Many believe that a great barbecue is determined by the taste of the sauce. Nevertheless, if the meat itself doesn’t taste good, then no amount of sauce can make up for it. The sauce will only enhance the taste of a well cooked meat. Almost every region of America has its own rub recipe to give the right taste to the meat and accordingly they have a corresponding recipe for the sauce.
According to Lake E. High, Jr., President of the South Carolina Barbeque Association, all of the sauces used in America “generally” fall under one of four basic categories.
Vinegar and Pepper Sauce – is believed to be the first, simple barbecue sauce made hundreds of years ago.
Mustard Sauce - this is a very discrete South Caroline Style sauce. The origins of this sauce are the result of the large German heritage in South Carolina. This sauce is often referred to as a “Carolina” sauce and it remains very popular in the Carolinas and the deep Southeast U.S.
Light Tomato Sauce - the third sauce to emerge was also found in South Carolina, called Light Tomato sauce. As the name suggests, the sauce has tomato ketchup as its base. Records indicate that this was made around 1900 when ketchup started becoming more readily available in the U.S. Though it was founded in South Carolina, it is quite famous now in North Carolina.
Heavy Tomato Sauce – is the most recently developed and widely available sauce. This sauce typically includes some time of sugar or sweetener and has become very popular throughout the U.S.
Today, in the U.S. there are many different styles of BBQ Sauce/Tastes. What we see is a blending of the four basic categories that result in many unique sauces in different regions throughout the U.S. Although every southern state and then regions within the state may brag about their unique barbecue sauce, the most nationally recognized and publicized types of sauce are probably:
South Carolina BBQ Sauce - Carolina barbecue is well known for its slow cooking mode. They usually grill beef, chicken or lamb at their barbecue. A traditional rub consists of salt, sugar, brown sugar, ground cumin, chili powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika. The sauce is made by first heating distilled white vinegar and cider vinegar, and then adding sugar, hot red pepper flakes, salt and ground pepper.
Kansas City BBQ Sauce - In Kansas City, they usually like ribs at their BBQs. Their traditional rub is made by mixing brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, onion powder, cayenne, garlic powder and chili powder. The Kansas City sauce falls under the Heavy tomato sauce category. It is prepared by boiling oil in a sauce pan and frying garlic until its brown. Then add ketchup, water, vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, paprika, chili powder, garlic and cayenne.
St. Louis BBQ Sauce - This is a tomato and vinegar based sauce. It is not as sweet and thick as Kansas City-style and not as spicy and thin as Texas-style. A St. Louis barbecue always includes lots of sauce.
Texas BBQ Sauce - The Texas style of rub and sauce are pretty famous in the Southwestern U.S., where they usually cook Briskets at BBQ. A typical rub consists of mixing paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano, chili powder and dried parsley. The Texas style sauce consists of tomato sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, dry mustard, margarine, Tabasco sauce, garlic cloves, chopped onions, salt and pepper to taste, chopped and de-seeded jalapeno peppers.
Memphis BBQ Sauce - A traditional Memphis BBQ serves dry ribs and the rub recipe to prepare Memphis style ribs is to mix paprika, salt, onion powder, ground black pepper and cayenne together in a bowl. The sauce falls under the Vinegar and Pepper type and consists of brown sugar, chili powder, finely ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, cayenne, prepared mustard, cider vinegar Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke and canola oil.
Alabama White BBQ Sauce - In Alabama, the rub does not seem to contain anything unique to the region, but the specialty of Alabama BBQ lies in the recipe of its sauce. The traditional sauce of Alabama is white in color as it consists of Mayonnaise and is referred to as “White BBQ sauce”. The sauce is made of Mayonnaise, salt, black pepper, white vinegar, lemon juice and sugar along with each creator’s special seasonings.
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