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Apr 9, 2003 11:45 AM

Killer southern BBQ sauce recipe

  • s

I need a Killer southern BBQ sauce recipe. Can anyone help me? I've tried several that are good, but I need one that is truely remarkable.
Thanks, Spencer

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  1. Are you looking for Mustard based, tomato based, or vinegar based? "Southern" style is pretty vague. Is it a finishing sauce or a table sauce you're looking for?

    3 Replies
    1. re: AlanH

      Tomato based table sauce

      1. re: Spencer

        I made one last week that was pretty good. Not too sweet, more on the vinegary side. Measures are approximate:

        1 cup ketchup, or catsup if you prefer
        1/2 cup cider vinegar
        1/2 cup white vinegar
        1/2 cup brown sugar
        1 tbsp mustard powder
        1/4 cup finely chopped onions
        a few cloves crushed garlic1 tbsp cayenne
        salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

        simmer uncovered over low heat for about an hour, stirring occassionally, allow to cool to room temperature.

        1. re: Spencer

          The tomato-based sauce in the Best Recipe, published by Cook's Illustrated, is simply killer. I don't have the recipe with me, but if you or a friend has the cookbook, I highly recommend it. It's made with canned tomatoes (might be some ketchup in there, too, but I can't remember) and all the usual suspects--vinegar, molasses, etc. It simmers for 2-3 hours and yum.


      2. b

        Here is my family's favorite, a Memphis-style sauce that is a good balance of sweet, sour, and hot. This sauce is far from bland!

        1 cup ketchup (Heinz)
        1/2 cup molasses
        1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar
        1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
        1 teaspoon onion powder
        1 teaspoon garlic powder
        1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
        1 teaspoon chili powder
        1 teaspoon ground mustard
        1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

        Combine ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil on stovetop and reduce to desired consistency.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Browniebaker

          That sounds really good- thank you, I'll try it. So how bout your best brownie recipe, Browniebaker?

          1. re: Spencer

            My best brownie recipe is the result of months of trial and error and is tailored to my family's preference for a brownie somewhere between cakey and fudgey in texture, with strong chocolate-fudge flavor and good chew. The unorthodox ingredients are light brown sugar (which gives the taste of chocolate fudge and good chew) and bread flour (which gives good chew). This brownie may not be for everyone, least of all for chocolate purists who might abhor the addition of brown sugar. My method is also a bit exacting and involved, but I always say, "If it doesn't hurt, you're not doing it right!"

            For those of you who are game to try it, here's my family's favorite:


            6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
            3/4 cup unsalted butter
            1-3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
            3 large eggs
            1 teaspoon vanilla extract
            1-1/4 cups bread flour (using dip-and-sweep method of measuring)
            1/4 teaspoon baking soda
            1/4 teaspoon salt
            1/2 cup + 1/4 cup chocolate chips or chunks (optional)
            1/2 cup + 1/4 cup toasted chopped nuts (optional)

            Position oven-rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light-colored aluminum 8" square pan. In mixing bowl, microwave chocolate and butter until melted, stirring periodically to distribute heat. Stir in sugar until no lumps remain. Stir in eggs and vanilla, just until blended. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold flour mixture into wet mixture, just until blended. Fold in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and/or 1/2 cup of nuts (if using). Spread evenly into pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and/or 1/4 cup of nuts on top (if using). Wrap soaking-wet Magi-Cake strips around walls of pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes (30 to 35 if not using wet strips), just until center has risen and fallen and is firm to the touch and wooden tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven. If center of cake subsides and is lower than edges, gently press edges down with spatula so that cake is level. Lightly score surface into 16 squares with plastic knife. Cool in pan to room temperature. Cut into 16 squares with plastic knife. For chewier brownies, let sit overnight before serving. Serve at room temperature. Makes 16 brownies.

          2. re: Browniebaker

            do you have to boil the sauce and what will happen if u don't

          3. This is from a NYT article, it's the recipe from Cooper's in Llano, TX. I really like it and it's very distinctive but I will admit that reactions have been mixed. I use drippings from smoking beef brisket -- which I think you won't get any unless you're smoking a whole brisket as flat cuts don't have much fat -- and I think they really make the sauce.

            1 cup meat drippings or smoked chicken stock
            1 cup ketchup
            1/2 cup cider vinegar
            2 tablespoons bacon drippings or lard
            1 tablespoon hot sauce
            1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
            Salt and pepper to taste.

            Combine all ingredients plus 1/2 cup water in a large heavy pot and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Gently simmer over medium-low heat until richly flavored, 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent scorching. You can also put pot on grill and cook sauce with smoke. Adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.

            Yield: about 3 1/2 cups.

            I say leave out the liquid smoke, what is that shit anyway? And if you do put this on the grill, *be sure* to boil it well first -- those meat drippings could really grow some bad vibes that need killin.

            5 Replies
            1. re: john clark


              Li**id sm*ke in a BBQ sauce attributed to Cooper's in Llano, the place where god goes when he's in the mood for Texas style Brisket, absolutely ridiculous. In all deference to Pierre Salinger, just because you read it on the Internet doesn't make it true. Cooper's in Llano uses mesquite wood burned to coals, they 'don't need no stinking Li**id Sm*ke.'

              Cooper's in Llano, which has, in my not so humble opinion, the very best Brisket in the known universe, uses a somewhat thin simple sauce meant as an accent. SOP at Cooper's is to take a slice of bread, drizzle a thin line of sauce down the middle, add a slice or three of Brisket, fold and eat.

              I was given the recipe for Cooper's Brisket BBQ sauce by Terry Wootan, one of the owners of Coopers, though he was quite specific as to the fact that he was leaving out a few ‘secret’ ingredients. The recipe is quite simple, equal parts water, white vinegar, ketchup and a few shakes of Texas Pete, simmer for 15 or 20 minutes.

              I have made Cooper’s BBQ Brisket sauce any number of times since being given the recipe and I always add Worcestershire and cracked black pepper. I also add a small amount of kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder and a chunk of fatty bark from the cooking brisket. In the last couple of years, since I started adding a chunk of crisp, spicy, fatty, brisket bark, the flavor and richness of my ‘Cooper’s’ sauce has improved ten fold.

              John, now don't get me wrong here, I realize you are not a liq**d sm*ke fan and the recipe you posted, sans liq**d smo*ke (as you suggested) may be quite tasty, though it is not Southern Style as per the original post. What I take exception to is liq**d Sm*ke as an ingredient in a recipe attributed to Cooper's in Llano.

              Gary (Who always capitalizes the word Brisket when used in conjunction with Cooper's in Llano)

              1. re: G Wiv

                Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I should have questioned the recipe given that the article also saw fit to mention that in Texas we cook our barbecue quickly, at about four hundred degrees. This was news to me. Anyway I stand behind the recipe, w/o the Liquid Smoke. And I withdraw my assertion that it's from Cooper's.

                So how do you cook brisket? Packer trim or flats? Wood or charcoal? Four hundred degrees? (nurk nurk) Foil? Rub? I had hell getting this down last summer but I've just realized that I need to measure the temperature *where the meat is* and not where they put the thermometer. Given that new insight I plan to try flats and whole briskets at around two hundred and shoot for an internal temperature around one ninety, then rest the meat in foil for one hour. I use a cheap barrel-style smoker with an offset firebox and B&B hardwood lump charcoal.

                1. re: john clark


                  Mainly I use full packer trim brisket in the 14-lb range. My dry rub preferences vary, sometimes a simple mix of cracked pepper and kosher salt all the way to a herbal, chili powder (chili powder as in various toasted ground dried peppers, not a chili mix) laden mix that results in a crispy spicy bark. If I am really in the mood for spice I sometimes rub the brisket with chili oil then add rub, but usually only rub with a light coat of mustard to help the rub adhere. Lately I find myself using the simpler mix of salt and pepper, no mustard, but as I said, depends on my mood.

                  I live in the City of Chicago so my smoker options are a bit limited, I currently have two, a Weber Smokey Mountain and a New Branfels Bandera. I also built a cinder block pit at my wife's cousin's house, which is about 50-miles West of Chicago, which we use for pig and goat roasts. In the WSM I use lump charcoal with 3x3 chunks of wood for smoke and in the Bandera I often burn straight wood, though have been known to use a little lump if feeling lazy. I also, often, use both smokers in an ersatz direct style at 20-inches above the fire which gives me a 'fat in the fire' BBQ flavor, which I also enjoy.

                  My personal smoking style, in offset, is to use a higher temp than is traditionally called for, in the neighborhood of 275° as opposed to 225°, even higher for poultry. I should point out that I'm not looking for fall off the bone ribs or brisket, meat that 'falls apart with just a dirty look,' but for meat that retains structural integrity along with a subtle flavoring of smoke. I am not of the eat BBQ on Sunday, burp smokerings on Thursday school of BBQ.

                  Foil, not for me. IMHO wrapping brisket, or any BBQ meat, in foil changes the texture of the meat, giving it a mealy, mushy mouth feel, not unlike poorly managed gummy pot roast. If I am cooking brisket that is to be used the next day, I will let it cool almost completely before wrapping in either foil or plastic to minimize any residual heat steaming the meat.

                  If you are using an offset style smoker you may wish to add some type of heat deflection baffle between the firebox and horizontal to distribute heat in a more even fashion. I will include a picture of my Bandera baffle. I have also included a link to the BBQ Porch FAQ, a fountainhead of information concerning all things BBQ.

                  My last suggestion is to ignore all of the above, if there is anything I have found that in BBQ, as in most things in life, everyone likes something different. Though, as Chicago Chowhound Seth's personal Korean lunch chef says, "it's all good." (with the exception of liq**d sm*ke {smile})

                  It sounds as if you are well on your way to becoming a BBQ fanatic, like so many of us, including The Mayor of Chicago Chowhound, Vital Information, already are. Have fun and remember, with BBQ you get to eat your mistakes.


                  Smoking in Chicago,



                2. re: G Wiv
                  Vital Information

                  In the servce of Gwiv, the Ultimo, I did a bit of poking around. I found the New York Times article in question, and while I do not necessarily believe everything on the Net, I do believe religously in the New York Times (especially it's sainted editor, Howell Raines). Three points:

                  1) The article DOES state that Texas Q can be cooked at degrees up to 400 degrees.

                  2) There is a recipe for a sauce with liquid smoke. It is "adapted" from Coppers. But

                  3) The article contains the following passage:

                  "Cooper's meat owes its robust smoke flavor to mesquite, and it is cooked by a process more akin to direct grilling. Cooper's also makes its own barbecue sauce: ketchup, vinegar, water, black pepper, Louisiana hot sauce, lard and brisket drippings all smoked together in the pit for 48 hours."

                  No liquid smoke there!


                  1. re: Vital Information

                    Vital Information,

                    Leave it to the Mayor of Chicago Chowhound, Vital Information, to get to the heart of the matter, the recipe was 'adapted' from Cooper's. Adapted though it may be, my suggestion to Mr. Raines is to dismiss, promptly, whomever adapted a recipe containing liq**d sm*ke and attributed it to Cooper's in Llano.

                    In reference to Cooper's grilling their meat, to the uninformed, i.e. anyone who suggests liq**d sm*ke in a BBQ sauce recipe, Cooper's method may seem like grilling. While Cooper's does place the meat directly over mesquite wood burned to coals the average distance, dependent on the days build-up of residual ash, is approximately 30-inches minimizing the grilling (radiant heat) effect.

                    As far as cooking at 400° Cooper's direct style uses a higher temperature, 275°-300°, than off-set style, which is also popular in Texas. Cooper's does give their Brisket a short initial sear that may be in the 400° range, though there are no thermometers in evidence at Cooper's.

                    Thanks again Mr. Mayor for shedding light on the NYT's article.


              2. i just sent you my momma's recipe