I found this recipe while going through my late mother Johnetta Miller's metal recipe file box. It's attributed to her mother, Roberta Solomon. Grandmother Solomon—I called her Granny— grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The combination of brown sugar, mustard and vinegar gives this sauce a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. This was my family's go-to sauce to add to barbecued chicken and pork spareribs which were served "dry." For us, barbecue season was essentially the summer holidays: Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. This sauce pairs well with any baked or grilled chicken and pork dishes. To enhance the sauce's tanginess, a halved lemon would be added as the sauce cooked. I have fond memories of seeing that floating lemon and finding a stray lemon seed as I slathered the sauce on my barbecue. Read more: BBQ on the Move: How African American migrants popularized Southern barbecue.

EatingWell.com, February 2021


Credit: Jerrelle Guy

Recipe Summary

15 mins
45 mins

This recipe is part of our series, Migration Meals: How African American Food Transformed the Taste of America. During the Great Migration, millions of African Americans left the South and settled in the rest of the United States, bringing rich culinary traditions with them—sweet potato pie, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, barbecue and so much more.  


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Combine tomato puree, ketchup, water, vinegar, onion, brown sugar, mustard, oil, salt, BBQ seasoning, smoked paprika (or chipotle powder), Worcestershire, garlic powder, onion powder and lemon halves (if using) in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the lemon halves. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving or storing.


To make ahead

Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts

2 Tbsp.
27 calories; fat 1g; sodium 268mg; carbohydrates 6g; sugars 4g; vitamin a iu 162IU.