How to Make Texas Style BBQ Sauce

In some Texas barbecue circles, adding sauce to expertly smoked meats has been—and always will be—totally taboo. Of course, a good barbecue should be tender, juicy, and flavorful enough to be enjoyed in its purest form, but a deliciously crafted barbecue sauce can truly take something already perfect to new heights of flavorful pleasure (like ranch dressing on a slice of pizza).

So we turned to Justin and Diane Fourton, founders of the hugely popular pecan nut pavilion in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, where customers regularly line up around the block to get a taste of different types of Texas barbecue sauce. Next, we asked them to share the recipe for their restaurant’s signature sauce, a delicious concoction so luxuriously tinted it deserves its own spot on the Pantone color palette – Pecan Lodge Saucy Red, perhaps?

To understand all that goes into getting that rich burgundy hue in their sauce, we first need to delve into the different types of sauce common in different parts of the state.

“Texas has several regional variations of barbecue sauce. East Texas sauce is ketchup based and is usually a bit sweeter. In central Texas, it’s not uncommon for the sauce to be something as simple as gravy mixed with a little vinegar, salt and pepper,” Justin says. “South Texas is more heavily influenced by its proximity to Mexico and Louisiana, where you’ll find the use of dried chiles and the sauce takes on a more pungent flavor profile.”

In other parts of the country, sauces sometimes play a bigger role.

“Kansas City-style sauce tends to be sweeter, and in this culture barbecue sauce is as important as meat, where many joints are primarily known for their sauce,” says Diane. “In the Carolinas you have a vinegar-based sauce, a mustard-based sauce, and a ketchup-based Lexington-style sauce, but it’s a thinner, more watered-down version of what you might find in Texas. . In Memphis, they generally eschew the sauce, instead of a dry rub applied after the meat is cooked.

Then comes the source of many debates.

“Overall, I would consider Texas BBQ sauce to have a ketchup base and is generally used more as an afterthought, as opposed to a necessity. Texas purists insist that a good barbecue doesn’t need sauce,” says Justin.

But that doesn’t mean that a good barbecue and a good sauce can’t exist in perfect harmony, as they do at the Pecan Lodge.

“Our BBQ sauce is closer to what you might find in South Texas. We use a ketchup base and a blend of dried chili peppers for heat and flavor. Although there is sugar in our sauce, it is used to help balance the spiciness rather than being the dominant flavor. The finished sauce has complex flavors with a bit of spiciness,” says Diane.

The sauce that exists today is a bit of an old family recipe with a twist of contemporary craftsmanship.

Although I don’t have a formal written family recipe, our sauce is based on my memories of the barbecue my grandfather used to cook,” says Justin. “While living in East Texas, his barbecue style was more influenced by Cajun and Louisiana Creole cuisine, with flavors dominated by heat and spice, as opposed to mild.”

To try it for yourself, visit Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum. Or make the same version at home with the following recipe, which has been scaled down for home cooks.

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