Barbeque Sauce Styles

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If you go to enough barbeque places, you will start to note the many different types of barbeque sauces available.  What makes one different from another?  This is an overview of the different types of barbeque sauces found in the US.

Kansas City Barbeque Sauce

Kansas City barbeque sauce is what most people think when they want barbeque sauce. It is thick, sweet, and tangy. Ketchup or Tomato Sauce and molasses or honey are the main ingredients of this sauce and give it a thicker consistency and sweeter flavor. Other ingredients that can be added are Worcestershire, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, onion, and other spices like peppers. This sauce is typically applied during cooking and served on the side after as a dressing.  It is used on pork, chicken, and beef.  This is the traditional sauce used on barbequed ribs, usually in conjunction with a dry rub.

North Carolina Vinegar Sauce

This barbeque sauce is unique in that it doesn’t use any tomato.  It is made of vinegar, typically an apple cider vinegar, and spices like crushed red pepper, black pepper, cayenne, hot sauce, and salt.  Some people add bird peppers or other spicy peppers as well. The sauce is spicy and acidic in nature.  The meat can be marinated in this sauce and it can be applied during the cooking of the meat as well as a basting sauce.  The vinegar in the sauce helps tenderize the meat before and during the cooking.

South Carolina Barbeque Sauce

This sauce has a base of mustard and no tomato as well.  The sauce is made of mustard thinned with vinegar, typically apple cider vinegar or a white vinegar.  Other additions can include brown sugar, honey, salt, hot sauce, pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.  This sauce is typically used on pork or on slaw.  You will very rarely see it paired with beef.  It has a sharp tangy flavor.

Carolina BBQ Sauce

Other names you might hear for this sauce are “Piedmont-style” or “Lexington Dip”. It is not a sauce that you baste or marinate the meat in, but rather apply afterward.  It is a thin, hot and vinegary sauce. A typical recipe is Apple cider vinegar, water, ketchup, dark brown sugar or honey, red pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt.  The longer this sauce sits, the hotter it will get.  It is frequently paired with pork or chicken.

Texas-Style Barbeque Sauce

Texas style barbeque sauce is often called mop sauce since it was applied with a mop while the meat was cooking.  It isn’t a marinade or sauce served to be poured on the meat after. It is more of a glaze to be applied while the meat, typically beef, is cooking.  This sauce is frequently used when smoking beef.  The main ingredients include beef stock, vinegar, Worcestershire, hot sauce, garlic, onion, spices like salt, pepper, chili, cumin, and paprika.


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