Tangy Memphis BBQ Sauce

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Tangy, sweet, Memphis bbq sauce is so much tastier than anything store-bought! (And you can make it with just a few pantry ingredients!)

Have you tried making 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 Memphis-style barbecue sauce recipe just might be the one.

Sweet and Tangy Memphis-style BBQ Sauce

Memphis BBQ Sauce

This is a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce with a hint of spicy heat. The memphis-style bbq sauce is thinner and tangier than most barbecue sauces, and I prefer it to 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. If you want something a little different next time you’re grilling or when you’re pulling together a quick weeknight dinner of BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes, take five minutes and stir together a batch of tangy bbq sauce to make it even better.

There are many different BBQ sauces out there beyond the classic flavors. This Sriracha Bourbon Barbecue Sauce is one that my husband and oldest son love.

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.

Got spice lovers in your house? They’ll go nuts for this spicy barbecue sauce with enough heat to bite the back of your throat. It delivers plenty of warmth with lots of Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper. If you just want a simple classic, Homemade Barbecue Sauce is it.

Carolina Style BBQ Sauce is packed with mustard and then there are Korean Barbecue Sauces in a league of their own.

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.

During peach season, I make it as often as I’m able to get my hands on fresh peaches. (I’m guessing it will work fine with frozen peaches too, but I haven’t tried that myself.)

It’s no wonder barbecue 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!

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Tangy BBQ Sauce

This Tennessee 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 barbecue sauce before, this is a terrific place to start.

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

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

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!

Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce

The resulting sauce is a tangy, spicy, lightly sweet sauce that works well on ribs, pulled pork, grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, you name it and I’ve probably dipped it into or drizzled it with this sauce.

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

Tangy Memphis Style BBQ Sauce
How to Store BBQ 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.

While my assumption is that this could be canned without any issue, I’m not an expert on canning and I can’t guarantee the food safety of it. If you’re more expert than I am, go for it.

Because I like to have this sauce on hand, I often make a triple batch and portion it into containers for the freezer. It thaws quickly and works well in any recipe.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce is a dinner game changer!

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

Try this tangy bbq sauce recipe the next time you’re craving barbecue and be sure to let me know what you think!

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Tangy Memphis BBQ Sauce

4.84 from 37 votes
Tangy, sweet, Memphis bbq sauce is so much tastier than anything store-bought! (And you can make it with just a few pantry ingredients!)
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ 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
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 8/7/12 – recipe notes and photos updated 3/14/23}

recipe slightly adapted from and with thanks to Cooking Light via Jenn’s Food Journey

Tangy Memphis Barbecue Sauce is so much better than store-bought!
Tangy homemade barbecue sauce is a hit!

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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. [email protected] says

    YUM! This sauce looks great! We usually grill all summer, but this summer has been so HOT that we really haven't grilled as much as we normally do! I'm ready for cooler temps to get the grill back out!

  2. geni says

    YUUUUMMM! Your barbecue sauce and chicken looks AMAZING! I don't blame you for avoiding the barbecue in Phoenix summer heat. I feel ya right about now…with 106 today. No grillin' here…only chillin'. 🙂

    • Mary says

      For this recipe, I used bone-in chicken thighs. Breasts work as well, just watch the time and adjust accordingly.

  3. Lea Ann (Cooking on the Ranch) says

    Boy you are preaching to the choir on that one. I'd much rather stay cooped up in my air conditioned kitchen and use my stove top and oven rather that stand out on the searing deck and grill. Even the cool Rocky Mountains have been too hot. I'd like to try this sauce. I just had a friend touting the wonders of Memphis style sauce and I need to learn the regional differences.

  4. Vicki Bensinger says

    This BBQ sauce sounds delicious and looks so nice and thick. I'll have to try it. It's so much better making it from scratch than buying the bottled stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Anonymous says

    Excellent sauce, I doubted the sauce, I also used Chicken Thighs, in a shallow baking dish, I placed some sauce in the dish, placed chicken skin side up, covered the chicken with more sauce, covered with aluminum foil, baked at 325 for 30 minutes, uncovered chicken did not turn them, and baked another 30 minutes, let it rest out of the over for 10 minutes and served with rice. LOTS of flavor and tender… Then use some of the sauce as pour over the chicken.

  6. Michelle says

    The smells coming out of my oven were out of this world, I couldn't wait to eat it. omg, this one is a KEEPER! yummy!

  7. Stephen says

    I made this sauce for my smoked pork ribs last night and loved it. Great, easy, basic sauce.5 stars

  8. Jonathon Leen says

    Is there anything we can use as a substitute for the worcestershire sauce. My child is allergic to something in it but he really wants to try this barbeque sauce with the barbeque I will be having for his birthday party. Also is it safe for cats, he really likes giving little pieces of food to the cats.

    • Mary Younkin says

      I have absolutely no clue whether barbecue sauce is safe for cats, Jonathon. I found this substitute for Worcestershire sauce: use 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon sugar and a dash of hot sauce for every tablespoon Worcestershire the recipe calls for. It’s worth a try. (I’ve also substituted straight soy sauce for Worcestershire sauce when I was out of it in the past.

    • gabby says

      You can get vegan Worcestershire sauce, which doesn’t have some of the same ingredients. A bit late but for next time, (for Johnathon).5 stars

    • Brandi says

      Another good substitute would be coconut aminos. It has less sodium than the soy sauce mentioned above. Plus it’s soy free!!

  9. Marcia says

    Used this wonderful recipe for Pulled Chicken
    I express crocked chicken with Coke, peppers onions garlic.
    draind pulled then added this bbq sauce and cooked a little longer
    DELIOUS5 stars