The BBQ-Men Blog, GW’s Take on Sauce. Part 1

The BBQ-Men Blog, GW’s On Sauce, Part 1

BBQ-Men, [bar-bˈ-kyo͞omən] a Noun, the ability to make good meat selection, preparation, smokin, wine pairing, beer drinkin, and grillin judgements and decisions. The age-old art of cooking meat.


I recently learned that barbecue sauces are native to America, and what is interesting about that is the insane variety of sauces we have all developed to enjoy.  Luckily, I have been able to see a lot of our great country and have tried numerous types of American BBQ.  After spending some time in Europe a few years ago, I also learned that it is very hard to find good a Sauce, much less real BBQ, outside our great country!

Most folks probably think that barbecue sauce is just a brownish/reddish sauce bottle you find near the ketchup and mustard, but in reality, each region of the country that enjoys some good barbecue and has their own distinct sauce flavor.  Although many southern states won’t admit that other states even have barbeque, a tour of the South should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Because I am more than a bit into grillin, I have gone over the differences between brines, marinades, dry rubs, and sauces and learned that most barbecue sauces consist of three (3) basic components: vinegar base, tomato paste or other flavor component, and spices and seasonings.  Even each region of The South is a little different, but the basis is the same.  Read on below!

Texas – Mop Style Sauce 

The most popular sauces in Texas are called “mop sauces” or “basting sauces” because it is actually applied with a mop. In reality, these sauces are more of a glaze, or dripped on the meat. Here are some common ingredients:

  • Beef stock
  • Ketchup
  • Vinegar
  • Worcestershire
  • Spices – Chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

Alabama – White Sauce

The white sauce concocted in Alabama is most commonly used for smoked chicken and pork, and can be anywhere from milky to creamy to thick! The strangest thing about this white sauce is it does not use a ketchup or mustard base, but rather mayonnaise. Here is a basic Alabama sauce recipe:

  • 1.5 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (depending on desired thickness)
  • 1/4 cup horseradish
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Cayenne pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, salt to taste.

South Carolina – Mustard Sauce

I personally think this is the most distinctive sauce, and as a mustard fan ultimately tasty, and it is extremely popular for pork dishes. Here is a basic recipe:

  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (depending on desired thickness)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.

Check out our new neighbor “Bo BQ” in Thayne. for some killer Carolina Style Mustard Sauce!

North Carolina – Vinegar Sauce

The Carolina’s have a big variety of barbecue sauces; the Northern region prefers a vinegar based sauce, mostly used for pork, while in the Western part of the state they start to add some ketchup or tomato paste to the sauce. It’s usually a thin and runny sauce that gets soaked up into the meat during cooking. Here is a basic recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste / ketchup (optional, makes it Western)
  • 2 – 5 tbsp sugar (to taste)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Red pepper, salt, and black pepper to taste.

Memphis – Dry Rub

Memphis is known to have a variety of vinegar based mopping sauces and using tomato based sauces for pork. However, what Memphis is best known for, though, is the invention of dry rubs. That will make you want to put on your Blue Suede Shows! A lot of places will offer you the options of having your meat wet or dry, aka sauce or rub, but even dishes with sauces tend to have a rub underneath in Memphis. Below is a classic Memphis dry rub recipe, but you can find a roundup of dry rubs there.

  • 4 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard seed
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp crushed celery seed
  • Black pepper, thyme, oregano, and salt to taste.

Kansas City – Red Sauce 

The sauce from Kansas City is probably what you originally think of when you think barbecue sauce— it’s typically tomato based with just enough tart (vinegar) and spicy (chili powder, cayenne pepper) to create a perfect taste. Here’s a basic recipe:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup honey (depending on desired sweetness)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste.

***St. Louis style sauces are very similar to those from Kansas City, but a little thinner with a vinegar base instead of a ketchup base. To try a more acidic taste, switch the amounts of the first two ingredients. 

During the next year, The Block will be releasing a series of meat rubs and cooking sauces. Stay Tuned!

Barbecue Sauce.jpg

Leave a Reply