Monday, April 16, 2012

Southern-Style BBQ Sauce

Years ago I was in the grocery store and a man had a table set up with samples of pulled pork in BBQ sauce. It was called Miss. Essie's, and it was a Southern-style sauce, which meant more vinegar, less sugar. Up until this point I had not been a fan of vinegar-based BBQ sauces, but he was so convinced I would like it I took a sample.

The flavors in my mouth were amazing. I asked him how to make the pulled pork, and left with a bottle of the sauce. When I made it at home it was just as good and my family was hooked. I bought Miss. Essie's regularly for the next couple of years and then it suddenly disappeared from store shelves. What?? Why does this happen to amazing things I find at the store?? I tried several other BBQ sauces, but not one of them was even close to the awesomeness that was Miss. Essie's. My only other option was to come up with my own.

The recipe I settled on is super easy and fast to put together, and the flavor is fantastic--just the right combination of bite and sweet and spicy. We've used it on pulled pork and chicken, and it is equally delicious on both (I've not tried it on shredded beef, but I bet it would be great on that as well).

To make this sauce even easier, I use a 2-cup glass measuring cup and the theory of displacement (think back to your Jr. High science class). Fill the measuring cup with the water, squirt in the ketchup until the water line rises to the 1 cup line, add the molasses until the water line rises to the 1 1/4-cup line, etc., until you've added all the ingredients. Whisk together and then pour into the pot. Super easy.

Southern-Style BBQ Sauce
printable recipe

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small pot (I use a 2-quart), and mix well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature to allow to thicken before using.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce, enough for 6-8 cups shredded meat.


  1. You pretty much rock! So do you put the meat in a crock pot with a little water (?) to shred and when done cover with the sauce? Or cook it all together? Making this tomorrow! Thanks!

    1. Thanks! ;) I don't add any water to the crockpot. The country ribs I like to use has enough fat and other moisture that it stays nice and moist. In the past I've added the sauce to the crockpot and then cooked it, but the liquid that came off/out of the meat diluted the sauce and it wasn't nearly as good. If you end up making it let me know how it goes! :)

  2. Love, love, LOVE this recipe!!! Growing up in No. Virginia there was a family we knew from North Carolina. They had a Carolina BBQ Restaurant and catering business. My mom worked for them for awhile and would often bring home the best pulled pork wih the best bbq sauce you've ever tasted! I'd been craving it lately and it's really hard to find good bbq! Especially since I was craving the Carolina bbq that was thinner and more vinigary. Tiffiny, your recipe is the closest I've ever come to finding the sauce I knew as a child! Mmmmm! I'm so grateful to you for this. Thank you!

    1. Wow! Thanks so much for your amazingly sweet words! Totally made my day :D

  3. The brisket was super solid. It was tender and flavorful. It had good smoke from the pecan, Food Truck catering


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