Capital City Mambo Sauce Recipe

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Washington Dcs Mumbo Sauce

@Capital City Mambo Sauce| WINGSTOP

Mumbo Sauce, widely known around the U.S. capital, is a Washington, DC treasure. In the 1960s, the sticky, sweet and spicy red sauce was first served at Wing-n-Things, originally located at 7th and Florida Avenue NW. While it began as an accompaniment to wings, youll now find the sauce served with fried chicken, over half-smokes and Chinese carryout. The sauce is a bit thinner than traditional barbecue sauces and is really easy to make at home. Recipe serves 4.

Capital City Sweet Hot Mambo Sauce

Like our Mild signature sauce, Sweet Hot will win you over the minute you taste it. Sweet Hot Mambo sauce creates a sweet and tangy addition to any dish with a healthy amount of cayenne and habanero peppers. With its great tomato base and lightly sweet flavor, it?s no wonder why this secret sauce has been a favorite among Washingtonians for years. This all-purpose sauce can be used as a marinade, glaze, dipping or finishing sauce. Bring an original taste of Washington, DC home today.

Time To Find Out Exactly What Is Mumbo Sauce

Similar to a plum or barbecue sauce, or even ketchup, mumbo sauce is a condiment developed in Chicago, IL. I know that I said I wasnt going to make any stances, but it was important for me to cast a wide net at the beginning so as not to deter any readers. Anyway, mumbo sauce varies in color from reddish-orange to just plain orange. Mumbo or mambo sauce is actually thinner than your average red barbeque sauce.

Mumbo sauce also varies in taste and sweetness from place to place it bears a flavor similar to Chinese sweet and sour sauce in some places, while in other places it has a hot, sweet and spicy taste depending on how and what they used in preparing it. As a matter of fact, I sometimes imagine it to simply be a combination of sweet and sour sauce with a little ketchup added to it.

Red barbecue sauce and sweet sauce are without a doubt made with the same ingredients: tomato paste, sugar and white vinegar. While red sauce plays a major role in normal American red sauces, the vinegar and sugar, on the other hand, play a minor role. For the mumbo sauce, it is the other way around: the tomato paste plays the minor role while the sugar and vinegar play the major role.

It is usually applied to French fries, fried chicken wings, fried rice and fried shrimp, marinade, egg rolls, barbecue sandwich and almost anything fried you can think of. Heck, you can even try it on pizza.

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Almost Capital City Mumbo Sauce

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Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Although this isn’t the exact recipe, says Capital City Mumbo Sauce co-owner Arsha Jones, it’s one that has passed muster in our test kitchen.

Steen’s is a traditional American brand of cane syrup, but it can be hard to find. Lyle’s Golden Syrup, a British product, is more widely available. If you can find neither, substitute Karo Light Corn Syrup.

Use as a dressing for pork tenderloin, baked fish, vegetarian spring rolls — and, of course, fried chicken wings. It’s best served at room temperature.

Make Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Servings: 2.5 cups
  • 1 cup cane syrup, preferably organic
  • 1 tablespoon mild Hungarian paprika
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Gentleman Jack whiskey

Combine the ketchup, cane syrup, paprika, hot sauce, water, vinegar and whiskey, if using, in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir to blend well once the mixture comes to a steady boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool and use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

From Arsha Jones, co-owner of Capital City Mumbo Sauce.

Tested by Jane Touzalin.

How This Dc Condiment Grew Into A $2

Sweet Hot Mambo Sauce

The origins of mumbo sauce are in dispute. Some say the tangy-sweet condiment originated at Wings N Things in DC others claim its from Chicago. The same is true for the recipe, adapted from one District kitchen to the next as it gained popularity in the 1980s and 90s. One thing is clear to Petworth native Arsha Jones, who founded Capital City Mambo Sauce with her late husband, Charles, in 2011: New York has pizza, Philly has cheesesteaks. Washington has mumbo sauce.

Jones remembers saving up a few dollars as a kid to buy wings and mumbo sauce at a carryout on Georgia Avenue. Decades later, while pregnant with her fourth son, she experimented with recipes in her Annapolis kitchen to avoid traveling to DC to get it. Soon Arsha, then a web designer, and Charles, an Army veteran, were selling mumbo sauce online to homesick DC natives. From there, they began supplying mild and spicy sweet bottles to stalls at Eastern Market and mom-and-pop shops in DC. Capital City Mambo Sauce is now a $2-million company, and its product is available at more than 1,000 retailers including Walmart and Safeway.

But while it may be the most successful mumbo-sauce company, it isnt the only one. Five years ago, the Joneses settled a court battleand forfeited the right to call their product mumbo saucewith Chicagos Select Brands, which trademarked the name in 1958.

This article appears in the issue of Washingtonian.

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Other Popular Variations Of The Mumbo Sauce

One very popular variation of the mumbo sauce is the Chinese mumbo. The preparation and ingredients are largely the same as in the original mumbo sauce recipe except for the addition of lemon juice, ketchup and honey.

Preparing Chinese mumbo sauce is a cinch all you need is to add your lemon juice, honey and ketchup to the other mumbo sauce ingredients , mix thoroughly in a bowl and then transfer to a sauce pan placed over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low as soon the mixture begins to bubble and occasionally stir until mixture thickens. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, remove the sauce pan, turn off the heat and allow to cool for another 10 minutes and pass sauce through a fine strainer to remove any chunks.

Note: for the Chinese mumbo sauce, corn starch slurry was not used. It just goes to show you how much this sauce can vary theres no need to add corn starch to your list of ingredients if you dont want it.

Theres also Capital City mumbo sauce, distinguished by the addition of whiskey. Then theres the Kens mumbo sauce, popularly found in various Chinese takeouts in DC. For the purposes of this post, well cap it off there, but suffice it to say, the variations just keep on going after that.

Copycat Capital City Mumbo Sauce

Mumbo sauce or Mambo sauce depending on who you ask is a bright red condiment that is tangy and sweet.

You can find this sauce at every Chinese and soul food restaurant in D.C. Each restaurant has its own variation and the sauces can vary in consistency, sweetness, and tanginess.

Mumbo sauce is the best on chicken wings! But you can dip fried shrimp and french fries in the sauce. Some even like to pour over rice.

We worked hard to recreate this sauce so we can always have some on hand. We use it for pretty much anything that is fried!

However you decide to use the sauce, Im sure well all agree that its finger lickin good!

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More About Mambo Sauce Capital City Recipes





  • Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes until sauce has thickened.
  • Refrigerate Cool for 1 hour then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Freeze Cool for 2 hours then transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then bring to room temperature before serving.


  • Mix and simmer. Mix all the ingredients together in a pot, preferably with a whisk in order to break up clumps of tomato paste and ginger powder. Simmer on low, do not boil, for about 20 minutes to marry the flavors and thicken it a bit. Taste and adjust to your preferences. Like it hotter, be my guest.
  • Serve. When it is time to serve, you can drizzle it on the food or serve it in a bowl for dipping. Or both. Mambo Sauce can be refrigerated for months. If you’ve had it in the fridge, toss it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so to take the chill off.

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I Have No Idea How I Started Eating It It’s Just A Part Of The Culture

Foodinati Capital City Mambo Sauce Review

But for many true Washingtonians not transplants in town for the politics there is one notable exception: mambo sauce, a unique red-orange sweet and tangy condiment often used on everything from fried chicken and wings to shrimp and fried rice. While the origins of the word “mambo” have been lost to time, core ingredients usually include ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, tomato sauce and sugar, with some versions also including pineapple juice.

Local foodies are incredibly protective of the sauce and its role in local culture. In 2018, for example, Mayor Muriel Bowser drew the ire of many constituents by saying she was “annoyed” at the sauce’s association with DC, a statement even the Washington Post characterised as “not a minor misstep”. On her personal Facebook page, Bowser, who took office in 2015, questioned why and how the condiment had become a “quintessential” DC food. Faced with an onslaught of criticism some light-hearted, some not the mayor’s spokesperson said Bowser “wanted to provide DC residents something to discuss on Thanksgiving”.

“I have no idea how I started eating it. It’s just a part of the culture,” explained Angela Byrd, a DC native who founded MadeInTheDMV, a think-tank aimed at promoting local brands and culture. “Everybody eats it. It’s weird when people don’t.”

A traditional offering at DC takeaways , mambo sauce can be eaten with almost anything

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Mambo Sauce Braised Short Rib Tacos

8 meaty bone-in beef short ribs

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon Onion Powder

2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

¼ cup flour

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 cup red wine

2 ½ cups of beef broth or water

1 cup Mambo Sauce

Taco Ingredients

16 oz. Crumbled Goat Cheese



Short Rib Instructions

  • Generously add seasoning to each side of short ribs then season flour with remaining seasoning dredge short ribs in flour.
  • Heat oil in large heavy bottom skillet on medium high heat. Add in short ribs and brown well about 2 minutes each side. Add short ribs to your slow cooker.
  • Reduce heat of skillet to medium, add onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until softened. Add in wine, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth and mambo sauce and using a wooden spoon scrape up the flavorful bits on the bottom of the pan, while bringing mixture to a boil.
  • Pour mixture into the slow cooker over the short ribs. Cover with lid.
  • Cook on HIGH for 6 hours. Meat should be tender and easily fall off the bones.
  • Taco Instructions

  • Remove the bones and use a fork to shred the meat. Once shredded, stir meat with residual sauce. Taste and add additional salt if needed.
  • What Is Mumbo Sauce

    Mumbo Sauce, or Mambo Sauce, is a popular sauce/condiment from Washington, DC, particularly Capital City. It is a tangy tomato-based sauce that is much like a barbecue sauce or a Chinese sweet and sour sauce.

    The origins of mumbo sauce seem to be in dispute, with some saying the sauce originated in Chicago. However, today it is widely used in Washington, DC, where it is commonly served with fried foods and soul food, especially chicken wings.

    Youll find different versions of the sauces created from cook to cook and restaurant to restaurant, with variations in consistency, seasonings, sweetness and heat levels.

    You can find some popular brands to try, or make this homemade version that is super easy to make with simple ingredients.

    Lets talk about how we make homemade mumbo sauce, shall we?

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    Mumbo Sauce Recipe: Sweet And Tangy

    Capital City Mambo Sauce

    Never will I forget the first time I had mumbo sauce at a carryout in Chicago as the sauce for my fried chicken wings. Disclaimer: I am not making any claims about where the sauce comes from, and I plead objectivity and neutrality. I just happened to have it in Chicago.

    In case youre wondering what Im talking about, the precise origin of the sauce remains a sore subject to this day. Anyway, no matter. What matters is the sauce itself.

    Mumbo sauce was a true delight to discover if you can imagine discovering a new condiment like ketchup or barbeque sauce, but with a specific sweet and tangy taste, youre somewhere close to the mark. If youre nowhere near Chicago, IL or Washington, DC, cities where the sauce is a flagship of local food culture, you can still try this special sauce by means of a recipe.

    Dont fret: you dont need any unusual ingredients to make this sauce. On the other hand, a standard ingredient list was not enough I had to try several different methods of making mumbo sauce before figuring out the best one. After this work, here are the fruits of my labor: an amazing mumbo sauce recipe.

    For todays post, I am going to show you everything I gathered in my research on the famous mumbo sauce, from its controversial trademark issue all the way to how I prepared my own special extra tasty mumbo sauce.

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    The Story Of Mumbo Sauce

    Many DC area restaurants, especially Chinese restaurants, Korean restaurants, and fried chicken carryouts serve DC Mumbo Sauce, which is sometimes also called Mambo Sauce, Mombo Sauce, Mumba Sauce, Mumble Sauce, and even Mummbah Sauce. Drive through the Petworth neighborhood and there are scores of restaurants that offer Chinese Carryout, Fried Chicken, and Pizza all in one storefront, and they all have DC Mumbo Sauce. Youll also find it in Chinatown.

    DC Mumbo Sauce is different from place to place. It ranges in color from orange to red, it is thinner than the typical red barbecue sauce, and it usually tastes closer to Chinese sweet and sour sauce. In fact, sometimes I wonder if it is simply sweet and sour sauce with a little ketchup added. Both red barbecue sauce and sweet sour sauce are typically made with the same base: Tomato concentrate, distilled white vinegar, and sugar.

    The red stuff plays the lead in typical American red barbecue sauces, with the vinegar and sugar playing second fiddle. In DC Mumbo Sauce the tomato base plays bass in the background with the vinegar and sugar playing the lead. DC Mumbo Sauce is most popular on chicken wings, but it works on just about anything deep fried. That may sound odd, but remember, in the Deep South, fried chicken and fish are often served with honey. Ive always found honey to be a bit cloying, but the vinegar in DC Mumbo Sauce is a great knife for cutting through fried foods.

    How To Make Your Own Dc Mumbo Sauce At Home

    BOWIE, Md. – In DC, you can’t have wings without mumbo sauce– but have you ever made it yourself? In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, we asked the pros– Charles and Stephanie Smith, owners of Chuck’s Wagon BBQ in Bowie, Md.– to show us how it’s done.

    If right now you’re asking yourself, ‘What’s mumbo sauce?’– we can help. It’s a tangy, spicy sauce that many residents of the DMV consider to be local .

    For years, DC wing lovers have doused their fried chicken wings with the tomato-based, reddish sauce, but it goes well with much more than that. It’s a little different from place to place, depending on who is making it and the ingredients that are used.

    But one thing that’s always the same? The deliciousness. Is your mouth watering yet, or is that just us?

    MUMBO SAUCE: A D.C. ORIGINAL…?You’ll find mumbo sauce in chicken wing carry-outs and Asian restaurants all across the DC area. Locals will tell you it started in the District, though there’s been a bit of a debate over the years when it comes to exactly when and where it originated.

    Chicagoans would argue mumbo sauce didn’t start in DC at all. Instead, a Chicago barbeque restaurant called Argia B’s claimed they started it–and the restauranteur’s family has stood up to protect the name. They went after the company formerly known as Capital City Mumbo Sauce for trademark infringment– a case they won. Capital City is now known as Capital City Mambo Sauce, which is available online and in several local stores.

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