Become a Pitmaster with the 7 Best BBQ Sauces

BBQ sauce is an iconic condiment because of the way it harmoniously combines so many different ingredients to make one heavenly concoction. It can be a dipping sauce, marinade, or sauce for braising. People drizzle it on artisanal pizzas and chopped salads. Want to get wild? Mix it with mayo for a sandwich spread. When it comes to BBQ sauce, there are basically limitless possibilities.

Cara Powers, personal assistant to Rhett & Link, joined us to sift through sauces and determine which store-bought BBQ sauces are worthy of your upcoming summer pool parties and cookouts. Luckily, Cara was exactly the person to call because she’s a Kansas City native! We decided these are the 7 best BBQ sauces you can buy:

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famous dave's bbq sauce

Best of the Best

Famous Dave’s Sweet & Zesty BBQ Sauce

I must admit that I came in a little biased. I love Famous Dave’s products. Their cornbread and pickles are simply perfect, so I assumed I would like their BBQ sauce too. I was not wrong. It is absolutely delicious, and the rest of the tasters agreed. Famous Dave’s Sweet & Zesty BBQ Sauce is exactly what it says: sweet and zesty! It has a rich thickness that would cling perfectly to ribs or chicken or a big, juicy portobello mushroom. This is the gold standard of BBQ sauce.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

10/10

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kinder's bbq sauce

Best for Chicken

Kinder’s Mild BBQ Sauce

Kinder’s Mild BBQ Sauce has that classic flavor you imagine when you think of BBQ sauce. It’s perfectly balanced with notes of pepper, sugar, vinegar, and tomato. None of which are so prominent that they overpower the others. It’s flavorful but subtle so I think it would be perfect with a milder piece of meat like chicken. A BBQ chicken chopped salad, grilled chicken breast, and pulled chicken sandwich would all benefit from being doused in Kinder’s.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

9.5/10

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stubb's bbq

Best for Beef

Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce

Stubb’s is an iconic BBQ restaurant and music venue in the heart of Austin, Texas, with sauce so good it earned it its own line of bottled products. Black pepper and vinegar are most noticeable in the flavor profiles in their sauce and Danny Palumbo, Sporked writer and former Austin resident, asserted that this sauce would be ideal mopped all over fatty brisket. If you don’t have an industrial-sized smoker and a whole hog at home, this would also be great for pulled pork made in the crockpot.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

9.5/10

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sweet baby ray's bbq sauce

Best Sweet

Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce

You can’t talk about BBQ sauce without mentioning the man, the myth, the legend: Sweet Baby Ray. Fun fact! His name is Dave Raymond and he claims to make “the best-selling barbecue sauce in the country.” And while it wasn’t our #1, we couldn’t leave it off the list because it is a great BBQ sauce. Their super sweet and thick family recipe was perfected in 1985 in Chicago. They entered it in a rib competition and the rest is history! To honor its history, I’m putting Sweet Baby Ray’s on a big rack of ribs.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

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jack daniel's bbq sauce

Best for Chicken Wings

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Original BBQ Sauce

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Original BBQ Sauce shocked me. I don’t love alcohol in food because I typically find booze to have a completely overwhelming flavor. This sauce proves that alcohol in food can actually be great. It’s thick and sweet, with smoke and undertones of tang from the whiskey. Because there is already alcohol involved, this sticky, sweet, tangy sauce should coat wings to be enjoyed during a football game or at a party.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

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365 bbq sauce

Best Budget

365 Original BBQ Sauce

Whole Food’s 365 Original BBQ Sauce reminds me of fast food BBQ sauce in the best way possible. It’s mostly sweet but very salty and a little smoky. It’s not as complex as some of the other sauces on our menu, but I like its simplicity. The texture is gelatinous which makes it perfect for dipping or coating anything. And, just like a fast food BBQ sauce, it’s cheap! Never pay McDonald’s 25 cents per sauce ever again.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

8.5/10

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japanese barbecue sauce

Best Marinade

Bachan’s Original Japanese Barbecue Sauce

This is not your typical American BBQ Sauce, so be prepared to have your mind blown by the wonder of this Japanese BBQ sauce. Its soy sauce base makes it stand out from every other sauce on our list. The thin consistency makes it perfect for marinating meats and vegetables. Justine Sterling, Sporked Editor-in-Chief, says her family always keeps this sauce on hand and places it on the table with every meal because it is so flavorful and multipurpose.

Credit: Sarah De Monteverde / Amazon

Rating:

8.5/10

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kc masterpiece bbq sauce

Best for Nuggets

KC Masterpiece Original BBQ Sauce

As a Kansas City native, Cara was pleasantly surprised by KC Masterpiece Original BBQ Sauce. She felt like it represented KC well! It was super sweet and mild and actually really good. The sweet flavor and thick texture make it perfect for dipping. I’m tossing some chicken nuggets in the air fryer and enjoying them with this 365 BBQ sauce as an afternoon snack when I don’t have the energy to head to the drive-thru.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

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trader joe's carolina gold

Best from Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce

Not everyone was into the Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce, but I loved it. Yes, it may not be BBQ-y enough by some people’s standards because it isn’t a reddish-brown color or made with tomato. I, on the other hand, love a mustard-based BBQ sauce. If you haven’t had it, think peppery honey mustard. It’s so tangy and not too sweet. The flavor perfectly contrasts fatty meat, creamy slaw, and soft bread, making it the perfect sauce for a BBQ sandwich.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

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About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

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  • No Blues Hog?

    Reply
  • My favorite, Kinder’s Mild” came in second…Yay! I like it because it isn’t too sweet but sweet enough and not too many spices as I want to taste the food I am putting it on. I bought some Bachan recently and it is great..especially on rice. I haven’t tried it on meat yet though.

    Reply
    • I just discovered this brand. By far my favorite. We buy spicy bbq honey. So good. We are bbq sauce people and
      we have tried so many different brands. We also buy a lot from local bbq joints. Again I think this going to be our go to this summer.

      Reply
  • Obviously you don’t have access to Head County. All their flavors would make your top 5! Original is the bomb and Apple Habenro is the best sauce on pork!

    Reply
    • I lived in KC for 40 years and have had some of the best BBQ sauces in the country. Having said that, Head Country, is my absolute favorite sauce. Too bad it never seems to make the comparison reviews.

      Reply
  • Can you do sugar free BBQ sauces?? I just tried the G Hughe’s Honey BBQ sauce and it was miserable. $6 bottle wasted/: They have like 6 other flavors to choose from but I surely wouldn’t feel right wasting all of those if I don’t like them.

    Reply
    • I love sugar free sweet baby rays hickory flavor. They also make sugar fee original was is good too.

      Reply
  • I have always been partial to Allegro Spicy BBQ. It has the right kick to it and it goes great in a marinade.

    Reply
  • Sadly you couldn’t get my favourite from President’s Choice (PC) in Canada. They have two great BBQ sauces. One is called Smokin’ Stampede (with Beer & Chipotle) the other is Smokin’ Habanero (with Habenero & Tequila).

    Reply
  • My favorite is the Jack Daniels one, which is funny because I dislike alcohol… I guess I like the flavor once the alcohol is cooked out. Lol. I haven’t tried most of these because I tend to loathe barbeque in general (that Jack Daniels sauce changed my mind about it), but did notice you guys are missing out on Sticky Fingers (which is way better than KC Masterpiece, in my opinion).

    Reply
  • Hold on. Wasn’t Famous Dave’s discarded in the first round of Rhett and Link video “best bbq sauce”?

    Reply