With its peppery bite, this sauce works as a fine accompaniment for chef Virginia Willis’s Rainy-Day Ribs and for her Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken.

MAKE AHEAD: The sauce can be refrigerated for several months.


1teaspooncanola oil

12medium sweet onion, finely chopped

1 14cupslow-sodium ketchup

1cupapple cider vinegar

14cupWorcestershire sauce

2tablespoonsDijon mustard

1tablespoonpacked light brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1tablespoonfreshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft and melted.

Step 2

Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until the flavors have smoothed and mellowed. Cool before storing.

Adapted from “Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South,” by Virginia Willis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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The nutritional analysis is based on 2-tablespoon servings. 


Servings Per Container: 24; Calories: 20; Total Fat: 0 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 45 mg; Carbohydrates: 5 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 0 g.