Classic Southern BBQ Sauce

This classic Southern BBQ Sauce is tomato based and loaded with flavor. Use on barbecued ribs, pulled pork, chicken, or simply serve on the side. Like it spicy? Crank up the heat by adding more cayenne pepper. If you are watching your sugar intake, simply use a low sugar or sugar-free ketchup instead.


Classic Southern Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Classic Southern BBQ Sauce

Derrick Riches
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Cooling Time 20 mins
Total Time 38 mins
Course Sauces
Cuisine American BBQ
Servings 3 Cups


  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika not smoked
  • 1/4 teaspoon vinegar based hot sauce red Tabasco works well
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper use less if preferred
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  • Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the minced garlic and cook for 15 to 30 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant. Watch out for browning. That will cause the garlic to taste bitter.
  • Add the ketchup, vinegar, water, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. Don't add butter yet. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low if the mixture is bubbling too much.
  • Remove saucepan from heat and add butter. Stir through. As it melts, the butter will silken the appearance of the sauce. Let sauce cool for 15-20 minutes before using.
  • If making ahead of time, allow sauce to cool completely (about 30 minutes). Place into an air tight container and store in the refrigerator fro up to 5 days after preparation.
  • How to use: Brush sauce onto ribs or chicken pieces during the last 15 to minutes of cook time. This barbecue sauce can also be heated to room temperature and served on top of pulled chicken or pork, or as a table sauce.


Photo by: Sabrina Baksh
Keyword barbecue sauce

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