ sauce in food, there are several notable dishes that come to mind.

  • BBQ sandwiches. The sauce is either as a condiment or already clings to the meat due to being applied during the cooking process.
  • Ribs. While some may use a rub, sauce is also quite commonly served with ribs in a manner similar to how BBQ sandwiches are.
  • Baked chicken. The sauce is normally applied close to the end of cooking time so that the sugars help the sauce stick to the meat.
  • Chopped/pulled meat. Arguably the most common way to have BBQ, this is nothing more than a plate of pit-cooked meat that has either been chopped up or pulled apart into pieces.
  • Potato chips. BBQ-flavored potato chips may not involve an actual sauce but they certainly involve many of the ingredients that go into a BBQ sauce.

Several Step-By-Step Guides on How to Make BBQ Sauce at Home

Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes, crushed, 14 oz (1 can)
  • Ketchup, 1 cup
  • Sugar, brown, 3/4 cup
  • Vinegar, apple cider, 1/2 cup
  • Molasses, 1/2 cup
  • Smoked paprika, 1 tbsp
  • Salt, 1 tbsp
  • Pepper, ground, black, 2 tsp
  • Powder, chili, 1 tsp
  • Powder, garlic, 1 tsp
  • Powder, onion, 1 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard, ground, 1/2 tsp

Directions

  1. Combine all of your ingredients into a medium-size saucepan, whisking them together.
  2. Bring the mix to a boil over medium heat, then drop the heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and wait until the sauce has completely cooled before filling an airtight container with the sauce.

Notes:

  • While you can use the sauce as soon as it is fully cooled, you will get more flavor by letting it refrigerate overnight.
  • If kept refrigerated and within its container, this sauce is good for up to two weeks.

BBQ Sauce Recipe
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Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Unlike something like a béchamel, there is not one single iteration of BBQ sauce. As regional tastes developed over the decades and centuries, so to the approach to BBQ sauce. Regional preferences for beef or pork seem to be one of the major motivating forces in what ingredients go into a sauce.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ Sauce
Servings: 1
Calories: 50kcal

Ingredients

  • 14 oz Tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 3/4 cup Sugar, brown
  • 1/2 cup Vinegar, apple cider
  • 1/2 cup Molasses
  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Pepper, ground, black
  • 1 tsp Powder, chili
  • 1 tsp Powder, garlic
  • 1 tsp Powder, onion
  • 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard, ground

Instructions

  • Combine all of your ingredients into a medium-size saucepan, whisking them together.
  • Bring the mix to a boil over medium heat, then drop the heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and wait until the sauce has completely cooled before filling an airtight container with the sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 35g | Calories: 50kcal

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Kansas City BBQ Sauce (33 downloads)

Homemade barbecue sauce recipe

A Pittsburgh Red BBQ Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • Sugar, brown, 1.5 cups
  • Ketchup, 1.5 cups
  • Vinegar, red wine, 1/2 cup
  • Water, 1/2 cup
  • Sauce, Worcestershire, 1 tbsp
  • Mustard, dry, 2.5 tbsp
  • Paprika, 2 tsp
  • Salt, 2 tsp
  • Pepper, black, 1.5 tsp
  • Sauce, hot pepper, 2 dashes

Directions

  1. Use a blender to combine the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, water and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Season the blended mix with the other ingredients.
  3. Blend everything together until you have an even color and smooth consistency.

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A Pittsburgh Red BBQ Sauce Recipe (32 downloads)


An Accommodating BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • Sauce, tomato, 15 oz (1 can)
  • Vinegar, apple cider, 1/2 cup
  • Honey or agave nectar, 1/3 cup
  • Paste, tomato, 1/4 cup
  • Molasses, 1/4 cup
  • Sauce, Worcestershire, 3 tbsp
  • Liquid smoke, 2 tsp
  • Smoked paprika, 1 tsp
  • Powder, garlic, 1 tsp
  • Pepper, black, freshly-ground, 1/2 tsp
  • Powder, onion, 1/2 tsp
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
  • Recommended but optional: Powder, cayenne, a few pinches

Directions

  1. Whisk all the ingredients into a medium saucepan.
  2. Simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer without a lid for 20 minutes-just long enough for the sauce to start thickening.
  4. Either use immediately or store within your fridge, inside of a sealed container, for up to one week.

Notes:

  • This can be made into a vegan sauce by consulting the label of your Worcestershire sauce.
  • This can be made into a gluten-free sauce by consulting the label of your liquid smoke.

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An Accommodating BBQ Sauce (33 downloads)


Super Basic BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • Ketchup, 2 cups
  • Water, 1 cup
  • Vinegar, apple cider 1/2 cup
  • Sugar, 5 tbsp
  • Sugar, brown, light, 5 tbsp
  • Pepper, black, fresh-ground, 1/2 tsp
  • Powder, onion, 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard, ground, 1/2 tbsp
  • Juice, lemon, 1 tbsp
  • Sauce, Worcestershire, 1 tbsp

Directions

  1. Combine all of your ingredients into a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer without a lid for 75 minutes while frequently stirring the mixture.

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Super Basic BBQ Sauce (34 downloads)


A Metric Rib Sauce

Ingredients

  • Oil, olive, 1 tbsp
  • Onion, 1, finely chopped
  • Tomatoes, chopped, 400g (1 can)
  • Cloves, garlic, 3, finely chopped
  • Sugar, brown, 85g
  • Vinegar, malt, 3 tbsp
  • Sauce, Worcestershire, 2 tbsp
  • Tomato purée, 1 tbsp

Directions

  1. Heat up a sauce pan with oil, adding the onion.
  2. Cook the onion for 4-5 minutes, just until it begins to soften.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it until you have an even consistency.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then drop the heat down to low and let it simmer 20-30 minutes, just until it thickens.

Note: If you would prefer to use this recipe to make a smooth sauce, combine it with either a food processor or hand blender for only a few seconds.

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A Metric Rib Sauce (30 downloads)

homemade bbq sauce

In Conclusion

As you now know, there is not a lot involved in making BBQ sauce. The fun comes in figuring out what sort of dish you plan on making and then playing with your ingredients to yield a sauce suitable for that dish. If nothing else, you now have several different and varied approaches to BBQ sauce that all improve upon whatever you might buy from your local store.

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