With warmer weather and sunny skies comes the popular barbeque season and devoted grillers will tell you the most important part of their grilling ritual is the BBQ sauce they use. Whatever kind of grill is fired up, and whichever kind of meat, poultry, or fish is chosen, the BBQ sauce is as important as frosting is to a cake!
Barbeque combines with the heat of coals, gas flame, smokers, or wood fired grills to create a flavor unlike that of any other. Grilled meats and poultry retain their juices and take on a barbecued taste unlike cooking in an oven. And barbecue sauce is one of the most important ingredients for a barbecue as the fresh outdoors requires grilling your food is accompanied by the best barbeque sauce. Most cooks have their very favorites, but today’s grocery offerings have an abundance of varieties and brands.
We’ve done research and found the top BBQ sauces for you to explore so you can wow your family and guests with deliciously prepared grilled dishes!
The History of Today’s BBQ Sauce
- The History of Today’s BBQ Sauce
- Best BBQ Sauces Reviews
- Three Things That Makes a Good BBQ Sauce
- Types of BBQ Sauces
- The Master Griller!
It’s speculated that the first barbecue sauce to be sold by a company was Georgia Barbecue Sauce, advertised in 1909 in the Atlanta Constitution. It was touted as the finest dressing for meat, poultry, and fish of every kind. The ad even suggested this barbecue sauce was good for vegetables.
This newly introduced idea of putting sauce on different foods has its origin in the days before electricity allowed for refrigeration. Smoking meat was the normal practice to preserve it and other methods were used such as soaking it in salty water to help it keep longer.
Once the meat was preserved, it could be cooked when needed. Soon after, cultures began adding seeds, leaves, wines, vinegars, and oils before smoking the meat. When the meat was soaked in liquid to bring it back to life, it would be left in a sauce that contained the aromatic flavors of the original items used to smoke it.
American natives on the East coast had a device they used for smoking meat, fish, and small animals that was pronounced as ‘barbacoa’. Explorers of the New World took on this method of preservation and utilized this barbacoa technique.
One of the first uses of the word ‘barbecue sauce’ was in 1871, in the Bolivar Bulletin from Hardeman County in Tennessee, giving credit to Dr. J.H. Larwill for his excellent barbecue sauce for all sorts of fresh meat. In the 1880s, barbeque sauce was described as being made with butter, vinegar, and salt and black pepper.
In 1938, California’s Sunset Magazine published a book called Sunset’s Barbecue Book that including only three barbecue sauce recipes for marinating, basting, and as a topping when serving barbecued food.
Today, there’s hardly an obsessed grill cook who doesn’t use barbecue sauce and each has their own favorite. We’ve listed our top picks to get you on your way to a successful summer barbecue season!
Best BBQ Sauces Reviews
1. Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce
When you want the absolute best BBQ sauce for your grilling, nothing tops this Killer Hogs BBQ Sauce with inspiration from West Tennessee barbecue customs. Killer Hogs won First Place for Vinegar Sauce in the 2016 Memphis in May BBQ World Championship. This is a sweet and tangy vinegar sauce with a superb mixture of spices that give it a champion flavor. With just a kick of heat at the end, use this barbecue sauce to wow you family and friends at your next barbecue!
2. Bull’s Eye Original Barbecue Sauce, 18 Ounce Bottle
Bull’s Eye Original Barbecue Sauce is a bold, smoky, and sweet tasting BBQ sauce that brags molasses with a hint of onions and garlic. When barbecued or grilled, the consistency thickens and stays on the meat to enhance the flavor. It’s perfect for steaks, chicken, wings, and those coveted racks of ribs!
- Competition style Sweet and Heat barbecue sauce
- One bottle can cover 3-4 racks of beef or pork ribs
- Sweet and Smoky flavor
- Contains High Fructose Corn Syrup.
3. Heinz BBQ Sauce, Sweet & Thick Classic BBQ Sauce
Heinz BBQ Sauce is a classic and you can’t go wrong with their original barbecue sauce. It also comes in several flavors including this classic Sweet and Thick, Carolina Vinegar Style Tangy, Kansas City Sweet and Smoky, Memphis Style Sweet and Smoky, and Texas Style Bold and Spicy. A time-honored favorite, you’ll love the authentic BBQ flavors!
- Thick and sweet
- Used in restaurants
- Spicy and flavorful
- Americas Test Kitchen winner
- Great for chicken
- Not spicy enough for some customers.
4. Sweet Baby Ray’s Original Barbeque Sauce
Sweet Baby Rays Original Flavor Barbeque Sauce is a darker BBQ sauce and has a vinegary flavor. Its thick consistency makes it great for dipping finger foods and using on steak fries and potatoes. It’s also perfect to mix with beans and use as a marinade by mixing some water with it and simmering in a saucepan.
- Pitmaster Partner Developed
- 100% natural
- A perfect blend of heat, tang, and sweetness
- Perfect for dipping
- Customers found the price to be high.
5. KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce
If you want a BBQ sauce good for grilling, broiling, and baking, KC masterpiece created this rich, kettle-cooked sauce. Use it to dip meats, appetizers, chicken, or other finger foods. The smooth flavor is also a great topping for a BBQ chicken pizza, meatloaf, or a tater tot casserole. This barbecue sauce is great all around.
- Always kettle-cooked!
- Flavors of tomato, brown sugar, molasses and spices
- Perfect for dipping
- Makes a great chicken BBQ pizza topping!
- Contains corn syrup.
Three Things That Makes a Good BBQ Sauce
While you’re cooking your main dish on the grill, the delicious smell should reach your family and guest’s noses, drawing them out to see what you’re cooking. A rich, spicy aroma can make your cooked ribs or porterhouse steaks irresistible. No one wants to smell the charred aroma of a bad BBQ sauce. And a barbecue sauce with a bad aroma is sure to taste bad also.
Whichever BBQ sauce you choose, pick what works for the dish you’re cooking up or one that won’t be too hot, too spicy, or too sweet for your diners. A meatloaf cooking in your oven gives way to a more tomato based and spicy barbecue sauce where as a pork roast or spare ribs lend themselves to a more vinegar based tomato flavored BBQ sauce. Match your main dish with your barbecue sauce by reading the ingredients.
Texture can be a problem for any palate and especially when grilling. If you use a barbecue sauce that’s thin, it will run off the top of your hamburgers. If your barbeque sauce is too thick, it may not be good for grilling chicken; it would dry out the meat without having enough moisture. It will also burn easier of its too thick; making it hard to melt into the meat it’s used on. But then, a good, thick barbecue sauce is great for dipping!
Types of BBQ Sauces
Kansas City Style
A Kansas City style barbecue sauce is typically very thick and dark colored. It’s sweetened with molasses and occasionally brown sugar. A good example of a Kansas City BBQ sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s Original Barbeque Sauce with its dark, thick texture and sweet molasses flavor.
Carolina BBQ Sauce Styles
The most likely beginnings of the all American BBQ sauce came from Eastern North Carolina. With no tomato, only a combination of cider vinegar, cayenne, black pepper, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, and salt. This BBQ sauce was more for used more for a wash to baste over pork as it cooks over the grill.
Heinz Ketchup came on the scene in 1876 around the country and barbecue sauce got an addition of tomatoes to make a Piedmont style or Lexington BBQ sauce after the name of the city where it was most popular. Heinz now has multiple types of sauces and BBQ sauces such as one of our favorites, Heinz BBQ Sauce, Sweet & Thick Classic BBQ Sauce with the true tomato base.
Being a bit competitive with its northern relative, South Carolina had to come up with their own barbecue sauce. They created the South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce, a German invention. German immigrants brought the mustard spice and created this as a smoked meat condiment. Usually it’s used for beef.
Of course, Texas had to have its very own barbecue sauce. And they had to be different! Texans cook their beef with this basting sauce made with ingredients like beef stock, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and spices including salt, pepper, and garlic. The result is a more pungent flavor. Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce is a tangier BBQ sauce such as a Texas Style sauce.
Alabama White Sauce
It’s probably tough to envision ‘white’ barbecue sauce, but this Alabama barbecue sauce is a recipe originally created by Alabama resident, Bob Gibson. Unlike the traditional BBQ sauces made with tomato, molasses, and spices, this sauce is made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and pepper. It’s a creamy sauce and is best paired with chicken.
As you can see, there are many origins of today’s barbecue sauces. From white to dark and sweet to tangy, each one is dependent on personal taste and the dish being prepared.
The Master Griller!
People love to gather around a dinner table to eat, visit, talk, and enjoy each other’s company. Take this family and friend’s gathering outside and you have a barbecue! And no grill cook would be found without at least their favorite type of barbecue sauce, if not a few.
The array of readily available BBQ sauces is endless and each sauce has its roots from one of the barbecue sauce styles we talked about. To review all of them would be a lifetime project so we chose the top BBQ sauces that are most popular for backyard grillers and cooks.
BBQ sauce is a condiment of many flavors and backgrounds and it’s not on only for grilling, but baking a meatloaf, creating a barbecue styled pizza, dipping appetizers from meat to vegetables, incorporating into beans, and it’s becoming popular in restaurants around the world. Now instead of one BBQ sauce, diners are presented with their choice from a collection of the finest.
Get ready to grill and now that you’ve learned about all the types of BBQ sauce, we are happy to have reviewed the best BBQ sauce for your barbecue party! Pick some up and fire up the grill!