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Top 10 Best Barbecue Sauces

Barbecue is a true American tradition. It has several other names such as barbeque, Bar-B-Q, BBQ, and Bar-B-Cue among other variations.

There is a huge controversy all over the world on what should naturally constitute a barbecue. It is also evident that the details and meaning of the dish differ from one region to another.

However, the sauce plays an important role in creating finger-licking and lip-smacking barbecue among all variations.

Sauces come in several variations and each region in the world has its favorite type. Here is a compilation of the top 10 best barbecue sauces you should try.

We also asked some barbecue experts about their best BBQ sauce recipe. You find their answers at the end of this article.


1. Texas Style Sauce

It is not as thin as the sauce prepared from the vinegar. It is a little thicker but not super-thick. Its base is ketchup or tomato sauce. The sauce is meant to be added to the meat before it is served. Some recipes advocate for barbecuing the meat using a dry rub made from different spices.

It uses spices such as paprika, chili powder, cumin and any other ingredient that might be included in a barbecue recipe. Barbeque from Texas is majorly made from beef. One popular choice is brisket that is smoked in a pit with oak or hickory. The sauce has to be served warm.

   Texas Style Sauce Recipe

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili


Heat butter, add onion, cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, cook for one more minute. Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to a boil.

2. Lexington Dip

Some of the areas in Northern Carolina refer to their sauce as “dip”. Lexington Dip is similar to East Carolina sauce but has an addition of ketchup or tomato. These additions serve to cut the vinegar flavor and add a little sweetness. The sauce is thin and has a tart taste. Some people describe it to be sweet and sour since there is a balance between tomato and vinegar.

The sauce is also brushed on the meat during the cooking process. Some people also serve it on the side in order for it to drizzle over the meat before eating. One of the popular side dishes in this region is the Lexington-style coleslaw. Rather than using the traditional white coleslaw, its slaw is mixed into the same Lexington Dip.

Lexington Dip Recipe

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. East Carolina Mop Sauce

The eastern part of Carolina enjoys vinegar-based sauce. A regular barbecue source is applied shortly before serving the meal. However, mop sauce is also brushed on the meat during the cooking process. The mop sauce is always thin and acidic and soaks into the meat during the cooking process. This adds a new flavor to the dish. Mop sauce in East Carolina is majorly made up of hot sauce and vinegar.

It is best for use on pulled pork and ribs. Ribs are naturally fatty and sweet. The vinegar cuts down the fat level and enhances its taste all over the meat. Some people also utilize it as a finishing sauce. Most people describe this sauce to be spicy, tangy and peppery.

East Carolina Mop Sauce Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup brown sugar


Heat, mix cider vinegar, molasses, dry mustard, butter, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Mix 4 teaspoons cornstarch with 4 teaspoons cold water and slowly add to the sauce; simmer 1 minute.

4. South Carolina Mustard Sauce

South Carolina is divided on how it prepares its sauce. Some areas prefer tomato-based varieties while others prefer vinegar. The central part of South Carolina is popularly known to prepare a mustard-based sauce. The origin of this type of source traces back to the German settlers. Naturally, the source contains apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, brown sugar and a number of spices.

Some recipes also call for use of molasses or honey. Traditionally, South Carolina prepares its barbecue using pork. Most enthusiasts cook the pork over an open pit using hardwood coals. The sauce is added before serving.

South Carolina Mustard Sauce Recipe

  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce


Put all ingredients in a small saucepan. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

5. Kansas City Sauce

Kansas City is popularly known for its barbecue. The barbecue roots of the city trace back to Henry Perry who sold slow-cooked ribs in 1920. Each slab went for 25 cents and was covered in a succulent sauce. Kansas City barbecue involves smoking the meat slowly over hickory wood.

At times, the meat is smoked for a maximum of 18 hours. It is also tomato-based and contains molasses or brown sugar that adds a certain level of sweetness. Additionally, Kansas City Sauce serves both beef and pork.

Kansas City Sauce Recipe

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cloves garlic


Heat the oil in a pan. Put garlic and sauté until brown. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.

6. St. Louis Barbecue Sauce

It is thinner and has a tangier flavor when compared to the Kansas City style. It has a number of influences that result in different ways of making up this style of barbecue sauce. All the ingredients are combined in a saucepan and heated over low temperatures. The sauce should be thin and not watery. The sauce can be made better by allowing it to sit for a day before using it.

St. Louis Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/3 brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne


Put all ingredients in a pan. Stirring occasionally and simmer for 20 minutes. The sauce should be thin, but not watery.

7. Classic Barbecue Rib Sauce

Barbecue ribs are associated with a certain type of flavor. This type of sauce can help you achieve this flavor whether they are smoked or baked in an oven. The sauce has a touch of smoke, heat and a deep rich flavor.

During preparation, onions are blended together with water in a puree. A medium saucepan is then heated over medium heat. Olive oil is then heated and added into the onion puree. The mixture is simmered until it slightly turns into brown.

Classic Barbecue Rib Sauce Recipe

  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenneGround pepper


Mix onion and water into a puree. Heat the pan at medium. Add olive oil. When oil is warm, pour in onion puree. Simmer until slightly browned. Add the last ingredients.

8. Memphis Barbecue Sauce

Traditionally, this type of barbeque is served with no sauce. However, most joints serving it have sauces available either on special order or on side. The sauce captures the complexity of the barbecue. It has a taste of both vinegar and sweet components. The best sauce should be thinner than most of the tomato-based sauces.

Memphis Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili
  • 2 teaspoons oregano


Start with butter in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add the rest of the ingredients (vinegar last), reduce heat and simmer over low for maybe 20 min.

9. Best Odds Pulled Pork Sauce

This vinegary sauce is thin and is added to pork. The pork is first smoked then pulled before adding the sauce. This moistens the meat and adds a wonderful flavor. The sauce is made by combining best odds pulled pork rub, apple cider vinegar, and water. After mixing, the pulled pork is evenly and lightly coated. It is neither soupy nor dry.

Best Odds Pulled Pork Sauce Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne


Mix water and sugar and stir until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients. Add slowly to pulled pork while mixing.

10. Jack Daniel’s Rib Glaze

It is a sweet and sticky sauce that is applied to the ribs in a grilled or smoked form. This protects the sugar present in the sauce from burning. It also allows the sauce to form a rich glaze on the surface of the meat.

Jack Daniel’s Rib Glaze Recipe

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup Jack Daniel’s
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • salt and pepper


Put all ingredients in a pan and mix well. Simmer for 18-20 min then let it cool.

The above barbecue sauces are among several other sauces found all over the world. The best type to go for however depends on the region and the available ingredients. You can find many more recipes here!

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