Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce

This Texas-style barbecue sauce for brisket, pulled pork, or almost anything is the culmination of years of searching for the best tomato-based sauce we’ve tried. It comes together in minutes from ingredients you already have on hand and is smooth and complex and slightly sweet with hardly any heat. Although the spices are mild, the depth of flavor is no less intense. Kid-approved, time and again.

A platter of ribs covered with Texas-style barbecue sauce, and a glass of extra sauce on the side.

Saucing before or after cooking—that is the question. It’s all a matter of taste. Serve this tangy sauce on the side after grilling or smoking brisket, chicken, or pork shoulder. Brushing the sauce on the meat at the end of grilling will create a sweet and spicy caramelized finish.–Matthew McCarry and Stacy Toth


Texas barbecue is all about the beef. And what you put on that beef. Traditionally, Texas barbecue sauce is a well-seasoned mixture of tomato, spices, celery, onions, and garlic, and it’s thinner and less sweet than Memphis and Kansas City sauces. Also, it’s generally used to marinate or baste meat, rather than as a condiment.

Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce

A platter of ribs covered with Texas-style barbecue sauce, and a glass of extra sauce on the side.

We’ve spent years testing Texas Style barbecue sauces, and this tomato-based version is our favorite by far. We keep the spices mild, but the depth of flavor is no less intense.

Matthew McCarry and Stacy Toth

Prep 20 mins

Cook 40 mins

Total 1 hr 50 mins

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the lard. Add the onions, garlic, and celery, and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the ketchup, vinegar, water, Worcestershire, and black pepper and simmer for about 30 minutes.

  • Spoon a few tablespoons sauce into a small bowl. Add the chili powder and stir until smooth.
  • Stir the chili powder mixture into the rest of the sauce. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour.

  • That’s it. You’re done. The slightly chunky sauce is nice as is, but for a smoother consistency, purée it in a blender or with an immersion blender. This sauce is best served warm or at room temperature but it stores really well in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Serving: 2tablespoons, approximatelyCalories: 8kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1g (2%)Fat: 1g (2%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 97mg (4%)Potassium: 28mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 78IU (2%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 5mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Originally published November 7, 2013

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