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

4.81 from 26 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
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. Donnie P says

    This BBQ sauce is the best we’ve tasted and we’ve tasted plenty store bought, restaurant prepared and homemade. Thank you.5 stars

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