BBQ Sauce – Life Above the Cafe

BBQ Sauce

A great grandmother gifts a recipe!
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BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce
May 25, 2020




5 mins.

20 mins.


The women in my family are and were amazing cooks. I know that growing up eating so many great meals and desserts turned me into a foodie. I generally prefer home cooked meals over restaurant meals, but I’ve had some great meals at my local hometown restaurants. Those are the restaurants that I keep going back to, and that my family knows that we have to eat at when I’m in town visiting.

One of those places is a BBQ restaurant that a local family started. They have a very distinct secret sauce that I dream about. It’s vinegar based and they bring out a warm bowl of it to accompany your pork plate, which is a serving of chopped, smoked pork that’s already swimming in their BBQ sauce, and two sides. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was raised right and that it would probably embarrass my family, I would stick my straw into the bowl and drink the sauce like an elephant at the watering hole.

When my great grandmother died, she had a few recipes written down that my mom kept. I have long since inherited the manila envelope of recipes. I consider recipes to be family treasures and gifts, which is why I blog my recipes. I hope that my kids and other family members will have a place to access our favorite food items. Recently, I was skimming through her handwritten recipe cards, and came across a recipe that seemed like it could be a copycat for the BBQ sauce at my favorite childhood (and still reigning favorite) BBQ restaurant.

I made it hoping that it was a replica for my favorite BBQ restaurant’s sauce, and although it wasn’t exact, it’s pretty close. In fact, I will now be using this vinegar based BBQ sauce for all of my future BBQ recipes and since I’ll be at home, I may even drink it through a straw. Don’t judge, once you try it, you’ll understand.

I have changed my great grandmother’s BBQ Sauce recipe slightly, but I’ve included a photo of her recipe card. It’s written in cursive, which I love. I hope that you’ll try my recipe for a vinegar based BBQ sauce or if you want to try the original version, that you’ll follow my grandmother’s recipe. Either way, let me know in the comments how you liked it and if you want to see what I’m cooking daily, follow me on Instagram @lifeabovethecafe.


  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 of a lemon juiced
  • 1-2 Tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. of onion powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. of garlic powder


In a medium sauce pan (I would use nonstick), over medium high heat, bring all of the ingredients up to a low boil and then turn down the temperature to maintain a low simmer.

Cover the pot and continue to simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Stir occasionally and add water if needed.  This is a vinegar based thin sauce.  If you want it thicker then add less water.

My great grandmother used diced onions, so if you prefer or don’t have onion powder you can use her exact recipe found in the photo, or  1 tsp. of dried minced onions in place of the onion powder.

Refrigerate any leftovers and use within 2 weeks. The sauce can be frozen.

Note * I don’t add the chopped onions, and chili powder to my sauce like my great grandmother’s recipe shows in the photo.  If you prefer follow her exact recipe.  The photos of the jarred sauce are for the ingredients that I have listed.

Additional Photos:

Homemade BBQ Sauce
Original Recipe for BBQ Sauce

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