Barbeque is a time-honored tradition in the United States that dates back to the advent of the Colonies themselves. First made popular in the Carolinas, BBQ has since expanded to fit the diverse cultures and ethnic groups that populate these great United States.
Here is a little tour of the most popular and famous regional BBQ sauces found in America today:
Kansas City BBQ Sauce
When you think about traditional BBQ sauce, Kansas City style is the first thing that comes to mind. This is the typical reddish-brown tomato-based sauce that we are used to seeing in supermarkets and on hot summer days at our friend’s afternoon BBQs. This type of BBQ sauce is more a garnish than a marinade. It is thick, sweet and flavorful, and makes a great addition to a smoked chicken or pulled pork sandwich. Because of its thickness it doesn’t penetrate the meat during grilling, so it is more traditionally used as a dipping or finishing sauce as the meat is cooking and once it has been grilled.
Texas BBQ Sauce
Texas BBQ sauce is heavily influenced by our neighbors to the south, and because of this the Texas style includes more traditional Mexican ingredients like onions, fresh chiles and chile powder, and peppers. Texas BBQ has inspired a few different styles from the more Southern BBQ style of the major urban centers to the “cowboy style” — mesquite-smoked BBQ of the countryside.
Always independent, the Lone Star State added its own spin by enhancing the sauce with actual meat drippings to add extra richness and smoke flavor. Be careful though! If you get bottled Texas sauce the meat drippings aren’t included, so for the real authentic stuff grab your cowboy boots, your 10-gallon hat and plan a road trip!
Carolina BBQ Sauce
Carolina barbecue is usually pork served a number of different ways: pulled, shredded and occasionally sliced. It is often dry rubbed before going on the grill and mopped with a sharp vinegar-based sauce as it’s cooking. This type of sauce combines a tangy vinegar taste with a hint of sweet balanced by savory. It goes great with chicken as well as pork.
The Carolina style is usually split up into 3 distinct categories: Northwestern, Northeastern, and Southern.
California BBQ originated from Native American techniques of digging BBQ pits, and it has expanded to fit the eclectic and diverse tastes that make California unique. By far, California is best known for their Santa Maria style of BBQ, which uses more direct heat when compared to other styles of BBQ. Santa Maria barbeque is all about simplicity, and very light sauces are used. Typically they contain garlic, herbs, pepper and some sort of acid, such as vinegar or citrus juice.
We hope this article has been helpful, and we encourage you to explore a variety of sauces in the future. Or, even better, offer guests a BBQ sauce bar where they can choose from a plethora of sauces to see what they like best.