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BBQ sauces explained

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here is a little break down on the different types of BBQ sauces.  as well as the links to all of the information I am posting here.  please keep in mind that all of this is copied from another site.

the following information was taken from this link:

BBQ sauce recipes have as many styles as there are BBQ. Some are thick and some are thin and watery. Some are sweet, some are sour, and some are hot and spicy. What a better choice for your own special recipe.  After all, the sauce is boss... right?
Sauces usually flavor meats at the end of the cooking process. Most of them usually have sugar, which can burn. That is why they usually call for you to put it on during the last 30 minutes or less of cooking time. These sweet sauces are also used as a dipping sauce.

Styles of the Big Guys

Different regions of the country have their own style of BBQ sauce. There are five major styles. They are as follows:


vinegar based
not too spicy
not too sweet


tomato and vinegar based
not too spicy
not too sweet

St. Louis

tomato and vinegar based

Kansas City

tomato based
not too spicy


medium to thin
tomato based
not too sweet

OK. OK. I know there are more than that.

But these are in the big league. They are the most well known. There are many many other small sub-groups around the country (not to mention the world). There are a slew of them in the state of Georgia alone. But, we can't mention them all.

The vinegar based barbecue sauces are the thinner ones (like Carolina and Memphis style). They are used more often during cooking because they are less likely to burn. A mop sauce is one that is used as a basting sauce applied with a brush or mop during cooking. Mops are very thin and mostly based on vinegar or fruit juices.

Thicker sauces ( like Kansas City style ) are usually sweeter and generally applied after cooking to avoid burning. Texas style is tomato based and usually spicy. St. Louis style hits the middle. It's not thick or thin, vinegar and tomato based, and both sweet and spicy. I've got to tell you... there are more varieties of a barbecue sauce recipe than you can shake a stick at.


Ingredients for BBQ sauce recipes are not as simple as the acid, oil, and seasonings of a marinade. They will definitely have seasonings; but they may or may not have an acid or an oil.

The most common styles of BBQ sauce have vinegar, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, or combinations as a base. Some of these following ingredients are common if not standard in some BBQ sauce recipes. Feel free to add whatever you like, or whatever you think might give it a good or unique flavor.

chili peppers (of all types)
brown sugar
soy sauce

Well, you get the idea (and this is only a few).

Spices come from all parts of the globe. Chili peppers alone are grown all over the world. It just goes to show the variety of possibilities when you decide to create an original recipe of your own.

A Basic BBQ Sauce Recipe

Here is a basic recipe for BBQ sauce for you to consider.

1/4 c cider vinegar
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c water
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black peper

Combine all ingredients
Mix well
Refrigerate until use

It can't get any more simple than that.

The vinegar/ketchup base can vary greatly from one recipe to the next. Those base ingredients could have a different ratio. The amounts could be increased or decreased, or be something completely different (like tomato sauce). Changing any of the other flavorings and seasonings is entirely up to you, your taste, and your imagination.

With some recipes for BBQ sauce you will simply mix up the ingredients and use it immediately (as above). Others will require you to heat it first.

Be aware that using something like ketchup (catsup) will give you a different flavor depending on which brand you use. Heinz (my favorite) tastes different than Hunt's or other brands.

Let's say this is not your style. If this doesn't suit your taste, go a different direction.

For instance, you may want a more sweet KC style of sauce . That's good. It's very common that people crave a sweeter sauce. As a matter of fact, I prefer a certain amount of sweetness too. So... start small. Begin with some

1 c tomato sauce (or ketchup if you prefer)
1/2 c molasses
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pepper

Heat this while you are combining ingredients. The molasses will thin down and make it easier. If it is too thick add a little vinegar to thin it as needed.

If you like, you could add a touch of hot sauce, curry powder, or liquid smoke. It's your sauce, you know. Make it like you want.

I suppose you have noticed that I use brown sugar and molasses quite often in my ingredients. Longhorn Luke does too when he makes his drunk butter .

I do know that many people must have a sugar free BBQ sauce to be able to enjoy it. I am just used to using what I like. However, there are ways to create delicious sugar free versions of your favorite BBQ sauce recipes. The sugar free BBQ sauce page might help.

Linda has also provided some information about diabetes to me that might be of interest to some of you. She helps promote awareness on healthy eating habits and its associated benefits.

Go Forth and Create

As you make changes, taste along the way. If you make major changes to a recipe, do it in small batches and take notes. If you hit on a good one (like another K.C. Masterpiece), you will want to duplicate it (and sell it if it's really good).

When it comes to BBQ sauce recipes, there really are no rules or limitations.

Feel free to sautee onions and garlic before adding liquids.
Toast your seasonings before use.
Roast peppers if you would like.
Simmer the sauce for a while.
Strain it or even puree it if that's what turns you on.
 Just make a batch and have fun.

Good luck to you. And don't worry about the imperfect ones.

the following information was taken from this link:

Vinegar Based Barbecue Sauce

Vinegar based barbecue sauce has its home in North Carolina. Of course its popularity has spread all across the country. So hopefully everyone has had a chance to try it (unless they are so deep into another style that no other is allowed in).

Have you ever had pulled pork and wondered how in the world they ever got it to taste that good? Naturally the quality of the meat, and how expertly it was smoked, had something to do with it. But, the finishing touch and the final balance of flavors probably came from a vinegar based barbecue sauce (like this one).
1 c cider vinegar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together and let stand for at least 4 hours for full flavor. If you don't like the stronger flavor of cider vinegar, replace it with white vinegar. Or, maybe, add another cup of white vinegar to the cider vinegar and double everything else.

Here is another form of vinegar based sauce that has a little different spin to it.

1 1/2 c cider vinegar
1 Tbl chili powder
1 Tbl brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp cumin

Again, with this one, mix it together and let it set for a few hours for flavor infusion. As you know,you can adjust the seasonings and the amounts of either recipe to suit your taste.

Both of these can be used as a mop or basting sauce, as well as the finishing sauce.

This North Carolina type of vinegar basedbarbecue sauce goes perfect with pulled pork. Please remember, though, you can make these match your own taste by changing, adding or deleting ingredients.

* To make it less spicy, decrease the cayenne or red pepper flakes.

* To make it sweeter, add some honey, molasses, or more brown sugar.

* Thicken it by adding a little ketchup or mustard or molasses.

* Thin it by adding more vinegar, some wine, or a little water.

the following information was taken from this link:

BBQ Mop Recipes Say Goodbye to Dry Meat

BBQ mop recipes are used by true BBQ fans, as well as professional on the competition circuit. If you are one of those fans, you know what I mean. You take every step you can to improve your BBQ. A good mop is one of those steps.
A mop is a thin basting sauce used during cooking (usually during slow smoking). It adds a little flavor, but primarily, it's used to keep the meat from getting dry.

They call it a mop because it is applied with a mop (or something smaller that looks like a mop). Although some people use a spray bottle instead of a brush or mop.

To apply a mop during smoking means that you have to open the door (or lid). When that happens, heat and smoke escape. This causes the temperature around the meat to drop. (And after all that work you did to get the temperature just right, and keep it that way.)

So, we have uncovered a new art form, when it comes to BBQ. This art is the balancing act of maintaining moisture (with mop) and maintaining a constant temperature (around 220 degrees).

If you apply a mop too often, the temperature drops, meat cooks unevenly, and it takes longer to cook. The longer the meat smokes (without a mop), the drier it will become.

Usually a mop is applied every hour, or at least 2 or 3 times during cooking. At most apply it every 30 minutes. When you do apply it, be quick about it and get the lid closed again.
Stay Away from the Sugar

Mops must not be too high in sugar content or they will burn during cooking. Sugars, tomato sauce and ketchup will all burn. Mops may have these ingredients in them, as well as other things like brown sugar, butter, oils, and BBQ sauce. But their amounts are usually small. If they were too high, like in BBQ sauce, burning would be the final crust.

One of the most common and simple BBQ mop recipes is this:

90% apple juice
10% oil

This is thin enough it can also be applied using a spray bottle. Other mops may have additional seasonings to help with flavor. But they all are generally thin.

Beer and beef stock are commonly used as a base in mops, too. These are some ingredients in the "Texas" style of a mop.

2 cans of beer
8 oz Worcestershire sauce
1 chopped white onion
1 sliced lemon

Additional/Optional ingredients

1 cup of black coffee (brewed)
several cloves of chopped garlic
a few chopped jalapeño peppers
a little butter
6 oz yellow mustard
4 oz flavored vinegar (such as cider)
hot pepper sauce or flakes
honey or BBQ sauce (if you need a little sweetness)

Heat this up and keep it warm on your firebox during cooking. If you start to run a little low, just add another can of beer.

Some of the best BBQ pit masters in the world swear by their BBQ mop recipes. It can greatly affect the outcome of your meat. Experiment, have fun.

the following information was taken from this link:

Kansas City BBQ Sauce (KC Sweetness)

If you like it thick and sweet, Kansas City BBQ sauce is the style for you. Most of the time it is so sweet that it's sticky. Maybe that's why it's so good.
Here is a KC sauce for you to try and then tweak (that's modify and adjust for you non-geek type).

2 Tbl vegetable oil
2 Tbl butter
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 bottle ketchup (16 oz)
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c dark brown sugar
4 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c mustard
1/4 c lemon juice
2 Tbl cider vinegar
2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp salt

Place the oil and butter in a large cast iron pot over medium-low heat. Sauté onion and garlic until soft (not browned). Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Continue to simmer slowly, stirring frequently, for an additional 30 minutes.

Make It Yours

Please realize that with any style of sauce there is a great deal of variation within the style. It's no different with the Kansas City style of BBQ sauce. This recipe fits the style, but has plenty of room for customizing.

If this turns out too thick for you, simply add a little water, vinegar, beer, or root beer. If, by chance, you need a little extra sweetness, try adding some dark corn syrup or honey.
Or maybe you would like a little more spice. Think about adding some chili powder, cayenne pepper, or sage. Many forms of Kansas City BBQ sauce also have allspice and/or mace.

Don't feel like you have to make additions or deletions to this recipe, though. You can still make it unique by simply adding more or less of an existing ingredient.

You may want 4 cloves of garlic or maybe just one. Adjust any of them that you want. I would suggest changing only one thing at a time, though, so you know the result.

The extra sweetness in this style of BBQ sauce is great with ribs . But however you decide to use this version of KC BBQ sauce, be careful about using it on the grill. Only apply the sauce during the last 15 or 20 minutes of cooking time. It will burn easily because of the high sugar content.

the following information was taken from this link:

Texas BBQ Sauce Recipe

A Texas BBQ sauce recipe must first fit the style to be considered a Texas BBQ recipe. It must have a fairly equal split of ketchup and vinegar. This makes it thinner that a Kansas City style, but thicker than a North Carolina style.
It must also have a little more spice than sweetness. This will make it spicier than Kansas City style and not as sweet. Just remember that the following recipe is in a particular style (Texas), and is not necessarily theTexas BBQ sauce recipe.

In the Texas Style

There are many variations of this one style of sauce. So this is one of many Texas BBQ sauce recipes that is possible.

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Cup Ketchup
1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Cup brown sugar
2 Tbl prepared mustard
2 Tbl chili powder
2 tsp cumin seed, crushed
1 tsp celery seed, crushed
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 strips Bacon, chopped

In a cast iron pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and add onion and garlic. Sauté for several minutes, then add chili powder and cook an additional minute.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. Bacon pieces may be added back to the sauce, if desired. If the sauce is too thick, additional vinegar, apple cider, or water may be added.
This recipe will make any BBQ a Texas BBQ. Recipes of this style still have a lot of room for customization. Just try to keep the general balance of sweet and spice as well as the ketchup to vinegar ratio. A Texas BBQ sauce recipe must have those balances. Otherwise it begins to look more like a different style.

Time to Get Creative Again

Never forget that any recipe (no matter who wrote it or where it came from) is what someone came up with through experimentation. They did it specifically that way because they liked the taste. You may not like it. So turn it into something that you do like.

Use ingredients that you like. Taste along the way. Delete, substitute, or add to a recipe to get what you want. Do it in a controlled way so you know the results of your changes. What I mean is, don't try to do too many changes at once. It takes a little extra time, but it's worth it.

As an example, let's say you think the sauce is too thick, needs more bacon flavor and a little more salt. Don't just add more vinegar, bacon, and salt, and then hope you get lucky. Do one thing at a time. Taste after each change.

Based on the way it tastes now, should you add vinegar, apple cider or water. The one you decide on will change the way the sauce tastes. After the consistency is like you want it, taste again. It may still need something, but now it might be something different.

If you think it needs bacon and salt too, add some bacon first. Once you do that, taste it again. It may not need salt anymore.

the following information was taken from this link:

Sugar Free BBQ Sauce

Make your own sugar free BBQ sauce. You know it will be better than what you might be able to find in the stores (if you can even find it at all).
I know things that I show you and talk about almost always seem to have brown sugar or molasses in them. That's because I like at least some sweetness in my BBQ sauce. So does most of my family.

I have a sister-in-law, though, that can not eat anything with sugar in it. Not only that, she is restricted from eating foods that create sugars, such as corn.

She is not able to eat potatoes or white flour either. Some fruits are OK, like cherries. But others are not, like grapes. It gets pretty complicated. That's why I just ask, or hand her the label so she can tell me if she can eat it or not.

Every time we get together, we always take a close look at our meal plans so we can be fixing things that she is able eat. Sometimes we end up making two batches of something (a regular version, and another sugar free version with all the right foods).
You'll notice that I fixed two different batches of meatballs. That was so my sister-in-law would have some that she could eat.

Over Christmas when I grilled those meatballs (yes, grilled), I also made a second sauce too, which was a BBQ sauce for her that was sugar free.

In case you missed it, here is what I did for the meatballs (make them big enough so they won't fall through the grill).

1 lb ground beef
2 Tbl onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp celery salt
pepper (your taste)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

After rolling them around on the grill and getting some good grill marks, here is the sauce that I used.

1/4 c vinegar
1/2 c ketchup
1 Tbl brown sugar
1 clove crushed garlic
2 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

Heat the sauce. Add the cooked meatballs and simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Just Don't Use It

When I made the sugar free BBQ sauce, I simply left out the brown sugar. Well, I also used tomato sauce instead of ketchup (the label said it had sugar in it).

That seems to make an OK sauce, but people who can't eat sugar like a little sweetness too. So, we just added enough Splenda to give it that needed extra.

Making a sugar free BBQ sauce can be done by simply substituting sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, etc., with your favorite form of sweetener. Just taste along the way so you won't get too much. And also be checking other ingredients for sugar content, such as ketchup, or even some tomato sauces.

By using good quality ingredients, and making sugar free BBQ sauce yourself, it will almost assuredly turn out better that anything you could buy.

Don't be afraid to give it a try. After a few attempts, you will begin trying new things all the time.

the following information was taken from this link:

Prep Time: 15 min / Cook Time: 1 min / Total Time: 16 min 

2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (Chipotle Tabasco is fantastic if you have it!)


1.Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously

2.Store in refrigerator in a glass jar

if there is something that I have over looked in the priveous post, or something that you think needs to be added, please PM me the information and I will add it. 

Thanks Nate.  Good stuff.  Not sure if this belongs here but it can always be moved.

This is a recipie that I started from.  When I was a little boy about 5, my dad would take the family to a place in Houston called Lockwood Inn BBQ.  It was started by a local family in the 1940s and it stood ont eh same ground and used the same huge pits literally for decades.  The interior of the restaurant, including the wood floors and furniture were seasoned from decades of exposure to the pit.  I swear you could have put some of the wood floor in a piece of white bread and it would have tasted wonderful.  I remember riding on my dad's shoulders and at the register there were the peanut butter log candies that he would buy me.

Those are some vivid memories for me.  I loved that place and more importantly I loved the BBQ sauce.  It was nothing like anything else I've ever tried but it was very thin and vinegar based.  Not sweet and not too hot (although they had a HOT version)

That place burned to the ground in the early 1990s and the family never rebuilt.   More than 50 years of tradition gone.  Since then I have searched for the recipie that will come close.

When I lived in AR for 5 years this stuff came pretty close.  I hope you don't mind me posting it up. This is from a local personality in AR, so the cut and paste begins below


Famous SHACK barbeque sauce recipe (Little Rock, Arkansas): - BBQ, tasty, tangy, and unforgettable.

SHACK barbeque sauce goes well as a marinate, sauce on any meat. The secret barbeque (BBQ) sauce recipe was given to me by a long time employee , over 5,800 printed copies were mailed to 38 states and 14 foreign countries after I mentioned it on the radio, and since the Internet it has gone virtually everywhere.

It is somewhat 'hot', adjustable to suite your tastes, but initially stick to the recipe', even though it APPEARS to be excessive (pepper for instance). The amounts reflect the size most ingredients come in at the grocery store. As it stands it makes about a gallon or more. I see no reason it would not survive reducing, but I have always used as gifts, and have never attempted cutting it down.

Over the years, the feedback has been overwhelming, and the whole, growing, tale and experience connected with this delightful stuff fascinates me. After you brew your batch, and have passed it out, served it, and gotten "hooked', drop me an E-mail as I collect the stories.

The quest for Authentic SHACK info continues to rage, Dennis Thigpen (see Testmonials) forwarded a link which investigates and explores a lot of Shack info, theories, advice and directions. I found little to disagree with right down to the quality of the flimsey papers used to wrap the originals.
Memphis Cuisine Shack

By the way, there is no 'hook', scam, follow-up, sales pitch, or other underhanded motive here, other than my toying with the idea of writing a book about the convoluted meanderings and travels of this exquisite juice. I was in broadcasting for over 30 years, originated and participated in countless 'promotions' and gimmicks...the SHACK sauce saga turned out bigger than all of them, and it was never connected to any deal in any way. (So much for skilled promotion managers;-)

So, GO, now into the kitchen, and make history. If you are so inclined, you have my permission to outright LIE and claim the sauce is your own concoction, but this might have the effect of splintering the and obscuring the history and adventures I'm collecting.


Wet Stuff

Mix in a large bowl:

3 - 24 ounce bottle of ketchup (catsup)
Use the plastic ones, we will refill after making sauce.

Fill with hot water, swoosh around and dump contents into bowl.
Folks have asked: HOW MUCH WATER? Fill all three bottles, and dump all into 'Wet Stuff'
(For original recipe use Grapette from Wal Mart- see 'additional notes').

Pour in plain ole cheap vinegar. "THE" recipe calls for just less than a quart, do not sweat this. use anywhere from a pint to a quart, strangely, this amount has scant effect on final product.

Put "wet stuff' in a LARGE pan, put heat on "high"
by the time it is approaching a boil, you will have "dry stuff' prepared.

Dry Stuff:

Since you dumped wet stuff out of bowl, why not use for 'dry'?
Into bowl, dump:

1 - 4 ounce can of chili powder
1 - 4 ounce can of black pepper
1 - 4 ounce can of garlic salt (SALT, NOT garlic powder!!!)
1/2 cup - sugar (is the ORIGINAL amount, why not TRY that, and adjust to your very own taste after 'brewing' mess up...likewise with Tabasco. See below)
1 - small Tabasco (anywhere from 1 to 4 ounces..start with about 1 can 'play' to taste after whole mess is completed.
1 - small mustard (size of an apple, just regular ole smear on a hotdog yeller mustard)

...btw, easier to put the mustard in last, and just swirl around till it looks like chocolaty brown tar.


Dump all this stuff into pan on stove now approaching a simmer if you have been quick, and if you rinsed out the catsup with HOT water;-)

stir enough to make it evenly liquid...bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to a simmer.

30 minutes, (stir fairly often to avoid sticking).. during which the vinegar will bring sweat to your forehead, and tears to your eyes...think ventilation here.


That is it.
Remove from heat, pour back into bottles you saved, unfortunately, you will have an excess of sauce. Improvise, all life has dry rot.

You now have a LOT of sauce. I always do, and find it MOST welcome as a gift.

BTW, there is no need to refrigerate your sauce supply, even if you inhabit hot and humid southern climes! Apparently mischievous microbes refrain from causing problems in gratitude for being immersed in this tomato based necter, or are immobilized by the ingredients rendering them deliciously inert.

Additional Notes

Do it this way the first time, later, you may substitute Grapette, for the water (seriously) SHACK DID for several decades ... for total authenticity you can obtain Grapette from Wal Mart

I add about a cup of sugar to my sauce, but this is heresy, and practice has strong adherents and detractors.

Likewise minced onions, NOT authentic, but can be pleasant.

Do NOT futz with the amount of black pepper. I KNOW it sounds like a lot. Trust me on this.

Also remember garlic SALT, not garlic powder!! several folks got this wrong, actually the sauce wasn't bad, but they were not fit as shipmates for WEEKS.

Do NOT judge 'heat', as in taste, by sipping off spoon from pot, even if you were stingy with the Tabasco. Dunk a piece of bread into sauce and sample that way.

Should you screw up your courage and actually MAKE this stuff and after having your friends, co-workers and mistress try it, drop me an e-mail with comments : click dp

help me out here neck.  describe this sauce (if you can remember that far back)

what was the color
what was the consistency like
how tomato flavor was it

It was ruddy brown, very watery, and very little tomato flavor.  Lots of vinegar.  Not sweet at all.

That help?


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