No matter how you cook your ribs, you want a great barbecue sauce to cover them with. The best sauces for ribs tend to be thick and sticky so that they hold to the ribs. While most of these sauces are tomato based there is a lot of variation amongst these, the most popular rib sauce recipes I have. Remember that any sauce that contains sugars (like tomatoes do) will burn at temperatures above 265 degrees F. (74 degrees C.). If you are cooking at temperatures above this, wait until the the ribs are cooked before applying the sauce. This will prevent burning so you can avoid blackened ribs. Try one of these sauces next time you cook ribs and I promise, you won’t be dissappointed.
1. Kansas City Rib Sauce
Kansas City Rib Sauce
In Kansas City you typically get a thick tomato based sauces that are sweet and often spicy. This is the classic barbecue sauce that most people seem to like. The rich, dark color adds that barbecue look to your favorite ribs while giving them a sticky, sweet flavor that makes you roll up your sleeves and dig in. Since this is a sweet sauce, avoid letting it get above 165 degrees F. since it will burn easily.
2. Classic BBQ Rib Sauce
Classic BBQ Rib Sauce
A great rib sauce should cook on the ribs, low and slow so that it can sink into the pores of the meat and create a sticky crust on the surface. This classic recipe starts with ketchup and then adds brown sugar and a host of flavors to give it that authentic barbecue flavor without replying on liquid smoke. The secret to this sauce is to let it simmer until it reaches the perfect thickness.
3. Kansas City Barbecue Sauce
Like other Kansas City Barbecue Sauces, this one is a thick and sweet tomato based sauce. There is a touch of cayenne that gives only a hint of heat. If you want to kick this up a notch, increase the cayenne and black pepper. These two heat sources hit the touch differently so to keep an even heat adjust them together.
4. St. Louis Barbecue Sauce
St. Louis Barbecue Sauce
In St. Louise, Barbecue Sauce tend to be thinner than you find in Kansas City. What this sauce does, is combine tomato with cider vinegar, mustard, and a touch of heat. This gives you a savory sauce with a tangy flavor. This sauce does contain sugar, so keep the heat down, and it is relatively thin. This means you want to give your ribs a few coats to layer the sauce. As the sauce cooks on the ribs, it will thicken, creating a sticky layer of goodness.
5. Memphis Barbecue Sauce
Traditional Memphis Barbecue is served without sauce, but since rules are made to be broken, many Memphis BBQ Joints have barbecue sauces available, either on the side or by special order. This sauce has the complexity of traditional Memphis Barbecue that combines sweet with heat and savory. You get a tomato based sauce with a touch of molasses, mustard, spices and herbs.
6. Jack Daniel’s Rib Glaze
Jack Daniel's Rib Glaze
Whiskey based barbecue sauces have a long history in the South. This tomato based sauce gets that great whiskey flavor which is simmered into the sauce with brown sugar to tame the bite of the whiskey. If you make this sauce a few days in advance it will have time for the flavors to blend and for the whiskey to mellow.
7. Southern Barbecue Sauce
This Southern Barbecue Sauce is something of a compilation of many of the souther traditions. A tomato based sauce with cider vinegar and savory ingredients, this is a great sauce for breaking with the sugary, sweet sauces that seem to dominate barbecue. This thin sauce can be used on the side or applied in coats on ribs as they cook. Since this is low in sugar you can apply it early in the cooking, but keep the temperatures low.
8. Savory Rib Sauce
Once upon a time, barbecue sauces, were, well, sauces. This barbecue sauce is an old fashioned approach that starts with chicken stock and then adds in the flavors you expect. This is a great barbecue sauce that most people would simply pass by to something that sounds more traditional. That is a mistake. This is a great sauce for all kinds of barbecue, but the perfect blend for ribs.