St. Louis barbecue sauce is thin, and its flavor is tangier than Kansas City style sauces. St Louis barbecue has a variety of influences, so this sauce varies from pitmaster to home chef. We have nailed down our favorite version for you to try the next time you smoke, grill, or bake a rack of pork ribs.
The origin of this barbecue style starts with a grocer by the name of Louis Maull of St. Louis. He got his start selling groceries out of a horse-drawn wagon in the late nineteenth century. Thirty years later, he debuted Maull’s Barbecue Sauce, two decades before H.J. Heinz bottled his first barbecue sauce. Maul’s St. Louis style sauce had none of the liquid smoke you might find in Kansas City-style barbecue sauces. He even boasted upward of twenty ingredients in his sauce. This recipe keeps the number far lower!
St. Louis style of barbecue is done by grilling and saucing rather than “low and slow.” Because this sauce contains some sugar, it can burn at higher temperatures. Use it only when the meat is cooking over low heat or slather on toward the end of cook time.
St. Louis Barbecue Sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne use less if preferred
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a medium saucepan, bring all of the sauce ingredients to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook for 15-20 minutes. Reduce to low if it starts to bubble too wildly. Sauce should be thin, but not watery.
- Remove saucepan from heat and let barbecue sauce cool for 15 minutes before using. If making ahead of time, store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week, or 3 months in the freezer.