Some might argue how many regions of BBQ sauces there are in the United States. Most would say there are 4 Regions, but I am going to add one more to the mix. Being a Pit Master for over 20 years, my option is there are 5 regions of BBQ sauces. 1. Carolina, 2. Texas, 3. Kansas, 4. Memphis and 5. Alabama. All are very different and they add a unique flavor and each tickle your taste buds a little differently. Most BBQ sauces have a base made from some combination of ketchup, mustard, honey, syrup, vinegar and or Mayo. Of course, each Pit Master or backyard BBQer will have their secret ingredients that makes it their own.
Carolina style BBQ sauce – There are regions within the Carolina’s; when you talk about South Carolina they enjoy a mustard vinegar base which tends to be a little thicker than Eastern and Western Carolina which is thinner and tends to be vinegar based with red pepper flakes. Depending on where in the Carolina’s you are you will have different variations of the Carolina BBQ Sauce. Where this is used to inject or baste, you will not get the thick saucy style of BBQ that you will with some of the other sauces. In my opinion, I think this goes well with pork or a whole hog. Think about it, pulled pork sandwich with Coleslaw on top is the perfect Carolina BBQ sandwich; lip smacking good!
Texas style BBQ Sauce – is generally thicker, sweeter and a Spicer BBQ sauce. Still has vinegar, but it also has more brown sugar or syrup that makes it sweeter with some spices like black pepper or hot sauce. Texas style BBQ sauce is used to baste various types of smoked meats and they are known for their Brisket and beef ribs.
Kansas style BBQ Sauce – thicker also used as a basting style of sauce. Kansas City BBQ sauce is generally made up of ketchup or tomato paste/sauce, brown sugar or molasses, vinegar, liquid smoke and syrup with various spices. It tends to be more on the sweeter side of BBQ sauces. The thing that sets Kansas City BBQ sauce aside from Memphis is Kansas City BBQ sauce is used to baste and Memphis tends to dip the meat in the sauce. Kansas likes to have the sauce enhance the meat not drowned it out
Memphis style BBQ sauce – Very similar to Kansas style BBQ sauce, but thinner and it has a unique taste because of its tanginess. Made with tomato paste or ketchup, molasses, brown sugar and vinegar. Also, a sweet BBQ sauce with a twist of tangy that will tickle your taste buds. Folks in Memphis tend to like this on pulled pork instead of the vinegar mustard base of the Carolinas.
Alabama Style BBQ Sauce – Alabama style BBQ sauce is very different then all other BBQ sauces. It awakens a lot of those taste buds with a hint of sweet, a dab of tangy and a hint of spice. Bama sauce is generally made up of mayo, corn syrup, vinegar and salt and pepper. They use their famous white sauce on chicken.
The jury is still out, with or without BBQ sauce? Any good BBQ should be able to stand on its own without any BBQ sauce and have your taste buds dancing like it’s 1999. Of course, if you want the fireworks to go along with that dance party the sauce of your choice should only be additional flavor and should help bring out the BBQ meat flavor even more and have you taste buds fighting each other like Mike Tyson when he fought Buster Douglas. It should not be overpowering or the highlight. As a Pit Master for over 20 years, I think BBQ is good with or without BBQ sauce; dipped our basted; it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it is all about personal preference and what keeps you coming back for more.
If you are truly a BBQ sauce connoisseur or you just want to experiment or you are looking for that BBQ sauce that sets you BBQ over the top, check out Big Nate’s Barbecue & Co. and our 4 trademarked BBQ sauces. We have Mild, Original, Hot and Southern which can be ordered at www.bignatesbbqco.com/shop or come by the stand and pick a few bottles up.