What Makes Kansas City Barbecue Sauce Sweetly Unique

If you want to dive into the diverse world of authentic barbeque, you need to know that all barbeque is not the same. Regions are fiercely loyal to their specific style, and they all claim to be the best in the country. The differences between each regional style range from what type of meat is put on the grill to what goes into their barbeque sauce ... if there is a sauce at all. Some Texans will scoff at the mere mention of barbeque sauce (they mostly prefer dry rub only), and Alabama showcases its white sauce, which, contrary to popular belief, is not Ranch dressing but a tangy condiment made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and lemon juice, per Southern Living.

According to Webstaurant Store, the four major regions of American barbeque are Texas, Memphis, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Kansas City, Missouri. While many others exist, these are the big dogs, so to speak. Arguably, the barbeque sauce that most Americans are familiar with, due to its prominence in restaurants and grocery stores, is Kansas City style, which is a thick, sweet, and dark red or brown. It is served with everything from chicken nuggets to cheeseburgers. But if you go to any other barbecue region other than Kansas City, don't expect your sauce to be the same.

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Kansas City barbeque sauce was designed to accompany the city's unique style of meats, which use a dry rub, and can range from beef to fish,according to MasterClass. The accompanying sauce is made from a tomato base like ketchup, plus molasses and brown sugar for plenty of sweetness, per Serious Eats. Other ingredients like onion, garlic, and spices are also utilized. The sauce cooks until it is rich, thick, and suitable for finger-licking. About 250 miles from Kansas City is St. Louis, which many would agree is also a prominent area for barbeque. You'll find the sauce here similar in taste but thinner with a tangy twist due to its addition of cider vinegar, suggests The Spruce Eats.

Meanwhile, in Texas, the pitmasters who do give the thumbs up for barbeque sauce (and there are actually plenty of them) are sure to incorporate Worcestershire sauce, likely because of the prominence of beef ribs and brisket in Texas barbecue, per Webstaurant Store. The Carolinas are home to three distinct types of barbeque sauces: Tangy, mustard-based South Carolina sauce; vinegar and little else in Eastern North Carolina; and a vinegar-heavy sauce that includes ketchup in Western North Carolina, according to Outer Banks Coastal Life. Finally, Escoffier describes the sauce in Memphis as tomato based, but much more tart and thin than its Kansas City counterpart. Clearly, each style is very different, but you'll have to be the judge of which you find most delicious.