The U.S. has a wide variety of differing barbecue sauce tastes. Some are based in regional tradition.
East Carolina Sauce – Most American barbecue sauces can trace their roots to the two sauces common in North Carolina. The simplest and the earliest were supposedly popularized by African slaves who also advanced the development of American barbecue. They were made with vinegar, ground black pepper, and hot chili pepper flakes. It is used as a "mopping" sauce to baste the meat while it was cooking and as a dipping sauce when it is served. Thin and sharp, it penetrates the meat and cuts the fats in the mouth. There is little or no sugar in this sauce. Due to the sharp taste, it has more of a cult following amongst people not of the region.
Lexington Dip (a.k.a. Western Carolina Dip or Piedmont Dip) – In Lexington and in the "Piedmont" hilly areas of western North Carolina, the sauce is often called a dip. It is a lot like the East Carolina Sauce (above) with tomato paste, tomato sauce, or ketchup added. The vinegar softens the tomato.
Kansas City – Thick, reddish-brown, tomato or ketchup-based with sugars, vinegar, and spices. Evolved from the Lexington Dip (above), it is significantly different in that it is thick and sweet and does not penetrate the meat as much as sit on the surface. This is the most common and popular sauce in the US and all other tomato based sauces are variations on the theme using more or less of the main ingredients.
Memphis – Similar to the Kansas City style, typically having the same ingredients, but tending to have a larger percentage of vinegar and use molasses as a sweetener.
South Carolina Mustard Sauce – Part of South Carolina is known for its yellow barbecue sauces made primarily of yellow mustard, vinegar, sugar and spices. This sauce is most common in a belt from Columbia to Charleston, an area settled by many Germans. Vinegar-based sauces with black pepper are common in the coastal plains region as in North Carolina, and thin tomato- and vinegar-based sauces are common in the hilly regions as in North Carolina.
Texas – In some of the older, more traditional restaurants the sauces are heavily seasoned with cumin, chili peppers, bell peppers, chili powder or ancho powder, lots of black pepper, fresh onion, only a touch of tomato, little or no sugar, and they often contain meat drippings and smoke flavor because meats are dipped into them. They are medium thick and often resemble a thin tomato soup. They penetrate the meat easily rather than sit on top. Bottled barbecue sauces from Texas are often different from those used in the same restaurants because they do not contain meat drippings.
Alabama White Sauce – North Alabama is known for its distinctive white sauce, a mayonnaise-based sauce, which is used predominantly on chicken and pork. It is composed of mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper.
07-24-2013 12:18 PM
And, why, as a Texan, would you even mention those two other cities?
07-24-2013 12:31 PM
Because I wanted to know the difference Between them i love to experiment as well. I am hoping to make my own BBQ commercially in the next year or two. so i want to learn everything their is to know about the sauces
07-24-2013 12:41 PM
Heck. "Carolina" covers several regional styles in and of itself. Vinegar? Mustard? Tomato? Sweet? Hot? All of the above?
Ole Man Dan
07-24-2013 02:26 PM
My wife's not usually a sauce girl, but she developed a taste for the S.C. Mustard Sauce on chicken. I like em all, so I decide ahead of time which meats, and which style of sauce I'll do.
I do defer to Barbara's lust for S.C. Mustard Sauce when I smoke Chickens.
Sometimes I fix me a couple pieces like Chris Lilly does with a close copy of the 'Big Bob Gibsons' White Sauce.
(We live close enough to ride to Bob Gibsons when I want the original.)