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Aug 24, 2014 07:51 AM

What's the differences between BBQ sauces...

Memphis, KC, Carolina etc...


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  1. The list below is from -

    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 - Memphis Style Barbecue 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 Style - 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.

    3 Replies
    1. re: weinstein5

      "Carolina barbecue is well known for its slow cooking mode. They usually grill beef, chicken or lamb at their barbecue."

      Really? Carolina BBQ is all about the pork

      1. re: jbuttitta

        I agree with both you & Ted below. This list was written by someone who doesn't have a clue.

        I read it yesterday and didn't post. After reading the replies today, just figured I'd throw in my agreement.

      2. re: weinstein5

        This is just ridiculously wrong.

        South Carolina has its distinction in having mustard-based sauce for pork. The sauce in eastern North Carolina is primarily vinegar and red pepper flakes. White sauce in AL is used for chicken- they put another sauce on pork.

        One place in Savannah has a sauce that's almost halfway between a mustard and a tomato sauce. I feel like I've had something like that elsewhere, but I forget where.

      3. try them all and the only 'right' sauce is the one you like. (I skew STL/Memphis but it's all good if the base dry-rubbed and slow-cooked meat is right)

        1. One stop shopping for taxonomies of all of the major American barbecue sauce styles:

          Also, the website is an amazing repository for barbecue information, tips, and advice. Worth checking out.

          2 Replies
          1. re: biggreenmatt

            oh yeah they are good and not just BBQ but for all things grilled, the website takes a little poking around to reveal its secrets, but there is a lot to be found there.

            1. re: hill food

              Amen to that! Meathead is also a contributor to a new to me BBQ magazine that also covers more than jsut smoking. Last weekend was the national steak cook-off in Tulsa, OK Unfortunately it was over 100 °F last Saturday there so you barely needed a grill to get a steak medium-rare.

              Personally, I'm a KC BBQ guy and thick and sweet as discribed above is fairly accurate. I've had BBQ in Texas many times and the sauce there is much thinner as stated. My knowledge of other places is based on one or two times visiting those areas and I think you guys have made the necessary corrections to the inital response correctly. Must say I've never had white BBQ sauce.