The Meatwave

Q39 Chipotle

Q39 Chipotle

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Q39 Chipotle


$8.95 for 15oz at Q39

Water, Sugar, Tomato Paste, Brown Sugar, Honey, Apple Cider Vinegar, Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Chipotle Peppers, Natural Smoke Flavor, Onion, Cilantro, Monosodium Glutamate, Modified Food Starch, Tamarind Extract, Garlic, Spices, Dehydrated Garlic, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate, Natural Flavors, Oil of Orange

Q39 Chipotle


Rob Magee, the founder of Q39, first built his culinary chops attending the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1986, He worked around the country as a chef, but it wasn't until he landed in Kansas City as an Executive Chef for a Hilton Hotel that he started to pursue honing his barbecue craft. Rob founded a competition team called the Munchin' Hogs, and success on the circuit had him taking the next leap into the restaurant scene when he opened Q39 on 39th Street in Kansas City in 2014. Three years later he expanded to a second location in Overland Park. Unfortunately Rob lost a battle against color cancer in 2021, but Q39 continued on under the culinary leadership of Philip Thompson, who had a similar background as Rob, coming from being a chef at Hilton Hotels. Beyond the two locations that are still going, Q39 sells four unique barbecue sauces under their brand, along with five different rubs.


A deep, smoky tomato backed up by a heavy amount of molasses fills the nose when taking in an initial whiff of this sauce. That smoky character comes with a distinct chipotle aroma, which melds with a fair amount of vinegar and creates a nose tingle lets you know there's going to be some good heat in the flavor. Deeper whiffs unlock even more peppers, adding complexity beyond chipotles alone, along with the sharpness of garlic that's more prominent than in your average sauce.

Thickness & Texture

There aren't really any spices to see in this sauce thanks to its dark maroon hue and opaqueness. The sauce has a semi-glossy sheen to it and is pretty smooth, with just the slightest of texture that's akin to tomato paste. The thickness sits comfortably at the medium mark, while the consistency also lands in medium syrupy territory. From a suspended spoon the sauce falls in a fast and uneven pour that only takes a few seconds to change to three or four slow drips before stopping and leaving a medium coating of sauce clinging to the silverware.

Out of the Jar

A not too sweet combo of tomato and molasses hits first in the flavor department, then smoky chipotles make a quick entrance, much faster than peppers tend to do in the average sauce. There isn't a lot of heat at first, which leaves room for the flavors of garlic and tamarind to be tasted, both adding extra bite, savoriness, and tartness beyond the hearty amount of vinegar that's also present. All these flavors find a good balance and play well off each other up until the point when the sauce starts to exit the mouth, and that's when the heat of the chipotles really comes in. The spice level ramps up to a medium burn, and the tongue tingling effect it has is further enhanced by a boost of vinegar. This leaves a tangy, smoky, and spicy aftertaste with remnants of tomato and molasses still clearly present.

Q39 Chipotle

Slathered & Cooked

This sauce brushed onto the chicken in a medium, even manner that ended up baking down a bit splotchy at first over indirect heat. That unevenness was quickly remedied by a second sauce application. When moved to direct heat, there was very quick caramelization, but that never ventured into burnt territory. There was a medium amount of sauce loss that had the leg benefiting from one final brushing to even out the sauce layer. The first couple bites brought a great balance between sweet tomato, molasses, vinegar, and smoky chipotles. The chipotles gained a little more prominence a few more bites in, but everything continued to taste well layered and played well off each other. By the time the chicken was done, a mellowed heat had built up, but it never got to be overtly spicy. Part of that was thanks to the caramelized bits of sauce that injected extra sweetness and concentrated pockets of flavor each time that they entered into the equation.

Put to Use

Chipotle isn't the easiest pepper to work with since its heavy handed heat and smokiness demand attention. In this sauce though, those traits were featured, but the barbecue pinnings were given equal weight. This might make this chipotle sauce a little less spicy than you might expect, but if you're going in mainly for heat, I bet you'll still be taken by the overall quality and depth of flavor Q39 Chipotle offers. I know I was—I just wanted to keep eating spoonful after spoonful and was disappointed when I quickly consumed the single chicken leg I had cooked and just wanted more. The sauce's balance of flavors after being cooked was exemplary, and the extra caramelized portions left a very positive impression on me. Because of that, I had a preference for this sauce after being cooked, but the flavor was quite excellent out of the jar, so the best use is really up to you. I would slather this stuff on chicken and wings in a heartbeat, and the heartiness of chipotles means it would hold up well against heavily spiced items like pork ribs too, or strong flavored meats like brisket and steak.

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