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, smoked chicken, and pork ribs.

Memphis Barbecue Sauce on pork ribs

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 BBQ 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 sauce toward the end of cook time!

Even kids love this sauce. Have a picky eater that lives on chicken nuggets? Serve a dollop of this as Memphis barbecue sauce for dipping. 

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 Sauce on ribs on a plate with french fries

Memphis Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:

  • Ketchup
  • Yellow onion 
  • Garlic
  • Vegetable oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Molasses
  • Louisiana hot sauce (optional) 

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 for additional 3 minutes. Stir often. 
  • Reduce heat to low; add brown sugar, molasses, and hot sauce to the saucepan. Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove Memphis barbecue sauce from heat and cool for 10-15 minutes before using. 
  • You can use part of this sauce as a baste during the latter half of cooking time. If applying to ribs, do so during the last 30 minutes. 
  • Store sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  1. 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 quite delicious!
  2. 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. 
  3. 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


  • 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 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.
  • 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
Derrick Riches
Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.



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