Southern-Style Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue Sauce on The History Kitchen #vintage #recipe

Summer and barbecue go hand in hand.  It doesn’t matter what’s on the grill – vegetables, ribs, brisket or burgers – the smell of smoking hot coals drifting through the warm summer air has a way of making your stomach grumble, even if you already ate. If the smell of barbecue isn’t enough to make you hungry, let me remind you of something even better: a finger-licking-forget-the-napkin-because-I-don’t-need-it barbecue sauce.

Barbecue sauces come in a lot of different flavors. One trip down the grocery store aisle can leave you dazed and confused. You have your traditional smoky sauce, sweet sauce, and don’t forget spicy sauce. How about a Smoky, Sweet & Spicy Sauce?! Not enough choices? How about tangy barbecue sauce, honey barbecue sauce, or brown sugar and molasses barbecue sauce? Depending on where you’re from, you might prefer a vinegar-based sauce over a tomato-based one; still others insist it isn’t barbecue sauce if it doesn’t contain mustard! Where do we start, how do you choose?

When I think of barbecue, the first thing that comes to mind has to be the American South.

Barbecue Sauce on The History Kitchen #vintage #recipe

People think of the Southland as a place where the sun shines brighter, the breezes are gentler, the birds sing sweeter, and the flowers are fairer. And where the best of Southern food achieves noteworthy richness, fragrance, and flavor. Does the very mention of Southern cooking make one’s mouth water? To the enthusiastic woman who cooks, the South is a succession of areas, each of which cherished traditional and celebrated ways of preparing its favorite foods. Appetite whetting, competent, delicious recipes that have made Southern Cooking famous the world over.

THE SOUTHERN COOKBOOK- 250 Fine Old Recipes – 1965

YES, YES, YES! The very mention of Southern cooking DOES makes my mouth water! I often dream about buying an RV and eating my way through the South. I would order biscuits and gravy every day for breakfast, chicken fried steak for lunch, and each night I’d stop for dinner in a different town. I would order barbecue everything with an extra side of barbecue sauce. I’m not picky at all, I like every kind of sauce – sweet, spicy, vinegar, and mustard – are all welcome!

Barbecue Sauce on The History Kitchen #vintage #recipe

The Southern Cookbook, edited by Claire S. Davidow and published by Culinary Arts Press Inc., consists of 250 “Fine Old Recipes.” It was published in 1965 in plain black and white print. There are no photos to accompany the recipes, but none are needed. The recipes speak for themselves. Timeless, simple, familiar titles like Stuffed Pork Chops, Fried Chicken, Cream Gravy, Pecan Pie, and Pralines… my stomach grumbled just reading about all of this good old fashioned Southern comfort food. Then I saw a recipe for Barbecue Sauce, plain and simple. I had to try it! Oddly enough, the recipe seemed to have a splash of just about everything, from Mississippi to South Carolina, leaving it “Southern ambiguous.”

The recipe calls for the sauce to simmer for 45 minutes, but I couldn’t resist tasting it after 15 minutes. It was incredible! When it was finished, I couldn’t stop eating it off the spoon. I was sad that I didn’t have anything to slather it on except a baked potato. The finished sauce is bright and tangy from the vinegar, spicy from all of the different peppers (black, horseradish, red pepper chili sauce, chili powder), and ever so slightly sweet from the ketchup and sugar. The title of the recipe simply states: Barbecue Sauce, but don’t be fooled. It is a really intensely flavored beauty of a recipe. It hits every part of the tongue and leaves you wanting more. Absolutely one of the best barbecue sauces I’ve ever made. Until I hit the road in my RV, this Southern-style sauce will be the next best thing.

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Barbecue Sauce on The History Kitchen #vintage #recipe

Southern-Style Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine (for kosher to use with meat, use margarine)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup diced, green pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: About 2 3/4 cups sauce
  • Heat butter in a saucepan. Add onion green pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onion and green pepper are just tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Barbecue Sauce on The History Kitchen #vintage #recipeCombine remaining ingredients. Add to vegetable mixture; stir to blend well. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  • Barbecue Sauce on The History Kitchen #vintage #recipeSimmer over low heat 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, till vegetables are completely soft and flavors have blended.
  • Let sauce cool completely. Pour into a mason jar or sealed container and refrigerate. Brush on meats before grilling, or use as a condiment.
  • Kosher note: If you're keeping kosher, you won't want to use butter in this sauce, since you'll likely use it with meat. Try margarine instead; olive oil would also work fine.
  • Barbecue Sauce on The History Kitchen #vintage #recipe

About Louise Mellor

Chef Louise Mellor shares vintage recipes and food photography on She has worked for over 15 years as a private chef, caterer, culinary instructor, recipe developer, food stylist and media spokesperson. Louise has a degree in culinary arts and was formally trained in classical French cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu. Read more...

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