The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

Fri Oct 29, 2010

Sauced: Nathan's Bar-B-Q Sauce

Posted by

Nathan's Bar-B-Q Sauce

Sauce Stats

Nathan's Bar-B-Q Sauce
Produced by
Nathan's Famous
$1.89 for 11 oz
Tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, dextrose, molasses, paprika, salt, onion, spices, natural smoke flavor & vegetable stabilizer
Smoky dark red
Meatwave Rating
out of 10
More Sauce Reviews

How a sauce can be this bad is beyond me. The taste out of the jar is probably most akin to motor oil, and while the flavor was not so horrid after baked, it quickly burned and created an almost inedible piece of chicken.

Nathan's Bar-B-Q Sauce


I'm a proud Nathan's lover—I cannot resist getting a couple hot dogs and a big ass cheese fries every time I'm down in Coney. This story of this delicious frank starts in 1916, when Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker opened a hot dog stand in Coney Island, charging 5 cents a hot dog. The business was an instant success, and the Nathan's brand was born. In 1987, the Handwerker family sold all of their Nathan's outposts, effectively starting their franchise business which eventually spread the famous hot dog to all 50 states and across the globe. Nathan's reach in the supermarket moved beyond the hot dog section when they started producing their own branded mustard in 1996, and today includes products as diverse as pet treats, golf balls, and this barbecue sauce.


I swear taking too many big whiffs of this strong and pungent sauce brought on a minor headache. Despite the listing of natural ingredients, the sauce smelled acrid and artificial and was wholly unpleasant. Vinegar dominates everything else, but it's a vinegar that has seemingly gone bad (can vinegar go bad?).

Thickness & Texture

This smoky, musky red sauce had flowing, medium thickness. It was smooth with not many spices showing through.

Out of the Jar

Horrid!!! Now I don't like to compare things to stuff I've never tasted before, but my initial reaction was this had to be most akin to used motor oil. I guess I just couldn't imagine this had a flavor that was ever meant to cross a tongue. There was nothing natural tasting to it—the flavor was was way too strong and left a rancid burn in my mouth. I can't fathom how this could even be considered a barbecue sauce, let along packaged and sold.

Nathan's Bar-B-Q Sauce

Slathered & Cooked

I was considering ditching the sauce after my first taste—forcing myself to eat anymore of it seemed like an exercise is self-torture, let alone bearing witness to letting it bring a perfectly good piece of chicken to ruin. Despite my feeling, I forged ahead and shockingly the sauce lost all of it's nauseating properties after being cooked, but it also did nothing to redeem itself. The sauce never caramelized, it went straight to being burnt over the heat of the grill. This led the chicken to taste mostly of char, and what remained unscathed was mostly sugary.

Put to Use

In no way can I recommend anyone buying this sauce and using it for anything. I teetered on giving it a 1 instead of 0, since it wasn't as bad cooked as it was raw, but then thought better of it, because there's really no reason to pick up a sauce this bad. Stick with the hot dogs, which are diametrically opposed to the sauce—excellently spiced, juicy, and a joy to grill and consume.


  • 01
  • DocChuck says
    Your review on this swill is right on.

    However, your positive comments about anything Nathans, and I mean ANYTHING, is, as you put it, " ...diametrically opposed..." to my personal experience(s).

    Their supermarket hotdogs, their 'restaurant', and their attitude in general are something FAR less than what I consider acceptable.

    Save it for the tourists and the "Serious Eats" kiddies.

    Carrion, please.

    Posted Fri, Oct 29 2010 2:55pm
  • 02
  • Cindy says
    Where can I buy Nathan's Barbeque Sauce in the Cleveland OH area?
    Posted Wed, Apr 30 2014 7:34pm
  • 03
  • Dave D says
    I've not tried this sauce, but ATF is more like what you describe, not motor oil. Not to be confused with anti-freeze, sickly sweet.
    Posted Thu, Jun 23 2016 10:14am
  • 04
  • Klaus says
    Nathan's BBQ sauce is the best well rounded flavorful sauce there is. It lends itself for all kind of uses in meals. Unfortunately, I can't get it anymore in CT. Does anyone knows a store nearby in NY or MA? Thanks for your help.
    Posted Fri, Oct 27 2017 5:12pm
  • 05
  • Stephen DeVore says
    Is it possible that this was spoiled in the jar somehow?

    If you want to try something unbelievably strange, try the supposedly BBQ-flavored Bugles! Just weird-tasting. The added word "Bold" doesn't help; though a lot of other snacks on the market with the word "Bold" on them do taste very different (and I eat a lot of ethnic food restaurants).
    Posted Thu, Oct 18 2018 6:52pm

Add a Comment

E-mail me comments to this post

Remember my info

Post Preview