Who Invented Barbecue Sauce?

Old fashion BBQ Sauce.

When Was the Barbecue Sauce Invented and Who Invented It?

The ancient chefs and cooks had long before learned that they could enhance the taste of the meat by basting it with oils, wine, and vinegar. So, it is evident that the invention of sauce could be dated back to ancient times. It might even be dated back to pre-historic times. It is reasonable to surmise that the BBQ sauce was conceived long before written history. Hence, it is also not superfluous to surmise that the people of the Neolithic site, like Göbekli Tepe, might have had some BBQ sauce to slather and enhance their barbecues.

At present, however, BBQ sauce comes in a wide variety of brands and different types depending on its based ingredients. Some, for example, are vinegar-based, while some are mayonnaise-based or tomato-based. Yet, if you ask me about when BBQ sauce was invented, I will indeed shake my head in utter ignorance, for we don’t have the exact date and time. Neither do we have the exact person who first created the first BBQ sauce.

Brief History of BBQ Sauce

If you believe in the authenticity of Genesis narrative, you can say that the BBQ sauce’s creation might have started in the time of Cain and Abel because Abel offered to God a grilled or barbecued sheep that delighted the Gods. Kidding aside, however, a popular Roman cookbook, Apicius, written sometime in the fourth or fifth century, came up with 500 recipes. 

More than a hundred recipes in this cookbook referred to sauces. So, it is safe to assume that some of these sauce recipes were meat sauces. Yet, the modern-day BBQ sauce might have been concocted in the 15th century after Columbus first saw the New World of America. The Europeans found the natives engaged in smoking different meat types, including lizards and fish. 

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Although smoked meat was quite common in continental Europe, the BBQ technique was something new to Europeans. So, it’s safe to say that the Europeans got some ideas from the Indians of the New World. 

The contact with the New World Indians brought about the invention of the modern-day BBQ sauce. This is because the core ingredients of most BBQ sauces were of Native American origins. Molasses, cayenne peppers, tomatoes, and sugarcane were usually some of the main components of BBQ sauce. 

Hernando Soto, who explored Nicaragua and the Yucatan Peninsula, and the southern regions of the present-day U.S., held parties that used condiments and BBQ blends. Afterward, Spanish settlers in Mexico and Florida, Dutch settlers in New York, and French Settlers in Canada began opening shops for commercializing BBQ sauces. 

The earliest known BBQ sauce depends heavily on butter. French sous chefs, for example, specialized in grilling an entire hog, basted with a mixture of herbs, butter, cayenne, vinegar, and sage. Moreover, The French sous chefs could not make marinades sans meat juices. Thus, they created homebrewed Texas BBQ sauce that contained meat broth. 

On the other hand, Germans also loved pork, and they liked to slather it with mustard. This penchant for pork with mustard led to the concoction of appetizing yellow BBQ sauce that is mustard-based. At present, you will find the vestige of this influence in Columbia and South Carolina.

When Did the Use of BBQ Sauce Start?

Americans are fond of Bar-B-Que, and even in the colonial times, I think the colonies already did engage in grilling and smoking meat. Yet, if you go back before Colonial America, you would learn that the native Indians had already learned how to smoke meat, and they might have had slathered their smoked meat with some condiments or sauce. 

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The modern-day sauce could be dated back to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores in America in the 15th Century. Since then, the method of making BBQ sauce had spread to different places and were widely copied and improved by other cuisines. 

During commemorations of American Independence, you would quickly discover that the Americans sumptuously indulge in barbecue, and even George Washington was a big fan of barbecue. In fact, in his diary, he narrated about the different BBQ events he attended for several nights. 

Throughout the years, however, BBQ sauces had improved. Sauces had become more flavorful and satisfactory. At present, you will find BBQ delicacies with delicious sauces in the Southern States of the U.S., including those of Texas and other cattle-producing states. 

You will find various BBQ sauces like Kansas City’s BBQ sauce, Carolina’s BBQ sauce, Memphis’ BBQ sauce, and even St. Louis’ BBQ sauce. Yet, as mentioned above, these different BBQ sauces can be grouped according to the core ingredients like mustard, vinegar, light tomato, and heavy tomato, Mayonnaise.

The Very First BBQ Sauce Recipe

If you look back at the origin of BBQ sauce, you will discover that they only contained two essential ingredients. These two ingredients are vinegar and pepper. The use of these two ingredients to create BBQ sauce is traceable to North and South Carolina. 

If you search further, you’ll discover that the oldest recipe you will find of a BBQ sauce was labeled “Barbecue Sauce.” It was Edith Lockwood Danielson Howard who first penned this recipe. She lived in Providence, Rhode Island. According to the library’s archivist, the recipe got written in the 20th century. 

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The recipe also made mention of Crisco. Procter & Gamble first introduced Crisco in 1911. So, it’s safe to assume that this first recipe got written sometime in 1912 because Procter & Gamble only introduced Crisco in 1911.


The history of BBQ sauces can never be solely attributed to the early American colonial communities. This is because smoking meat and barbecuing were not only primarily done in Colonial America. If you travel around the world, you’ll find that each country has a long history of cooking and smoking meat to be proud of. Each country also has a rich history of different sauces used to spice up the eating of meat. 

So, it is preposterous and naive to maintain that BBQ is an American invention. Yet, BBQ parties and delicacies are so popular in the U.S. that barbecue becomes so much associated with American culture. Hence, many would claim that BBQ sauce is purely an American invention. 

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