Barbecue Sauce - Gourmet Guide

June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly

Buy Barbecue Sauce online from! Please visit our online store and go shopping at the number one imported food delivery service in the USA. The word Barbecue comes from the Native American word "barbacoa", which refers to a style of slow cooking meat over an open fire. The origin of Barbecue Sauce dates back to beginning of barbecuing. Today, Barbecue Sauces have become highly regionalized, just like wines. Each producing region is famous for a specific, signature type of Barbecue Sauce. Regional Barbecue Sauces developed over the last 120 years to match local meat and flavor preferences. Some regions are famous for barbecue pork whereas other stick to beef. And the barbecue differentiation goes deeper than just the animal - it gets down to a specific cut.

There are two main styles of Barbecue Sauce, differentiated by texture. One is a thick, sticky Barbecue Sauce, either tomato, fruit or mustard based. The second is a thinner, more fluid sauce based on vinegar. Barbecue Sauce purists may also use two different sauces for the same dish. One is called a "mopping sauce" and is usually applied throughout the cooking process. Mopping sauces usually have a low sugar content so they don't burn on the grill and give the meat an off flavor. "Finishing" Barbecue Sauces are usually added at the end of cooking, or used at the table as a condiment. These sauces often add a final layer of flavor to the meat, and often fall under the thick-and-sticky style.

Barbecue is a wonderfully rich, varied, and distinctly American cuisine. Combining American tomato with European mustard and/or vinegar, then adding molasses or sugar from the Caribbean and chilies from Central and South America, Barbecue Sauce is a global fusion of flavors. As the Americas were colonized, barbecue became less of a single style of cooking and more about the distinct way to sauce the meat before, during, and/or after cooking. While the general method of barbecuing is to cook "slow and low", the best recipe for Barbecue Sauce is much more of a passionate and ongoing argument.

While there seem to be as many unique Barbecue Sauces on the market as there are barbecue pits, we distinguish ten categories of Barbecue Sauce styles:

Kansas City Barbecue Sauce:
It should come as no surprise that Kansas City Barbecue is based on a beef culture. Kansas City is the site of the famed Kansas City Stockyards and even has a cut of steak named for it - the Kansas City Strip. As cattle is king in Kansas City, so is Barbecue Sauce. Most supermarket brands of Barbecue Sauce are of the Kansas City style; thick, sweet, and tomato-based. The sweetness in Kansas City Barbecue Sauce normally comes from molasses, but some shops use brown sugar for a milder, mellower taste. We recommend adding Kansas City Barbecue Sauce to the dish toward the end of cooking, or simply using it as a condiment, as its high sugar content makes it vulnerable to burning.

Memphis Barbecue Sauce:
In a classic Memphis Barbecue the meat is ribs and sauce is dry. That's right, it's actually a powder rub, traditionally a blend of paprika, ground chilies, garlic powder, salt and other secret ingredients. Since this rub is usually applied early in the cooking process, it penetrates the meat more than Kansas City Barbecue Sauces. Today, many Memphis barbecue joints offer their ribs prepared either dry or wet, with a tomato-based Kansas City Barbecue Sauce available as a finishing sauce if you choose to go "wet".

South Carolina Barbecue Sauce:
Much has been written and televised about the "east versus west" barbecue wars in the Carolinas. But it becomes a three-way battle for pit supremacy when you include the south. The pork-loving Germans who settled in South Carolina brought with them an affinity for good, strong mustard. As time went on, their mustard-based Barbecue sauces became the sauce de rigueur for whole-hog Carolina barbecues. The tangy, zesty mustard-based Barbecue Sauce of South Carolina is perfect for cutting the richness of pork, as well as complementing the coleslaw and potatoes alongside. Flip that coleslaw into sauerkraut and you'd think you were in Hamburg rather than Charleston.

East Carolina Barbecue Sauce:
Compared to the styles covered above, East Carolina Barbecue Sauce couldn't be more different. As opposed to Kansas City's thick, sweet Barbecue Sauce that sits on top of the meat, East Carolina's "mop sauce" is a thin, vinegar-based Barbecue Sauce spiked with a enthusiastic amount of red and black pepper. This style of Barbecue Sauce is easy to splash on the meat, and the acid of the vinegar penetrates and tenderizes as well.

Western Carolina Barbecue Sauce:
Also known as Lexington Dip (referring to the city of Lexington, North Carolina) or Piedmont Dip (referring to the Piedmont hills of the western Carolinas), the regional Barbecue Sauce from the western Carolinas is meant to accompany barbecued pork shoulder, the local specialty. Lexington Dip is vinegar and chili pepper based, just like East Carolina's Barbecue Sauce except for the fact that it is blended with a bit of tomato sauce. The tomato ingredient helps squelch the bite of the chili pepper and the hint of sweetness it provides offsets the vinegar's acidity.

Texas Barbecue Sauce:
Texas Barbecue Sauce is also vinegar-based, but brings in a helping hand from Mexican spices. It might include a bit of tomato, but nowhere near Kansas City levels. Ancho, guajillo, and chipotle peppers abound, along with cumin and Mexican oregano. Sounds like the start of a chili recipe, doesn't it? Remember, Texas is serious cattle country and most of their barbecue is based around beef; brisket, ribs, and even the head in some regions.

California Barbecue Sauce:
Just like Texas, the open frontier of California was a boon for cattle ranchers in the early 20th century. Because of this, California Barbecue is also beef-centric. In Santa Maria on California's Central Coast, their specialty is barbecuing the tri tip part of the cow. The type of wood used for heat is also important in Santa Maria Barbecue, as they consider their local red oak the only "true" wood for barbecuing. Although meat is always the central focus of barbecuing, it is interesting to note that pinquitos, a small pink bean grown in Santa Maria, are a must have alongside their barbecued beef.

Hawaiian Barbecue Sauce:
Hawaii, the 50th state, has a rich history of cooking pork in a pit lined with burning wood and hot stones. The product is called Kalua Pork or Kalua Pig and is normally the centerpiece of a luau feast. To accompany this delicious smoky meat, Hawaiians have created numerous barbecue sauces that incorpoate the flavors of the islands. Often soy or teriyaki-based, Hawaiian Barbecue Sauces come in many varieties including Pineapple, Guava and Mango.

Alabama White Barbecue Sauce:
Originally invented by Big Bob Gibson's BBQ restaurant in Decatur, this unique Barbecue Sauce from Alabama is intended for use on barbecued chicken. Made from a mayonnaise and vinegar base, Big Bob Gibson's sauce quickly created its own category in the world of Barbecue Sauces and has recently attracted a few copycat imitators.

International Barbecue Sauces:
Asian Barbecue Sauces are a great way to add some international flair to your grilling. Hoisin, Teriyaki, and Satay sauces are some of the most popular varieties. In Argentina, gauchos prefer their barbecue with a savory, herb-based sauce called Chimmichurri. In Australia, they have taken the art of barbecuing to an extreme level, perhaps with enthusiasm surpassing that of the US. Australian Barbecue Sauces were originally created from apples, as apples were less expensive there than tomatoes. Today's authentic Australian Berbecue Sauce varieties still lean heavily on apple as an ingredient.

Order Online at the #1 Source for Gourmet Food and Gift Baskets

Buy Barbecue Sauce online from! Please visit our online store and go shopping at the number one imported food delivery service in the USA. A truly American method of cooking, the essentials of any barbecue recipe are prime meat, slow cooking over hot coals, and a fantastic barbecue sauce for basting. We offer a variety of homemade style sauces from North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Texas, Georgia, New Mexico and Australia. To find the best gourmet foods and gift baskets online, begin your search at