Sauce Across America



All aboard! Let’s take a tour of BBQ sauces across this great nation. Arguably one of the most classic and authentic American cooking styles, barbecuing has a rich and storied history. And reflections of that past are apparent everywhere in the country, even now. One way to keep track of the BBQ traditions of the US is to take a look at the different sauces we can find in BBQ hotspots from coast to coast.



This is definitely a sauce that is less known outside of its region. But once you encounter it, you will not forget it! This barbecue sauce is known as “white BBQ sauce” because of its main ingredient- mayonnaise. Rounding out the recipe is vinegar, pepper, apple juice, and lemon. This rich and tangy sauce is perfect on smoked chicken and pork but is also added to salads and slaws or used as a dipping sauce.



The Carolinas

This state has a long legacy of outdoor cooking. We will have to break it into regions:

Eastern North Carolina

Here, they favor a thin, simple sauce. Originally created for cooking a whole pig, the recipe contains cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, and seasonings like cayenne, black pepper, red pepper, hot sauce, salt, and a pinch of sugar.


Lexington / Piedmont (Western North Carolina)

This recipe took the Eastern sauce and added some sweetness with tomatoes and brown sugar. This is a must for pulled pork in the region.


South Carolina

They flipped the script with this, implementing a mustard-heavy base. Hot sauce, garlic, onion powder, sugar, salt, and pepper rounded it out. It is perfect for pulled chicken and pork.



Kansas City

This sweet and tangy recipe is the most common variety to be sold in stores as a generic barbeque sauce. It put Kansas City on the map, especially as featured on burnt ends and ribs. Starting with ketchup and molasses, vinegar and spices round out the mix. Because of its high sugar content, it is used after cooking to avoid burning.




While many Memphis-based cooks swear by dry rubs, there is a Memphis sauce. It is tomato-based, fairly thin and pretty sweet. It is great on ribs as it soaks into the meat during cooking.



Oklahoma is famous for its ketchup-based sauce, featuring a heavy dose of Worcestershire, vinegar, and sugar or molasses. The midwest sauce influence meets the Texas-inspired meat choices in a wonderful combination of fatty beef brisket and tangy flavors.



Texans pride themselves on BBQ beef above all else. Their sauce is used as a marinade and for basting during the low and slow cooking process. A popular cut for the BBQ is brisket, but steak and ribs are well-loved too.


These sauces are a point of pride and a source of history for the people living in these areas in the present day. Just as a lot of sauce recipes get passed down from generation to generation within a family, the same is true for a region. The flavors and ingredients are a reflection of the people, events, and influences that shaped each corner of this rambling place we call America. The best way to experience the different styles is to go out on a road trip and try them all. But, until you can plan that cross-country exploration, you can learn a lot by tasting, if not making yourself, some of these famous sauces.

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