Styles & Types of BBQ Sauces: Here is What You Need to Try (2023)

Styles & Types of BBQ Sauces: Here is What You Need to Try (1)

BBQ sauce has been around since the late 1600s when a Dominican missionary named Père Labat visited the French West Indies. However, it was quite different back then and not anything like the sauces we have now. The first commercialized barbecue sauce didn't begin until 1917 by a man named Adam Scott from Goldsboro, NC.

The point is that we've seen a form of BBQ sauce being used on pork and chicken for quite some time! BBQ Suace has evolved and changed over all that time into the amazing and mouthwatering sauces we have now... which we have quite a few to choose from!

This is what we're going to cover today in this article. Some of the most popular types of BBQ sauces are used today and much more.

Let's dive in!

Popular Types of BBQ Sauces in the U.S.

There are a few types of BBQ sauce that are used more often in the United States than others.

  1. Tomato-based sauces

  2. Vinegar-based sauces

  3. Mayonnaise-based sauces

  4. Mustard-based sauces

There are four distinct styles of barbeque across the United States, each with their own signature techniques, rubs, and sauces. Each region has its own unique flavors and styles, from the types of meat they smoke to their characteristic sides, how it's prepared and much more.

Let's take a peek at each one!

Styles & Types of BBQ Sauces: Here is What You Need to Try (2)
(Video) Here Are The 5 BBQ Sauces Every Southerner Should Know | Southern Living

1. Tomato-Based Sauces

As you might've guessed, these sauces use tomato as the primary ingredient. To that, other ingredients are added to create different flavors. For example, sugar, molasses, vinegar, and various spices might be included. This is the most popular type of BBQ sauce in the U.S., but it really depends on what region you're in.

These are often on the sweet side and compliment meats that are cooked with a sugary rub. Such as Kansas City BBQ Sauces, St. Louis BBQ Sauces, and Texas Style BBQ Sauces.

2. Vinegar-Based Sauces

These sauces use vinegar as the primary ingredient with the addition of other flavors. Such as different types of vinegar, sugar, ketchup (yes some still contain ketchup, just not as the main ingredient), and various spices might be included. This type of sauce is popular in North Carolina and is used often on pulled pork as its astringent flavor helps balance out the fattier pork.

Your vinegar-based BBQ sauces are usually on the astringent and strong side. They are usually Carolina Style BBQ Sauces and Lexington BBQ Sauces.

3. Mayonnaise-Based Sauces

These sauces use mayonnaise as the primary ingredient. This type of sauce is very popular in Alabama and is used often on chicken. It is usually a creamy sauce with a horseradish kick.

Which is why it compliments smoked poultry so much.

It's not pure mayonnaise though, but rather a combination of mayonnaise thinned out with vinegar and lemon juice. When you think about it, barbecue sauce mainly consists of oil and vinegar held together (which is what mayonnaise is). So using it as a base for BBQ sauce just makes sense!

4. Mustard-Based Sauces

These sauces use mustard as the primary ingredient. Mustard-based barbecue sauces are usually a bit on the tangy and peppery side. This type of sauce is mostly popular in South Carolina and the surrounding area.

Styles & Types of BBQ Sauces: Here is What You Need to Try (3)

We can trace the sauce's origin back to South Carolina, where we discover the only instance of a Mustard-based barbecue sauce is another thin like sauce, spicy, and can be astringent.

Making it the perfect condiment that goes with the region's classic pulled pork sandwiches, particularly pig shoulder but also other parts of the pig including the neck and belly.

As you can see, there are quite a few different types of BBQ sauces out there! And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of other flavors and variations out there for you to try. Now that we have the 4 basic and popular types of BBQ sauces, let's talk more about some of the popular styles.

Styles of BBQ Sauces

As we mentioned before, each region has its own unique flavors, techniques, and styles. When it comes to the most popular styles of BBQ sauces, we're usually talking about these four:

(Video) Making Homemade BBQ Sauce 4 Ways » Sweet | Vinegar | Mustard | White

  1. Carolina Style BBQ Sauces

  2. Texas Style BBQ Sauces

  3. Kansas Style BBQ Sauces

  4. Alabama Style BBQ Sauces

Each one is very unique and oh so good! Let's dive into them and learn more about each region's style and what sets it apart from the others.

Carolina Style BBQ Sauces

There are two different types of Carolina Style BBQ sauces: Eastern and Western.

1. North Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce

This type of sauce is very thin and is made with vinegar, pepper, and various spices. It is mostly used as a mop while cooking and then served with additional sauce on the side. This style of sauce is mostly used on pork, specifically pulled pork.

It's also common to see this sauce used on chicken, ribs, and beef.

2. South Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce

This type of sauce is thicker than the Eastern style and is made with ketchup, vinegar, sugar, and various spices. You can also see mustard used for their BBQ as well. It is used more as a finishing sauce and not during the cooking process.

You often hear Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce or Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce, which is one of the favorites of not just people from Carolina, but throughout the whole country!

In North Carolina, partisans debate whether South Carolina whole hog barbecue or Lexington-style pork shoulder is the state's preferred BBQ.

Styles & Types of BBQ Sauces: Here is What You Need to Try (4)

Texas Style BBQ Sauces

Texas Style BBQ sauces are usually a bit on the sweeter side and are made with tomatoes, vinegar, molasses, sugar, and various spices. However, you can find some that pack quite a bunch if you're looking for some heat. This type of sauce is used during the cooking process as well as served on the side.

In Texas beef is king though. The more meat the better. Typically you won't see as much sauce used on the meat as there is with the other styles of BBQ sauces. You might see quite a few Texas BBQ sauces that are mesquite or post oak wood and tomato-based.

Kansas Style BBQ Sauces

Kansas Style BBQ sauces are very similar to the Texas style sauces but are a bit thicker and not as sweet. Think ketchup meets brown sugar and molasses, plus whatever crazy flavor profile they throw in there. Kansas Style BBQ sauce can be a much thicker tomato base than the others.

(Video) How To Make Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe : Florida Style BBQ Sauce.

They will use whatever cut is chosen (they use every bit of meat you can think of). Coat it up with a spicy rub, then cooked slow-and-low over some sort of smoke, and served with a sweet and tangy molasses tomato sauce (used for dipping).

When it comes to BBQ sauces this thick sauce is what most people think of when they hear someone say "BBQ sauce".

Alabama Style BBQ Sauces

Alabama Style BBQ sauces are made with mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and various spices. This type of sauce is used as a finishing sauce and not during the cooking process. It's also common to see this sauce used a lot on chicken and even some good old french fries.

While it might sound strange to have mayo in your barbecue sauce, it actually adds a nice richness and creaminess that takes these sauces to the next level. It's often a tangy flavor but can also be loaded up with some high heat levels.

Styles & Types of BBQ Sauces: Here is What You Need to Try (5)

So there you have it! These are the 4 most popular types of BBQ sauces from around the country. Each one is unique and has its own delicious flavors that are sure to make your mouth water.

We're not going to leave you hanging though after talking about some amazing and delicious sauces. We've got a few of our favorites to share with you if you're ready to try some new sauces packed with explosive tastes!

BBQ Sauces to Try

We've got some amazing Carolina, Texas, Alabama, and Kansas style BBQ sauces to try. Fair warning though, these sauces pack a punch when it comes to flavor and heat! They are all a must-try though.

Reaper Gold Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce is a take on a South Carolina mustard based BBQ sauce. Its paired with the hottest pepper in the world, which also originates from South Carolina. Try it on pork, chicken, corn dogs, chili dogs, or anything that you would eat with mustard. It is basically liquid gold... but with an amazing KICK of heat.

Reverse Sear Texas BBQ Sauce

Reverse Sear is an in-your-face full of flavor of your traditional style of BBQ sauce. You can use it on all of your favorite BBQ meats. Warning though, it's been paired up with the 7-pot Primo making it a delicious sauce with a serious initial punch. All awhile the Carolina Reaper continues the burn on the back end.

This one might still burn tomorrow.

Fatal Mango Texas BBQ Sauce

Fatal Mango is a delicious concoction of BBQ mango sauce made with mangoes and Fatalii peppers. Fatalii peppers pack a citrus flavor and searing heat slightly hotter than habaneros. This makes the sauce very versatile!

(Video) How To Make BBQ Sauce 3 Ways

It's best used on ribs, chicken, pork, and seafood. You can also mix it into cream cheese for a delicious dip! The heat level may not seem "fatal" to the toughest of chiliheads, but you will likely develop a fatal attraction to this amazing sauce.

White Wraith Alabama White Sauce

White Wraith pays homage to Alabama style BBQ sauces, where white sauces originated. It kicks up the heat with Ghost Peppers. Alabama white sauce is traditionally used for dunking chicken, so use this sauce accordingly. It also makes a great dipping sauce for chicken wings. It is incredibly addictive though, so be prepared.

Beware that the Ghost Peppers in this sauce give it plenty of fire that some people may not be able to handle.

Pear Burner Kansas BBQ Sauce

Pear Burner pays home to Kansas City and is the home of burnt ends and arguably the most popular style of BBQ sauce. The sauce gives honor to this iconic BBQ city with a delicious version of Kansas City style BBQ sauces.

It also introduces some light fruity notes with the help of pear and prickly pear, and brings the heat with the Scorpion Pepper! (So be prepared for that heat). Pear burners are used to burn the spines of the prickly pear fruit. They are also commonly used in BBQ joint pit rooms for starting fires. Use this Pear Burner on all things BBQ, especially burnt ends bbq.

You can also find all of these at our online BBQ shop where there are also packs, that way if you want to try multiple flavors, you can buy them as a single pack!

What is the Hottest BBQ Sauce with Burnt Ends

If you're crazy about heat levels and want the hottest BBQ sauce that packs a serious heat punch, then we've got you covered. When it comes to the hottest BBQ sauces, we've got two in mind for you.

  1. Reaper Gold Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

  2. Reverse Sear Texas BBQ Sauce

The Reaper Gold and Reverse Sear are both made with the hottest chili peppers in the world. Which is why it's an excellent choice for those that love serious heat with flavors that explode in your mouth.


Styles & Types of BBQ Sauces: Here is What You Need to Try (11)

Get Down with Some BBQ Sauces

BBQ sauce is a staple condiment in any household. It can be used as a marinade, baste, or finishing sauce on meats and vegetables. BBQ sauces come in all different flavors and styles, making it easy to find one that fits your taste.

(Video) BBQ Sauce - South Carolina Style with Chef Rodney Scott

We've provided a list of some of our favorite BBQ sauces for you to try, each with its own unique flavor and heat profile. Whether you're looking for something sweet and smoky or hot and spicy, we've got you covered.

So get down with some BBQ sauces and add some spice to your life! If you guys have questions about any of the sauces, or what we talked about, or if you want to share your own thoughts, make sure to leave a comment down below!


What are the types of BBQ sauce? ›

What are the 4 Main Types of BBQ Sauce? Generally, barbecue sauces is categorized into four varieties: tomato-based sauces, vinegar-based sauces, mustard-based sauces, and mayonnaise-based sauces. Each category can have a range of BBQ sauce styles, ranging from sweet and tangy to hot and spicy.

What are the different types of BBQ styles? ›

Before you start prepping your rubs and firing up your offset vertical smoker, you need to know about the four main regional styles that characterize barbecue in the United States: Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis, and Texas.

What is the most popular style of BBQ sauce? ›

Tomato-Based Barbecue Sauces

By far the most common type of barbecue sauce is the tomato-based sauce. And although there are exceptions, the tomato in these sauces is almost always in the form of ketchup.

How many styles of BBQ are there? ›

In the United States, there are four styles of BBQ. OK before you start sending me evil messages there are many others but most of the experts (and I am not one of them) talk about the four styles. Two are named after cities and two are named after states but all four represent a good portion of the Midwest and South.

What are the top 5 BBQ sauces? ›

Our Top Picks
  • Best Overall: Stubb's Original Legendary Bar-B-Que Sauce.
  • Best Value: Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce.
  • Best Classic: Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Original Barbecue Sauce.
  • Best Gluten-Free: Lillie's Q Smoky Barbeque Sauce.
  • Best to Buy in Bulk: Bone Suckin' Barbecue Sauce.
  • Best Sweet: Sonny's Sweet BBQ Sauce.
Mar 25, 2022

What are the 4 types of sauces? ›

The five French mother sauces are béchamel, velouté, espagnole, hollandaise, and tomato. Developed in the 19th century by French chef Auguste Escoffier, mother sauces serve as a starting point for a variety of delicious sauces used to complement countless dishes, including veggies, fish, meat, casseroles, and pastas.

Which style of BBQ is best? ›

Texas-style BBQ comes in at number one. Specialties include beef brisket, sausage and beef ribs. The rub comprises simple salt and pepper, and the sauce is thin and tomato based. If you're a fan of simple, traditional and hardy barbecue, this style will likely suit you best.

What is BBQ style? ›

What Are the 4 Types of BBQ? In the American tradition, there are four prominent BBQ regions: Kansas City, Carolina, Memphis, and Texas. These four barbeque styles represent the most recognized regional renditions of smoked meat.

What is traditional BBQ sauce? ›

Ingredients vary, but most include vinegar or tomato paste (or a combination) as a base, as well as liquid smoke, onion powder, spices such as mustard and black pepper, and sweeteners such as sugar or molasses.

What is the most popular type of sauce? ›

A world tour of the 10 most popular sauces
  • 1 Bechamel | France.
  • 2 Andalouse | Belgium.
  • 3 Tzatziki | Greece.
  • 4 Alfredo | Italy.
  • 5 Guasacaca | Venezuela.
  • 6 BBQ | United States.
  • 7 Pico de gallo | Mexico.
  • 8 Bittersweet | China.
May 25, 2022

What is the most popular BBQ? ›

Texas style BBQ is by far the most popular according to Google Trends data winning a whopping 33 states. Kansas City style and North Carolina style are tied next with 6 states apiece.
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  • Texas style.
  • Kansas City style.
  • Memphis style.
  • North Carolina style.
  • South Carolina style.
Aug 29, 2022

What makes a good barbecue? ›

What makes good BBQ? I consider successful barbecue to be the combination of seven basic characteristics happening at once: tenderness, juiciness, smokiness, proper fat rendering, enhanced rub, good exterior bark, all with a firm texture.

What are BBQ menu items? ›

Main dishes to serve at a BBQ
  • Steak. Try serving grilled rib-eye steak, sirloin, or strip steak. ...
  • Sausages. Sausages or hot dogs are always a regular at barbeques. ...
  • Slow-cooked ribs. ...
  • Burgers. ...
  • Seafood. ...
  • Pulled Pork. ...
  • Chicken. ...
  • Vegetarian and vegan options.
Aug 16, 2022

What are the 5 types of sauces? ›

The Five Mother Sauces

Sauces were often used to cover up the flavor of less-than-perfect meats, poultry and seafood. The five mother sauces include béchamel sauce, veloute sauce, brown or Espagnole sauce, Hollandaise sauce and tomato sauce.

What are different types of sauces? ›

  • Barbecue Sauce. A thick tomato-based sauce containing a variety of spices and flavorings. ...
  • Cocktail Sauce. A sauce similar to ketchup. ...
  • Horseradish Sauce. ...
  • Hot Sauce. ...
  • Taco Sauce. ...
  • Soy Sauce. ...
  • Tartar Sauce.

How many types of sauces are there? ›

The List Of 27 Special Sauces In Various Cuisines. I will cover these specialties in 10 distinguished groups, namely Brown sauces, Butter sauces, Dessert/Sweet sauces, Fish or Seafood-based sauces, Meat-based sauces, Chili/Hot sauces, Mayonnaise-family sauces, Tomato-Based Sauces, White sauces, and Others.

What is the healthiest type of BBQ? ›

Gas grills.

And that is a big plus, because research has shown that grilling with gas is thought to be safer than grilling over charcoal, according to Healthline. There is less smoke and heat with gas grilling – two things that can spur the creation of those cancer-causing compounds.

Which is correct barbecue or barbeque? ›

While the standard modern English spelling of the word is barbecue, variations including barbeque and truncations such as bar-b-q or BBQ may also be found. The spelling barbeque is given in Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Dictionaries as a variant.

Why is it called BBQ sauce? ›

It is believed that barbeque sauce was first invented in a Dominican missionary where cooks used lime juice and pepper to flavor meat for the barbeque. We can trace the root of this recipe to Africa where they use both lime and lemon juices as a traditional method of flavoring meat.

What style of BBQ is pulled pork? ›

For Memphis style BBQ, you're likely to see it in its most popular incarnations: pork ribs and pulled pork. Other than the predominant use of pork, the other element that makes this regional style so distinctive is the rub. Traditionally, the meat is rubbed down with a dry rub made up of up to 40 different spices!

Why is it called BBQ? ›

The word barbecue comes from the language of a Caribbean Indian tribe called the Taino. Their word for grilling on a raised wooden platform is barbacoa. The word first appeared in print in a Spanish explorer's account of the West Indies in 1526, according to Planet Barbecue.

What are the top 10 barbecue grills? ›

Best grills 2022: Our top 11
  1. Weber Genesis II E-335. ...
  2. Traeger Grills Ironwood 650 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker. ...
  3. Weber SmokeFire EPX6 STEALTH Edition Grill. ...
  4. Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22-inch. ...
  5. Kamado Joe Classic II. ...
  6. Weber Genesis SPX-435 Smart Gas Grill. ...
  7. Saber Elite 3-Burner Gas Grill.
Nov 29, 2022

What was the first barbecue sauce? ›

The first sauce they made was very simple. In 1698, a Dominican missionary named Père Labat visited the French West Indies and witnessed cooks using lime juice and hot peppers to season barbecued meat. This sauce probably had its roots in Africa where cooks traditionally used both lemon and lime juice.

What is the oldest BBQ sauce? ›

Eastern Carolina-Style Vinegar Sauce

Found in the eastern half of both North and South Carolina, Eastern-style vinegar sauce has the unique honor of being the oldest barbecue sauce in the country.

What are the 3 types of sauces? ›

And once you've made them a few times, you won't even need a recipe!
  • 1 - Béchamel or Basic White Sauce. A white sauce is made by adding milk, salt, and pepper to a roux. ...
  • 2 - Mornay or Cheese Sauce. Building off a white sauce is a Mornay or cheese sauce. ...
  • 3 - Gravy.
Nov 13, 2017

What are the 4 purpose of a sauce? ›

The main functions of sauces are:

To add liquid to moisten a food or dish. To add flavour. To add colour. To bind ingredients together.

What makes BBQ sauce taste better? ›

Adding garlic or onion powder are standard flavors for barbecue, but get a little creative and try out different chili powders, peppers, cumin, or dried herbs to add body to the sauce.

What is the best sauce of all time? ›

11 Top Sauces
  • hummus.
  • home made mayonnaise.
  • chilli oil.
  • BBQ sauce.
  • sicilian nut pesto.
  • almond cream.
  • walnut & white bean puree.
  • harissa.

Which state has best BBQ? ›

Texas is the best state for BBQ. It's home to three of the top 12 best BBQ cities in America: San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas. Americans are passionate about their BBQ foods, with conversations around the grill often sparking fiery debates over which is best: North Carolina style vs. Kansas City style, wet rub vs.

When did BBQ become popular? ›

As the prosperity and self-confidence of Britain's North American colonies grew in the second half of the 18th century, barbecues appear to have become more common: not just among slaves, brought over from the Caribbean, but also among the colonial elites.

What makes the BBQ taste? ›

Once the surface is dry, the heat causes the proteins and sugars on the outside of the meat to undergo a reaction called the Maillard Reaction. This reaction produces a complex mixture of molecules that make food taste more savory or “meaty” and adds depth to scents and flavors.

How do you make a BBQ fun? ›

How To Throw The Best BBQ Ever
  1. Set-up smart. Serve everything buffet style, with one area for dishing up food and another for sitting down and eating. ...
  2. Make a toppings station. ...
  3. Jazz up your burgers. ...
  4. Cool down in style. ...
  5. Don't skip the sides. ...
  6. Get the games out. ...
  7. Be prepared. ...
  8. Don't forget dessert.
Apr 13, 2016

What is BBQ food? ›

barbecue, an outdoor meal, usually a form of social entertainment, at which meats, fish, or fowl, along with vegetables, are roasted over a wood or charcoal fire. The term also denotes the grill or stone-lined pit for cooking such a meal, or the food itself, particularly the strips of meat.

How many types of sauce are there? ›

The List Of 27 Special Sauces In Various Cuisines. I will cover these specialties in 10 distinguished groups, namely Brown sauces, Butter sauces, Dessert/Sweet sauces, Fish or Seafood-based sauces, Meat-based sauces, Chili/Hot sauces, Mayonnaise-family sauces, Tomato-Based Sauces, White sauces, and Others.

What is the most popular type of BBQ? ›

Texas-style BBQ comes in at number one. Specialties include beef brisket, sausage and beef ribs. The rub comprises simple salt and pepper, and the sauce is thin and tomato based. If you're a fan of simple, traditional and hardy barbecue, this style will likely suit you best.

What are top 10 best sauces? ›

A world tour of the 10 most popular sauces
  • 1 Bechamel | France.
  • 2 Andalouse | Belgium.
  • 3 Tzatziki | Greece.
  • 4 Alfredo | Italy.
  • 5 Guasacaca | Venezuela.
  • 6 BBQ | United States.
  • 7 Pico de gallo | Mexico.
  • 8 Bittersweet | China.
May 25, 2022

What are the 10 hottest sauces? ›

Hottest Hot Sauces in the World
  • Bumblef**ked Hot Sauce.
  • Mad Dog 357 No. 9 Plutonium.
  • Reaper Squeezins.
  • The End Hot Sauce.
  • The Source Hot Sauce.
  • Get Bitten Black Mamba 6 Hot Sauce.
  • Meet Your Maker Death Sauce.
  • The Last Dab XXX.
Aug 4, 2022

Why is it called a sauce? ›

Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsa, meaning salted. Possibly the oldest recorded European sauce is garum, the fish sauce used by the Ancient Romans, while doubanjiang, the Chinese soy bean paste is mentioned in Rites of Zhou in the 3rd century BC.

Which is the type of sauce? ›

Sauce Bigarade – an orange sauce , commonly for duck à l'orange. Sauce Béchamel – Sauce of the Italian and French cuisines – milk-based sauce, thickened with a white roux. Sauce Tomate – Sauce made primarily from tomatoes – a tomato-based sauce.

What is sauce and example? ›

sauce, liquid or semiliquid mixture that is added to a food as it cooks or that is served with it. Sauces provide flavour, moisture, and a contrast in texture and colour. They may also serve as a medium in which food is contained, for example, the velouté sauce of creamed chicken.


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