Backyard BBQ

9 BBQ Sauce Brands Ready for Chicken, Ribs, Tofu, You Name It

Food writers and chefs tell us about their can't-miss picks to slather all summer long.

July 30, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Nothing gets me craving sticky barbecue sauce-coated chicken thighs or pulled pork like a warm evening. There’s just something about the heat—maybe it’s the near-constant earthy aroma of other grills at work—that screams "slather everything in barbecue sauce"! Apparently, other food writers and chefs think so too, so I asked some to tell me about their favorites. Whether you’re into a vinegar- or mustard-forward, tomato- or mayonnaise-based sauce, you’re bound to find a new favorite in this list.

Here are 9 killer barbecue sauces, recommended by food writers and chefs.

1. Cattlemen's Carolina Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce

“Our family was introduced to Carolina Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce several years ago by one of our neighbors who was originally from South Carolina. And it has been a staple in our house ever since. There’s just something about that sweet mustardy tang that we just love.” Michelle Braxton, recipe developer and blogger at Supper with Michelle

2. Stubb's Smokey Mesquite Bar-B-Q Sauce

“I’m pretty partial to the Stubb’s Mesquite Bar-B-Q Sauce. I’ve tried other brands but nothing beats the smokey-tangy-sweet balance of Stubb’s.” Amelia Rampe, food stylist and Studio Food Editor at the Kitchn

3. Dreamland Barbecue

“I'm from Alabama, and the barbecue style there is something of a hybrid. You can find both the tomato-based Memphis-style sauces and the more mustard-forward Carolinas one. My favorite sauce—the one that reminds me of home and instantly transforms a pile of pulled pork—is Dreamland barbecue sauce, from a mini chain of pits started in Tuscaloosa.

"It has a good balance of vinegar, heat, and the umami from the tomatoes, and it isn't as sweet as many of the sauces I've tried from the grocery stores up north. it's popular enough that you can grab 32-ounce jars of it once you pass airport security in Birmingham, which I do when I have the chance, but barring that, you can order it from Dreamland's website or at a considerable mark-up from Amazon." Margaret Eby, Senior Editor, Food & Wine

4. Big Bob Gibson White Sauce

“My other favorite barbecue sauce more unique to Alabama is Big Bob Gibson white sauce, a mayonnaise-based concoction that's particularly great on grilled or roasted chicken. It has this wonderful creamy-tangy-sweet-garlic thing going on, and it's also very versatile. You can thin it out to use as a salad dressing with excellent results.” Margaret Eby

5. Bachan's the Original Japanese Barbecue Sauce

“I've been pretty obsessed with Bachan's Japanese barbecue sauce. It's made with soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, and other spices making it the perfect meld of sweet, savory, and tangy. I love using it as a glaze on ground chicken meatballs under the broiler, immediate flavor boost. The origin story of Bachan's is also very touching, the sauce was created by Justin Gill in honor of his Japanese-American grandmother ("bachan" means "granny" in Japanese), and her prized recipe that has been passed down in his family for years.” Noreen Wasti, recipe developer and food stylist

6. Jones Bar-B-Q Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce

“Truthfully I’m not a huge barbecue sauce person, but I would happily douse any protein with this sauce. So tangy and delicious. It’s great as a marinade too when I’m not feeling super creative!” Sara Tane, food editor and private chef

7. Bone Suckin’ Sauce

“My dad makes the absolute best ribs. Like, so good that recently a vegetarian friend had to make an exception to try one. Needless to say they involve a top secret recipe, but the part I can share is our favorite barbecue sauce: Bone Suckin' Sauce. The perfect balance and sugar and vinegar, both the sauce and dry rub are fundamental to a good rack of ribs.” Courtney Kassel, food writer

8. Richard's Vermont Made

“I always grab a bottle of Richard’s Vermont Made Barbecue Sauces when I’m in search of barbecue sauce. The hot version is my favorite—properly spicy, balanced, and not too sweet. Christine Clark, writer, cheese educator, and co-host of “Is This a Brie” podcast

9. We Rub You

“An unexpected but then totally obvious brand I love is We Rub You, the Korean BBQ brand with a few different flavors and a great price point. My favorite is the Original Korean BBQ Sauce flavor that has great umami from the ginger and sesame, and still has the sweetness, kick and tang you want in a sauce. I love it over fish, juicy charred chicken, and steaks!” Fatima Khawaja, freelance chef

What's your favorite BBQ sauce brand? Let us know in the comments.
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. Her writing has appeared in TASTE, The Strategist, Eater, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish and Basically. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl. You can follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.


CarolHughes October 5, 2020
Awesome list! My absolute go to faves are Sweet Baby Rays and a new one I stumbled across called Georgia Earle's BBQ Sauce out of Baltimore, MD. I was traveling there picked up a couple bottles to bring home and fell in love!
8989 August 16, 2020
There's a sauce out of Toledo, Ohio called Gertie's Barbecue Sauce. It's one of the best sauces I have had through out the country, and I am a big fan of barbecue. I have a friend out of Pheonix that is a certified Kanas City BBQ judge and he believes its one of the best in the country.
He says that Gertie's has a perfect smooth balance of sweetness, tang and heat. I have to agree 100 percent with him.
8989 August 16, 2020
There's a sauce out of Toledo, Ohio called Gertie's Barbecue Sauce. It's one of the best sauces I have had through out the country, and I am a big fan of barbecue. I have a friend out of Pheonix that is a certified Kanas City BBQ judge and he believes its one of the best in the country.