The Goods

Dipping into BBQ Sauce

Sweet, Tangy, Savory and Spicy

July 11, 2023  |   by Daniel Osser

When it comes to barbecuing, the sauce is often the star of the show. Whether you prefer a sweet, tangy, spicy, or savory flavor, a good barbecue sauce can elevate your grilling experience to new heights. You could make your own and endure hours of stovetop simmering. However, with countless options lining the grocery store shelves, I say just buy one from the experts! Selecting the perfect sauce can be a daunting task. Many store-bought barbecue sauces claim to have an “original” flavor. This label can be quite vague and unhelpful in making your selection as it fails to convey any specific taste characteristics. I tasted dozens of sauces to see which ones smoke the competition and found a huge range of flavors. While only you know what’s best for your palate, here’s a few of my favorites:

bone suckin sauce

The Sweet Symphony

Sweet barbecue sauces are loved by many for their luscious and syrupy flavors. I searched for a sauce that struck the perfect balance between sweet and tangy flavors. Bone Suckin’ Sauce® original BBQ sauce quickly became a favorite. It has a natural sweetness from the honey and molasses with just the right balance of smoke, spice, and tang. Perfect for glazing a rack of ribs, slathering on chicken, or mixing with pulled pork for sliders. Finger-lickin’ good!

The Tangy Temptation

In the style of Texas BBQ, tangy barbecue sauces provide a zesty and lively experience that can truly awaken your taste buds. Often vinegar-based, these sauces add a refreshing touch to your grilled meats, cutting through the richness and adding a bright, acidic note that perfectly complements the smoky flavors. Stubb’s® Smokey Mesquite BBQ Sauce checked this box for us. It’s a little sweeter than their Original or Spicy offerings (both quite peppery and vinegary), but I like the touch of sweetness to balance the tang. I love the hickory smoke, which was balanced, complex, and lingering. I love it on beef brisket and burgers.

stibbs bbq sauce
trilbys bbq sauce

The Savory Sensation

Savory barbecue sauces cater to those who appreciate a rich and hearty flavor profile. They enhance the natural umami flavors of the meat, creating a satisfying and robust taste experience. For a savory sauce, I absolutely love Trilby’s® Original Mild BBQ sauce. Made with Worcestershire sauce (read “contains anchovy”), fruit puree, and brown sugar, Trilby’s is lightly sweet, lightly tangy, and terrifically savory. It’s a bit more complex than others on the market, containing bits of sauteed onion & garlic. It truly tastes homemade, perfect for beef brisket or boosting the flavor on grilled vegetables.

The Spicy Sizzle

For those who love a bit of heat, spicy barbecue sauces are an excellent choice. I searched for one with a gradual and balanced heat, ensuring that the spiciness didn’t overpower the other flavors. Rufus Teague® Touch o’ Heat has a complex spice blend with a good balance of sweet, savory and tangy. I loved how the smoky chipotle pepper heat lingered but didn’t overpower the other flavors. It stood out from the others with some surprising ingredients, including raisin puree, soy sauce, and celery seed. For those looking for some fire, there’s also a “Blazin’ Hot” version which is phenomenal with a lasting burn and outstanding flavor. It’s perfect for wings and ribs.

rufus teague bbq sauce

When it comes to choosing the ideal barbecue sauce, exploring the diverse range of store-bought options can save you time and effort compared to making your own. While the term “original flavor” lacks specificity, I’ve discovered standout sauces in each category. The sweet barbecue sauces strike a perfect balance between sweetness and tanginess, tangy sauces add a zesty and lively note, savory sauces enhance the richness and hearty flavors, and spicy sauces offer a gradual and well-balanced heat. With these flavorful options, you can elevate your grilling experience!