Eat, Drink And Be indie: Tasty Recipes, Inspiring Maker Stories & Exclusives

Lillie's Q

lillie's q maker

The phenomenal taste of Lillie's Q sauces wasn't created overnight. It's three generations in the making, the flavor profiles as unique and shaped by time as the regional Southern barbecue traditions from which they draw.

Charlie McKenna's grandmother Lillie was a sauce-master, and he grew up learning the tricks and secret ingredients to her incredible creations. Destined for a culinary life, Charlie left home in Greenville, South Carolina to hone his skills at top restaurants in Miami, New York and Chicago before opening Lillie's Q (in honor of the woman herself and for Charlie's father, Quito) in Chicago's hip Bucktown neighborhood in 2010. Serving traditional barbecue and Southern food in a contemporary atmosphere, the restaurant soon began garnering accolades – Food & Wine called it the "best new barbecue restaurant in the country," among other glowing reviews. But everyone knew the real star of the show was the sauces, which Time Out Chicago called "lappable." 

Thankfully, Chef McKenna had mercy on us and started selling the proprietary sauces to the world at large, so amateur BBQ cooks could recreate Lillie Q's to-die-for dishes in their own kitchens. Each sauce is handcrafted according to the finely tuned family recipes from Lillie herself, and each captures the unique barbecue style of a specific Southern region. The Carolina sauce features the tomato and vinegar-based, tangy-sweet sauce characteristic of that region (Charlie's own!), made distinct by Lillie's secret ingredients – apple and lime juice.