Southern Barbecue Sauce

Southern Barbecue Sauce
Sabrina Baksh
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 48 servings
Yield: 3 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
23 Calories
1g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 23
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 80mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 31mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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 does not have high fructose corn syrup, even better. You will be able to avoid the additives in prepared barbecue sauce while enjoying the flavor.


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup

  • 6 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 large lemon

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan. Add the minced garlic and cook for 15 to 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant.

  3. 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.

  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Once melted through, let sauce cool for 10 to 15 minutes before using.

  5. If making ahead of time, cool sauce for 30 minutes and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for four to five days after preparation.

  6. Serve and enjoy.


  • 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.

Recipe Variations

  • 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 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.

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