Summer may be ending but that doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying some barbecue, or even easy-going backyard grilling. Besides some tasty veg, meat, or fish to grill, you’ll also need some serious BBQ sauce to smother whatever you’re cooking. But what’s the best BBQ sauce to have on hand when you fire up the grill or smoker? That question is not as easy to answer.
Let’s look at what makes a great BBQ sauce first. For us, a great BBQ sauce starts with the marrying of an umami tomato base and molasses sweetness. From there, a little tang and spice need to be present to varying degrees of intensity, but usually fairly balanced. After that, things get too pinned to individual palates to really dig into here.
So, to find out what the people use when they’re barbecuing in their backyards, we popped over to Ranker. There was a list of the Best BBQ Sauce Brands with over 50,000 votes, and that felt like a good enough quorum for us (though, we had to combine a couple of rankings as they were for the same sauces). So, let’s dive into the best BBQ sauces you can buy right now and use this weekend.
10. Farm2Market Foods Sonoran Style BBQ Sauce
Price: Currently Unavailable
The Sauce: This Arizona sauce is a blend of roasted tomatoes, roasted chilis, blue agave, molasses, apple cider vinegar, cocoa, and Oaxacan coffee that gives this sauce a powerful sounding depth of flavors. These days, it’s damn near impossible to find unless you’re in a specialty shop in Arizona. If you’ve had it, let us know!
Best For: You tell us!
9. Pappy’s Smokehouse Original BBQ Sauce
Price: $6 for a 19-oz. bottle
The Sauce: St. Louis’ Pappy’s Smokehouse is a cornerstone of the local BBQ scene. Their sauce is equally beloved and worth tracking down for your own BBQ sauce collection. The sauce amps up the tang with plenty of vinegar while keeping things just the right amount of spicy with the addition of a chili sauce and a red hot sauce in the ketchup base.
Best For: St. Louis Style Ribs
8. Bone Suckin’ Sauce
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Price: $6.79 for a 16-0z. bottle
The Sauce: Bone Suckin’ Sauce feels like a bespoke sauce that you can actually find at most grocery stores. The sauce is billed as a “Western North Carolina style sauce” that leans into a foundation of sweetness from a mix of honey and molasses next to plenty of tang. The sauce is so beloved that it continually tops “best BBQ sauce” lists around the country.
Best For: Chicken Thighs and Legs
7. Sticky Fingers Memphis Original Barbecue Sauce
Price: $4.49 for an 18-oz. bottle
The Sauce: Memphis BBQ is low-key one of the best BBQ corners of the country (sorry Texas and the Carolinas). Sticky Fingers Memphis Original Barbecue Sauce brings that wonderful, smoky, and tangy world right to your own backyard. The sauce combines molasses and brown sugar with just the right amount of vinegar and mild spice to boost any grilling session.
Best For: Pulled Pork
6. Stubbs Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce
Price: $3.22 for an 18-oz. bottle
The Sauce: Stubb’s is a Texan icon at this point. Their Sweet Heat sauce combines a base of molasses and brown sugar with chipotle chili sauce, giving it a mild yet distinctly sharp edge. There’s also a nice edge of apple cider vinegar tang, tying the whole damn sauce together.
Best For: Thick Cut BBQ Bacon
5. Bullseye Original Barbecue Sauce
Price: $1.50 for an 18-oz. bottle
The Sauce: This is a perfectly fine dipping BBQ sauce. You can use it on some chicken, we guess. But the sauce leans a little more sweet than tangy. Also, it’s $1.50 for a bottle. You can’t expect hand-crafted greatness at that price point.
Best For: Dipping Chicken Tenders
4. KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce
Price: $1.58 for an 18-oz. bottle
The Sauce: This feels like the Coors Light of the list. We love Coors Light around here because it gets the job done and is perfectly fine for what it is. Still, there’s a plastic presence here that’s a little off-putting.
Best For: Dipping Chicken McNuggets
3. Stubbs Original BBQ Sauce
Price: $4.22 for a 36-oz. bottle
The Sauce: Stubb’s Original should be in your fridge right now. This sauce isn’t going to blow your socks off, but it’ll suit any backyard grilling session perfectly fine with its mix of tangy vinegar, sweet molasses, and sharp black pepper.
Best For: Burgers
2. Jack Daniel’s Original #7 Recipe BBQ Sauce
Price: $3.19 for a 19-oz. bottle
The Sauce: This is probably the most complex BBQ sauce on this list and a steal at this price. The sauce, of course, utilizes Jack Daniel’s Tennesee Whiskey with a mix of apple cider vinegar, pineapple juice, brown sugar, and tamarind paste. It’s bold and unique.
Best For: Beef Ribs
1. Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
Price: $1.52 for an 18-oz. bottle
The Sauce: Honey and chipotle in one BBQ sauce? Sign us up! This is a great go-to sauce with a good thickness and tang that’s also cheap enough to always have stocked. It’s also the tasty sauce is this price range by a country mile.
Best For: Wings