Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: July 12, 2021
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Can you cook a good barbecue without adding some spicy or smoky sauce? We think not. The sauce is an indispensable ingredient in the making of any sweet-tasting barbecue. But not all BBQ sauces deliver as expected. Trust us, you’re about to find out the best BBQ sauces in this article.
We understand that identifying the best barbecue sauce can be tricky which is why we went ahead to test several bottled products. Or how best to determine the best BBQ sauces in stores other than testing them ourselves? We eventually picked the top 9 products that impressed us the most based on their excellent ingredients, exciting flavors, impressive prices, and brand quality. Ride along with us as we dissect the 9 BBQ sauces and tell you everything you need to know about the best BBQ sauces.
Out of the best BBQ sauces to buy, the Stubb’s Smokey Mesquite Legendary Bar-B-Q Sauce comfortably sits at the top. This is unsurprising considering the excellent composition of the sauce. It is made from premium ingredients such as Tomato Puree, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, corn starch, distilled vinegar, organic honey, spices, salt, and natural flavor. With these top ingredients, the excellence of the sauce is undisputed.
Besides, Stubb’s BBQ sauce brings amazing, authentic Texas BBQ flavor to your menu. So, if you’re anxious to taste the legendary Texas flavor, this is the product to buy. Also, if you love authentic mesquite smoky flavor, this sauce is made for you because it is formulated in such a way that you won’t get enough of it. Also, this is a sauce you can trust if you don’t want trouble with allergens thanks to its gluten-free formula.
What stands out?
During our testing process, what stood out for us was the unmistakable smoky flavor of the Stubb's BBQ sauce. Trust us, you won’t get enough of that amazing flavor. We also liked that the product is made from premium ingredients that provide rich flavor and smooth consistency. Also, you won’t have to worry about allergens because the sauce is kosher certified, gluten-free and is made with no artificial flavors.
What cons did we manage to find?
Despite having excellent content, the BBQ sauce comes in poor packaging. Some users have complained about their product arriving cracked and leaking.
How about getting yourself some rich Korean flavor? With the Bibigo Korean BBQ sauce, you can bring all the goodness of Korean flavor to your menu. Bibi, in Korean, means to “mix”. The product got its name from combining “Bibi” and “go”, meaning the sauce is always ready to go for delicious barbecues. Plus you don’t need to worry about your safety because the formula’s ingredients are safe. Also, the sauce comes in a pack of 6 with 16.9-ounce bottles.
Moreover, the Bibigo Korean BBQ sauce is the formula to go for if you desire a flavor that is rooted in Korea’s culinary traditions because it is a precise balance of sweet and savory flavors and ingredients. Surely, that’s something you don’t want to miss out on if you’re a sucker for Korean flavors. With this sauce, you have a wide range of possibilities. You can use it to prepare several menu items such as savory BBQ ribs, baby back ribs, chicken BBQ, mac and cheese, Gochujang BBQ chicken, Korean BBQ short ribs (Galbi), and many others.
What do we love it for?
There’s no better and easier to recreate authentic Korean flavor in your kitchen than adding the Bibigo Korean BBQ sauce to your menu item. We liked that sweet and savory flavor shines through and is worth it. We also liked that the sauce can be used on a wide range of menu items, giving you the luxury of using the formula for different dishes.
What were we disappointed with?
No doubt, the Korean flavor is amazing but not everyone finds it satisfying. It puts some people off but its top quality can’t be denied.
Some say variety is the spice of life. If you’re a fan of that popular saying, the Capital City Mambo Sauce will interest you. The product offers a variety pack of two amazing BBQ sauces; Mild Mambo sauce and Sweet Hot Mambo sauce. As you might have guessed, the two sauces are made from slightly different ingredients. The two sauces are made up of wheat, tomato ketchup, sugar, salt, distilled vinegar, spice, onion powder, & natural flavor, soy sauce, cayenne pepper hot sauce, vinegar, and paprika. But the Sweet Mambo sauce adds Habanero Pepper Extract to its formula
Besides, the City Mambo Sauce is your guy if you’re looking for a versatile option for your barbecue. Apart from being traditionally utilized (as a dipping sauce) for fried chicken wings, the formula is also great as a glaze or marinade on pork and other meats. Plus, the sauce adds a sweet and tangy flavor to any dish. In the lineup of best BBQ sauces in stores, this product is up there.
What are its best features?
As people who appreciate variety, we liked that the City Mambo Sauce delivers two different BBQ sauces that will heavily influence the taste of your dish. The sauces can also be used with different types of meat, giving you several application options.
What could be improved?
If you're not a fan of ketchup, this BBQ sauce won't thrill you. Even the spicier variant tastes very much ketchup. In our opinion, the ketchup content should have been lower.
The Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, as its name suggests, is the best sweet BBQ sauce on the market. You’re probably wondering how that came to be. The sauce’s mouthwatering recipe made it one of the best BBQ sauces. The formula is made up of pretty safe ingredients. Hence, you can forget about having issues with allergens. When you buy this product, you get two 40-ounce bottles to spice up your favorite barbecue.
Furthermore, the Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce is amazing on chicken, brisket, and ribs. If you love any of those, this sauce adds a slow-cooked tangy sweetness to them. Besides, it doesn’t matter if the meats are smoked or grilled, the sauce will still deliver spectacular sweetness. Also, the formula is fantastic on hot dogs, fries, barbecued tofu, and burgers. Hence, you get a cooking ingredient ideal for increasing your selection of condiments
What makes it special?
If there’s one thing we appreciate in barbecue sauces, it is versatility. We liked that the Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce is not lacking in this feature. We also liked the sauce’s unmistakable and tangy sweetness that is terrific on ribs, fries, brisket, hot dogs, and burgers.
What cons did we find?
The great taste of this barbecue sauce is undeniable but it's not ideal for people who don't like extremely sweet foods. We thought the sugar level could be lower.
As we’ve mentioned a few times before in this review, versatility is a great feature in any BBQ sauce. Good thing that the Traeger ‘Que BBQ Sauce offers this great feature that you can rely on for many of your favorite dishes. The sauce boasts smoky hickory, tangy vinegar, and notes of brown sugar for a classic, exciting flavor. Another impressive thing about this formula is it contains only premium ingredients and is devoid of any unsafe ingredients.
Besides, the Traeger ‘Que BBQ Sauce is a natural partner of ribs thanks to its unique formula. That means you can add the sauce to any of your favorite rib barbecues and enjoy rich flavors. As if that wasn’t enough, the formula is also perfect for any other dish you can think of, underscoring its great value. Moreover, if you’re a lover of the hickory hardwood pellets and Traeger rub, you can pair the sauce with them to create a flavorful, complete taste.
What makes it stand out?
We liked that the Traeger ‘Que BBQ Sauce is all shades of goodness and it’s unsurprising that we voted it the best value sauce. It combines sweet brown sugar and smoky hickory flavors for an amazing BBQ ingredient. The sauce also provides you multiple application options; you can slather it on meat, use it as a marinade, or dip into it. Plus, it pairs well with pork, chicken, and salmon.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Many may consider the flavor bland because it's well on the thinner side but some can still enjoy it. Notwithstanding, We felt the flavor could be stronger.
Amongst the BBQ best sauces, we came across is the Walden Farms Barbecue Sauce. The formula offers honey barbecue and hickory smoked flavors, leaving you with two of the most tasteful flavors. A package of the sauce comes with 3 bottles that combine for a weight of 1.87 kilograms.
Moreover, the Walden Farms Barbecue Sauce is the perfect option for you if you’re very sensitive about your health. If your doctor has advised you to avoid fatty foods or calories, this delicious sauce allows you to go ahead with eating your favorite barbecue without any fear for your health because it is fat and calorie-free. The formula is also free of cholesterol and sugar, making it the healthiest choice on our list.
What are our favorite features?
There’s nothing not to like about a product that prioritizes the wellbeing of consumers and that’s why the Walden Farms Barbecue Sauce easily found a place on our list. It is free of fat, calorie, cholesterol, and sugar. The sauce is also kosher certified so there’s no doubt about its safety. Additionally, it is an excellent formula for all your grilling and barbecuing needs.
What could be better?
This BBQ sauce is too watery for our liking, causing it not to stay on the meat it is applied to. It should have been thicker in our opinion.
Another exciting option on our list is the Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce, a product of one of the best BBQ sauce brands. It boasts a rich formula that has been keeping tongues happy since 1947. Trust us, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to the ingredients because none of them is unsafe for you. Also, the formula doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives. A package of the product comes with 6 20-ounce bottles of hot flavor for a fulfilling barbecue.
Besides, the Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce is the ideal choice for you if you’re allergic to gluten because the formula doesn’t contain the ingredient. Also, if you want a sweet and tangy barbecue, this sauce is a great option thanks to its blend of black and red pepper. With this rich blend of flavors, creating a sweet and spicy barbecue is easy and guaranteed, making it arguably the best store-bought BBQ sauce.
What stands out?
We’re all about safety and that informed most of our choices, including that of the Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce which doesn’t contain any artificial preservative and is free of gluten. Apart from the fact that the sauce is safe for your health, we also liked that it provides a rich blend of flavors that captures the essence of good barbecue.
What cons did we manage to find?
It's right in the middle; not too spicy and not too sweet. This may put off people who prefer strong flavors.
You could call the Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Original BBQ Sauce the best commercial BBQ sauce, the best grocery store BBQ sauce, or the best bottled barbecue sauce, and we won’t argue with you, thanks to its impressive quality. Like other top sauces, this one is also free of unhealthy ingredients such as corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and preservatives. It rather boasts premium natural ingredients that promise to make your meals more flavorful. Essentially, the sauce is a blend of great flavors.
If you love yourself some whiskey, how about adding it to your barbecue? Oh, not literally, but through the Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Original BBQ Sauce. The sauce adds a touch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, providing your barbecue that unmistakable whiskey flavor. As we mentioned before, the sauce contains only healthy flavors, so you can confidently pick it if you’re very conscious of your health.
What do we love it for?
We liked that the Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Original BBQ Sauce infuses healthy and great flavors with the unique flavor of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, promising your favorite barbecue a unique taste that you’re going to love. We also liked that the sauce is quite healthy and doesn’t contain artificial preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients.
What were we disappointed with?
This BBQ sauce may arrive all over the place, no thanks to its poorly designed glass bottle. More frustrating is the fact that there's no option to return the product.
The final product on our list is the Heinz Carolina Mustard Style BBQ Sauce and it’s equally full of flavor. With it, you can add boldness and goodness to all of your favorite recipes and dishes. As its name suggests, this sauce is Mustard-styled to perfection with incredible ingredients. The ingredients include mustard seed, distilled white vinegar, blackstrap molasses, cane sugar, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, spices, turmeric, corn starch, onion, powder, natural smoke flavor, and more.
Moreover, the Heinz Carolina Mustard Style barbecue sauce is a versatile BBQ ingredient that works perfectly with grill, oven, or stove. If you love the classic mustard flavor, this sauce offers you the perfect opportunity to enjoy it through chicken nuggets and ribs. Also, the formula is ideal for use as a BBQ chicken marinade or a final touch to pulled pork or baby back ribs.
What makes it special?
The Heinz Carolina Mustard Style BBQ Sauce offers rich and sweet flavor thanks to an array of exciting ingredients, including yellow mustard and blackstrap molasses. No doubt, the blend of the ingredients impressed us. We also liked that the sauce can be used as a BBQ chicken marinade or as a finishing ingredient to pulled pork or baby back ribs. Also, thanks to the 18.7-ounce bottle's upside-down design, you can easily get the content out.
What cons did we find?
Despite its impressive taste, this BBQ sauce is a bit watery. So, you won't be able to use it for meats such as chicken wings.
Things to Consider
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, picking the best BBQ sauce is no easy feat, and reality isn’t lost on us. Good thing that we’ve taken it upon ourselves to develop a comprehensive buying guide that provides all the information you need to make the right choice.
Should you use store-bought BBQ sauces?
The truth is you can’t always be available to make a homemade BBQ sauce. Whether you like it or not, a time will always come when you’re in a rush to prepare barbecue for visitors and you’ll have no choice but to rush and get one from the store. The store-bought BBQ sauces can be very good substitutes and time-saving.
Besides that, store-bought sauces’ proportions tend to be always right. Just make sure that you buy the right BBQ sauce for your recipe and you’re good.
How to apply BBQ sauces like a pro
The technique for applying BBQ sauce is different for each type of meat as you’ll find out below:
Chicken: Basting the chicken is the best way to apply BBQ sauce to it. Baste it enough to cover the whole meat, but don’t drench. A thick sauce is best for chicken so that it can stay on the meat. Firstly, spread the sauce on one side of the chicken and allow it to cook for about five minutes. Then, flip it over and coat the other side with the sauce and let it cook too.
Turkey: Applying BBQ sauce to turkey is quite similar to doing the same to chicken. Spread a thick coat of sauce on one side of the turkey and allow it to cook for about 5-15 minutes. Flip it over to the other side, apply the sauce to it, and allow it to cook too.
Beef: When it comes to beef, it’s best to apply the BBQ sauce in the early stages of the cooking process. Make thin cuts into the meat and apply sauce so that it seeps into the cuts. When the cooking is done, spread the final layer of sauce on the meat and get a foil to wrap it. This will let the last layer of the sauce stick to the meat, providing a complete flavor
Pork: For pork, add the BBQ sauce near the end of the cooking, usually about 15-20 minutes before the meat is done. Besides, you should warm the sauce before applying it so that it can cover the entire meat. Also, you should the sauce in thin layers to achieve the best flavor.
How to pick the best BBQ sauces
Picking the best BBQ sauces is not about how they look but about important factors such as brands, ingredients, flavor, prices, and so on. Below, we will explain the factors you must consider to be able to pick the best BBQ sauces.
Price is arguably the first factor most buyers consider because it determines whether the product is within their budget or not. Thankfully, the BBQ sauces on our list are reasonably priced. The prices are usually based on the quantity you’re getting.
There’s no way you don’t consider brands in your mission to pick the best BBQ sauces. The top brands are known for offering the best flavors for the best barbecues. Every brand represented on our list is tested and trusted. When it comes to making excellent BBQ sauces, you can’t take anything away from brands such as Stubb’s, Bibigo, Capital City, Sweet Baby Ray’s, Jack Daniel’s, Heinz, etc.
So, if you want the best BBQ sauce for your dishes, ensure that you go for a trusted brand.
As you’ve seen just above, the main ingredients of BBQ sauces determine their flavors. The most common ingredients, are tomato paste, vinegar, and spices such as black pepper or mustard. Some BBQ sauces are made from artificial ingredients (often sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup) but the best sauces are made from healthy ingredients (usually sweetened with natural sugar). Walden Farms BBQ sauce and Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Original BBQ sauce are examples of formulas without unhealthy ingredients.
Also, you need to pay attention to the calorie content of the BBQ sauce you’re picking. If you don’t mind calories, you can buy a formula like Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce which offers 70 calories per serving but if you can’t stand calories, the Walden Farms BBQ sauce is the ideal choice thanks to its zero-calorie content.
We also found the hot and spicy Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce to be the best store-bought BBQ sauce for pulled pork thanks to its blend of black and red pepper with a sweet and tangy taste. Apart from being gluten and preservative-free, this sauce also stays well on pulled pork.
After a thorough review of the 9 barbecue sauces on our list, there’s no doubt that they are excellent additions to any barbecue or dish. Look at Stubb’s Smokey Mesquite sauce, for example, it boasts the legendary Texas taste thanks to an array of premium ingredients that are free of gluten and other unsafe ingredients. It’s no surprise that this sauce is our Editor’s choice.
Fast behind its heels is the Bibigo Korean BBQ sauce which can help you recreate the best Korean BBQ flavors in your kitchen. Besides, the Traeger ‘Que BBQ earns the enviable position of our best value BBQ sauce thanks to its incredible versatility at a great price. No doubt, this article contains everything you need to know about the best BBQ sauces.