Finest Tennessee Sauce Recipe In Minutes For Your BBQ

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Tennessee Sauce Recipe is an excellent addition to any meal. Its smoky flavor and tangy kick make it great for barbecues and grilled dishes. When in doubt about which sauce to choose, it is better to opt for Tennessee Sauce. My best advice? Don’t forget to try it on your chicken or ribs. I’d recommend it for a truly memorable dining experience. Yet, if you’re unsure, just remember: good food deserves excellent sauce.

Tennessee Sauce Recipe isn’t just another condiment on the shelf; it’s an experience in every bite. On a recent trip to Europe, I found myself dining in a quaint restaurant in Italy. My best advice for any traveler? 

Tennessee Sauce Recipe

Always ask the chef for a personal recommendation. To my surprise, they served a dish hinting at Tennessee Sauce.

It wasn’t traditional for the region, yet it added a depth that reminded me of a meal I once had in a Middle-Eastern bazaar. 

This sauce bridges cultures, satisfying diverse palettes. Many face the dilemma of choosing the perfect sauce to elevate their dishes.

When in doubt, turn to Tennessee Sauce. I remember a friend’s barbecue where the highlight wasn’t just the company but this unique sauce

Kids these days often request it, a testament to its universal appeal. Looking for that special touch to your meals? Tennessee Sauce is a great choice.

What Is Tennessee Sauce Recipe?

Tennessee Sauce Recipe is a distinctive blend of flavors often associated with Southern American cuisine. It is excellent for enhancing the taste of barbecued meats, and it typically combines smoky, sweet, and tangy elements. 

Ingredients like molasses, vinegar, and certain spices are common in its preparation. When in doubt about what sauce to use for your grill, opting for Tennessee Sauce Recipe Recipe is a good idea. 

Its popularity has spread beyond the borders of Tennessee, making it a favorite in many households and restaurants around the country. If you’re unsure about trying it, I’d recommend giving it a try for a unique flavor experience.

History Of Tennessee Sauce Recipe

Tennessee Sauce Recipe traces its roots to the American South, particularly the state of Tennessee. While the exact origin remains debated, it’s widely accepted that the sauce emerged from the cooking traditions of early settlers and indigenous tribes of the region. 

The unique combination of sweet, tangy, and smoky flavors greatly reflects Tennessee’s culinary heritage. Many believe local pitmasters, striving for the perfect accompaniment to their smoked meats, played a significant role in its evolution. 

The exact individual who invented Tennessee Sauce Recipe remains a mystery, but it’s clearly a collaborative masterpiece of generations. Today, this sauce is a testament to Tennessee’s rich culinary history.

Interesting Facts About Tennessee Sauce Recipe

Discover the smoky allure of Tennessee Sauce, a culinary gem steeped in tradition and bursting with bold Southern flavors. Here are some interesting facts about the recipe.

Whiskey Infused

Tennessee is famous for its whiskey, and many local sauces incorporate it for a unique, smoky flavor.


Unlike some other Southern sauces, Tennessee BBQ sauce often starts with a tomato base, creating a rich, tangy foundation.

Sweet With Heat

A typical Tennessee sauce balances sweetness from molasses or brown sugar with a kick from cayenne or hot sauce.

Memphis Style

In Memphis, one of Tennessee’s barbecue hubs, the sauce is typically served on the side to complement dry-rubbed meats.

Jack Daniel’s

The iconic Tennessee whiskey brand often features in local sauce recipes, adding a distinct, oaky note.

Diverse Influences

Tennessee’s sauces reflect a melting pot of influences, from African American to Appalachian and even Native American culinary traditions.

Competitive Spirit

Tennessee hosts numerous BBQ competitions, with sauce being a key category, showcasing the state’s dedication to perfecting this condiment.

Tennessee Sauce Recipe

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce?

While rooted in its namesake state, Tennessee Sauce Recipe has inspired various regional adaptations. Tasting the local variations is a good idea when traveling through the American South

Texas, for instance, might add a spicier kick to their version. In contrast, North Carolina often leans toward a more vinegar-based approach. Kentucky’s adaptation sometimes incorporates bourbon, reflecting its liquor legacy. 

Meanwhile, in Georgia, a sweeter peach-infused version is not uncommon. Even outside the South, states like Missouri and cities like Kansas City have added their unique touches. 

What Will Make You Love This Tennessee Sauce Recipe?

Tennessee Sauce Recipe boasts a harmony of flavors that can elevate any dish. Its smoky undertones, paired with the perfect balance of sweetness and tang, create a taste sensation that is hard to replicate. 

Tennessee Sauce often emerges as the winner when in doubt about what sauce to pair with your meal. Its versatility is great for everything from grilled meats to vegetable dishes. Whereas some sauces can be overpowering, this one complements without dominating. 

Its unique blend makes it a favorite even among those typically wary of sauces. The rich history and regional adaptations further add to its charm. My best advice? Give it a try. You don’t want to miss out on this culinary delight.

Tennessee Sauce Recipe

Ingredients List

Flour¼ cup
Salt¼ cup
Basil½ tsp.
Thyme½ tsp.
Okra, chopped fine1 pound
Cider vinegar1 quart
Black pepper1 tbs.
Flaked red pepper1 tbs.
Onions, grated2 medium
Butter or margarine2 sticks
Hot sauce2 tsp.
Whole ripe tomatoes5 pounds

Ingredient Tips 

  • For an even richer flavor, opt for unsalted butter rather than margarine.
  • Freshly ground black pepper can provide a more aromatic and intense taste.
  • When in doubt about the potency of your hot sauce, add gradually and taste-test.
  • Using sea salt or pink Himalayan salt can enhance the overall depth of flavor.
  • Fresh herbs, like basil and thyme, are great for a more vibrant sauce.
  • Choose ripe, juicy tomatoes for a natural sweetness and rich color.
  • Freshly grated onions release more juice and flavor than pre-packaged versions.
  • To reduce grittiness, ensure the flour is finely sifted.
  • For an added kick, consider increasing the flaked red pepper.
  • If unsure about the okra’s freshness, it should be bright green and firm.

What Are The Variations Of Tennessee Sauce Recipe?

  • Whiskey-infused: A splash of Tennessee whiskey can add depth and a unique smoky flavor.
  • Honey-sweetened: For those who prefer a sweeter touch, honey is a great addition, whereas traditional recipes might use molasses.
  • Fruity Twist: Adding fruit purees, like peach or apple, can offer a tangy-sweet balance.
  • Spicy Kick: Increasing the hot sauce or adding chopped jalapeños can elevate the spice level for heat lovers.
  • Creamy Version: Some add a dash of heavy cream or yogurt for a creamier texture.
  • Vegan Adaptation: Substituting butter with coconut oil or vegan butter ensures the sauce remains vegan-friendly.
  • Herbal Boost: Experimenting with herbs like rosemary or oregano can alter the flavor profile subtly.
Tennessee Sauce Recipe

Recipe Directions

Cooking Method

  • Combine flour, salt, basil, thyme, chopped okra, cider vinegar, black pepper, flaked red pepper, grated onions, butter or margarine, hot sauce, and whole ripe tomatoes in a deep cooking pan.
  • Bring the mixture to its boiling point over medium-high heat.
  • Once boiling, decrease the heat to low.
  • Allow the sauce to simmer for half an hour, ensuring it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom.
  • After simmering, strain the mixture through a coarse sieve to ensure a smooth sauce consistency.
  • Let the sauce rest for 10 minutes to cool slightly, and allow flavors to meld.
  • Use: The sauce is excellent for basting meats during cooking or grilling. It’s also delicious served over cooked meats for added flavor.

Ferment Method

  • While the traditional Tennessee Sauce doesn’t typically involve fermentation, if one wishes to ferment for added depth and tang, transfer the strained sauce into a sterilized jar, leaving an inch from the top. 
  • Cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Allow it to sit in a dark, cool place for 2-4 days, checking daily. Once fermented to your liking, store it in the refrigerator.

Savor the essence of the South with Tennessee Sauce, the secret ingredient to transforming meals into soulful masterpieces.

Scaling The Tennessee Sauce Recipe

Scaling a recipe, whether increasing or decreasing the quantity, requires careful calculations to maintain the dish’s integrity:

Increasing The Recipe

  • Doubling: Multiply each ingredient by 2. It’s a good idea to taste as you go, especially with spices, to avoid overpowering flavors.
  • Batch Cooking: Consider making multiple batches instead of one large batch for consistent flavor when preparing for larger gatherings.

Decreasing The Recipe

  • Halving: Divide each ingredient quantity by 2. This is great for smaller servings.
  • Individual Servings: Divide ingredients by the number of desired servings. This ensures everyone gets an even flavor profile.
Tennessee Sauce Recipe

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

  • As a Marinade: Its rich flavors penetrate meats, making them juicy and flavorful. Marinate your choice of meat for a few hours or overnight for the best results.
  • Dipping Sauce: Its tangy and smoky profile is excellent for dipping grilled meats, fries, or bread. Tennessee Sauce often wins the day when in doubt about what dipping sauce to serve.
  • Salad Dressing: For a unique twist on salads, dilute the sauce with olive oil or vinegar. It imparts a robust flavor, turning a simple salad into a gourmet experience.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Tennessee Sauce Recipe?

Grilled Meats

Whether chicken, pork, or beef, this sauce elevates the flavor profile, making it a favorite at barbecues.


The sauce’s smoky-sweet tang complements the slow-cooked ribs’ richness.


A dollop on a burger adds a Southern twist to this classic.


Grilled or fried fish benefit from the tangy contrast of the sauce.

Vegetable Skewers

Grilled veggies become irresistibly tasty when drizzled with the sauce.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

The sauce melds beautifully with tender, shredded pork.


Turn regular wings into a sensation with a Tennessee Sauce glaze.


As a dressing, it lends a robust character to fresh greens and veggies.

Tennessee Sauce Recipe

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Tennessee Sauce Recipe?

  • Tennessee BBQ Ribs: Slow-cooked ribs basted generously with the sauce, showcasing its smoky-sweet prowess.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich: Tender pork, slow-cooked and mixed with the sauce, then piled high on a bun.
  • BBQ Chicken: The chicken is continuously basted, grilled, or oven-baked, resulting in a caramelized finish.
  • Smoked Brisket: The sauce serves as a marinade and a side dip, enhancing the meat’s smoky notes.
  • Tennessee Meatloaf: A twist on the traditional, with the sauce glazing the top.
  • Grilled Veggie Platter: Vegetables get a flavorful uplift when drizzled with this iconic sauce.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Tennessee Sauce Offers?

  • Sweetness: It is often derived from ingredients like molasses or brown sugar and provides a warm, caramel-like undertone.
  • Tanginess: Cider vinegar or other acidic components lend a zesty, refreshing bite.
  • Smokiness: Ingredients or smoking methods imbue the sauce with a deep, earthy aroma reminiscent of open fires.
  • Spiciness: Elements like hot sauce or red pepper flakes introduce a gentle heat, sparking a lively sensation on the tongue.
  • Saltiness: Salt accentuates the sauce’s richer elements, balancing the sweet and tangy notes.
  • Herbaceous: Spices and herbs, such as basil and thyme, add complexity and freshness.
Tennessee Sauce Recipe

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

  • Storage: After cooking, allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to airtight containers or sterilized mason jars and seal tightly.
  • Refrigeration: The sauce can last up to 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing: For longer preservation, it’s a good idea to freeze the sauce. Pour into freezer-safe containers, leaving an inch at the top for expansion. Properly stored, it can last up to 6 months in the freezer.
  • Shelf Life: If left unopened in a cool, dark place, homemade canned Tennessee Sauce can last up to a year. However, always check for signs of spoilage before consumption.

What Are The Substitutes For Tennessee Sauce Recipe?

  • BBQ Sauce: The closest in taste, especially if it’s a smoky-sweet variety. Mixing with a dash of vinegar can mimic the tanginess of Tennessee Sauce.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: While more liquid and less sweet, it has a deep, tangy flavor that can be a suitable stand-in.
  • Ketchup & Vinegar Mix: Combining these creates a basic tangy-sweet profile. Adjust spices to taste.
  • Steak Sauce: Offers a tangy, slightly sweet undertone.
  • Teriyaki Sauce: Though sweeter and with an Asian flavor profile, it can be an alternative in some dishes.
  • Molasses & Mustard Mix: Combines sweetness with tang, approximating the base taste.
Tennessee Sauce Recipe

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

Adjusting the consistency of Tennessee Sauce is simple:

To Thicken

  • Flour or Cornstarch Slurry: Mix equal water and flour or cornstarch. Gradually add to the simmering sauce until the desired thickness is reached.
  • Reduce: Simmer the sauce for longer, allowing excess moisture to evaporate.
  • Tomato Paste: Add small amounts to thicken while enhancing the tomato flavor.

To Thin

  • Liquids: Gradually add water, broth, or vinegar to the sauce while stirring.
  • Tomato Juice: Adds volume without drastically altering flavor.
  • Adjust Seasonings: When adding liquid, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Tennessee Sauce is where smoky sweetness meets a tangy twist, elevating every dish with a whisper of Southern charm.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?

Whether to serve Tennessee Sauce cold or warm depends on its intended use and personal preference.


  • Dipping Sauce: A cold sauce can be refreshing when used as a dip for items like fried foods or fresh veggies.
  • Salad Dressing: Over fresh greens, a chilled sauce complements the crispness of the vegetables.


  • Basting or Grilling: When applying meats or vegetables on the grill, it’s a good idea to use the sauce warm, ensuring it spreads evenly.
  • Served over Meats: Warm sauce poured over cooked meats enhances the dish’s flavors.
  • Incorporated in Dishes: It’s best used warm when added to recipes like stews or casseroles.
Tennessee Sauce Recipe

Nutritional Values

This sauce is a rich blend of vitamins, courtesy of tomatoes and okra, with a moderate calorie content due to the butter and added seasonings.

What Are The Total Calories In Tennessee Sauce?

Estimating the total calories in Tennessee Sauce depends on its ingredients and their respective quantities.

For this recipe, an estimated total for the entire batch of Tennessee Sauce is around 1,200-1,400 calories. However, specific measurements and a detailed analysis are needed for precise nutritional values.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Tennessee Sauce

  • Gluten-Free: The flour in the recipe may contain gluten. Substitute with gluten-free flour if needed.
  • Vegan: The butter originates from dairy. Opt for plant-based alternatives like olive oil or vegan margarine.
  • Low-Sodium: The salt content might be high for those watching their sodium intake. Reduce or omit as needed.
  • Low-Fat: Butter contributes to the fat content. Use in moderation or find substitutes.
  • Low-Carb: Although not high-carb, tomatoes and onions add some carbs. Those on strict diets should consume in moderation.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition Table 

What Are The Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

  • Overcooking: Simmering the sauce too long can result in an overly thick consistency and loss of vibrant flavors.
  • Skimping on Ingredients: Using low-quality tomatoes or omitting certain spices can compromise the sauce’s depth of flavor.
  • Rushing the Process: Not allowing the sauce to simmer for the recommended time can prevent flavors from melding adequately.
  • Over Seasoning: While adding extra spices or salt is tempting, doing so can overpower the delicate balance of flavors.
  • Not Straining Properly: If you don’t strain the mixture well, you might end up with a chunky sauce instead of a smooth one.
  • Inadequate Cooling: Before storing, it’s essential to let the sauce cool to room temperature to prevent condensation, which can dilute the sauce.
  • Improper Storage: Not using airtight containers can lead to contamination or a shorter shelf life.
  • Not Tasting as You Go: My best advice is to taste the sauce at different stages of cooking. This way, you can adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Ignoring Acidity: The balance between sweet and tangy is crucial. Not using enough vinegar can result in a sauce that’s too sweet.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce?

  • Pizza Base: Use as an alternative to traditional tomato sauce on homemade pizzas.
  • Pasta Mix-In: Blend with cooked pasta for an instant flavor boost.
  • Sandwich Spread: Enhance sandwiches or wraps with a tangy twist.
  • Rice Flavoring: Mix into plain rice or grain bowls.
  • Soup Base: Add depth to soups or stews.
  • Egg Dishes: Drizzle over omelets or scrambled eggs.
  • Dressing: Mix with olive oil for a tangy salad dressing.
  • Meatloaf Glaze: Brush atop meatloaf before baking.
  • Veggie Dip: Serve alongside fresh or roasted vegetables.
  • Bread Dip: Pair with crusty bread for a quick snack.
Tennessee Sauce Recipe

Special Tools & Equipment Needed

  • Deep Cooking Pan: For mixing and simmering the sauce.
  • Wooden Spoon: For stirring the mixture and preventing it from sticking.
  • Coarse Sieve: Essential for straining the sauce to achieve a smooth consistency.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Ensuring accurate quantities of ingredients.
  • Grater: For grating the onions.
  • Knife: For chopping tomatoes and okra.
  • Cutting Board: A good surface for preparing vegetables.
  • Glass or Plastic Storage Containers: For storing any leftover sauce.
  • Whisk: Helps blend the flour or cornstarch slurry if thickening is needed.
  • Heat-Resistant Bowl: Useful when straining the hot sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions  

Can I Use Dried Herbs Instead Of Fresh Ones In The Recipe?

Yes, you can. When in doubt, the general rule is to use one-third of dried herbs as you would fresh. So, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, use 1 teaspoon of dried basil instead.

How Long Does This Tennessee Sauce Last In The Refrigerator?

The sauce can last up to a week in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container. It’s a good idea to consider canning or freezing for extended shelf life.

Is There A Way To Reduce The Spiciness Of The Sauce If It’s Too Hot For My Taste?

If you’re unsure about the heat level, my best advice is to initially reduce the amount of flaked red pepper and hot sauce. You can always add more later to adjust to your preference.

Can I Freeze The Tennessee Sauce For Future Use?

Absolutely! Pour the cooled sauce into freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving some space for expansion. It can be frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before use.

I Don’t Have Cider Vinegar On Hand. Can I Use Another Type Of Vinegar?

Yes, you can. White or red wine vinegar are suitable substitutes, though they may slightly alter the sauce’s flavor profile. Adjust the quantity based on taste preference.

Finest Tennessee Sauce Recipe In Minutes For Your BBQ

Course: Sauces


Prep time


Cooking time




Ferment/Rest Time



A tantalizing blend of ripe tomatoes, aromatic spices, and tangy vinegar, Tennessee Sauce delivers a smoky-sweet punch, perfect for elevating any dish.


  • ¼ cup ¼ Flour

  • ¼ cup ¼ Salt

  • ½ tsp. ½ Basil

  • ½ tsp. ½ Thyme

  • 1 pound 1 Okra, chopped fine

  • 32 fl.ounce 32 Cider Vinegar

  • 1 tbs. 1 Black Pepper

  • 1 tbs. 1 Flaked Red Pepper

  • 2 2 Onions , grated (medium)

  • 2 2 Butter or Margarine (sticks)

  • 2 tsp. 2 Hot Sauce

  • 5 pounds 5 Whole Ripe Tomatoes

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation
    Begin by washing the whole ripe tomatoes thoroughly. Once washed, chop them into small pieces.
    Clean the okra under running water and finely chop it.
    Grate the two medium onions using the grater and set aside.
  • Cooking
    In a deep cooking pan, combine all the ingredients: the chopped tomatoes, okra, grated onions, flour, salt, basil, thyme, cider vinegar, black pepper, flaked red pepper, butter (or margarine), and hot sauce.
    Place the pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom.
    Decrease the heat to a low setting once the mixture reaches its boiling point.
  • Simmering
    Let the sauce simmer gently for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking and to prevent any ingredients from settling at the bottom.
    As the sauce simmers, it will reduce slightly, and the flavors will meld together. The sauce should develop a rich color and texture.
  • Straining
    After simmering, remove the pan from the heat and allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes.
    Place a coarse sieve over a heat-resistant bowl. Carefully pour the sauce through the sieve, using the wooden spoon to press and extract as much liquid as possible. This will ensure a smooth consistency for the sauce.
  • Storing or Serving
    If you plan to use the sauce immediately, it can be used for basting or served directly over meat or other dishes. If storing, let the sauce come to room temperature before transferring it to airtight containers. Store in the refrigerator for maximum freshness.

Recipe Video


  • Always choose ripe tomatoes for the fullest flavor.
  • Adjust spiciness to preference by moderating the red pepper flakes and hot sauce.
  • For a vegan variant, substitute butter with a plant-based alternative.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for the best freshness.
  • Tastes may intensify after a day, making it even more flavorful.

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