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Burning Question: Which Sauce Should I Use?

Rather than commit to a barbecue region, the city’s slew of new barbecue joints—Cedar Hill, CatHead’s, Southpaw, Wexler’s Back—are diplomatically serving up a choose-your-own-region sauce adventure. 

The sauces at Wexler's Back


Before you grab the squeeze bottle, refer to this oversimplified cheat sheet showing which regions use what sauce on what meat. Because the chefs are watching. Hog & Rocks’ chef Scott Youkilis, who’s gearing up to open Hi Lo BBQ in the Mission this fall, sighs, “You spend 15 hours to make a brisket, and then people put the wrong sauce on it.”

Eastern North Carolina
The meat on order: chopped or pulled pork
Use this sauce: vinegar, red pepper, and sugar

Western North Carolina
The meat on order: chopped or sliced pork shoulder
Use this sauce: vinegar and tomato

Central South Carolina
The meat on order: chopped or sliced pork
Use this sauce: yellow mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar

The meat on order: pork ribs or shoulder (cooked “wet” or “dry”)
Use this sauce: tomato-and-vinegar-based or none

Central Texas
The meat on order: beef or pork (from brisket to ribs)
Use this sauce: skip it

Kansas City
The meat on order: brisket to chicken to ribs
Use this sauce: sweet, spicy tomato