What is BBQ Sauce?

Barbecue sauce or BBQ sauce is a (usually) thick liquid sauce used for flavor that is poured onto meat while that is being grilled or barbecued. It is also used as a dipping condiment.

Most barbecue sauces combine sour, sweet, and spicy ingredients. They are usually made with a smoke flavor. The most popular BBQ sauces are tomato-based, with vinegar and sugar; but vinegar- and mustard-based sauces are popular in the certain areas of the American south.

Different geographical regions have strong allegiances to their particular styles and recipes of barbeque, often creating a regional lore and keeping their unique recipes secret.

Some popular styles of sauce and their distinguishing ingredients:


  • Kansas City (thick, red-brown, tomato, molasses)

  • North Carolina (liquid vinegar, pepper flakes)

  • South Carolina (mustard, vinegar, black pepper)

  • Alabama (white mayonnaise based)

  • Arkansas (thin vinegar and tomato base, spiced with pepper and slightly sweetened by molasses)

  • Texas (tomato based with hot chilies, cumin, less sweet)

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