This sweet and tangy Memphis Barbecue Sauce is crazy delicious and so easy to make! It just takes 25 minutes from start to finish. Use this homemade barbecue sauce on pulled pork, pork ribs, and chicken.

Memphis Barbecue Sauce on pork ribs

Our Memphis barbecue sauce has a tangy tomato, ketchup base with a little mustard, molasses, and hot sauce thrown in. It also contains savories like onion and garlic, tart red wine vinegar, and a little brown sugar sweetness. This homemade sauce is a powerhouse of flavor, and our recipe will let you bring a little Memphis home with you.

Memphis BBQ

Memphis is known for its “dry” ribs, which means no sauce. Just ribs, herbs, and spices. However, some outdoor cooks enjoy a good Memphis-style barbecue sauce slathered onto their smoked ribs. Others will serve it as a table sauce so that those who want some can help themselves. Do you want to make the best Memphis-style ribs? Season them with our Memphis Dust Rub, and apply this barbecue sauce toward the end of cooking time!

Even kids love this sauce. This is a great Memphis BBQ sauce recipe for picky eaters. Serve a dollop of this as Memphis-style BBQ sauce on the side. Or, combine it with a little mayonnaise for dipping french fries.

Memphis BBQ Sauce on ribs on a plate with french fries

Memphis Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:

  • Ketchup (use a good quality ketchup for this barbecue sauce)
  • Yellow onion (or sweet onions)
  • Garlic (sub with garlic powder: 1/8 tsp is equal to 1 clove garlic)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Red wine vinegar (sub with apple cider vinegar)
  • Brown sugar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Molasses
  • Louisiana hot sauce (substitute with a pinch or two of cayenne pepper) 
  • Salt

How to Make It:

  • Add chopped onion, red wine vinegar, garlic to a blender or food processor and puree.
  • Heat oil in a medium saucepan.
  • Add the blended onion mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add ketchup and mustard and simmer (don’t boil) for additional 3 minutes. Stir often. 
  • Reduce heat to low; add brown sugar, molasses, salt and hot sauce to the saucepan. Simmer sauce for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove barbecue sauce from heat and cool to room temperature for 10-15 minutes before using. 
  • You can use part of this Memphis barbecue sauce as a baste during the latter half of cooking time. Apple sauce to ribs or chicken during the last 30 minutes of grill time.
  • For smooth sauce, place cooled sauce in a blender and blend until it reaches desired consistency. 
  • Store sauce in an airtight container (or jar) in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Memphis BBQ sauce pulled pork Sandwich

How do you use Memphis BBQ Sauce?

  • BBQ glaze: Brush the sauce on pork ribs or chicken during the last few minutes of cooking to create a sticky, caramelized glaze.
  • Condiment: Drizzle sauce over smoked pulled pork sandwiches or grilled burgers.
  • Dipping sauce: Serve the Memphis BBQ sauce on the side for dipping grilled chicken wings, skewered meats, and other appetizers.
  • Pizza sauce: Use the sauce as a base for pizza instead of tomato sauce, and top it with shredded smoked chicken and your favorite veggies.
  • Flavor enhancer: Add this sauce to baked beans and dishes like pulled pork mac & cheese or other side dishes for a fantastic flavor boost!


  1. Substitute Mustard for Horseradish: Not too keen on mustard? Use one tablespoon instead of two, or omit it entirely from the sauce. Substitute with one tablespoon of prepared horseradish, and it has health benefits! Keep in mind that this might change the flavor of the barbecue sauce, but it will still be delicious.
  2. Smokier Sauce: Add 1/2-1 teaspoon liquid smoke to the sauce toward the end of cooking time. If you don’t have any on hand, use 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika instead.
  3. Increase Recipe as Needed: This recipe yields roughly 2 cups of barbecue sauce, enough for two racks of spare ribs or three racks of baby backs. Double this recipe if you are planning to cook more than this amount. 
  4. How much barbecue sauce should you use? Average 1/8-1/4 cup of Memphis barbecue sauce per pulled pork sandwich. Two cups will be enough for 8-16 people.
Memphis Barbecue Sauce

Memphis Barbecue Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: Memphis barbecue sauce, memphis bbq sauce
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 2 Cups
Calories: 362kcal


  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce optional
  • salt to taste


  • Add chopped onion, red wine vinegar, and garlic to a blender or food processor, and puree.
    Heat oil in a medium pot, add blended mixture and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
    Add ketchup and mustard. Cook for additional 3 minutes, or until lightly bubbling. Stir often. Reduce heat to low, add brown sugar, molasses, salt, and hot sauce. Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes; stirring occasionally.
  • Remove sauce from heat and cool for 15 minutes before using. If preferred, you can use part of this sauce as a baste during smoking, or serve on the side with cook pork ribs.
    For smooth sauce, place cooled sauce in a blender and blend until it reaches desired consistency.
  • Store sauce in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week after preparation.


Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1817mg | Potassium: 845mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 77g | Vitamin A: 935IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2mg

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