Southern-Style Molasses Barbecue Sauce

Brush casting Southern Molasses Barbecue Sauce over meat on grill
Rachel Weill/Photodisc/Getty Images
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
25 Calories
0g Fat
6g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 25
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 90mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 18mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 152mg 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.)

Barbecue sauces come in many flavors and variations: tomato, mustard, or vinegar-based, with spicy ingredients or without, sometimes with mayo, and often with sweeteners that come in the form of brown sugar, honey, or molasses. The combinations are infinite and depend on where you live, the traditions of the cook, and personal preferences. But who doesn't love a succulent rib coated in sweet and savory BBQ sauce? Our recipe for a molasses-based sauce checks many boxes, with a thick consistency, spicy undertones, tomato-and-vinegar base, and a kick of garlic—it has it all. Ready in 10 minutes, this recipe makes around 1 cup of sauce. Delicious on ribs, chops, steaks, burgers, and perhaps on any barbecued meat there is, our simple sauce is a great recipe to have at hand as it's quick to make and packs a punch.

So if you are a barbecue novice and want a great sauce to accompany your meats, this is a tasty first sauce. Be mindful that because of the high sugar content, this sauce, like many other BBQ sauces, is not meant to be used when grilling meats. The high temperature used in grilling will quickly burn the coated meats and you'll end up with a piece of burnt charcoal that might resemble a chicken breast. This sauce is meant to be used in the last stage of cooking or served as a table sauce so each guest can add as much or as little sauce as they want. However, if you've done your share of grilling, you'll know that this is a great sauce for cooking your meats low and slow, in true barbecue style. In either case, the sauce is just delicious, and no matter how you cook your meats, you'll be coming back for more—thus double or triple the amounts if you're hosting a bigger gathering.

The sauce keeps well in the fridge for a few days, but don't use it just when the barbecue beckons. The sweetness nicely complements plant-based proteins like tempeh, seitan, or tofu. A spoonful watered down with olive oil and filtered water is great when roasting vegetables as it adds a touch of sweetness that doesn't mask the true flavors of the vegetables. Mix equal parts of sauce with mayonnaise, full-fat Greek yogurt, or sour cream to make a sauce for fries and yuca wedges, or mix the creamy sauce with your favorite pasta or potato salad. The possibilities with this sauce are endless—you just need a few minutes and simple ingredients to unlock the powerful flavors of Southern barbecue.


  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1/3 cup molasses, or sorghum molasses

  • 1/4 cup vinegar

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 dash salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

  3. Enjoy!