BBQ Sauce From Scratch (pt.I) - Sweet & Tangy

BBQ Sauce From Scratch (pt.I) - Sweet & Tangy

Have you ever noticed that store-bought barbecue sauces often taste okay when you think about it? Yet, at the moment, we always say, "This tastes so good!"

Know what you eat

Even though we are told these days that we need to be mindful of what we put in our bodies, store-bought products with harmful additives are no longer a myth. We know we should avoid them, but we keep going back.

The sugar addiction

Sugar is probably the biggest enemy here. Unlike other additives that are only harmful to our bodies, sugar can also have a negative impact on our mental health. This addictive additive can make us feel sluggish and tired, which can hinder our ability to focus and get things done. It can also affect our workouts and results.

Sugar is also a major component in many sauces, including barbecue sauce. It is used to create a stimulating flavor that masks any unpleasant taste and create a delusion of consistency. But don’t you ever feel like you're being lied to when you're only tasting sugar and artificial flavors?

Most common additives that you don't want for your daily performance:
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Artificial flavors
  • Artificial colors
  • Preservatives

Why make our own BBQ sauce?

By opting for homemade barbecue sauce with ingredients you know and trust, you can break free from the cycle of consuming sauces with questionable components. Most importantly, freshly made BBQ sauce do taste better, and it can actually be easy to make. You can make a big batch and freeze it for future use. From start to finish, you take control of the entire barbecue process and ingredients, adjust to your liking—it's a satisfying project to do on your downtime!

My point is, if you want to be additive to something, at least be addicted to the BBQ sauce you make, just saying!

What is BBQ Sauce?

Barbecue sauce is a savory and flavorful condiment that is specifically designed to enhance the taste and texture of grilled, smoked, or barbecued meats. It is an essential component of the American barbecue tradition and has a rich history that dates back centuries.

The invention of BBQ sauce can be traced back to the indigenous peoples of the Americas who used various forms of marinades and sauces to add flavor and tenderness to their meat before cooking it over open flames. As European settlers arrived in the Americas, they brought their own culinary traditions and spices, which further influenced the development of barbecue sauces.

What is BBQ sauce for?

The primary purpose of BBQ sauce is to add moisture, flavor, and complexity to the meat, particularly when exposed to the intense heat and smoke of a grill or smoker. The sauce is typically applied to the meat during or after the cooking process, as it can caramelize and create a delicious glaze. It helps to lock in moisture, preventing the meat from becoming dry while infusing it with a range of flavors.

Key Ingredients?

The key components that make BBQ sauce unique are its base ingredients and the regional variations in flavor profiles. While there is a vast array of BBQ sauce recipes, the common elements include:

  1. Tomato Base: Many BBQ sauces have a tomato base, which can be in the form of ketchup or tomato paste. Tomatoes add a natural sweetness and act as a binding agent.

  2. Sweeteners: Sweeteners like molasses, brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup are often added to give the sauce its characteristic sweetness. This sweetness complements the smoky and savory flavors of the meat.

  3. Vinegar: Different types of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar or white vinegar, contribute acidity and tanginess to the sauce, balancing the sweetness and adding brightness to the overall flavor.

American BBQ sauce comes in three major flavors: sweet & tangy, vinegar and mustard-based, and bold & savory. In this blog, let's start with the sweet & tangy, known for its balanced sweetness from ingredients like ketchup, brown sugar, and molasses, paired with a tangy kick of vinegar or Worcestershire sauce. It's a versatile choice that complements beef, pork, and poultry beautifully. The following three cities are the OG towns that spread the love of this sweet & tangy love. Let's explore:

1, Kansas City

Kansas City has a rich history of meatpacking and cattle ranching, which heavily influenced its BBQ culture. The sauce's sweet and tangy profile complements the slow-cooked, hickory-smoked meats commonly found in Kansas City BBQ joints. The city's diverse population also contributed to a fusion of flavors from different culinary traditions.

Flavor Profile: Sweet, tangy, and slightly smoky with a rich tomato and molasses base.
Protein: Beef (especially brisket), pork ribs, pulled pork.
Beverage/Alcohol Pairing: Sweet iced tea, lemonade, cola, bourbon. 

(image credit:


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard

Spice blend:

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • Salt to taste

or using the local spice blends like Kansas City Orginal BBQ Rub 


In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients. Stir well to combine and bring the sauce to a simmer. Let it cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and let it cool before using it to baste or serve with your favorite BBQ meats.

Overall, BBQ sauce is an essential part of the American barbecue experience, transforming ordinary cuts of meat into flavorful and mouthwatering dishes that have become an integral part of American culture and cuisine.

2, Memphis

Memphis is known for its love of pork ribs, and its BBQ sauce often has a combination of sweet and tangy flavors. The sauce's molasses and tomato base reflect the sweet and savory preferences of the region's culinary culture.

Flavor Profile: Sweet, tangy, and smoky with a combination of molasses and tomato.
Protein: Pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches.
Beverage/Alcohol Pairing: Sweet tea, root beer, bourbon.

(image credit: Bain Barbecue & Bakery, Memphis)


  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Spice blend:

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (e.g., Tabasco)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

or using the local spice blends like Pig's Ass BBQ Rub


In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients. Stir well to combine and bring the sauce to a simmer. Let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and let it cool before using it to baste or serve with your favorite BBQ meats.

3, Georgia

A taste of Georgia's culinary heritage with this delightful Georgia Peach BBQ Sauce with a modern twist. Infused with the sweetness of ripe peaches instead of using brown sugar and molasses as the sweetener,  it captures the essence of the state's famous fruit. This modern twist on traditional BBQ embraces regional preferences, blending tangy and smoky undertones with the warmth of Southern hospitality.

Flavor Profile:Sweet, tangy and luscious
Protein: Chicken, pork, seafood and tofu.
Beverage/Alcohol Pairing: Root beer, cola, light lager.

(image credit:
  • 1 cup fresh or canned peaches (peeled and pitted)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)


Puree peaches until smooth in a blender. Combine the peach puree with ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional). Simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened. Adjust sweetness or seasoning to your liking. Remove from heat, let it cool.


We hope our tour through the realms of savory and piquant BBQ sauces has left you eager to discover the multifarious flavors of Kansas City, Memphis, and Georgia. Every one of these sauces embody the spirit of their place, honoring particular cooking customs and local tastes. No matter if you enjoy the smokiness of Kansas City, the fiery zest of South Carolina, or the sweet delight of Georgia Peach, these marinades will boost your grilling adventures. So, jump into the world of BBQ with these yummy sweet and tart sauces, and let their flavors take you to the soul of each region's BBQ culture. May your grilling be a joyful and mouth-watering commemoration of these beloved BBQ traditions!

Our next blogs are exploring the BBQ sauce that are Bold & Savory and Zesty & Bold.

Check them out!

Zesty & Bold

Bold & Savory


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