Barbecue Spaghetti


1 red onion, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Memphis-style barbecue sauce
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce*
1 tablespoon Memphis style dry rub
15 oz canned diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano
2 cups pulled pork (used pork that made with the dry rub using the method shared in this post)

to serve: 1 lb cooked spaghetti


In a large pan, saute the onion, pepper, and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, dry rub, canned tomatoes and pulled pork and simmer about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Serve over hot spaghetti.

*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 freely admit the only reason I made the barbecue sauce, the dry rub and then smoked a whole pork butt for two people was to make barbecue spaghetti. My husband was very skeptical but I held fast (and didn’t tell him at first I was just in it for the spaghetti) and he ended up loving it so much, we are making it again on the 4th of July.

Barbecue spaghetti is a little odd at first glance, it’s pretty much only found in Memphis and I can’t find a ton of info on the origins. If I had to speculate, I think it is some amalgamation of the plain tomato sauced spaghetti you can find at some (barbecue and) fried fish places served as a side and a bunch of leftover pulled pork. Whatever the origins, it’s tangy, delicious and uniquely satisfying. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

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    Perhaps the city’s most unusual creation is barbecue spaghetti. Note that it’s not barbecued spaghetti (the noodles aren’t cooked on a pit) but rather barbecue spaghetti—a fusion of two popular dishes. And there’s more to it than just tossing a little pulled pork into a pot of spaghetti sauce.

    In Memphis Barbecue: A Succulent History of Smoke, Sauce, and Soul (2014), Craig David Meek dug into the history of this local icon. It was invented by Brady Vincent, a former railroad cook who opened a barbecue restaurant called Brady and Lil’s. When Vincent retired in 1980, he sold the business to Frank and Hazel Vernon.The Vernons moved the restaurant to its current location on Madison Avenue and renamed it The Bar-B-Q Shop, but they still make barbecue spaghetti using Vincent’s original recipe.

  2. I was born and raised in Memphis and was blessed with many opportunities to dine at the original Brady and Lil’s Barbecue on Parkway. Have also eaten at the Barbecue Shop in Midtown. This is my favorite dish.