Tangy Memphis BBQ Sauce

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Have you tried homemade barbecue sauce? If you haven’t, it’s time to give it a try. And if you have but you haven’t found a recipe you love yet, this Tangy Memphis BBQ Sauce recipe just might be the one.

There are so many different BBQ sauces out there beyond the classics. This Sriracha Bourbon Barbecue Sauce is one that my husband Sean loves. Carolina Style BBQ Sauce is packed with mustard and Korean Barbecue Sauces which are in a league of their own.

It’s no wonder BBQ sauce is one of the most popular sauces and condiments around. There’s a style of sauce for every pallet and to suit every kind of dish!

This Memphis BBQ Sauce is thinner and tangier than most barbecue sauces, especially the thick and smoky sauces typically available at the grocery store. I really like the ratio of tang to spice in this version and I’m thrilled to share it with you today!

Sweet and Tangy Memphis-style BBQ Sauce

This barbecue sauce was a fun change from our usual and definitely a sauce that I will make again. I knew I need to share it with you because it’s so easy to make, too. Every ingredient for this BBQ sauce is likely to already be in your refrigerator or pantry.

If you haven’t made a homemade BBQ sauce before, this is a terrific place to start.

In less than 15 minutes, you’ll have a homemade sauce at your fingertips that is likely to have you swearing off store-bought sauces forever.

How To Make Barbecue Sauce

Like lots of American BBQ sauce recipes, this one has a ketchup base. A generous portion of vinegar is added for tartness, along with mustard for extra tang.

Brown sugar, cayenne pepper and freshly ground black pepper help temper the sourness just a bit with Worcestershire adding a slightly aged, smoky dimension to the sauce. All the ingredients come together on the stove in just one saucepan making both prep and clean up a breeze.

Homemade BBQ Sauce is easier to make than you might think!

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

The resulting homemade barbecue sauce is a tangy, spicy, lightly sweet sauce that tastes great on all kinds of meat dishes. I love that it’s not cloyingly sweet like lots of commercial store-bought sauces and its natural rich red color is so appealing!

This sauce is fantastic on Oven Broiled Chicken, Pan Fried Chicken, and Shredded Chicken. It’s also good on Pulled Pork and Memphis Style Ribs.

If you’re after a homemade BBQ sauce that’s heavier on the spice, a bit sweeter, and a little bit thicker, check out this Sweet and Spicy Homemade BBQ Sauce – it’s reminiscent of Sweet Baby Ray’s sauces and my kids love it.

Tangy Memphis Style BBQ Sauce

Got spice lovers in your house? They’ll go nuts for my Homemade Spicy Barbecue Sauce recipe. It delivers plenty of mouth-burning heat with lots of Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper.

For something a little less traditional but just as delicious, you need to try Tangy Peach Barbecue Sauce. Like this BBQ sauce, it’s ultra tangy and also has a subtle fruity peach flavor. (I especially love it on BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes.)

Tangy homemade barbecue sauce is a hit!

Storing Barbecue Sauce

Because this BBQ sauce has so much acidity from the vinegar, it keeps for a good long while. If you won’t be using it all right away, store the sauce in a jar or other airtight container in your refrigerator. Try this sauce on your next grilled chicken sandwich for a total win.

You can also can this sauce in a hot water bath or pressure canner!

Tangy Memphis BBQ Sauce

Whether you’re new to making a homemade barbecue sauce or a total sauce aficionado, I think you’ll be surprised by how much this sauce stands out from your everyday BBQ offerings.

Try it the next time you’re hankering for good barbecue and be sure to let me know what you think!

Make your own fantastic BBQ Sauce with just a few everyday ingredients!

Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  1. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, over medium-low heat.

  2. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.

  3. Simmer 10 minutes and then remove from the heat. Use immediately or pour into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce is a dinner game changer!

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Tangy Memphis BBQ Sauce

4.8 from 24 votes
Sauce recipe slightly adapted from and with thanks to Cooking Light via Jenn's Food Journey
Pin Print Review
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, over medium low heat. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. 
  • Simmer 10 minutes and then remove from the heat. Use immediately or pour into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Enjoy! 


Calories: 95kcal · Carbohydrates: 21g · Sodium: 575mg · Potassium: 201mg · Sugar: 18g · Vitamin A: 275IU · Vitamin C: 2.6mg · Calcium: 27mg · Iron: 0.6mg
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{originally published 8/7/12 – recipe notes and photos updated 7/3/20}

Tangy Memphis Barbecue Sauce is so much better than store-bought!

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Lacie says

    We had a Grilled Chicken Dinner Community Event to raise money for special needs children. We let people add their own BBQ sauce. I had bought a variety of different kinds. But was also looking for something different and came across your recipe. I didn’t have cayenne pepper so looked up substitutes online and it said Red Pepper Flakes or Chili Powder so I did both. I also used just plain black pepper. Huge Success! It was the favorite of the night. Thank you so much for your recipe! I know this be used for years to come!5 stars

  2. Cynthia says

    Thank you for sharing this great recipe! I ran out of bbq sauce and luckily had all of the ingredients for this. Turned out great! You saved my Pork chops 🙂5 stars

  3. Casey says

    Every ingredient in this lasts for months alone. I would think the addition of vinegar would only up that. Why 3 day?5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Three days is a fairly standard answer for food safety, Casey. Do I keep it longer in my own fridge? Absolutely. But I rarely recommend much longer than that to anyone else. Just use your own judgment, Casey.

  4. Jeff Gibson says

    My wife has never liked BBQ sauce. I made this for my homemade smoked pulled pork. She absolutely loved it! She has asked me to make it again and for family at Christmas! Thanks for the recipe.5 stars

  5. Brette says

    I was getting ready to turn some leftover pot roast into barbecue, when I discovered I didn’t have enough bottled BQ sauce. Internet to the rescue. This sauce has all the right elements: It’s tangy, not too sweet and has just the right amount of heat. I had all the ingredients on hand except onion powder. I substituted onion flakes and added a spot of liquid smoke. It’s even better than the Texas-made specialty BQ sauce in my nearly empty bottle. Thanks for sharing a quick, vey good, and very easy recipe.5 stars

  6. J. Smith says

    sorry, my family lives in Tennessee, and did not like this bbq sauce at all. We used it on pulled pork. Nothing like Tn bbq.1 star

  7. John L says

    I added sauteed fresh onions and garlic and subtracted the onion powder. Slow cooked frozen chicken thighs (COVID-19 stash) for a few hours with the sauce and it turned out great. Ideal quarantine comfort food.5 stars

  8. Rob G. says

    I’m from Durham. NC and I loved this sauce. It might be a better Carolina style but it worked well on my chicken. There are a lot of different levels of quality of condiment components, that might be a factor in the final product. Start with good quality ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cheers5 stars

  9. Jamie says

    Amazing Sauce, I just keep making it. FYI to readers, I just put the sauce in a old ketchup squeeze bottle and it keeps way longer than the 3 days mentioned in the recipe. I’ve used the sauce for a month and it’s still good.

  10. Real Mac says

    This sauce is legit! Cutback on cayenne by a 1/2 if you’re delicate, definitely has a nice kick! thank you, I dont get real Memphis BBQ sauce near enough, I anticipate it will be a staple at home now.5 stars

  11. Amy says

    So yummy!! Thank you so very much for this recipe!! I’ve tried three or four other bbq sauce recipes without much success. This was exactly what I was looking for. I’m so glad I tried one more recipe before giving in and buying my bbq sauce from the store. Thanks again!5 stars

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