Best Store Bought BBQ Sauce

What is the Best Store Bought BBQ Sauce?

I’ve tried a reasonable number of store-bought BBQ sauces and I’ve found a few brands to be extremely popular in a variety of online surveys and forums across the web.  I’ve lumped them into 5 main categories:

  • Super Sweet and Thick (often called “KC Style” which is by far the most popular category in BBQ Sauce-ville)
  • Sweet and Smoky (usually a sauce with some sweet and liquid smoke).
  • Tangy Sauces (usually comes from use of more vinegar and gives a slightly sour flavor which many folks love on pork)
  • Mustard-based (this is not 100% mustard, it’s usually a BBQ sauce with a little or a lot of mustard added).
  • Sauces with Heat (each of the above categories can be amended to include heat, but some people like it and some don’t)
  • Other (this isn’t really a category, it’s for sauces that don’t fit other places like mashes, relishes, marinades, fruit-based stuff, etc)

1. The Best Store Bought Super Sweet & Thick BBQ Sauces

  • Sweet Baby Rays (SBR) Original
  • Bullseye KC Style or Original

2. The Best Store Bought Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauces

  • Bullseye Hickory Smoke
  • Some variants of SBR also deliver on the liquid smokiness if you like that.

3. The Best Store Bought Tangy BBQ Sauces

  • Open Pit is super tangy – many people mix this with a sweet sauce like SBR
  • Stubbs is also a vinegar based choice which many folks love

4. The Best Store Bought Mustard-Based Sauces

  • Hmm.  I’m hard pressed to think of a good mustard-based BBQ Sauce brand that is available on a national level.  Perhaps Salt Lick.  Or Carolina Treet.   But I think these are still rather regional.  Any ideas??   Maybe Bullseye Carolina style?   My suggestion – get your favorite BBQ sauce and some dijon mustard and add them together until you are satisifed.  Put the resulting combination on a pork based dish.

5. The Best Store Bought BBQ Sauces with Heat

  • Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle
  • Bullseye Memphis has a little kick
  • KC Masterpiece Hot & Spicy is also decent
  • Another idea here to take your favorite BBQ sauce and mix it Frank’s Red Hot, Tabasco, or your favorite hot sauce.  Like BBQ Sauces, there’s a whole world to explore out there.

Site Editor, BBQ Sauce Lover, Family Guy, Hi Tech Marketer by Day. He recently wrote the Ebook “How to Market Your BBQ Sauce” which can be purchased on this site.



  1. If you like sweet mustard, Cattleman’s Mustard BBQ sauce isn’t bad.

  2. Great list Brian! I would have to say my favorite store bought sauces would have to be Sweet Baby Ray’s Original and also Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey. The homemade sauce I make kind of reminds me of Sweet Baby Ray’s Original. I love the sweet ones!

  3. SBR is, IHMO, the best mass-market, store-bought sauce available. I like to support the local guys and buy locally made sauces but SBR is a generic favorite. I’m pretty lucky though…my local grocer sells Blues Hog 🙂

  4. I concur, although I do have a soft spot personally for Bullseye Original but I also love Sweet Baby Ray’s. Mmmmmm.

  5. @Brian: same here, I love Bull’s Eye Original and SBR Honey ! Yum yum yum 🙂

  6. Im an open pit fan for store bought brands. Its good to see it on your top five!

  7. I think Sweet Baby Ray’s is ok, but there are much better sauces out there. I prefer barbecue sauces that aren’t super sweet. A little sweetness is fine, but it’s more important for the sauce to have at least a little bit of a kick and some boldness to it. I don’t think Sweet Baby Ray’s has enough of that sweet/bold balance. My favorite store bought sauce is Stubbs, no contest.

  8. I gotta go with famous daves the original and sweet and zesty great stuff

  9. I was reading your article regarding the Best BBQ Sauce. And was sad to see that there is one southern BBQ sauce that was not tried. I have no doubts that when it gets into the right mouth it will take the world by storm. We are often told that it is so good that they could put a straw in it and drink it out of the jar. Once you take a bite you are hooked. We currently have it in 50 Stores and are putting our Blood sweat and tears into getting it out there. If you truly love BBQ Sauce then this is a you have to eat it to believe it Sauce. Chef Kevin McKee has worked hard on getting the perfect flavors incorporated in to his sauce and it contains 17 different ingredients. The orginal is a sweet smoked flavor that will make your taste buds dance across your tounge. The Hot is an enjoyable hot, it will not set your tounge on fire but will make your mouth fill with heat as the sweetness cools it back down. We hope that you take the time to give this amazing BBQ sauce a try. We always tell people once you go KDS there is no turning back. lol

  10. I guess I could have told you the name of the KDS HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE. And web page is

  11. Mustard sauces that we like, Sticky Fingers and Patti LaBelle. Both are fantastic for bought sauces!

  12. Ms Patti Labelle’s Spicy BBQ Sauce is the best I have ever tasted AND is Diebetic safe.

  13. peter mailhot says

    I tend to read the ingredients and I steer clear of anything that has high fructose corn syrup. And the first ingredient in baby rays……. High fructose corn syrup
    🙁 I look for the sauces with REAL sugar, and of course brown sugar and ingredients I can read

  14. I think Open a Great Tangy BBQ Sauce..good for quick wet buffalo wingz

  15. GA-BETTEinMontana says

    Mustard/vinegar too, but thicker….made and bottled from an OLD recipe in COLUMBUS, GEORGIA… is POP’s and FOY’s (or foye’s) BBQ Sauce. Excellent!!

  16. Brian Nunn says

    If your looking a little heat and great flavor get either Stubbs “Spicey” or “Sweet Heat”

  17. I am going to have to try Sweet Baby Ray’s. I like Bull’s Eye Texas-Style and Memphis-Style when I like it “molasses-sweet.” I’m originally from eastern NC and I like vinegar-based sauces with a kick, especially for chicken. I use ½ cup of apple-cider vinegar, ¼ cup of catsup,1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, Tabasco and red pepper flakes, and (optionally) ½ tablespoon of margarine.

  18. Isn’t there a brand called Barstow or something? It cones in glass jats snd doesn’t have corn syrup and other cheaper-processed ingredients. All else I remember is that I liked it.

  19. Apparently none of you are real BBQ fans otherwise you know that sweet baby Ray’s it’s not the best if you ever tried Janes best from Wisconsin you would probably cry and have a barbecue orgasm it’s by far the most awesome ever it make sweet baby Ray’s taste like ketchup. .. it is extremely hard to find and get but if you ever go to Hayward Wisconsin they serve it up there they can’t ship it down here to Illinois because of some crazy reason I tried to get it down here but I have to have it sent from Wisconsin it’s a little bit pricey but trust me worth every penny

    • Ann Ragusi says

      Where do you order it from?? I’ve received no answer from Janes by email and nobody answers the phone!😡

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