If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve likely seen reference to one of my staple dinners when D is traveling. I take whatever cooked meat I have on hand, usually leftovers from the night before, shred it in the food processor, and heat it up with some ketchup, mustard, and a little molasses.

It’d be an insult to BBQ to call this BBQ, but the kids love it and it is easy peasy.

When I get really fancy, I use a packet of Shredded Beef from US Wellness Meats.

(We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to inform you that the link above is an affiliate link. Want to know more? Visit my Disclaimer. And, know that I thank you for supporting my blog by shopping here. Also know that I love US Wellness meats and wouldn’t be affiliated with them if I didn’t believe in their company.)

The other night I had a defrosted package of Shredded Beef ready to cook. Now, the only problem with my makeshift BBQ sauce is that it contains nightshades and I can’t eat nightshades. So, as I prepared the dish for the kids, I got a little pity-partyish on myself, wishing I could have tomato-based sauces again.

I miss BBQ.

Then, I remembered. I’m from Tennessee.

We don’t use tomato sauce on our BBQ!

Well, at least those of us from Middle Tennessee don’t. I can’t speak to what they do down Memphis-way.

Here’s what they have to say on the topic on “The Complete Serious Eats Barbecue & Sauce Style Guide”:

Rural Tennessee barbecue has earned a reputation in the barbecue community as the purest form of wood-smoked, whole hog ‘cue outside of the Carolinas. These joints tend to be weekend-only operations, smoking as few as one whole hog per day for as long as 20 hours before pulling, chopping and slicing it up with a thin, vinegar-based sauce. Barbecue scholar John T. Edge has testified that further to the north and extending into Kentucky, Tennessee barbecue also includes pork shoulder served over skillet-cooked hoe cakes.

That thin, vinegar-based sauce is what I grew up eating, although our ‘cue was more likely to be served with a spongy slice of Wonder Bread than a hoe cake.

(I’ve only ever had homemade hoe cakes … they were kind of my “thing” when I was a budding teenage cook. My sister nearly choked on one of my hoe cakes when she was 3. Like I said, I was a budding cook.)IMG_1837

Anyhow, once it dawned on me that I could enjoy BBQ without tomatoes, I started researching Tennessee-style vinegar sauces. I played with some recipes, and developed this one that is tangy and flavorful but definitely lower in sugar than most you’ll see. Plus, it’s nightshade-free, which is the only way I can do my ‘cue anymore.

I will confess to feeling really, really sacrilegious when I sopped this sauce up with – of all things – shredded beef. If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you, if it’s not pork, it’s not BBQ.

I hope the Tennessee BBQ purists will forgive me.

Not-Too-Sweet Tennessee BBQ Sauce
  • ½ TBSP sea salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • ½ tsp ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp ground celery seed
  1. Add salt to medium size bowl.
  2. Mix in apple cider vinegar. Stir well then let sit for a few minutes to allow salt to dissolve well.
  3. Whisk in pepper through celery seed.
  4. Let sit for at least five minutes.
  5. Serve with your favorite pulled meat.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 23 g Calories: 11 Fat: .1 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 1.8 g Sugar: 1.5 g Sodium: 235 mg Protein: .1 g Cholesterol: 0


2 Responses to “Not-Too-Sweet Tennessee BBQ Sauce”

  1. on 06 Jan 2015 at 12:08 amCarl Peterson


    The Wellness Meats, looks interesting, do I follow the link to make sure you get credit, or do I register any special way?
    And on another note, one of these days, I am going to read your book, but still not having any luck with the Amazon site.
    Have a great new year!!!

  2. on 09 Jan 2015 at 8:24 amKristine Rudolph

    Yes! Just follow that link or the buttons on the sidebar that say US Wellness and I will get credit! Thanks for asking.

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