Memphis-style Barbecue Sauce



2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups plain tomato sauce*
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch celery seed
freshly ground black pepper

In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter. Saute the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent. Whisk in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes or until it has thickened into a sauce consistency that will coat the back of a spoon. Place in a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour into a jar and allow to cool before using or refrigerating.

Yield: about 1 3/4 cups

*Tomato sauce is oddly tricky to find at times. Look for it near canned tomatoes or in the Italian section. It’s not tomato puree, or crushed tomatoes and it’s not spaghetti sauce. Sometimes I can only find it in a 4- or 8-oz can but if you are local, Weis carries the store brand version in 28-oz cans.


My thoughts:

I had the idea to make Memphis style barbecue last fall but we had so much rain, I ended up freezing the pork until now. I like making my own barbecue sauces because not only can I control the sweetness and flavor, I pretty much always have the ingredients on hand and it gives me something to do while grilling for 6+ hrs.

I actually used homemade  Worcestershire sauce in this (talk about being extra!) that I made while testing cookbooks as a judge for the single subject category in the IACP cookbook awards. It’s from the winning book, Jerky, and it was surprisingly simple to make yet very delicious! Of course, you can use regular Lea & Perrins.

This is a thinner, tangy yet sweet barbecue sauce that I think would have wide appeal at your next cookout.


I used the leftovers in barbecue spaghetti and highly recommend it!

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