Southern Barbecue Sauce

Southern Barbecue Sauce
Sabrina Baksh
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 3 cups (48 servings)
Ratings (41)

This is a classic-tomato based barbecue sauce with loads of flavor. If you need barbecue sauce, there is no need to run to the grocery store if you have ketchup and other common ingredients at home. This sauce is perfect on barbecued ribs, pulled pork or chicken. You can turn up the heat by adding more cayenne pepper.

If you have homemade ketchup or a preferred brand of ketchup that is organic or doesn't have high fructose corn syrup, so much the better. You'll be able to avoid the additives in prepared barbecue sauce while enjoying the flavor.

What You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1 large lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

How to Make It

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan. Add the minced garlic and cook for 15 to 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant.
  2. Add the ketchup, cider vinegar, water, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika, bay leaf, Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. Do not add the butter at this point. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch for burning and lower the temperature if needed.
  1. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Once melted through, let sauce cool for 10 to 15 minutes before using.
  2. If making ahead of time, cool sauce for 30 minutes and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days after preparation.

Using the Barbecue Sauce

To use the sauce, baste it onto ribs or chicken pieces during the last 15 to 18 minutes of cook time. The barbecue sauce can also be heated and served on top of pulled chicken or pork, or simply served on the side as a table sauce.

Variations of the Barbecue Sauce Recipe

By using ketchup as your base, you already have a lot of sweetness. As you become familiar with this recipe, you can modify it to increase or decrease the added sugar. If you like a spicier barbecue sauce, add more cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce to it. If you prefer mild, you can omit one or both. You can also vary the thickness of the sauce. To thin it, add a little more water. To thicken it, add less water and simmer it longer until it thickens to your preference.

Barbecue Sauce Styles

The Memphis and St. Louis styles of barbecue sauce are tomato-based with some sweetness and vinegar. These tend to be thinner than the Kansas City style, which is very heavy in tomato and sugar. Bottled barbecue sauces generally follow the Kansas City style.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 23
Total Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Unsaturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 1 mg
Sodium 75 mg
Carbohydrates 3 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 0 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)