BBQ Sauce Recipes That Will Get You Cooking in Minutes!

Let's all agree on one thing, barbecue sauce is a hero ingredient that makes almost anything it touches taste better. 

Racks of juicy ribs, pulled pork, brisket, or even used as a marinade barbecue sauce packs a ton of flavor that rivals in its versatility. Just like there are regional barbecue styles, like Memphis, Texas, Carolina, or Alabama, to name a few, there is also an array of barbecue sauces that go beyond the well-known and irresistible tomato-based sauces. 

The tomato-based sauces are most likely going to have the easiest access to, mostly through your grocery stores (grillionaire hack). This style is the most recognizable as well, being accepted in Kansas City, reaching to Memphis and Texas as well. 

While tomato-based barbecue sauce tends to be thick and glossy, vinegar-based barbecue sauce is on the thinner side, and with a spicy kick to boot. Mustard-based barbecue sauce, like its vinegar-based acquaintance, is also thin, sharp, and spicy, and is more commonly found in South Carolina barbecue. And lastly, to really change things up, in comes mayonnaise-based barbecue sauce, which is really just linked to the one and only Alabama white barbecue sauce. Vinegar, lemon, and seasonings give this unique barbecue sauce its delicious flavor, plus its creaminess is undeniably welcome on grilled chicken.

How to Make Tomato-Based Barbecue Sauce

Tomato-based barbecue sauce is often tangy and sweet. This is due to the molasses or brown sugar used in the mixture. It works best with almost any meat. You can try it on pizza, sandwiches, or even meatloaf. It is BEST to be applied near the end of the cook so that your sauces doesn't burn. Here is a great base recipe I use when I am in a pinch:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

How to Make Vinegar-Based Barbecue Sauce

THIS is the sauce I grew up on. Usually, a vinegar-based sauce is not going to include ketchup, but occasionally it will sneak in. Some, like those hailing from Eastern North Carolina, might be free of any tomato product, but others, like Piedmont or Lexington-style sauce, might include just a touch of ketchup which softens the vinegar tang.

Thanks to its acidity, this type of sauce balances out rich and fatty cuts of meat, like pork, so slather it on as it grills. Don't be shy to try it on grilled chicken too, but skip pouring it over any beef. The spicy kick comes from cayenne, crushed red pepper, or even hot sauce. For a variation to the below, add 2 tablespoons ketchup. Here is a great base recipe:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons hot sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

How to Make Mustard-Base Barbecue Sauce

Living in South Carolina, I have become a GREAT fan of the zingy and thin barbecue sauce. I can attest, it is PERFECT on a pulled pork sandwich or you can divert it and try it on grilled chicken. Generally, it is thinned with vinegar and infused with spices. Here is a little barbecue history for you: German settlers brought the use of mustard with them and it now has its place in barbecue lore. Here is another great base recipe for mustard-base barbecue sauce: 

  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring throughout, until honey and sugar dissolve, about 5 minutes.
  2. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

 How to Make Mayonnaise-Based Barbecue Sauce

The base of the "white sauce" from ole'Bama is mayonnaise. Let me be clear here, the ONLY mayo you should be using is Duke's Mayo...that's it. This sauce is VERY different from the other regional sauces, in a good way! White sauce is creamy and INSANELY flavorful, thanks to the mixtures. To me, this is best on chicken; grilled or fried. Best applied at the end of the cook. 

Grillionaire Pro Tip: It will ALSO serve well as a dip.

Here is another GREAT base recipe for the "white sauce":

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1¼ teaspoons prepared horseradish, optional
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, optional
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

No matter what region you hale from, barbecue sauce is a regular attender in all barbecue circles and cookouts. I love barbecue so much that I want to share that with the world and using these sauces, homemade elevate your barbecue knowledge and game. 

Until next time, eat well and do well! 

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