Best BBQ Sauce

When I tell people I have a website in which I review BBQ sauces, the first thing they ask me is “OK ‘Mr BBQ sauce guy,’ what is the BEST one?” And it’s not always an easy answer. There’s fruity sauces, natural sauces, smoky sauces, mustard-based sauces, and much more. The below list is an attempt to give a little more detail about some of my favorites.

These are not in any particular order at all!

 

Rufus Teague Touch O’ Heat BBQ Sauce (5/5)

Like their other sauce, Rufus Teague’s Touch O’ Heat has some excellent attributes – Gluten Free, HFCS Free, no strange ingredients, has a cool flask shaped bottle, and has a cool character and backstory in Rufus. I really like molasses-sweetened sauces, mmm… a dark, deep, rich, almost chocolatey color and flavor intermingling with Worcestershire and soy and something tangy and spectacular that packs a kick (raisin paste and orange ).    It has a little heat built-in which makes eating more fun  … every bite of a a recent set of BBQ drumsticks cooked with this stuff got hotter and hotter with every bite to the point of thinking “hmm my lips are tingly.”  It’s not too hot – even my 5 year old daughter also sampled it – she said this (not making it up) “can I have more, I love that barbecue sauce!”

Three Little Pigs KC Sweet BBQ Sauce (5/5)

best bbq sauce

The sauces taste real, and natural, and with just over 10 ingredients, there’s no mass produced or artificial flavors at all in here.  Try picking up a bottle and tasting the sauce while reading the label… I found that you can taste almost every ingredient in this sauce if you concentrate on it – which is rare. Excellent ingredients choices, all natural, gluten-free… way to go 3 pigs!

Grumpy’s Bold XX BBQ Sauce (5/5)

The way I see it… there tends to be 2 kinds of people.  There are those who like there sauce hot, and some who like their sauce mild.  Ah… but for those mutants who like the heat right in the middle, you will love Grumpy’s Bold XX.    Strong brown sugar caramel like flavoring starts you out and fades quickly into a warm cayenne pepper and hot mustard afterglow.

Pork Barrel Original BBQ Sauce (5/5)

Needless to say, I really liked this stuff. The flavor was complex and sophisticated and not sweet to my tastebuds. Some of the sauces I get are more like candy, while this is a sauce that took a spice rub concept as the incumbent; surrounded by a solid set of staffers from worlds of ketchup, Worcestershire, chili paste, and liquid smoke. So that gives it a salty, savory flavor with a bit of smoke and seasonings.

Buy Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce on Amazon.com

Bone Suckin Sauce (5/5)

A great combination of quality ingredients, simple packaging, clever name, and well balanced flavor. An all natural, fat-free, gluten-free, fragrant blend of ingredients include: tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, honey, molasses, mustard, horseradish, lemon juice, onions, garlic, peppers, natural hickory smoke, natural spices and salt.

Outta the Park BBQ Sauce (5/5)

It’s Real.  It’s Good.  It’s Gone! says creator Scott Granai on the bottle of his Outta The Park sauce.   And I’d have to agree.  The magic ingredient here is ginger –  giving what could be a fairly average sauce a unique Asian flair that reminds of a flavor I may have had once in a really high-end Chinese restaurant.  And there’s just enough jalapeno to provide you with a mild kick in the taste buds.  Bonus points for concocting an all-natural sauce with no high fructose corn syrup, no MSG, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives (recently tested to be Gluten-free as well).

Russ and Franks Sassy BBQ Sauce (5/5)



On the grill, a great sauce transforms into something different, the heat “activating” the flavors together until you taste something you can’t get enough of. Sassy transcends from a great dipping sauce (for crackers, veggies, etc) into a zesty alternative that will please heat lovers and mild sauce aficionados alike. They added the right amount of cayenne and black pepper to add the zest at the end, enough to leave your mouth and lips a bit hot, but not strong enough to burn. For me, I can’t stand eating hot foods that ruin the meal, so you have to drink water along with it… again not the case here. Just enough heat to add to the great flavors embedded in the sauce.

Salt Lick Original Recipe Bar-B-Que Sauce (5/5)


A great mustard-based sauce from Austin – it is still my all-time favorite mustard based BBQ sauce. Instead of simply mixing ketchup and mustard or tomato sauce and mustard, they went about things “Texas style” by going big or not going at all. The thick rich flavor of this stuff is really great and not overpowering at all, so if you are going to try this BBQ sauce, you better go big or not at all, because if you don’t have enough stuff cooked up, you just might regret it later. If you are looking for a great mustard based sauce, you’ve gotta try this one.

Caribbean Calypso Island Hoppin’ BBQ Sauce & Dip (5/5)

Without the heat of the grill to soften the taste, this sauce is very hot. But after the sauce has been grilled and has had a chance to settle a bit, the taste is wonderful – a complex blend of mango, spices, and peppers (scotch bonnets are used). There’s heat for those who desire heat, and flavor for everyone else. The difficulty is in finding this sauce! Many fans of this sauce report that it is discontinued… 🙁

Head’s Red BBQ Sauce (5/5)



Great red chili infused flavors in this stuff. I went overboard with this sauce, and it’s versatility as a hybrid BBQ/red chili sauce goes a long way. For my uncooked reviews, I usually use one of the following extremely scientific methods. A) dip a finger into the sauce B) dip a cracker into the sauce. The stuff is sweet, but has just the right mixture of flavors to make a lot of them stand out. Complex yet simply tasty. I ended up putting this on sandwiches (try ham and swiss cheese with a little miracle whip/mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion – wow), and as dipping sauce for various appetizers and roll-ups.

Three Little Pigs Huff and Puff Competition BBQ Sauce (5/5)

This was really nice and I was so inspired by the uncooked flavor of this sauce that I tried a few neat new BBQ-based recipes. A prime-rib sandwich with Three Little Pigs Mayo, lettuce, tomato, and Chipotle Cheddar cheese on wheat. Nice. Added some to baked beans (normally a summer food for me, but what the hell). Excellent. Made a BBQ Burger topped with cheddar and this stuff. Awesome.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sensous Slathering Sauce (5/5)

This one really is unique in that it provides the three major BBQ flavors: sweet, spicy, and sour (tangy). The consistency was thin yet stable and clung to the meat well. There was just enough heat (provided by cayenne peppers) to really add life to really tasty set of wings. If you are looking for something that tastes slightly different, has no preservatives, and supports really loud forms of transportation – this one is for you!

But First: What do I look for in a great bottled BBQ sauce?

I look for high quality ingredients, natural flavors, ability to see the spices flow out the mouth of the bottle, strong flavors, and unique flavors. Thick or thin is OK, depending on the goal of the sauce and it’s type (NC, SC, Mustard, Tomato, Vinegar, Fruity, etc).  I’ve tried a lot of sauces so the ole taste buds are good enough to know when someone tries to add some Worcestershire Sauce and onion powder to a bucket of ketchup and call it gourmet. I test flavor before AND after cooking – something which is fairly unique in the field of BBQ Sauce Reviewing.

How We Review

Each review is conducted as scientifically as possible using similar meat types and grilling approach.  Presently the test I conduct consists of applying the sauce to chicken and pork ribs as recommended by the BBQ sauce vendor. When no directions are provided, we rely on traditional methods of applying the sauce towards the end of the cooking cycle so that the flavor of the sauce is activated, yet remains intact. I have been asked about our style and our cooking fuel, and it’s actually grilling, and – dare I say it – propane (covering 90% of American households that are too impatient to do the low slow style BBQ).

The Seven Basic Principles of a BBQSauceReviews.com Review:

  1. Smell/Aroma (Does it smell good, like fresh ingredients, or like chemicals and something unnatural)
  2. Before Cooking Flavor (Not as important as after cooking flavor but done to get a sense of comparison before torching the meat with sauce applied)
  3. Consistency (How does it look, move, and respond? How does it interact with the meat? Does it look natural? Does it flip around like water? Does it cling to the meat or require the whole jar?)
  4. After Cooking Flavor (Does it retain flavor through the heat of a grill. A weak sauce will sometimes succumb to the flame and end up tasting like tomato and sugar. A great sauce transforms into something different, the heat “activating” the flavors together until you taste something you can’t get enough of )
  5. Ingredients (Negative point(s) for bad stuff. Extra points for really good choices)
  6. Nutrition (Anything extra in there for goodness? Is there way too much sodium in comparison to other sauces on the market?  I have yet to see an enhanced healthy flavor (like a Vitamin Water of BBQ) so I’m looking forward to watching the sauce market change over time)
  7. Marketing and Packaging (As an experienced marketer, I pick apart the packaging and placement of the product a bit. I try to offer helpful tidbits for the vendor, so they can be more successful with the next sauce)
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