≡ Menu

Regional Guide to BBQ Sauces


No matter where you come from in the United States, you will undoubtedly have a tried and true barbecue sauce. From Kansas City’s thick, tomato-based sauce to the more vinegary Carolina variety, there are cult followings for each type. Whether you marinate your meat first or just mop it up in large doses, BBQ sauce is a summer must and we’re here to enlighten you about the different kinds:

  • Kansas City – This BBQ sauce is thick, sweet, and reddish-brown due to it being tomato or ketchup-based. This variety is most popular across the board due to the meld of sweet and savory flavors; this sauce is made up entirely of tomato sauce or ketchup, sugar, vinegar, and spices. It is mainly used as a “mopping” sauce as the thickness doesn’t allow it to penetrate into grilled meats. In our store we have Bone Doctors Original Sauce ($7.50) which is a Kansas City style sauce, tomato-based and sweetened with sugar.
  • Memphis – This recipe is similar to the Kansas City style, as it typically is made with the same ingredients.The only difference here is that the Memphis BBQ sauce tends to have more vinegar and uses molasses rather than sugar as a sweetener.
  • East Carolina – The earliest known variation of barbecue sauce can be traced back to a sauce popularized by African slaves. Made with vinegar, ground black pepper, and hot chili pepper flakes, this sauce is used mostly to baste the meat while it cooks and then as a dipping sauce when served. It has a thinner consistency and a sharp flavor, which allows it to blend itself with the meat and cut the taste of the fat. Little to no sugar is used in this recipe, which polarizes BBQ sauce camps – the vinegar and intense heat flavor profile definitely has a big cult following! We stock Scott’s Spiciy MopSauce ($4.25) which typifies a traditional East Carolina sauce, thin texture, strong vinegar flavor, no sugar and finishes with a kick.
  • South Carolina Mustard Sauce – A spin on the classic barbecue sauce is the South Carolina variety; more closely related to its Kansas City counterpart, this one is made primarily with yellow mustard rather than tomato sauce. Found in the belt region between Columbia and Charleston, which is an area settled by many Germans. Be sure to know the difference: coastal North Carolina likens themselves to the vinegar-based sauces with black pepper while the hilly regions love the thin tomato-based sauce variety! A tasty example of  this style is Lillie’s Q’s Carolina Gold ($9.50).  which comes from popular Chicago based BBQ restaurant. The restaurant is  named after Chef Charlie MeKenna’s grandmother who was from South Carolina.
  • Texas – Don’t mess with Texas! Especially not with their barbecue sauce. They go all out in terms of flavor by seasoning their variety with bell peppers, cumin, chili peppers, ancho powder, black pepper, fresh onion, and a touch of tomato. You’ll find barely any sugar in this recipe and most times it will contain meat drippings and smoke flavor. The consistency is often medium thick, which allows it to immerse itself in the meat. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Original Sauce ($7.50) is the perfect example of a Texas style bbq sauce, the  peppers, onions and spices  makes this sauce loud, smoky, sweet and spicy all at the same time.  Developed by Harley riders in Syracuse, NY.
  • Alabama White Sauce – The biggest difference in variety would have to go to North Alabama’s version. It is a distinctive white sauce – made from mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and black pepper – and used predominantly on chicken and pork rather than ribs. Also from Lillie’s Q, we stock their Lillie’s Q Ivory BBQ Sauce ($9.50) which is based on this style. This sauce is not only for bbqing chicken or pork, it can be added to potato salad, coleslaw or for dipping fries.

With this wide array of choice, it’ll be hard to choose just one variety for your next barbecue – you’ll have to try one of each all summer long!