Memphis Barbecue Sauce

Memphis Barbecue Sauce

The Spruce

  • Total: 33 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 18 mins
  • Servings: 10 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
78 Calories
3g Fat
14g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 78
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 6mg 2%
Sodium 375mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 1g
Calcium 33mg 3%
*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.)

Traditionally, Memphis Barbecue is served without a sauce. However, since rules are made to be broken, many Memphis BBQ Joints have sauces available, either on the side or by special order. This sauce captures the complexity of Memphis Barbecue in a rich sauce that has a mixture of sweet and vinegar with a hint of heat. A good Memphis Barbecue sauce is thinner than most tomato-based sauces.


  • 1 cup/240 mL ketchup
  • 1/2 cup/120 mL apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup/120 mL water
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL onion (pureed)
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL butter
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL molasses
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL​ brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons/15 mL ​prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon/7.5 mL Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon/7.5 mL paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon/7.5 mL ​mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons/10 mL dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons/5 mL dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2.5 mL salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 15 to 20 seconds or until it becomes fragrant. (Do not let the garlic burn or it will cause the sauce to become bitter.)

    melt butter
    The Spruce
  2. Add remaining ingredients (vinegar last), reduce heat and simmer over low for 12 to 15 minutes. Stir every so often.

    add spices
    The Spruce
  3. Remove sauce from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.

    let sauce cool
    The Spruce
  4. Use right away or store in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to one week after preparation. 


  • To rewarm sauce, microwave for 30 seconds at a time until it reaches room temperature. Serve on the side.
  • Use the sauce on any meats and vegetables. This can be served as a side sauce or table sauce.
  • The sauce can be stored in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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