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The Different Types of BBQ Sauce Styles for All Lovers of BBQ


70% of Americans own a grill or a smoker.

That's a lot of briskets! 

Slow-cooking meat at a slow temperature for a long time is a longstanding American tradition. 

During warm and even colder months, we love to linger and socialize over the smell of tangy meat smoking and sizzling on a grill.

Recently, barbeque catering has begun to replace traditional buffets like pasta casseroles. You can get hot pork, rolls, and buttery corn delivered to any event easily.

If you are making your own, you may be wondering where to start. What are the different BBQ sauce styles, and how can you get them to compliment your poultry?

Here are our favorites.

1. Tomato-Based Sauces

Tomato has a sweet, tangy flavor that makes it the perfect complement to savory barbeque treats.

Tomato-and-vinegar based sauces are thinner and work great as a basting liquid. They are popular on pulled pork.

Texas barbeque sauce is classic and slightly sweet. It is a thinner sauce and a mixture of tomato, spices, celery, and onions.

St Louis barbeque sauce is thin and tangy. It is popular for grilling or smoking pork ribs. A classic St. Louis recipe includes ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar.

Tomato-and-sugar sauces are thicker and sweeter. They burn easily and are best when based within the first few minutes of cooking.

Kansas City barbeque sauce is a sweet, tangy option that is great on ribs and chicken. The molasses and ketchup add a rich, candy sweetness that is offset by the vibrant, acidic tones of tomatoes and vinegar. And don't forget the gentle kick of chili powder, cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes.

Memphis barbeque sauce also has molasses and a lot of tomato flavor that often comes from tomato paste. It is a great way to serve ribs and tastes divine with a great beer.

2. Vinegar-Based Sauces

Some vinegar-based sauces may mix in with tomato or mustard. It gives foods a tangy texture that cuts through the fat and leaves your belly satisfied.

Piedmont barbecue sauce is known for its great flavor in smoky meat and chicken slaw. It is traditionally served on the side so each person can decide how much they want to add. Cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, and ketchup are part of a classic recipe.

Traditional Southern Vinegar sauces are thin, allowing the flavor of the pork to shine through. These classic sauces don't use any tomato. They are a blend of lemon, oil, salt, and pepper that work great on beef, chicken, or lamb.

A classic North Carolina sauce has ketchup, Worschesshire sauce, butter, and brown sugar. It works great on chicken sandwiches and pulled pork.

Cornell University's barbeque sauce was born in its farm extension in the 1950s. Poultry seasoning, egg, and vinegar are all part of the action. The egg gives it a great creamy texture, but it will only last a couple of days in the fridge.

Alabama White barbeque sauce is made from vinegar, brown sugar, and mayonnaise. It has a tangy flavor similar to Ranch dressing. Smoked pork, complete with coleslaw and dill pickles, finds its perfect complement in Alabama sauce.

Florida barbeque sauce has a heavy vinegar presence with Carribean spicy and tropical elements. A classic recipe might include cider vinegar, lemon and lime, and Worcestershire sauce. Florida barbeque sauce works great with grilled fish.

3. Mustard-Based Sauces

Mustard-based sauces include vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings mixed in with yellow mustard. They don't require any cooking, but they should get rested overnight to let the flavors meld.

South Carolina barbeque sauce is always made with plain yellow mustard. It is rich, spicy, and tangy without a hint of sweetness. South Carolina sauce is a classic choice for pork or chicken.

A South Carolina barbeque sauce might include cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. 

A Georgia mustard barbeque sauce can be spicy or sweet. It is great on pulled pork, chicken, or ribs. Georgia mustard sauce recipes could include yellow mustard, Tabasco sauce, or brown sugar.

4. Choosing Your Barbeque Sauce

The right sauce for your feast will depend a lot on the type of meat you are cooking. Pulled pork, for example, is great with a thick Kansas City finish. The grilled chicken won't lose its flavor when paired with a light, tangy Carolina blend.

Ribs work great with anything that contains sugars, including Kansas City and Memphis sauces. Beef is complemented by the tangy, thin, and simple flavor of Traditional Southern Vinegar. If you like a barbeque sauce on your burgers, a North Carolina sauce with ketchup and Worcestershire will give you an awesome kick between the buns! 

Many of your favorite store-bought brands are based on thicker versions of classic sauces. Ask your friends for recommendations, but don't be afraid to try something new. When you make your own, you should know about the variety of options available.

Use your creativity when making your own blend. Your secret recipe may be a combination of vinegar, tomatoes, and mustards that doesn't right into a style category but complements your chicken perfectly.

Classic BBQ Sauce Styles

Tomato, vinegar, and mustard are all classic bases for sauces that have won over the taste buds of barbeque-lovers nation-wide. The most popular BBQ sauce styles have a unique blend of textures and flavors that keep their fans coming back for more every summer.

For a real taste of local barbeque, get a quote on barbeque catering today.

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