Smoky and Tangy Southern BBQ Sauce Recipe

Picture this: it’s a hot, lazy summer day, and the air is thick with the scent of sizzling meat, smoke wafting up from an old grill. You’re sitting down at a picnic table, surrounded by loved ones, all of you eagerly waiting for the star attraction – the Southern barbecue. And what’s a barbecue without its crowning jewel – the sauce?

For those of you who know your way around a grill, there’s nothing quite like a homemade barbecue sauce to elevate your dishes to another level. Today, I’m sharing my secret recipe for a special Southern Barbecue Sauce – one that has been passed down through generations and has proven to be a winner time and time again.

This recipe combines tangy apple cider vinegar with sweet brown sugar to create an incredible depth of flavor that is sure to please any palate. Whether you prefer heat or sweetness, this sauce hits all the notes – and best of all, it can be tailored to suit your taste preferences.

So roll up your sleeves and get ready to create a truly unforgettable Southern-style meal. This sauce will be sure to make your dish stand out among the rest – it’s simply too good not to share!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Special Southern Barbecue Sauce
Special Southern Barbecue Sauce

Are you in search of a delicious, tangy, and smoky Southern barbecue sauce? Look no further! This Special Southern Barbecue Sauce recipe is exactly what you need to take your barbecue game to the next level.

This recipe stands out from the rest because of its perfect balance of sweetness, acidity, and heat. It features a blend of tangy apple cider vinegar and ketchup to create a smooth base, with flavors intensified by Worcestershire sauce and prepared mustard. Dark brown sugar and molasses go into the mix to provide sweetness that complements the spices like black pepper and cayenne pepper. The result? A lip-smacking barbecue sauce that will have you reaching for more.

Additionally, the recipe is straightforward and easy to follow – perfect for both novice and experienced chefs. The preparation time is minimal, and all ingredients are accessible in your local grocery store. You can whip up a batch of this delicious sauce in advance, store it in an air-tight container in your fridge, and use it as needed.

This homemade barbecue sauce also allows for some customization based on your preference by tweaking ingredient ratios or adding spicy hot sauce if you like it fiery hot. Achieve beyond-satisfying results by pairing it with pulled pork or chicken or slather it over grilled vegetables – any dish’s flavor profile will instantly become elevated!

Don’t settle for mediocre store-bought barbecue sauce when you can easily make this award-winning Southern-style one. Give this homemade sauce recipe a shot – I guarantee it will become a staple in your kitchen!

Ingredient List

 This sauce is the perfect addition to any BBQ feast!
This sauce is the perfect addition to any BBQ feast!

Get ready to stock up on some flavor-packed ingredients to make this Special Southern Barbecue Sauce.

Sauce Ingredients 1x

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Ingredients 1x 2x (For Sauce Recipes)

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat (allow to taste preference)

Ingredients 2 (For South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce)

South Carolina is known for its tangy and zesty mustard-based barbecue sauce that goes great with pulled pork or chicken. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup yellow mustard

– ​1/2 cup apple cider vinegar​

– ​3/4 cups dark brown sugar or molasses​

– Extra-virgin olive oil, for the skillet​

– 1 chopped onion​

Make sure you have everything you need, so you won’t have to worry about running to the store mid-recipe.

The Recipe How-To

 Get ready to lick your fingers clean with this delectable recipe.
Get ready to lick your fingers clean with this delectable recipe.

Now, let’s dive into the recipe how-to to make this Southern Barbecue Sauce.


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard (use your favorite kind)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk until smooth.
  2. Heat over medium heat for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using or storing.

That’s it – this Southern Barbecue Sauce recipe is easy enough to make any day of the week! You’ll find that the longer the sauce cooks and simmers, the more flavorful it becomes. This recipe is perfect for those who prefer a vinegar-based sauce, but you can adjust your seasonings to create hot or mild versions of the sauce.

Substitutions and Variations

 This homemade sauce is finger-lickin' good!
This homemade sauce is finger-lickin’ good!

When it comes to making the perfect southern-style barbecue sauce, there’s no one right way to do it. This recipe is no exception, and if you want to get creative with your ingredients or customize to your taste, there’s plenty of room for experimentation.

First off, if you’re looking for a spicier sauce, try adding in some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. This will give your sauce a fiery kick that will make your tastebuds sing. Alternatively, if you prefer a milder flavor, you can omit these spices entirely.

When it comes to the sweetness factor of this recipe, feel free to adjust to taste. If you like a sweeter sauce, add in more brown sugar or molasses. On the other hand, if you prefer your barbecue sauce on the tangy side, add in more vinegar-based ingredients like apple cider vinegar or Worcestershire sauce.

If you’re looking for a more unique flavor profile, consider trying different types of mustard in place of the prepared mustard. South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce uses yellow mustard as the base ingredient and is known for its tangy flavor.

For those who can’t handle the heat or prefer a more mild taste, honey can be used instead of sugar or molasses for a sweeter touch.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a smokier flavor in your Southern-style barbecue sauce without including liquid smoke or smoked paprika, try mixing in some oil with chopped onion over low heat until they have cooked down and become caramelized before adding in the remainder of the ingredients.

Remember that experimenting and making this recipe your own is part of the fun. Don’t be afraid to try out different combinations and see what works best for your palate!

Serving and Pairing

 You're going to want to put this sauce on everything after trying it.
You’re going to want to put this sauce on everything after trying it.

Now that you’ve made this sensational Southern barbecue sauce, it’s time to start using it! This versatile condiment pairs well with a wide variety of dishes.

First and foremost, this sauce is the perfect accompaniment to your favorite grilled meat. Whether you’re digging into a juicy steak, biting into a succulent chicken breast or savoring some pulled pork, this sauce will take your meal to the next level. Slather it on thick and enjoy the rich, tangy flavor.

Beyond grilled meats, this sauce can be used in a myriad of other ways. For example, consider using it as a dipping sauce for fried foods like chicken tenders or onion rings. The zesty flavor of the sauce perfectly complements crispy, savory fried foods.

For vegetarians, try using this sauce as a topping for roasted vegetables like carrots or potatoes. The richness of the sauce balances out the earthy flavors of the vegetables and adds an extra burst of flavor.

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider trying this sauce as a marinade for tofu or tempeh. The combination of tangy flavors and smoky charred bits makes for an irresistible vegetarian dish.

No matter how you choose to use your homemade Southern barbecue sauce, one thing is certain: it’s bound to liven up any meal it touches.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Make your BBQ spread stand out with this special Southern sauce.
Make your BBQ spread stand out with this special Southern sauce.

When it comes to Southern barbecue, timing is everything. You want your sauce to be ready and simmering while your meat is slow-cooking on the grill. But what do you do when you have leftover sauce, or you want to make it ahead of time? Fear not, my friends! Here are some tips on how to make, store, and reheat this Southern barbecue sauce.

Firstly, congratulations on making a whole batch of this awesomely delicious sauce! The great news is that this sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. This means that you can have your favorite Southern barbecue sauce ready-to-go at all times!

When reheating the sauce, always use a double boiler setup. This will enable you to control the heat and prevent your sauce from burning or scorching. Heat the BBQ sauce over medium heat until it reaches the desired temperature. If the sauce has thickened due to refrigeration, add water or apple cider vinegar in small quantities until it reaches the consistency you like.

You can also freeze this Southern barbecue sauce for later use. Pour the cooled sauce into a freezer-safe container (not glass), leaving some headspace for expansion. This BBQ sauce will last up to 6 months when frozen.

Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using it again. If your thawed BBQ sauce looks a bit separated, don’t worry! Give it a good stir or blending and reheat following previous instructions above.

For serving purposes, transfer defrosted or freshly cooked barbecue ribs, brisket or chicken into a large bowl and pour over enough barbecue sauce to coat everything before heating up in oven at 350°F/180°C uncovered for 20 minutes, OR reheating leftovers. The warm scent wafting up to your nostrils will surely get everyone drooling with anticipation!

In conclusion, this Southern-style barbecue sauce is perfect for those who enjoy preparing ahead of time, or those who crave a quick-and-easy meal with some leftover sauce. By following these simple storing and reheating tips, you’ll have a tangy and flavorful BBQ sauce whenever you need it, even on the busiest of days!

Tips for Perfect Results

 The sweet and tangy flavors in this sauce will have you craving more.
The sweet and tangy flavors in this sauce will have you craving more.

Now, this southern-style barbecue sauce recipe is not for the faint of heart. It requires patience, attention, and a little bit of magic to turn out just right. But don’t worry, with these tips and tricks, you’ll have everything you need to make a sauce that is sure to impress.

First things first, when cooking with this recipe or any BBQ sauce recipe, make sure to use a good quality pot or saucepan. One with a sturdy bottom that can hold heat well and distribute it evenly. You want to avoid using thin pots or pans because they can cause the sauce to burn quickly.

Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of time. The longer you let your sauce simmer, the deeper and richer it will become. Take your time and let all those flavors meld together over low heat. Be patient; the magic happens slowly.

When adjusting the seasoning levels, always do so gradually. You can add more salt, pepper, or heat through cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes but never add too much at once. Remember: It’s easier to add seasoning than it is to take it away. Keep tasting and start with small amounts.

Molasses is one of the secret ingredients that give southern-style barbecue sauce its unique flavor profile – sweet with a deep taste of caramel – don’t skip this ingredient! If you don’t own molasses or you need substitutions for some preferred reasons then honey works great as an alternative sweetener.

Allow the sauce to cool fully before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge for later use or reheating it for immediate serving. When reheating, do so over low heat and add more water if necessary since the sugars will caramelize making it harden quickly.

Lastly, make sure to keep an eye on the sauce as it simmers- when it starts feeling too thick, whiskey in some water – cup by cup until you achieve your preferred consistency.

With these tips in mind, I’m sure you’ll make the best southern-style barbecue sauce out there. Go ahead and give this recipe a try – and get creative with your own take by dropping some homemade hot sauce to spice things up altogether.


Now, let’s move on to some frequently asked questions and troubleshooting for making the perfect southern-style barbecue sauce. Don’t worry if you have any doubts, these questions will help you clarify any uncertainties in a jiffy. Read on and get ready to bust those myths on your way to mastering the art of barbecue sauce making.

How do you make BBQ sauce more interesting?

When looking to add a kick of spiciness to your southern-style dishes, don’t be afraid to mix it up with different condiments. A few splashes of Frank’s RedHot or Louisiana-style Crystal can do the trick, but why stop there? Experiment with other fiery toppings like sambal oelek, gochujang, or harissa. You can also try playing with different flavor profiles by adding the smokiness of adobo sauce, the zesty citrus taste of Cuban mojo, or the richness of smoked paprika to your dishes. Get creative and find the perfect balance of heat and flavor for your cooking.

What is traditional Southern BBQ?

For today’s recipe article, we will be discussing a classic southern-style barbeque meal which includes mouth-watering pulled pork and brisket, perfectly paired with macaroni and cheese, roasted corn, and a side of Texas toast.

What is in redneck BBQ sauce?

Looking for a BBQ sauce that can deliver an all-American flavor to your meals? Check out Redneck Riviera, the latest offering from country music icon John Rich. This sauce is a blend of tomato puree, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and a unique mix of spices that’s sure to satisfy your taste buds. It’s perfect for folks that believe in working hard and playing harder. To get your hands on a bottle, you can find your nearest store using our locator.

What are the keys to a great BBQ sauce?

When it comes to making a delicious sauce, combining certain flavors is key. Adding a mixture of paprika, brown sugar, ground mustard, black pepper, coriander, molasses, garlic powder, and oregano can bring your sauce together and create a harmonious taste. It is also important to use salt to accentuate the sweetness of the sauce and balance any bitterness. By balancing these flavors, you can make a sauce that is both satisfying and well-rounded.

Bottom Line

Now that you know all the secrets to making the best Southern Barbecue Sauce Recipe, it’s time to get cooking! With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to customize the recipe to your liking and create your own award-winning sauce.

Whether you prefer sweet or spicy, tangy or smoky, this recipe can be adapted to suit your taste preferences. And don’t forget, you can always experiment with different ingredients and substitutions to make the recipe your own.

So go ahead and make a big batch of this delicious sauce – whether it’s for pulled pork sandwiches, grilled chicken or smoked ribs, it’s sure to elevate your dish to the next level.

Trust me, once you try this homemade Southern Barbecue Sauce Recipe, you’ll never want to go back to store-bought BBQ sauce again. So fire up the grill and get ready to impress your family and friends with the best barbecue they’ve ever tasted!

Special Southern Barbecue Sauce

Special Southern Barbecue Sauce Recipe

This go great on pork, chicken, and even steaks!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Servings 3 cups
Calories 278.2 kcal


  • 1 1/2 cups oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  • Saute onion in oil until soft and clear.
  • Add remaining ingredients.
  • Simmer 30 minutes.
  • Use for basting when barbecuing or smoking on a charcoal grill.
  • Makes 3 cups.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 84gCalories: 278.2kcalCarbohydrates: 9.6gProtein: 0.5gFat: 27.4gSaturated Fat: 3.5gSodium: 625mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 7.7g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Sauces, Vegetable
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