St. Louis Barbecued Pork Steaks

St. Louis barbecued pork steaks, a Midwestern favorite in summertime  means backyard barbecues with the local pork cut being the classic,   basted with a distinctive type of bbq sauce.

St. Louis Barbecued Pork Steaks

St. Louis BBQ Pork  Steaks

By Sue Lau |  Palatable Pastime

St. Louis Barbecued Pork Steaks

For those who may  not know,  I was born and raised around St. Louis, Missouri. I have lived in Ohio  for many years now, but some of my culinary  tastes still reflect my  midwestern  roots at the Gateway  to the West (as St. Louis is called). For  me, that means White Castles, Ted Drewes,  Toasted Ravioli  out on the Hill, fun  evenings on Laclede’s  Landing, BBQ Pork  Snoot  from over  in  E. St. Louis,  St. Paul sandwiches from any wok express and many other local favorites.

Some of these foods, like a concrete from  Drewes, are pure ritual. Another ritual was the pork steak wars the markets would put  on starting Memorial Day, with Schnuck’s, National (closed a few years back), Dierbergs and others  duking  it out  to  have the best possible price. You see, everybody bbq’s pork steaks  in St. Louis, bar none.

And bbq pork steaks are one of my favorite things to grill or Q,  pretty  much tied with chicken on the bone, although I do  love smoking pork roasts and ribs or rib tips.

What is a Pork Steak, Anyway?

If  you are not familiar with a  pork  steak (it is NOT a pork  chop) then  let  me explain. Certain pork  roasts- the  pork shoulder blade  roast and the Boston butt, when sliced about 1/2 inch thick, become pork steaks. Another slightly thicker cut (about 2 inches) becomes the country style rib. So if you know those,  this can  help  you figure it out. Pork chops aren’t the same  as those come from the pork loin and are a bit leaner.

St. Louis Style Sauce

There are probably a billion pitmasters out there with their unique closely held secret sauce for the local version- and those who use bottled used to favor either Maull’s (no longer sold as far as I know) or possibly Open Pit sauce. This is because the traditional St. Louis style bbq sauce is not made with molasses or liquid smoke, as some other types might be. It is also a little bit tangy from the  vinegar- not sweet at  all like the west side of the state with Kansas City flavors. My Dad used to like to doctor up the Maull’s sauce, and baste heavily with beer.

Of course, I can’t get the Maull’s, and since I an pretty good making sauce from scratch, I have to  just wing it. Which, if I am honest about it, I really would rather do anyway. Unless I am being lazy, there are a couple of bottled sauces I  like- but they may not be the most authentic for  this recipe.

Quick Grilling

You could do these in a smoker, but really, this is a grilling recipe so the cook time  is short and sweet, about the same as a pork chop. You might worry about the meat being tough that way, since when making  pulled pork you have to get the meat up past 190F to get the meat fibers to relax. But while that yields tender “pulled” pork, a quick cook gives you the texture of steak. And like any beef steak- you can certainly get a tough one even if  you  choose carefully, but well marbled meats from a reputable  butcher are usually pretty nice.

Of course, if they do turn out  tough, you can always pop them  into  a thin sauce and bake them for awhile until they become more tender, but most often you won’t need to do that.

Old Memories

When I was a kid, bbq huts would serve the pork steaks dripping with sauce on a slice of cheap white bread to soak up any  extra sauce. I always loved the bread that way. It reminds me of when Mom  would make stew or roast and there would be lots of extra gravy- and I sometimes loved that gravy on the bread  even more than on mashed potatoes. Same deal with the bbq sauce, although I can’t say I would ever bbq sauce mashed. That would just be wrong. Ha!

St. Louis Barbecued Pork Steaks

It’s BBQ Week!

All week long bloggers will be teaming up to share their fav grilling recipes and sides for a cookout. Follow along from the daily recipe lists or by searching  for #BBQWeek on social media.

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St. Louis Barbecue Pork Steaks

Sue Lau
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine United States


  • 3-4 pounds pork shoulder blade steaks or pork butt steaks
  • Sauce Ingredients:
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 11.5 ounces tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Louisiana pepper sauce
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon butter to reduce foaming


  • Simmer sauce ingredients for 15 minutes
  • Prepare grill for indirect cooking (coals or burners on one side only).
  • Season pork steaks with salt, pepper, and garlic powder or bbq rub.
  • Grill pork steaks over indirect moderate heat, basting with some watered down sauce (1/2 cup sauce mixed with half cup water or lager beer) until cooked through, basting with undiluted bbq sauce the last five minutes or so to get it to set on the meat and stick.


Yield 3 cups sauce
Keyword Grilling
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

St. Louis Barbecued Pork Steaks

4 responses

  1. I am in St. Louis now, and I’ll send you Maull’s anytime you want! 🙂 I love your local favorites, I am sharing mine later this week!

    • Yay! I just looked and saw they are making it again. But then again, I also saw that BBQ Fritos are now defunct. At least we still can get the bbq chips (Old Vienna)- just wish they had them exactly the way they used to be so long ago (not red hot riplets) You know how it is growing up with things and having years of expectations.

  2. You had me at Pork Steak but then you added BBQ to it and I was sold. I love a good BBQ sauce that isn’t sickly sweet and has some heat to it. And pork, well, all I can say is this, bring it on. Thanks so much for linking to First Monday Favorites.

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