How to Make Barbecue Sauce (+14 Delicious Recipes from BBQ Regions of America!)

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You NEED to learn how to make barbecue sauce. Because it is an essential condiment for ANY cookout!

It can take some baby back ribs from great to INSANELY delicious!

There are tonnes of BBQ sauce recipes, variations, and styles out there.

Nearly every backyard pit master has their own secret recipe. That they protect better than their own children.

I have my own recipe, however I am open to share my IT! I encourage people to use it, hell even add your own flare to it. After all, that is how we improve things, isn’t it?

In this article we will cover some of the different BBQ sauce styles from Alabama white sauce to Texas style! Then finish off my with my secret barbecue sauce recipe!

Ribs Covered in BBQ Sauce

So, What Variations of BBQ Sauce Are There in The USA?

In the US, we have a huge amount of different styles and recipes for BBQ sauce.These recipes and styles change from state to state, city to city. In some cases what part of the city you are in. Some of the variations of BBQ sauce here in the US include:

Alabama White BBQ Sauce

That’s right you read that correctly. White BBQ Sauce. This beauty was created back in 1925 by a man who goes by the name of Bob Gibson.

This sauce was first made by Bob to go with his famous backyard BBQ chicken and was never intended to be used on pork or beef. The zesty, creamy sauce is perfect for chicken. However, nowadays you see the sauce as a side for everything from pretzels to grilled fish.

The white consistency comes from its main ingredient, mayonnaise. Like every BBQ sauce, there are a million different variations out there now, but a basic recipe for this sauce is:

Alabama White BBQ Sauce Recipe

1 clove of crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon finely ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 tablespoon powdered garlic

In a medium sized bowl whisk together all the ingredients. You can use this sauce right away, however for a better flavour it is best to make a day in advance and chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving.

If you are no longer living with your parents, you really should have a house sauce made without preservatives, additives, stabilizers, and emulsifiers

Meathead Goldwyn
meat goldwyn

All Natural BBQ Sauce

A lot of Americans out there these days are looking for healthy alternatives for classic meals, sides, and condiments. Unfortunately, BBQ sauce does not escape this. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing, is it? barbecue sauce without ketchup in the recipe is actually quite a good thing. Ketchup is loaded with un necessary salt, sugar and other additives.

If it gets the wife excited about BBQ I’m all in! This all natural BBQ sauce recipe takes a little longer than some of the others and is not a sauce that you can just decide to whip up for dinner, some of the ingredients do take time to prepare.

All Natural BBQ Sauce Recipe

40g chopped onion
40g sun-dried tomatoes (soaked overnight)
120g dates (soaked overnight)
1/4 teaspoon smoked Chipotle powder
1 small garlic clove minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon Tamari sauce
2 medium roasted tomatoes
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
liquid smoke

The evening before you want to use this sauce, soak your dates in 1 cup of fresh water and your sun-dried tomatoes in 1/2 a cup of fresh water. Remember to keep all the liquid for the blending process.

The next day, preheat your oven to 350˚F and roast your tomatoes until the skins darken. You want to rotate them a couple of times throughout the cook. This should take around 1 hour. Once cooled peel the skins and remove the seeds

In a sauce pan heat your olive oil and brown your garlic and chopped onion.

Combine your garlic and onion mixture in a blender with all other remaining ingredients and blend. If there is not enough moisture add in the soaking liquid from the sun-dried tomatoes and dates.

Once blended add the mixture back in the sauce pan and cook over a low heat until the water evaporates and the sauce starts to thicken.

Carolina BBQ Sauce

Carolina BBQ sauce is a vinegar and mustard based sauce that is considered the mother of all the American barbecue sauces. It is a spicy and vinegary sauce that does not include any tomatoes, instead opting for (usually) cider vinegar.

This is a very thin sauce and is mainly used to soak/ baste pork as it slowly cooks over an open flame. Some of the earlier recipes used ingredients such as oysters for a unique saltiness.

This is my favorite to have with brisket. For brisket cook times and temperatures check out my brisket guide how long to cook a brisket in an electric smoker.

Carolina BBQ Sauce Recipe

½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

First place all of your ingredients in a sauce pan

Cook down over a medium heat, stirring often.

Bring to a boil and whisk until the salt and sugar and completely dissolved. Once dissolved remove from the heat immediately.

Let sauce cool to room temperature and store in a jar. Before using this sauce it is best to refrigerate and shake well.

South Carolina BBQ Sauce

The South Carolina BBQ sauce is another sauce that is a thin, mustard based sauce. It again it is of German descent and has a nice punch of hot sauce and mustard.

This sauce is perfect for pulled pork, however, has found its way into grilled chicken in my household. Typically I will use a little less mustard than in this recipe and a little more hot sauce.

South Carolina BBQ Sauce Recipe

1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup prepared yellow mustard

Simple whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

For the best flavor make this sauce a day or two in advance, store in a jar in the refrigerator and shake very well before using.

Virginia BBQ Sauce

Virginia’s BBQ sauces can be broken down into several different areas, each slightly different. The Virginians are very passionate about their sauces

Northern Virginia BBQ Sauce

Northern Virginia sauces are tomato based and are the sweetest of the Virginian varieties. Usually, you will find them well seasoned with herbs and sweet spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and thyme. They have also been known to include fruit such as apple added in for extra flavor and sweetness.

Northern Virginia BBQ Sauce Recipe

1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups tomato ketchup

In a saucepan add all ingredients except the lemon juice and simmer until all ingredients are well combined and the sugar has melted.

Bring off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice.

Place in a jar and refrigerate overnight and shake well before using.

Central Virginia BBQ Sauce

The Central style BBQ sauce is all about sweetness with just a hint of sour. Typical ingredients include cayenne pepper, cloves, ginger, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce/ root beer/ sassafras.

Central Virginia BBQ Sauce Recipe

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon creamy peanut butter
1 cup tomato juice
1–1 1/2 cups brown sugar

In a saucepan add all ingredients except the tomato juice and simmer until all ingredients are well combined and the sugar and peanut butter have melted.

Bring off the heat and whisk in the tomato juice.

Place in a jar and refrigerate overnight and shake well before using.

Southern Virginia BBQ Sauce

Southern Virginian BBQ sauces are vinegar or tomato based with a hint of mustard. Unlike those in South Carolina, the mustard is used just as a base and is not the main flavor.

Southern Virginia BBQ Sauce Recipe

1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix well.

Once well blended, place in a well sealed jar and refrigerate overnight.

Shake well before serving.

Texas Style BBQ Sauce

The Texas BBQ sauce is a tomato based sauce that has a nice little bit of heat and sweetness. They are often a thicker, more sticky sauce that is perfect for dipping, marinating and grilling.

My favorite thing to have with Texas style BBQ sauce is pulled pork.. or ribs.. or chicken wings.. to be honest, there s not much I don’t enjoy Texas Style sauce with. It’s just to dang good!​

Charlie’s Hot Tip
We all love BBQ sauce but you may want to try a dry rub. It really penetrates the meat and can bring out some delicious flavors! I’ve put together a list of my the pork BBQ rubs (pork is my top choice for smoking, if you hadn’t guessed)

Texas Style BBQ Sauce Recipe

1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons molasses

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and simmer over a medium heat for 30 minutes. Be sure to stir throughout the simmer.

Remove from the heat and transfer into a jar. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate. Be sure to shake well before use.

Tennessee BBQ Sauce (Whiskey BBQ Sauce)

There is one thing that a Tennessee BBQ sauce must have. I think you can already guess what that is. It’s whiskey. 

No Tennessee BBQ sauce is complete without it (in mine and many other opinions). Many people add in liquid smoke to give this recipe a lot of extra smoky flavor. I personally don’t like liquid smoke too much and don’t use it unless there is not BBQ, grill or smoker in sight.​

Tennessee BBQ Sauce Recipe

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon Tabasco
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup of your favorite whiskey
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup ketchup
2 – 3 drops of liquid smoke (if you have too)

In a saucepan heat the canola oil. Saute the onion until translucent.

Get your favorite whiskey and deglaze the pan with a good glug (and a good glug for yourself). With a wooden spoon scrape the pan down and remove any pieces of onion from the pot. Add in the rest of your ingredients and whisk together.

Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and leave for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Use immediately or place into a jar and refrigerate. Always shake thoroughly before use.

St Louis BBQ Sauce

​​St Louis Style BBQ sauce is known to be tangier than most other BBQ sauces. It also has one of the thinnest consistencies of all BBQ sauces.

Unlike most BBQ sauces St Louis is one the few that doesn’t have liquid smoke in it.

St Louis BBQ Sauce Recipe

1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 cups Ketchup

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and stir over a low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for 30 minutes

Let cool to room temperature and place in a jar. This sauce is best used a couple of days after making it so its best to let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days before use. Shake well before using.

Kansas City BBQ Sauce

The Kanasas City BBQ sauce is one of my favorite BBQ sauce that is ketchup based. It’s rich and thick from the molasses, get a good acidity from the tomatoes and a little bit of heat from the chill flakes. It’s great for ribs, smoked chicken and to dip fries in.

Kansas City BBQ Sauce Recipe

1/2 cup yellow ballpark-style mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup steak sauce
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup of honey (or more for a sweeter taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 finely chopped medium onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons chili flakes
2 cups ketchup
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium garlic cloves crushed

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

In a large saucepan add the oil and heat over a medium heat. Add your onions and saute until translucent. Add your crushed garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add in your dry spice mix and cook for a further minute until combined well. Add the combination of wet ingredients and simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes.

Use immediately or cool to room temperature and place in a jar. It’s best to refrigerate for a couple of days and then use. Make sure you shake well before use.

Georgia BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce in Georgia is a mustard based sauce which can either have a sweet or tangy flavor depending on your preference. I like this one to have a nice tangy flavor and a decent punch of heat.

Georgia BBQ Sauce Recipe

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup mustard
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

In a large saucepan add all ingredients and gently simmer over a low – medium heat for 30 minutes.

Best used a day or two after making. Cool to room temperature and place in a jar inside the refrigerator for a couple of days. Shake before using.

Is Your BBQ Sauce to Runny?

Has your BBQ sauce ended up too runny? Don’t worry I have 8 tried and tested methods that will help thicken your BBQ sauce. You’ll never buy store-bought sauce again.

How To Make Barbecue Sauce From Scratch – The Basic BBQ Sauce Recipe

Everyone needs his own go-to BBQ sauce recipe. It’s important to have the base down where you can make it at the drop of a hat and adjust it according to the situation, what you are cooking or who you are cooking for.

This basic BBQ sauce recipe is made from everyday ingredients that you should find in your cupboard. Every backyard BBQ-er should know how to make a BBQ sauce from scratch!

BBQ Sauce 101 How to Make The Best BBQ Sauces (Who Knew There Where So Many

Basic Barbecue Sauce Recipe

This is my tried and true basic BBQ sauce recipe. It is a fantastic base to build on to make a truly unique BBQ sauce!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course condiment
Cuisine Barbecue
Servings 5 cups
Calories 30 kcal


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


  • Pre heat your olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add in your onions. Saute until translucent. Add in your garlic and stir through for 30 seconds.
  • Add in the rest of your ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Simmer gently for 45 minutes stirring regularly. If you notice your sauce getting to thick add in a little bit more water and turn the heat down.
  • Once at a nice thick consistency take off the heat. You can use it straight away, or for best results and a more in-depth flavor cool to room temperature then place in a jar and refrigerate for 1 – 2 days. Shake well before using.
Keyword Barbeque Sauce

Best Brands Of BBQ Sauce

Sauce NameImageLink
Traeger Grills Sweet & Heat Bbq SauceTraeger-Grills-Sweet-Heat-Bbq-SauceGet This Sauce
Bull’s Eye Original Barbecue SauceBulls-Eye-Original-Barbecue-SauceGet This Sauce
Stubb’s Sweet Heat SauceStubbs-Sweet-Heat-SauceGet This Sauce
Mild Mambo SauceMild-Mambo-SauceGet This Sauce
Open Pit Barbecue SauceOpen-Pit-Barbecue-SauceGet This Sauce

Vegan BBQ Sauce Brands

Every year more & more Americans are becoming more health & conscious. More & more brands are finding unique ways to keep up with the current health trends and to be honest I think this is a really good thing. It is great to see brands supplying the demand!

My wife dabbles in vegan foods and condiments, and over the years we have found these vegan BBQ sauces to be really great.

Vegan BBQ SauceImageLink
Triple Crown, Organic BBQ SauceTriple-Crown-Organic-BBQ-SauceGet This Sauce
Simple Girl Organic Carolina Kick BBQ SauceSimple-Girl-Organic-Carolina-Kick-BBQ-SauceGet This Sauce
Stubb’s Sweet Heat SauceStubb-Sweet-Heat-Sauce_Get This Sauce
Smoky Date Paleo SauceSmoky-Date-SauceGet This Sauce

Where Does BBQ Sauce Originate?

The history of BBQ sauce is one that is not very clear. When researching this topic I found that there were many different explanations and theories for when and whom it was first developed by.

I have found websites that claim the earliest traces of BBQ sauce were found dating as far back as 700BC, the start of the 17th century

I also could not really find a reliable answer for what culture this beautiful sauce was invented by.

There are mainly hints at the French being the first to develop this sauce, which to me is believable as the French tend to discover many of the worlds culinary wonders, but without solid proof of a date or place, it is really hard to say when/where it was truly invented.

What Is BBQ Sauce Made From?

It depends where you go around the US and the world as to what is in your barbecue sauce.

Every different region has their own special ingredients that go into their BBQ sauce. People are very passionate about what goes in their BBQ sauce.

Some areas use a strictly mustard base, whereas other areas use a heavier tomato base for theirs. In some areas they stick to a sweet and spicy flavour wheres other areas will go for a more tangy, vinegary flavour profile.

Not even the colours are the same, BBQ sauce can range from white all the way to the darkest shades of brown.

The texture is something else that changes dramatically from region to region. It can be water thin, thick like a mayonnaise or even have big pieces of onion, garlic and spices in it.

Below I have outlined a few of the different styles of BBQ sauce we have here in the United States.

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