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Memphis Style Barbecue Sauce

Yield: Yields about 3 cups.

“Memphis style” used to mean vinegar and pepper, and then tomato and brown sugar found their way into the mix. This sauce has a more bitter bite than the Kansas City version. Try them side by side on barbecued chicken and see which you prefer.


  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 Tbs. finely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional)
  • 2 cups tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 cup prepared mustard
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil


  • In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the oil. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (You may want to have a lid handy to protect yourself and your kitchen from any sputtering.) Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a whisk, blend in the oil until incorporated.


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Reviews (2 reviews)

  • User avater
    Tickingpocketwatches | 01/25/2013

    Delicious! I added about a half a cup of honey to sweeten it up a bit more.I boiled some chicken then pulled it into pieces. Made the sauce threw it together then put it in the oven for an hour and it was wooooonderful!!! Definitely recommend it for any food that needs a BBQ sauce.

  • JaimeColina | 05/25/2009

    This is the family favorite - a little spicy, a little sweet, good enough to eat with a spoon. We follow the "How to Grill Chicken Without Burning it" since it came out in 2000, and prefer the Memphis to the Kansas and Georgia sauces. Don't forget the spice rub for the chicken.

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