KW's Blog

Explaining the Differences Between Various Barbecue Sauces

When it comes to cooking up some barbecue, there is no more important element to consider than the sauce. A good wood to give it a smoky flavor and the right rub are also important, but a world class barbecue sauce can transform the most lackluster cooking methods into some magical barbecue. The right sauce can cover up an awful lot of mistakes in barbecuing. Here is a guide to all the wonderful styles of barbecue sauce that chefs have at their disposal.

Kansas City

Different styles of sauce are named for the area where they were developed. The Kansas City sauce is the style that most people call to mind when they are thinking about barbecue sauce. This is the style of sauce that is the most popular throughout the country.

Kansas City barbecue chefs like to use a very sweet sauce. It gets its sweetness from the molasses that is a key ingredient in the sauce. Kansas City sauce is very thick, which allows it to really coat ribs. This is the kind of sauce that really sticks to the barbecue. The tomato- based Kansas City sauce is delicious, and no cook will go wrong by using it to barbecue with.

North Carolina

Kansas City and North Carolina barbecue sauces are like night and day. While Kansas City sauce is all about sweetness, North Carolina sauce is all about tartness. This tangy sauce is made with vinegar, so it really packs a wallop when a person tastes it. The robust tanginess of North Carolina sauce helps it to stand up to fatty barbecue dishes quite well. That is why pork is the most common meat served in North Carolina barbecue joints.


Everything is bigger and bolder in Texas, and the sauces they use on their barbecue dishes are no exception. Because it is located on the border of Mexico, the sauces made in Texas tend to lean towards the spicy side of the flavor scale. They love to add some chili peppers like habaneros to their sauces in Texas. They are also big fans of adding cumin to their tomato-based Texas barbecue sauces. The spicy, bold sauces in Texas are perfect for barbecue brisket and other beef dishes that will benefit from a little heat.


There is a key ingredient that differentiates Tennessee sauces from all the rest, and that ingredient is whiskey. They love to add a couple tablespoons of whiskey to their sauce to give it a little extra kick.


While the folks in Texas like to spice up their barbecue sauces, you could say that the folks in Louisiana like to barbecue up their hot sauces. They love their hot peppers in Cajun country, and the barbecue sauces in Louisiana certainly reflect this fact. It is sometimes difficult to tell if there were more tomatoes or hot peppers added to a Louisiana barbecue sauce. Not only do these spicy sauces taste great on barbecue, but their spiciness will also improve most other dishes as well.