The Ultimate Guide to Homemade BBQ Sauce

The variety of BBQ sauces is almost as widespread  as the spelling of Barbecue itself.  BBQ, ‘Que, barbecue, barbeque … Red sauce, yellow sauce and Alabama White Sauce.  The meats themselves are prepared very similarly but the sauce is the necessary accessory and can take the chopped pork into a number of different flavor realms. The word Barbecue comes from the Spanish word “barbacoa” or “barabicoa” which is from Taino Native American tribe of Caribbean and Florida. In different regions of the world, the taste, color and consistency of BBQ sauce varies.

Regional Varieties

Depending on in which region you set up your smoker, you’ll come across different styles of BBQ sauce recipes. Also, these sauces are used in different ways. For example in some areas of the United States, the meat and ribs are first marinated in the sauce and then grilled, while in other regions like Texas it is applied once the meat or the ribs are grilled, especially pork butt and beef brisket. That being said the consistency and base ingredients lend themselves to the cooking style. A more acidic, thin sauce lends itself to a marinade while a thick sauce is likely used as a topper or glaze in the latter part of the cooking process.


The Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce

The Kansas City Classical Barbecue Sauce

The origins of the Kansas City Classic BBQ sauce dates back to 1907, first prepared by Henry Perry, it was very spicy, hot, vinegary and not sweet. This became one of the most popular and delicious bbq sauces in the world and was known as Henry Perry’s sauce.  However, during the 1970’s the recipe morphed into a simple tomato base, sweet prototype.

The recipe uses the classic rich red, tomato-based, sweet-tart sauce with either brown sugar or molasses along with vinegar. The best thing about KC style BBQ sauce is that it don’t penetrate the meat,but instead sits on top and complements the natural flavors of the meat. The best use of this type of sauce is to apply during the final stage of cooking. Apply a light coat during last five minutes of grill time and then one more coat once removed from grill during the rest time.

Kansas City BBQ Recipe

  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups Ketchup
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  2. Add ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Transfer sauce to the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator for up to a month.


The South Carolina Mustard bbq sauce

The South Carolina Mustard bbq sauce

South Carolina is known for its tangy mustard based sauce which delivers a sweet and spicy flavor profile to chopped pork, slow roasted ribs as well as a nice pork tenderloin or grilled chicken. The sauce comprises of vinegar, pepper, tomato sauce, ketchup and mustard. based prototype.

The Mustard is a perfect combination with pork. The sauce is traced back to early German immigrants in South Carolina and some of the first names associated with this sauce are Sweatman, Meyer, Zeigler, and Shealy.

  • 3/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp Louisiana hot sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Whisk to combine and occasionally while simmering for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Let cool before using.
  3. Save remainder in a sealed container in the refrigerator


East Carolina Mop Sauce

East Carolina Mop Sauce

The history of East Carolina sauce tells us that the sauce was a simple and plain combination of hot pepper flakes and ground black pepper in vinegar. This sauce is mainly used with grilled meat. Unlike other sauces, which are thick and sticky, the East Carolina sauce is thin and piquant. This sauce is used to marinate meat as well as mop continuously over meat throughout the grilling or smoking process. The thin sauce will penetrate the protein deeply and impart its flavor throughout the meat.

East Carolina Mop Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  1. Pour all the ingredients into a jar and shake. Let it sit for at least 12 hours to allow the flavors to meld. A week is better.
  2. You can use it as a mop when you cook, you can use it as a finishing sauce when you serve the meat, or both. In the Carolinas it is usually used as both a mop and a finishing sauce.
  3. To use it as both a mop and finishing sauce, warm it, pour a few ounces into a cup and paint it on the meat with a basting brush once every hour or so while it is cooking. If you use it as a mop, the sauce in the cup can get contaminated with uncooked meat juices on the brush. That’s why you don’t want to dip the brush in the whole bottle. Discard contaminated mop and serve untouched sauce at the table.


The Texas Mop Sauce

The Texas Mop Sauce

You never know what’s on the grill in Texas, beef ribs, pork butt, mutton, goat, and sausages are typical options, but the Texas specialty is beef brisket. This meat is on the tougher side and takes at least 12-18 hours to tender when cooked on low and slow smoke. Brisket in combination with a Texas mop sauce yields a flavorful result. The flavorful sauce will seep deep within the many layers of the brisket and help aid the tenderization.

Texas Mop Sauce Recipe

  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 3 Tbsp steak sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 cups beef, veal or chicken stock
  1. Mix the paprika, black pepper, chili powder, and cumin in a small bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter or fat and gently cook the onion over medium heat until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and the spice mix. Stir, and cook for two minutes to extract the flavors.
  4. Add the stock and the rest of the ingredients. Stir until well blended. Simmer on medium for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust as needed. Divide it in half and use half to mop the meat when cooking. Use the remainder to splash on the meat when served.


Alabama White Sauce



The Alabama sauce was specifically fashioned for chicken by Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ in Decatur, Alabama. This delicious sauce is a combination of mayonnaise and vinegar with aromatic spices. While grilled and smoked chicken is a perfect match for this viscous sauce. It’s also a known partner for chopped Boston Butt, too. As compared to other bbq sauces, it’s best used as a finisher or on the side for dipping.

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp coarse ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp creole mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp prepared horseradish

    Whisk together all ingredients until blended. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

Some bbq lovers give a slight touch of ketchup as well, but it’s not a part of the traditional recipe.

Almost everyone has a difference preference of their bbq sauces. Some like spicy and some bbq lovers like the sweet sauce. Whichever type of bbq sauce you may like, one thing is for sure that it is delicious and taste relishing. Best of all it isn’t difficult to prepare your homemade bbq sauce.

Interesting Fact
If you are truly crazy about barbecue, then there is a whole month headed towards you. May is officially known as the National Barbecue Month.

Make a classic recipe your own

Don’t be afraid to experiment. First, if you’ve not tried sauces from other regions … DO! Once you’ve found the basic flavor profile that suits your family best, there’s plenty of room to take some chances and personalize your sauce. One easy way is to change up the sweet side. Instead of white sugar, use dark brown for a sauce that will have deep tones of caramel. You may want to substitute honey or jam instead of molasses. Vinegar is another easy substitution. Play with different types – apple cider vinegar, white vinegar or red wine vinegar or even a touch of balsamic for a richer glaze.

Spices and seasonings are another good opening for personalization. Try white pepper, cumin seeds, or even a little Madras Curry. Feel free to share your results – we’d love to hear what secret ingredient you add to really make BBQ sauce your own.



Do share your experience of preparing your homemade bbq sauce with us.

In another life I would have attended culinary school, competed in every reality cooking competition I could find, and owned a quaint farm to table restaurant. In reality, though, I'm the guy who loves cooking outdoors for anybody who would let me and doesn't let go of any excuse for a party, to fire up the grill and light the smoker.

  1. […] A basic barbecue sauce […]

  2. […] is a quite simple recipe for South Carolina Mustard BBQ sauce, which only takes about half an hour to make and gives you 10-20 portions. Take a pan and bland […]

  3. Reply
    Derek Mcdoogle August 4, 2016 at 1:35 am

    My brother really likes to have cookouts and has requested barbecue sauce. You mentioned that depending on in which region you set up you smoker you’ll come across different styles of BBQ sauce recipes. I didn’t realize there were so many different kinds of sauce. It seems that finding a good recipe would be beneficial.

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