St. Louis Barbecue Sauce

St. Louis Ribs
Ernesto Andrade/Flickr
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 3 1/2 cups (serves 28)
Ratings (67)

St. Louis barbecue sauce is thinner and a bit more tangy in flavor than its Kansas City cousin. Being at the crossroads, St. Louis style barbecue has many influences, so there are a number of ways of making this style of sauce. Give this version a try next time you grill, smoke, or bake some pork ribs.

The history of this style of barbecue sauce hails back to grocer Louis Maull of St. Louis. He started out selling groceries from a horse-drawn wagon in 1897. He began making condiments and debuted Maull's Barbecue Sauce in 1926, 22 years before H.J. Heinz would bottle his first barbecue sauce. This St. Louis style has none of the liquid smoke you will find in many Kansas City-style barbecue sauces. Maull's boasts 20 ingredients in its sauce. This recipe keeps the number far lower.

The St. Louis style of barbecue usually is done by grilling and saucing rather than "low and slow." Because this sauce contains sugar (although less than Kansas City styles), it can burn at higher temperatures. It should be used only when the meat is over low heat or put on at the end of cooking.

What You'll Need

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

How to Make It

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally and let simmer for 20 minutes. The sauce should be thin, but not watery.
  2. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. You can use the sauce immediately after cooling, but it is better if you allow it to sit for a day (refrigerated). Place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator (a squeeze bottle is a handy storage container). The barbecue sauce can be stored refrigerated for up to one week after preparation or three to four months in the freezer.

    St. Louis-style ribs are a squared-off rib slab (codified by the USDA), and you will often see these ribs as a category in barbecue competitions. You can find St. Louis-style ribs at the meat market to use for your authentic St. Louis rib meal. Slather this St. Louis barbecue sauce onto ribs three to four times toward the end of cook time. You can also serve extra sauce on the side for those who like a bit more.

    You can use this barbecue sauce on more than ribs. It goes well with barbecue pork chops or the pork steaks you will find in St. Louis, which are crosscut slabs of Boston butt. You may also enjoy it on burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, or as a dipping sauce.

    Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
    Calories 30
    Total Fat 0 g
    Saturated Fat 0 g
    Unsaturated Fat 0 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg
    Sodium 190 mg
    Carbohydrates 8 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.)