All American BBQ Sauces

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Paula LOVES barbecue sauce on everything from ribs to potatoes! Like her, we all have our favorite sauces. From Kansas City to North Carolina, here are our top four. Try a sauce from a different region this summer grilling season. Or, host a backyard barbecue making all four sauces available for your guests and let them judge which one they like best. You might find that you have a new favorite!

No Cook Eastern North Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce
In eastern North Carolina, they call their barbecue sauce a “finishing sauce”, as it is served after roasting the meat. Generally served in a squirt bottle on the side. Just make sure to shake it up well before you put it on the meat!

2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon hot sauce, we use Paula Deen Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

In a large canning jar with a tight fitting lid add all the ingredients and shake. Place in the refrigerator for two days prior to using. Shaking occasionally. Shake well before using.

Traditional Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce
Memphis, Tennessee is not only the home of Elvis Presley and rock and roll; it is also one of America’s barbecue capitals. In the Bluff City, ribs and pulled pork are topped with a variation of tangy vinegar and tomato-based sauce. In a barbecue town like Memphis, a sauce recipe can be akin to a family heirloom, passed down through the generations.

2 cups light brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground dry mustard
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup ketchup
1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup grape juice
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 lemons, washed, quartered, and seeded

To an unheated, large saucepan or stockpot add dry ingredients. Slowly add vinegar, whisking all of the dry into a paste. Add all other ingredients. Put pan over medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for at least two hours.

Move sauce from heat. Remove lemons with a slotted spoon. Let sauce cool for 5-10. Pour warm sauce into a blender or food processor. Pulse on for about 30 seconds. This will keep your sauce from breaking in the refrigerator.

Pour the finished sauce into containers and store in refrigerator until you are ready to use. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Cook time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Makes 1 liter of sauce
Cook’s Tip: The longer the sauce cooks, the more it will reduce. If a thicker sauce is desired, an additional 1-3 hours is recommended.

Traditional Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce
Because of its long history of being a major trailhead for cattle drives moving from the Southwest to their eastern markets, Kansas City barbecue is considered the epicenter of American barbecue. Kansas City barbecue sauce gets its flavor from a sweet tomato sauce, herbs and mustard mix.

2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard
4 tablespoons butter

In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the butter.  Bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the butter and allow it to melt through the sauce.

South Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce
Not all barbecue sauces are a rich red! In fact, if you have ever had barbecue in South Carolina you know it comes with a flavorful bright yellow, mustard-based sweet sauce.

1 stick butter
1/2 sweet onion, grated
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Sauté the onions in the butter until translucent, but not brown. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Yields: 2 cups

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Reader Comments:


I need the potassium count on the Sugar Free Barbecue Sauce. Please reply.

By Am Chastain on March 10, 2014

TYVM you’ve solved all my prlobems

By Boston on November 03, 2011

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By Cartier love earrings on November 02, 2011

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By Cartier love jewelry on October 18, 2011

Hi Paula;
I am looking for a homemade Honey-mustard sause.
Any ideas?
Ondra Corley

By Ondra Corley on December 07, 2010

Hi Paula,
My wife and I love your show. So, you say you love BBQ sauce? Well, my wife and I produce our own line of specialty BBQ sauces and we would absolutely love for you to have an opportunity to taste one of America’s best sauces. We make Country Style, Sweet Brown Sugar and Spicy. We are sure you would love them. Please check us out at Thanks a lot.

By Ernest Whittaker on July 02, 2010

Hey Paula,
Ever since I started watching your shows several years ago, you have truly inspired me to cook more.  Every recipe of yours I have tried my husband loves and that’s saying alot.  I am one of your biggest fans. I made my husband take me to your restaurant when we were vacationing in Charleston, S.C. a couple years ago and we both loved the food and visiting Savannah.
Love that southern cooking.

By Joyce Davis on July 01, 2010

My future mother-in-law introduced me to you Paula about 7 years ago.  Well, tomorrow is my 6th wedding anniversary and apparently I learned how to cook southern.  My hubby and I have both gained over 50 pounds.  smile

By Elaine on July 01, 2010

Hey Paula,
I sure hope you received my bar-b-q-sauce receipe from here in cranberry country that I wrote in an e-mail to you. It is really excellant on pork ribs.

By Catherine Bielmeier on June 29, 2010

hey paula,I just wanted to tell you i love your show and all your wounderful recipes i hope one day i will learn how to cook as good as you but for now i will just stick to your recipes the family loves them

By cortney on June 26, 2010

I just want to say I love your show I cook alot of your recipes and my husband loves the recipes

By Tammy Ballard on June 25, 2010

Hey Paula, Would you be interested in talking about southern food for my Southern Cultral class. We seem to have lost site of the south. The literture we have to read does not always represent the real south. I am in Tech school in Henderson, NC. The summer section will be over August 3, 2010. Linda Matthews

By Linda Matthews on June 24, 2010

Just a note to thank you and hope all is well. I make my daughters sit with me while I watch your show and we have cooked together a lot of your recipes. When friends travel to Sav Ga, of course I tell them to visit your restaurant. Love ya!

By Tim Swope on June 24, 2010

We love Johnny Harris BBQ sauce in the original flavor. It’s made in Savannah.

By Gussie on June 23, 2010

All of these sound great and some of them I have tried, but have you ever had “Yankee Chicken”?  I brought this with me 28 yrs ago from Upstate NY and my friends here in the south enjoy the different flavor.  1c. salad oil, 2c.cider vinegar, 2 eggs, 3 Tbsp salt, 1 Tbsp poultry seasoning, 1 Tbsp black pepper 2 whole chicken washed and quartered.  Combine oil, vinegar, eggs, salt, pepper and poultry seasonings in a blender and blend well.  Pour over prepared chicken and refrigerate overnight.  Remove chicken from marinade and place over med. hot charcoals.  Baste and turn every 15 min. until the juices run clear.  This will take approx 1 hour + depending on the weight of the chicken.  It will be a wonderful golden brown

By linda davenport on June 23, 2010

How come u can’t print these for the sauces out? It will print the 1st/ top one and half of the second,  then doesn’t print the other 2.

By Mariebk on June 22, 2010


By PAM HARDING on June 22, 2010

Here is our top four?  Here ARE our top four.

By buddy on June 22, 2010

Hello All! In the Paula Deen Test Kitchen, we canned these various sauces like any tomato based recipe. We used a hot water bath. If sealed correctly, the sauce should be good for 1 year.

Libbie Summers, Senior Food Editor for Paula Deen

By Libbie Summers on June 21, 2010

This is great information.  Where was it last weekend when we made pulled pork.  I’m looking for a recipe for the sauce they use at the Whistling Pig near Callaway Garden’s in Pine Mountain Georgia.  Anyone who is familiar with it please let me know how to make it!

By Sandy on June 21, 2010

What?? No TEXAS BBQ sauce? BBQ isn’t BBQ if it isn’t from Texas. Just sayin…..

By Brenda on June 21, 2010

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm