Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe (Quick And Healthy Delight)

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Savor the bold, fiery embrace of our Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce recipe. This sauce delivers an intense flavor punch that dances on your taste buds, created with a medley of rich ingredients like smoky paprika, molasses, and cayenne pepper. Simmered to perfection in 30 minutes, it’s the ideal companion for grilled meats or a zesty dip. Ignite your culinary journey with this spicy masterpiece that elevates every dish it touches.

While traveling through Middle Eastern countries, I often yearned for a spicy kick in my meals.

The savory blends I tasted in European bistros were equally captivating, but nothing hit the mark quite right.

I was introduced to a Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce during a recent visit to a friend’s place in Texas.

Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce recipe

I must mention the instant transformation it brought to my palate. Don’t forget that getting the right blend of spices and tang can be challenging.

One of the easiest ways to get the most out of your grilling sessions is by having a top-tier sauce. 

I recommend this recipe for its flavors, the memories it evokes of my travels, and the joy of finally satisfying my taste buds.

You’ll get a spicy, tangy, and sweet mix in one bottle. Typically, this could be the answer to all your BBQ sauce needs.

What Is The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce?

The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce is a unique blend that captures the essence of the American South.

Typically, it combines smoky undertones with a spicy kick, setting it apart from regular BBQ sauces. 

One must understand the balance of flavors in this sauce: hints of molasses for sweetness, a touch of vinegar for tang, and a mix of peppers for heat.

During a recent restaurant visit, I was reminded of its distinct taste and how it elevates grilled dishes. 

I recommend it to anyone looking to get the most out of their barbecue experience. This sauce could be one of your top picks for any grilling event.

History Of Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe

The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce originates in the deep Southern regions of the United States.

While it’s challenging to pinpoint a single inventor, it is best understood as a culmination of generations of Southern cooks experimenting with flavors. 

Influences from African, Native American, and European cooking methods merged, creating this fiery and tangy sauce.

Typically, family recipes were passed down, each adding its unique twist. Remember, we might not know the exact person who invented it.

Interesting Facts About Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  • Regional Varieties: Different Southern states have their distinct spins. For example, Carolina sauce emphasizes vinegar, while Texas might add a smokier touch.
  • Ingredient Influence: The sauce’s spicy kick often comes from cayenne or chili peppers, reflecting Native American and African influences.
  • Molasses Magic: The rich sweetness in the sauce, attributed to molasses, became popular due to the South’s sugarcane industry.
  • Tomato Transition: Originally, tomatoes weren’t a primary ingredient. They were introduced later as they became more available.
  • Aging Advantage: You’ll get a richer taste if the sauce is allowed to age, which lets flavors meld more profoundly.
  • Cultural Significance: The sauce doesn’t just add flavor; it represents the South’s diverse cultural influences and history.
Interesting Facts About Spicy Southern Style

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce?

  • Carolina: Emphasizes vinegar, with variations between North and South. North typically uses a vinegar and pepper base, while South Carolina sometimes adds mustard.
  • Texas: Smokier and meatier. Texas sauce might integrate beef broth, showcasing its rich cattle ranching history.
  • Tennessee: Known for its sweet and sticky texture. Memphis, in particular, favors a tomato and molasses base.
  • Alabama: Introduced a unique white BBQ sauce with a tangy bite, using mayonnaise as its primary ingredient.
  • Georgia: Offers a balanced blend of sweetness and heat, often incorporating peach flavors.
  • Kentucky: Features a specialty mutton sauce catered to its love for barbecued sheep meat.

What Will Make You Love This Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe?

  • This Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce brings an unmatched harmony of flavors. First, its spicy kick reignites a sense of adventure, reminiscent of the bustling streets of Middle Eastern markets. 
  • The sweetness, rooted in molasses, evokes the warmth of European pastries. Its smoky undertone transports you to a Texan ranch. 
  • One of the easiest ways to enhance your dishes, a simple drizzle can transform an ordinary meal into an exotic treat. You’ll get consistent quality and taste. 
  • I recommend trying this sauce at your next gathering. It could soon become your top pick, ensuring every bite is memorable and satisfying.
Southern Style Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients List

Olive oil1 tablespoon
Yellow onion (chopped)½
Garlic cloves (minced)4
Serrano peppers (stemmed, minced)2
Ketchup3 cups
Apple cider vinegar1 cup
Granulated sugar¾ cup
Honey¼ cup
Worcestershire sauce2 tablespoons
Salt1 teaspoon
Crushed red pepper flakes¼ teaspoon
Celery seed¼ teaspoon

Ingredient Tips 

  • Olive Oil: Opt for extra virgin for a richer flavor. It’s vital that it’s fresh to avoid a rancid taste.
  • Yellow Onion: Use fresh onions for a sweeter, milder flavor.
  • Garlic and Serrano Peppers: Fresh is best. Don’t forget to remove seeds from peppers for less heat.
  • Ketchup: Choose a brand with low sugar and minimal additives.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Ensure it’s unfiltered for a robust tang.
  • Granulated Sugar and Honey: You could reduce or increase based on the desired sweetness.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Ensure it matches your dietary preference (vegetarian or non-vegetarian).
  • Celery Seed: Store in a cool, dark place to maintain potency.

What Are The Variations Of Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe?

Variations of the Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce include:

  • Mustard-Based: Popular in South Carolina, it combines ketchup with mustard for a tangy twist.
  • White Barbecue Sauce: A creamy mayonnaise base, prominent in Alabama, with a zesty vinegar and pepper kick.
  • Molasses-Heavy: Emphasizes a richer, deeper sweetness, inspired by Tennessee flavors.
  • Peach Infused: Georgia’s touch, adding pureed peaches for a fruity undertone.
  • Chili Focus: Amplifying heat by introducing a range of chilies, from jalapeños to habaneros.
  • Tequila Flare: A splash of tequila for an alcoholic edge, often paired with lime.
Variations Of Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce

Recipe Directions

Cooking Method

  • Combine the oil, onion, garlic, and chiles in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften.
  • Increase the heat to high. Add the ketchup, vinegar, sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and celery seed. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, ensuring you stir occasionally.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the sauce cool for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the cooled sauce to a blender or food processor. If the sauce is still hot, leave a vent open to let steam escape. Blend the mixture until it attains a smooth consistency.
  • Once blended, let the sauce cool to room temperature.


  • Transfer the sauce to an airtight container.
  • Store the sauce in the refrigerator. You must use it within 1 month for the best flavor.

Ferment Method

Not applicable to this recipe. However, fermenting could be an intriguing variation for those who appreciate a tangy kick and enhanced shelf life.

Scaling The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Scaling the Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce recipe requires a bit of careful calculation:

  • Doubling: If catering to a larger crowd, double each ingredient. You’ll get twice the quantity, but remember to adjust the cooking time slightly to ensure even cooking.
  • Halving: Preparing for a smaller group? Reduce each ingredient by half. However, keep a close eye during simmering, as the sauce could thicken faster.
  • Large Scale: It’s best to prepare in batches rather than a single large one for events or bulk preparation. This ensures consistent flavor and texture.
  • Small Scale: Making a sample? Use a quarter or even a tenth of the specified ingredients. Adjust cooking time accordingly.
Scaling The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce

Can This Sauce Be Used As A Marinade, Dipping Sauce, Or Dressing For Salads And Other Dishes?

Absolutely, the versatility of the Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce makes it a top pick for various culinary uses:

  • Marinade: Its rich, spicy profile tenderizes and imparts deep flavors to meats, making it an excellent choice for grilling or roasting.
  • Dipping Sauce: Its thick consistency and robust taste make it a favorite for finger foods, fries, and grilled vegetables. Don’t forget to serve it alongside appetizers for an added kick.
  • Dressing for Salads: Dilute it with olive oil and maybe a splash of lemon juice, and you’ll get a tangy dressing perfect for salads.
  • Other Dishes: It can enhance casseroles, be brushed on sandwiches, or drizzled over pizzas. You must experiment and find your favorite combination.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe?

The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce is a versatile condiment that complements many dishes. Here are some top picks:

  • Grilled Meats: It pairs wonderfully with grilled chicken, beef steaks, pork ribs, and sausages. Don’t forget to baste the meat with the sauce for a caramelized finish.
  • Seafood: Enhance grilled shrimp or fish filets with a brush of this sauce.
  • Burgers and Sandwiches: Spread it on buns for an added layer of flavor.
  • Vegetable Skewers: Grilled or roasted vegetables, especially bell peppers, zucchinis, and mushrooms, benefit from their tangy touch.
  • Pulled Meat Dishes: Pulled pork or chicken sliders with a generous helping of the sauce are crowd-pleasers.
  • Wings: Coat baked or fried wings for a spicy, tangy treat.
Best Dishes To Accompany Spicy Southern Style sauce

What Are Some Classic Dishes To Feature Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe?

The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce shines when incorporated into classic dishes. Some of the easiest and most beloved ways to feature this sauce include:

  • BBQ Ribs: Slow-cooked, tender ribs basted with the sauce, then grilled for a caramelized finish.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich: Slow-roasted pork shoulder, shredded and mixed with the sauce, served on soft buns.
  • Chicken Drumsticks: Grilled or baked drumsticks coated in the sauce for a tangy and spicy touch.
  • Brisket: Smoked or oven-baked, then slathered in the sauce for a rich flavor enhancement.
  • Meatball Sub: Spicy meatballs smothered in the sauce, served in a crusty roll.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe Offers?

The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce boasts a symphony of flavors that dance on the palate. Here are the critical flavor profiles and sensations it offers:

  • Sweetness: It is derived from honey and granulated sugar and offers a pleasant, sugary touch.
  • Spiciness: Serrano peppers and red pepper flakes provide a fiery kick that awakens the senses.
  • Tanginess: The apple cider vinegar imparts a zesty tang, creating a perfect balance.
  • Savoriness: Worcestershire sauce and salt add depth, enhancing the sauce’s umami notes.
  • Smokiness: Ketchup and the cooking process bring a smoky undertone.
  • Complexity: Celery seeds introduce an earthy, slightly bitter nuance, rounding out the taste experience.
  • BBQ Pizza: A twist on traditional pizza with this sauce as the base, topped with cheese, meats, and veggies.
Profiles And Taste Sensations of Spicy Southern Style Sauce

Can This Sauce Be Stored And Preserved For Future Use? What Is Its Shelf Life?

Yes, the Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce is ideal for storage and preservation. Once prepared, the sauce must be transferred to airtight containers or glass jars to maintain freshness. When stored in the refrigerator, the sauce typically has a shelf life of up to 1 month

One of the easiest methods is to freeze the sauce in portioned containers or ice cube trays. Upon freezing, it can last up to 6 months. However, I recommend using the refrigerated sauce within the initial month for the best flavor. 

What Are The Substitutes For Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe?

Several substitutes can stand in for the Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce if you’re in a pinch or seeking a different flavor profile. Here are some top picks:

  • Tomato-based BBQ Sauce: A generic store-bought sauce can serve as a base; you could then adjust sweetness or spiciness as desired.
  • Mustard-based BBQ Sauce: Offers tanginess, especially popular in some South Carolina regions.
  • Hoisin Sauce: An Asian sauce that’s both sweet and salty, good for a unique twist.
  • Teriyaki Sauce: Brings in sweet and savory notes, ideal for a more Asian-inspired dish.
  • Buffalo Sauce: For those who prioritize heat over sweetness.
  • Mole Sauce: A rich and spicy chocolate-infused sauce for a deeper flavor profile.
Substitutes For Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

Adjusting the consistency of the Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce is straightforward:

  • Thicken: Simmer the sauce uncovered for a longer duration. As the liquid evaporates, the sauce will thicken. Another method is to add a slurry made from a small amount of cornstarch and water.
  • Thin Out: Mix small quantities of water, broth, or apple cider vinegar. This will help in achieving a runnier consistency.
  • Smoothness: Blend the sauce longer in a food processor or blender if you seek a smoother texture.
  • Chunkier: For a more textured sauce, reduce blending time or set aside some sautéed ingredients before blending and mix them afterward.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm? 

The serving temperature of the Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce largely depends on its intended use. When used as a dipping sauce or salad dressing, it is best served cold or at room temperature, straight from the refrigerator. This offers a refreshing contrast to hot dishes.

However, I recommend warming it up if you’re using the sauce as a marinade, basting liquid, or an accompaniment to hot dishes like grilled meats. A warm sauce adheres better to meats and enhances the overall flavor profile. 

Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Nutritional Values

The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce is a rich blend of flavors and ingredients. Nutritionally, it provides moderate calories, primarily from sugars (honey and granulated sugar) and ketchup. It contains minimal fats, thanks to the olive oil. 

The sauce also offers small amounts of vitamins and minerals from the onions, garlic, and serrano peppers. Sodium levels can be notable due to added salt and Worcestershire sauce. Always consider portion sizes when integrating into meals.

What Are The Total Calories In Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe?

Ingredients like ketchup, honey, granulated sugar, and olive oil contribute the most calories. A typical tablespoon of store-bought barbecue sauce can range between 25-50 calories

Given the addition of sugar and honey in this recipe, a tablespoon might be closer to the higher end of this range, around 40-50 calories. For precise values, I recommend using a nutrition calculator or software.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe

The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce recipe caters to various dietary preferences, but there are some considerations:

  • Vegan/Vegetarian: The sauce can be vegetarian if using vegetarian Worcestershire sauce. Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, so ensure you choose the suitable variant for vegans.
  • Gluten-free: Ingredients seem inherently gluten-free, but you must check labels, especially for Worcestershire sauce and ketchup, which could contain gluten derivatives.
  • Low-sugar/Low-carb: This sauce contains granulated sugar and honey, making it unsuitable for strict low-carb diets.
  • Nut Allergies: The recipe is nut-free, but always verify individual ingredient labels for potential cross-contamination.
  • Halal/Kosher: Ensure Worcestershire sauce and other components meet specific religious dietary standards.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition Table Of The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce

What Are Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

While making the Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce, avoiding common pitfalls ensures the best result. Here are some top picks for mistakes to watch out for:

  • Overcooking: Cooking the sauce at too high a temperature can cause it to burn or become too thick.
  • Underseasoning: Failing to taste and adjust seasonings can produce a bland sauce.
  • Over-blending: Over-processing can make the sauce too smooth, removing the desired texture.
  • Too much heat: Overloading on peppers or crushed red pepper flakes can overshadow other flavors.
  • Substitution errors: Swapping out ingredients without proper ratios can alter the taste profile.
  • Improper storage: Not using airtight containers can diminish the sauce’s freshness and shelf life.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce?

If you’ve got leftover Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce, there are myriad ways to get creative:

  • Pizza Base: It is a tangy base for BBQ chicken or veggie pizzas.
  • Sandwich Spread: Elevate sandwiches or wraps with a smoky twist.
  • Stir-Fry: Mix into vegetable or meat stir-fries for added depth.
  • Stews and Soups: Add chili, beans, or meat-based soups for a richer flavor.
  • Pasta: Create a fusion dish by adding the sauce to pasta for a BBQ-style treat.
  • Meatloaf Glaze: Brush over meatloaf before baking.
  • Grilled Veggies: Drizzle or brush onto vegetables before grilling.
Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce

Special Tools & Equipment Needed

  • Medium Saucepan: Essential for cooking the sauce and melding the flavors.
  • Blender or Food Processor: Needed to achieve a smooth consistency.
  • Wooden Spoon: Best for stirring the sauce without scratching your pan.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate ingredient measurements.
  • Knife and Chopping Board: Finely chop the onion, garlic, and serrano peppers.
  • Heat-Resistant Spatula: Useful for scraping every bit of sauce from the pan and blender.
  • Airtight Containers or Glass Jars: For storing the sauce effectively.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer (Optional): To strain out any solids for an ultra-smooth sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Dried Spices Instead Of Fresh Ingredients For The Sauce?

Yes, while fresh ingredients impart a richer flavor, dried alternatives like onion powder, garlic powder, or dried chilies can be used in a pinch. Adjust quantities as dried spices are typically more concentrated.

How Can I Infuse A Smoky Flavor Without A Grill Or Liquid Smoke?

Try adding smoked paprika or chipotle powder to the sauce. Both offer a natural smokiness and can enhance the sauce’s depth.

Can The Sauce Be Canned For A Longer Shelf Life?

Yes, the sauce can be preserved for months using a proper canning method. Ensure jars are sterilized and follow safe canning practices.

Is There An Alternative To Serrano Peppers For A Different Heat Profile?

Jalapeños can be a milder alternative, while habaneros offer a spicier kick. Adjust quantities based on your heat tolerance.

Can I Add Fruits Like Pineapple Or Mango For A Tropical Twist?

Absolutely! Adding fruits can introduce a sweet and tangy element. Incorporate them during the sautéing stage and ensure they’re blended well into the sauce.

Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe (Quick And Healthy Delight)

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Hot Sauces


Prep time


Cooking time



25 – 50

Ferment Time



The Spicy Southern Style Barbecue Sauce is a tantalizing blend of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors. It’s balanced with the richness of ketchup, honey, and apple cider vinegar crafted with fresh ingredients like serrano peppers, onions, and garlic.


  • 1 tablespoon 1 Olive oil

  • ½ ½ Yellow onion (chopped)

  • 4 4 Garlic cloves (minced)

  • 2 2 Serrano peppers (stemmed, minced)

  • 3 cups 3 Ketchup

  • 1 cup 1 Apple cider vinegar

  • ¾ cup ¾ Granulated sugar

  • ¼ cup ¼ Honey

  • 2 tablespoons 2 Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ¼ Crushed red pepper flakes

  • ¼ teaspoon ¼ Celery seed

Step-By-Step Directions

  • In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped yellow onion, minced garlic cloves, and minced serrano peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften.
  • Increase the heat to high. Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and celery seed to the pan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the saucepan.
  • Stirring the sauce occasionally for 30 minutes as it simmers on low heat.
  • The sauce should be taken off the stove and given 10 minutes to cool.
  • Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor.
  • Blend the sauce until it achieves a smooth consistency. If the mixture is still hot, leave a vent open to allow steam to escape.
  • Once blended, let the sauce cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer the sauce to an airtight container or glass jar.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Recipe Video


  • Add more honey or sugar to balance the heat if the sauce is too spicy.
  • For a smokier flavor, consider adding a touch of liquid smoke.
  • Always taste and adjust seasonings as per your preference.
  • The sauce must cool before blending to avoid potential splatters and burns.
  • The sauce tends to thicken as it cools. You can dilute with water or apple cider vinegar if you prefer a thinner consistency.
  • Don’t forget to shake or stir the sauce well before each use.

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