The Meatwave

Famous Dave's Sweet & Zesty BBQ Sauce

Famous Dave's Sweet & Zesty BBQ Sauce

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Famous Dave's Sweet & Zesty BBQ Sauce

Famous Dave's

$3.50 for 20oz at Famous Dave's

High Fructose Corn Syrup, Tomato Paste, Water, Brown Sugar, Malt Vinegar, Distilled Vinegar, Sugar, Soy Sauce, Molasses, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Dextrose, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Honey, Tamarind, Citric Acid, Chili Peppers, Dehydrated Onion, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate, Spices, Natural Flavors

Famous Dave's Sweet & Zesty BBQ Sauce


Each time I go into my local Target, there's a wall of Famous Dave's sauces staring me right in the face. This sprawling barbecue chain/empire is producing 9 different barbecue sauces, and while I wasn't so hot on the first one I tried, I do plan on working my way through them all in time.


This is the funkiest smelling sauce I've come across to date. More sweet than tang, there's an earthy sweetness that's a little tomato and a little fruity. Although a malt vinegar aroma is in there, it's very mild on the nose compared to the vinegar in a lot of other sauces I've been sampling.

Thickness & Texture

A thick medium sauce, it clings to a spoon, slowly dropping off in globs as gravity takes its toll. Its reddish-brown in color and while doesn't have too many visible spices, there are some pieces of onion breaking apart the smoothness.

Out of the Jar

In my last Famous Dave's review, I got a comment that stated "a lot of Famous Dave's sauces taste like a chemistry experiment," and I couldn't agree with it more in terms of this sauce. The thick, tongue coating sauce has a complex and odd sweetness that defines the flavor. As it sits in your mouth, a malt vinegar flavor peaks it's head out temporarily, before leaving a sweet and spicy aftertaste. There are chunks of onion that add a crunch, but little else feels very natural about.

Famous Dave's Sweet & Zesty BBQ Sauce

Slathered & Cooked

This sauce baked into the chicken without ever really caramelizing. The sticky coating lived up to it's name, with a very similar sweetness and zest when tasted out of the jar. The sweetness was still the dominate player here, with just a little tang and almost no heat.

Put to Use

Sticking with the "chemistry experiment" metaphor, this sauce was an odd combination of flavors that did make "Sweet and Zesty" an apt name, but lacked a natural feel, taking it down a notch. It could be used as a condiment or a grilling baste, but both tasks were performed with mediocrity. While this sauce is not bad in the grand scheme of things, it's also not something worth seeking out.

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  1. Tupper Hey Josh- You've got a nice blog going, glad I saw it on SE today. Keep up the good work!

  2. Josh @Tupper Thanks!

  3. jt Dave's Sweet and Tangy.

    Good in the restaurant and good at home. This stuff is so good. I find excuses just to use it.

    I think its especially good for someone who likes sweeter tastes, for example Pepsi over Coke, I also like vinaigrette salad dressing as well as the sweet ones thousand island, french. Donuts, waffles, heavy pasta beef etc all.

    Love this sauce!

    I will be buying more. I get it at Wal-mart and really enjoy it.

  4. jt I also love malt vinegar on fries and Heinz 57 sauce, and mustard. Can't get enough of this one!