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What Is Memphis BBQ Sauce?

Have you recently discovered that there is a variation of barbecue sauce attributed to Memphis? Are you wondering what it’s like; what it’s made of and what it tastes like? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you are going to want to know about Memphis BBQ Sauce.

So, what is Memphis BBQ sauce? Memphis BBQ sauce is a thin and tangy variation of barbecue sauce. While it is still tomato-based, it typically contains much less sugar/molasses than your average barbeque sauce but instead has more vinegar and often includes mustard too.

The result is a sauce where sweetness is not the primary flavor.

And as such, Memphis BBQ sauce is versatile as it is delicious.

But what is it typically made of, exactly?

Well, let’s find out!

What Is Memphis Barbecue Sauce Made Of?

Memphis Barbecue sauce is typically made of tomato/tomato paste/ketchup, vinegar, sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and flavorings including garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Although, the exact ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, or brand to brand.

If we take a look at the average home recipe we can see how it differs from those offered on the market.

Home Made Memphis BBQ Sauce Ingredients

  • Tomato/tomato paste/ketchup,
  • Vinegar (White/Rice/ Apple Cider)
  • Molasses
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt

Sometimes you’ll also find butter, hot sauce, and liquid smoke in recipes too!

Branded Memphis BBQ Sauce Ingredients

There are a number of different branded Memphis BBQ sauces on the market.

The following four are some of the most popular.

Cattlemen’s Memphis Sweet BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Sugar, Tomato Paste, Distilled Vinegar, Water, Corn Syrup, Molasses, Salt, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Mustard Bran, Spices, Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor, Natural Flavors, Sodium Benzoate (as a Preservative), Celery Seed, Garlic Powder and Oleoresin Paprika (Color).

Sticky Fingers Memphis Original Sauce Ingredients

Water, Tomato Paste, Sugar, Vinegar, Molasses, Salt. Contains Less Than 2% Of: Dextrose, Modified Food Starch, Spice, Corn Syrup, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Natural Smoke Flavor, Aged Cayenne Pepper, Potassium Sorbate And Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Onion Powder, Natural Flavor, Vegetable Oil (Soybean And/Or Canola), Tamarind and Autolyzed Yeast Extract.

365 by Whole Foods Market Memphis Madness BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Organic Tomato Puree (Water, Organic Tomato Paste), Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Distilled White Vinegar.

So, as you can see, there is some variance between different brands and bottled versions of this BBQ sauce.

What Does Memphis BBQ Taste Like?

Memphis BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy in flavor with a subtle hint of spice. The higher concentration of vinegar to sugar results in a barbecue sauce where the seasonings and spices are more pronounced. It is somewhat thin in consistency.

What Does Memphis BBQ Sauce Go Well With?

Memphis BBQ sauce is most commonly eaten with meat; particularly pork (pulled pork and Memphis style ribs), and chicken (grilled, broiled, pan-fried or shredded).

As it is a thinner barbecue sauce, it also bakes particularly well; and it tends to caramelize well.

Wings, ribs, burgers. All great uses for Memphis BBQ sauce.

At the same time, being thinner makes it an ideal sauce for dipping for:

  • Fries,
  • Potato chips,
  • Nuggets,
  • Mozzarella Sticks,
  • Shrimp,
  • And many more.

In fact, it’s also a great sauce for sandwiches too – especially pulled pork ones!

Or, combine it with some mayo for something a little creamier.

And lastly, you can even add a spoonful or two to your stews or soups!

Related Questions

What Makes Memphis BBQ Sauce Different?

Being tangy, thin, and less sweet makes Memphis BBQ sauce different from other barbecue sauces and variations. Sour flavor notes are also more identifiable when consuming this sauce.

Love BBQ sauce? Then my other guides may be of interest: