Memphis Barbecue for First Timers: Making Delicious BBQ Sauce

Last Updated on January 6, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Memphis, known for its vibrant music scene and mouthwatering Memphis food, has a culinary gem that stands out: Memphis barbecue.

But when you think of Memphis BBQ, you can’t help but think of its perfect companion, the one that truly elevates the smoky goodness of the meat – Memphis BBQ sauce.

Unlike the sweet and spicy sauce you find in Kansas City, Memphis BBQ sauce has its unique character. It’s tangy and thinner in consistency.

While it shares some common ingredients like tomatoes and brown sugar, Memphis sauce adds a twist with ingredients like mustard and vinegar, resulting in a well-balanced and distinctive flavor.

In this article, we’ll share the delicious Memphis BBQ sauce recipe.

Memphis-Style BBQ Sauce Recipe

memphis style bbq sauce


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Step-By-Step Recipe of the Famous Memphis BBQ Sauce

Start by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook until it becomes soft, which should take about 5 minutes. Then, add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant.

Now, it’s time to add the key ingredients. Add cider vinegar, rice vinegar, yellow mustard, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dark brown sugar, hot sauce, Kosher salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir everything together to make sure it’s well combined.

Bring the mixture to a boil and lower the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will help the sauce thicken slightly and develop its rich flavors.

After simmering, transfer the sauce to a blender. Blend it until it becomes smooth and all the ingredients are well incorporated.

Let the sauce cool down to room temperature. Once it’s cooled, transfer it to a jar or container and store it in the refrigerator. You can keep your homemade Memphis-style BBQ sauce in the fridge for up to a month.

Beyond the Grill: Ways to Enjoy Memphis-Style BBQ Sauce

While Memphis BBQ sauce is a natural fit for barbecue, there are plenty of other tasty ways to enjoy its flavors.

Dip and Dunk: Memphis BBQ sauce makes for an excellent dipping sauce. Whether you’re indulging in crispy chicken tenders, hot wings, or even sweet potato fries, a side of this tangy sauce adds a burst of flavor and a lot of Memphis to your meal.

Pizza Sauce: Try Memphis BBQ sauce as an alternative to regular pizza sauce for a Southern-inspired pizza. Combine it with your favorite toppings and cheese, and you’re all set.

Marinades and Glazes: Use Memphis BBQ sauce as a marinade or glaze for meats like chicken, pork, or tofu. Simply coat your choice of protein, let it soak in the flavors, and grill, bake, or pan-fry for a mouthwatering experience.

Sandwich Topping: Enhance the flavor of your sandwiches by spreading Memphis BBQ sauce on the bread, adding a zesty kick to your favorite fillings.

Key Takeaways

Memphis-style BBQ sauce is a true delight for your taste buds, enhancing the flavors of Memphis BBQ.

This homemade sauce is the secret ingredient that transforms your ordinary barbecue into a flavorful masterpiece.

With its tangy profile complemented by the rich taste of tomatoes and a hint of mustard and vinegar, this sauce adds an authentic Southern touch to your BBQ.

While it pairs perfectly with BBQ, you can use it in sandwiches and pizza, too.