Sauced: Barbecue Sauce Reviews
I'm a DIY type of guy. As a youngster I spent endless hours constructing engineering marvels with Legos, which morphed into a short-lived stint in an extremely indie band, then into a master of darkroom chemistry, and now that spirit lives on in my barbecue and grilling. With a long history of constructing things from scratch, I've been a big advocate of bringing that philosophy to barbecue sauce. I can argue endlessly about how throwing a few cupboard staples together in a pot can churn out a sauce that can outdo just about anything you pick up in the store. So as my grill and I have been inseparably going on seven years now, inevitably an ocean of barbecue sauce has flown out of my kitchen.
Coming with the territory of being such a barbecue nerd is the perception that I must love any gift that's related to grilling. Barbecue sauce is up there as a top present, and as I've continued to crank out my own sauces, I've also amassed a nice collection of unopened bottles. In an effort to reclaim my cabinet space, I decided it was time to put those sauces to work, giving them some proper credit and good use in the form of barbecue sauce reviews.
I will still preach that you'll be better served making your own sauce, but I also relent, knowing that for most Americans it's the bottle or nothing. There are some great sauces out there, and with my years of sauce making experience, I'm happy to provide some guidance on differentiating the excellent from the horrid along with some best use pointers.
Here's a little primer by which all sauces will be reviewed:
I, the Meatmaster, will be the main reviewer for all sauces. If I happen to have some friends over on a tasting day, I'll definitely get some other opinions, but I want the reviews to be consistent, and a single reviewer is a nice, reliable constant.
Thickness and Texture
Sauces run the gambit from thin and drizzly to as thick as molasses and everything in between. There's no right or wrong with thickness and texture, but some are sure to be more pleasing than others, and it can also help define the best use for the sauce.
Smell can make or break a sauce. You can have a perfectly cooked pulled pork, but top it with an off smelling barbecue sauce, the whole thing can brought down by an unappetizing aroma as its brought up for a big bite.
I think there's good truth in the saying that we with our eyes first. Color can have a big effect on how sauced food is welcomed prior to actually tasting it. A nice robust red is apt to get a mouth watering more than a dark, sludgy brown.
Out of the Jar
Barbecue sauce should first be judged in it's raw form. Most sauces are developed for their flavor right out of the jar, so this carries the most weight in testing. This is barbecue sauce as a condiment, which how it's marketed and packaged for mass consumption.
Slathered & Cooked
I would wager that most barbecue sauces bought in a store are going to be used for cooking one way or another. Since a sauce's flavor and texture can change pretty dramatically during the cooking process, I think it's important compare and contrast how the sauce evolves when it's introduced to heat. For tasting cooked sauce, I'll be using chicken legs exclusively with my standard barbecue chicken recipe, minus the preseason with a dry rub, on my Weber Performer with Kingsford charcoal.
Why chicken legs? First, economics, good quality chicken legs are pretty inexpensive, so they're easy on the wallet to do lots of sauce tastings. Second, I always think of chicken as a blank slate, waiting to take on any flavor introduced to it. The barbecue chicken recipe definitely achieves that, with the sauce both baked into the meat and used as a glaze at the end. I also prefer legs because the dark meat has more flavor than the white meat breasts, so even though barbecue sauce will dominate, you get some understanding of how the sauce will play with meat.
Put to Use
Most sauces are not all purpose, each having it's own useful spot in the spectrum of barbecue and grilling applications. Even though testing will only be between condiment and cooked on chicken, I believe that provides enough information to give educated recommendations for how the sauce might best be used.
Taking all of the above factors into consideration, each sauce will be graded on a one to ten scale, with one being god awful, and ten being enlightenment by barbecue sauce. This is mostly so you can get a quick scan on how the sauce is stacking up, but I'd recommend reading the whole review, because even a middle-of-the-road sauce may have characteristics you might be looking for.
Yes, I know this has been done before. There's a an entire site already dedicated to reviewing barbecue sauce, and it's done incredibly well. I recommend giving that site a read and compare and contrast the overlaps between here and there. I think there's amble space on the internet superhighway for more than one voice speaking for barbecue sauce and more reviews gives everyone a better hold on what makes a barbecue sauce great.
These reviews are starting out as a way for me to use up sauces sitting around the house, but since those will be exhausted fairly quickly, I will be accepting sauce submissions. You can email me for details on how to submit you sauce. Also, I more than welcome reader recommendations, so feel free to send your favorite sauces my way and, if I can get my hand on it, I'll be happy to give it a proper review. All sauces must be labeled and properly sealed.
With a handle on how the sauces will be judged, I'm proud to give you The Meatwave's Sauced line-up > >
You Might Also Like
mike espey I would like you to review some of my sauces, need info your link was not working.
Josh @mike espey Thanks for pointing that out, I've fixed the email link. Looking forward to trying out your sauce!
genny You are totally incorrect on your rating of Open Pit Sauce. It is the best. GReat balance of sweet and hot.
Mark H Please do a review of Budweiser Barbecue Sauce and Kraft Original please! I read an article by Huffington Post and was confused by their taste test results. I was surprised to see Kraft brand rated so high and the Budweiser brand rated so low.
I discovered this site recently and respected your taste reviews; specifically the one on Sweet Baby Ray. Hopefully, I can get a professional criticism of Kraft and Budweiser brands. Thanks.
Josh @Mark Will do. I've actually never even tried Kraft yet...always been a little scared to.
brad Love the site. How about a review of Guy Fieri Bourbon and Brown sugar sauce. Thanks
Josh @Brad Will do, just have to pick up a bottle.
carl Gates barbecues when kansas city Mo check out of thier restaurants I am form kc when I go back there everyone want me bring back sauce
Harry Marks I got this as a gift and while pretty hot, it's the best BBQ sauce I've ever tasted. Can't wait to try their others!
Mountain Q BBQ Sauce - Habanero Hot, 16oz from Pepper Palace
jason how about the Viper Sauce line coming out of Fairhope, Al. Good stuff.
Lou Pegross Jr This is a simple sauce that everybody likes in the bay area. They even say its better then sweet baby rays.
EB Check out blue front they have a hot and mild. Great sauce for ribs imo
Hi, I have been using G.Hughes sugar free. Maybe check that one out. G.Hughes Sugar Free is only 10 calories a serving. I found it at Safeway. I think it is fine and I don't miss the sugar.
Bob Just wanted to add a second recommendation for Gates; I personally think their "Original Classic" is an 8 or 9 (if it's an 8 for you, then either their "Sweet and Mild" or "Extra Hot" is probably the 9, depending on which way your tastes lean in the "that's not sauce, it's syrup" vs. "my mouth is on fire" debate).
Jack Keller Why not move the BBQ sauce reviews from the recipes blog to this page? It would make life simpler for us. Landing here does not tell one there are twice as many reviews on the blog.
Don I would love to hear opinions on:
Jackie's Oklahoma Style Barbecue Sauce
Zac Your BBQ sauce reviews are great! Please consider reviewing Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce. It's an Oklahoma sauce with a nice blend of sweet and spice.
Rexen E. Francis I want to buy Six Bottles of Garland Jack's Secret Six Squealing Hot sauce and Six bottles of Garland Jack's secret Six Original Sauce. Plus Six bottles of Bone Sucking Hot Sauce.
James Are you familiar with the Super Smoker's sauces? It's a local BBQ place in the greater St Louis area - they were the champions at Memphis in May in 2000 and have seen plenty of other 1st place wins in the last two decades. The sauces have won some awards too.
I'm aware of them selling "St Louis Style", "Kansas City Style", "Tennessee Original" and "Championship Sauce" - though I've only see the last one locally. I'm not sure if they sell the other two sauces found in-shop (Memphis and Texas styles).
I would love to know what you think of the sauce(s). :)
James Just a followup, I found all but the Memphis sauce on Get Sauced, Championship and Texas included.
Randall Irvin Honey and habanero is the best ever.. just what I want from a BBQ sauce.
Sharon Marcus I have developed 4 barbecue rubs that will cook any meat and make it taste like a chef cooked it. I have an All Purpose Rub, Honey Bourbon Rub, All Purpose Plus Rub and a Honey Bourbon Plus Rub.
A couple of guys have won competitions with our All Purpose Rub.
However, everyone so far that has bought and tried it loves it and comes back for more.
I would like to place our Rubs on your site.
Please inform as to how I go about this.
Rubbin' Right, LLC
Paul Great reviews! I would be interested in your review of Porkasaurus, Joes Bar-B-Que KC, Georges (SC) and Pappy's Smokehouse Janes version (St Louis). Keep up the great work!
Valerie Pritchett Hello,
We would love to submit our sauce for review! The sauce is Abrams' Old Fashion and originated in Waynesboro, GA.
I could not access your email address through the link. Could you please send it to me along with the process to submit our sauce?