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If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon. Amazon and many other websites pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. It works on everything from grills to diapers, Amazon never tells us what you bought, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site!

Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone


Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $299 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

Amp Up The Smoke

mo's smoking pouch

Gold BBQ AwardMo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived more than 50 cooks. Click for more info.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.

tailgater magazine

Barbecue Sauces, Spice Rubs, Steak Sauces, And More: Buying Guide, Reviews, And Ratings To The Classic Regional Styles

By Meathead Goldwyn

It seems every ribjoint is bottling its signature sauce nowadays and grocery stores are bulging with them. Likewise, every serious home barbecuer's gotta have a signature sauce or three. One that your neighbor doesn't have. One that's not in every grocery store in town.

I prefer to make my own sauces and rubs from the recipes on this site, and I encourage you to try them and riff on them. Heckuva lot cheaper than storebought. Every grownup should have his or her own secret sauce, even if it is my recipe or if you "doctor" a commercial sauce and rebottle it in an unlabeled jelly jar. If your guests want to think you made it from scratch, well, you can't control what they think.

I taste a lot of commercial barbecue sauces and I even have a scorecard for rating them. Below are some of my favorites. Most of them are classic examples of their regional styles and I've grouped them by style. In other words, although there are some great sweet Kansas City stylesauces made in Texas, like Stubbs, I have not included them because they are not representative of what I consider the original classic style of the region. Click here to learn more about regional barbecue sauce styles, with my recipes. Click here for a deeper discussion of the classic American BBQ sauce styles.

Saucing strategies

There's a trick to using barbecue sauce, especially if it's sweet. What's the trick? Click here.

For sauce manufacturers

If you are a sauce manufacturer and you want me to taste your sauce, please note, I can't promise that I will be able to review it here. I just don't have time to do proper blind tastings and writeups of all the sauces I taste, and if you notice, most of the sauces below come from the region that they represent. It's going to have to be pretty spectacular for me to give you a writeup. Furthermore, I prefer to recommend authentic South Carolina mustard sauces from South Carolina, not Indiana. Sorry.

If this doesn't deter you, click here to drop me a note and you can ship me a sample.

Other buying guides

Dry Rubs

Rendezvous Seasoning (Memphis, TN). Charlie Vergos' famed Rendezvous Restaurant in Memphis is renowned the world around for its "dry" ribs, served with no sauce, only this complex spice blend which includes paprika, American chili powder, garlic, black pepper, salt, onion powder, oregano, thyme, celery seed, cayenne pepper, coriander, and who knows what else. You've gotta have a good spice blend to pull this off.

Blues Hog Dry Rub Seasoning (Perry, MO). Unmatched in complexity and balance, this is by far my favorite rub in the world. It has salt, important for pulling flavors into the meat, sugar, important for enhancing the natural meat flavors and helping for the crust on the meat, paprika, for color and richness, American chili powder, black pepper, mustard, for heat, onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, and green herbs for complexity. Perfect for pork and beef.

Texas Rib Rangers Rosemary & Herb Seasoning (Denton, TX). The standard barbecue rubs are red from paprika and American chili powder. This one is loaded with green things like basil, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and bay leaves along with the necessary garlic, onion, salt. There is also a noticeable kick from red pepper balanced by sugar. It is great on pork chops, chicken, turkey, and even pork shoulders. Try rubbing up a pork loin with this stuff and wear your seatbelt at the dining table.

Steak sauces

steak saucesNew York Steakhouse Cookout Companions. When it comes to steak, connoisseurs genuflect towards Texas and Chicago. I live in Chicago, so it is with heavy heart that I say "I'll take Manhattan", where the fabled and expensive steakhouses are the best in the world. Most steaks are best eaten naked, but if you want to kick it up a notch, several have developed manly sauces that add a layer of interest to their meats. The New York First Company has packaged five distinctive sauces from some of the nation's cathedrals of beef: Smith & Wollensky, Frankie & Johnnie's, Ben Benson's, Uncle Jack's, and Ottomanelli's, New York's venerable butcher shop.

Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce. Country Bob may call this an "all purpose" sauce but it's a steak and burger sauce to me, and it's a durn good one at that. Far less salty than than A1 and Lawry's, it is a bit thinner and sweeter, but it is also more flavorful. I rarely put a sauce on steak, but if you try Country Bob's on burgers instead of ketchup, you may never go back. I have also used it as an ingredient in some of my sauce recipes and it works just fine.

Hot sauces

Click here to read about Meathead's favorite hot sauces.

Mexican Style

Gold Awardel loco gringo barbecue sauceEl Gringo Mexican Barbeque Fusion (Warrenville, IL). Another winner from the creative kitchen of Chef Rick Kazdan. As is his style, it is rich, thick and complex, and although it comes from a Chicago burb, it tastes Mexican. There's molasses, honey, tamarind, chopped garlic, vinegar, chipotles in adobo, and other goodies held together by ketchup and tomato paste. It is a great balance of sweet and tart and hot. Try it on ribs, chicken, or anything else on which you'd put a tomato based barbecue sauce.

el loco gringo barbecue sauceGold AwardEl Gringo Loco Sweet Island Heat (Warrenville, IL). Rick Kazdan calls his enterprise a "micro salsaria" because it is small, and his sauces are handcrafted, like a micro brewery. I'll buy that. At the moment he sells them mostly online and at farmer's markets around Chicago. I'm hoping he can grow beyond that. Sweet Island Heat is made in the tropical islands just west of Chicago, but one taste and you'd swear you were in Jamaica, mon. It is amber in color, thick as jam, chunky, flecked with herbs and spices, and shiny. It's really a chutney in my book. Ginger jumps out as soon as you open the jar, and when you get it in your mouth it explodes with tropical flavors like pineapple, orange, mango, and garlic, underpinned by a decent but not overbearing kick from jerk seasoning, chili sauce, and habanero puree. The ingredient list says there's also apple juice, grape juice, onion, and even banana. I like it as a dipping sauce for anything fried, especially chicken, fish, or samosas. Lately I've been dipping pretzel rods in the convenient wide mouth jar.

Gold AwardBlack Swan Beso del Fuego. Chile peppers dominate the flavor of this thick rich garnet colored sauce, and there are some significant lumps floating around in there, but surprisingly it is not that hot. Yes, there is is a spiciness, it builds slowly and gradually in the back of the palate. Just right for someone like me who likes heat, but not pain.

Other Fun Sauces

Gold AwardDreamland Bar-B-Que Sauce (Tuscaloosa, AL).

dreamland bbq sauceIn 1958, John "Big Daddy" Bishop opened the Dreamland Café in Tuscaloosa, AL, the same year legendary football Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant arrived in Tuscaloosa. The ribs ascended to legendary, cooked fast but cooled with their thin flavorful sauce. The base is mostly vinegar and water, rounded out with tomato paste and mustard so it is a pale runny orange color that penetrates the meat and doesn't just squat on it. The taste is tangy, tart, with a noticeable hot pepper spice that lingers looooonnng. It is more like a Lexington Dip than anything else. Not everyone will like this one, but I love it.

Gold AwardBuz and Ned's BBQ sauceBuz and Ned's Rib & Chicken Glaze (Richmond, VA). This place has cred. Buz himself whupped Bobby Flay in a ribs throwdown on FoodTV. So I had high hopes when I tasted his barbecue sauces. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed at first. The Real Barbecue Sauce was very good, but didn't bowl me over. The Glaze intrigued me because it was a dark garnet, ultra thick and rich, grainy with spices, but some how it did not send me. Perhaps because it was so tomatoey and that made it different than my expectations. Then one night we were making a meatloaf and there wasn't enough time to make a glaze. So I grabbed Buz And Ned's Glaze, and boy did it blow me away.

I have come to a conclusion about this stuff, and Buz is not gonna like hearing this, but it is the world's best ketchup. By far. Ketchup is tomato paste with vinegar, herbs, spices, and sweetener. Tomato-based barbecue sauce is usually ketchup with more of the same. So really, Kansas City style sauces are just amped up ketchups. The big diff is that ketchup is tomatoey, and barbecue sauce is less so. Well this stuff is tomatoey, and it is incredible on burgers, fries, meatloaf, and everything I love ketchup on.

Whiskey Sauces

Dr. Dan's BBQ Sauce Magical Meat Elixir, Kentucky BourbonBest in BBQ Silver MedalDr. Dan's BBQ Sauce Magical Meat Elixir, Kentucky Bourbon (Springfield, OH). Dr. Dan has made this boozy brown, medium-thick elixir by starting with his very rich and nuanced "Original Formula" sauce and adding extract of Bourbon (sorry, there's no alcohol in it, so it's safe for the kiddies). Try it on beef brisket or venison.

Gold Awardblack swan barbecue sauceBlack Swan Sweet Cognac Sauce & Marinade (Dundee, IL). I was not only impressed with this sauce, I was impressed with the guy who made it, Max Good, so much that I hired him. Max is now the Director of the AmazingRibs.com Buyer's Guides.

This fine sauce has a nice garnet/orange color with small black flecks, probably black pepper. The Cognac is so well integrated into the complex flavor that it is not an obvious component. Garlic and an orange flavor do stand out a bit, and I like that. It is more from the Kansas City sauce style mold than anything else. Black Swan is distributed in the US, Brazil, and the EU. Take note: Max makes the same sauce with cane sugar instead of HFCS. They taste different and I prefer the HFCS version.

Charlie Trotter's Organic Thai Barbecue SauceBest in BBQ Silver MedalCharlie Trotter's Organic Thai Barbecue Sauce (Chicago, IL). Forget everything you know about barbecue sauce. The great iconoclast chef has crafted this sweet, raisiny, citrusy sauce with sesame oil undertones and only a hint of heat for fish. Exquisite. Known for crafting unusual combinations of flavor, Trotter is often listed as one of the 10 greatest chefs in the nation and his Chicago restaurant is booked months in advance. Now you can bring a taste of Trotter to your next cookout.

Fruit Based Sauces

Gold AwardOle Ray's Blackberry Wine Barbecue & Cooking Sauce (St. Augustine, FL). A thick dark brown glop whose fruity flavor from blackberry jelly and wine has multiple dimensions from smoke flavor, a mild pepper kick, and good crisp acidity from vinegar and lemon juice. This is not a novelty sauce. It has real richness and depth. I am also a big fan of the Ole Ray's Apple/Cinnamon Barbeque Sauce, a KC style red sauce with a distinct apple note and a long layered heat in the finish.

Chicago Sauce

pigchaser bacon sauceGold AwardPig Chaser BBQ Sauce with Real Bacon (Grayslake, IL). I'm really stretching it by saying there is a Chicago style because there really isn't. If anything, many of the best of the Chicago sauces are garlicy derivitives of the Kansas City Style. But in the town that Carl Sandburg called "Hog Butcher to the World" this one poerfectly appropriate. This is the first, and to my knowledge, the only sauce to be allowed by USDA to have real bacon in the recipe. A dark brownish, very thick sauce with many dark bacon chunks swimming in solution. When you open it you smell bacon instantly, and that follows through to the taste. The owner has spared no expense including honey, pineapple juice, red wine vinegar, molasses, butter, and even maple syrup.

Sweet Glaze

Blues Hog Barbecue SauceGold AwardBlues Hog Barbecue Sauce (Perry, MO). In the past few years this sauce has become the single most popular taste profile on the competition barbecue circuit. A thoroughly creative and unusual sauce from the middle of nowhere in Perry, Missouri. Bill Arnold has crafted this intriguing sauce from practically every herb and spice on his rack. Garnet colored, runny at room temp and thick from the fridge, it is laden with flecks of black pepper, green herbs, mustard seeds, chile peppers, a generous hit of cumin, and all manner of edible grit. Actually more of a glaze, it varnishes your meat with a glossy sheen and deep sea complexity. A bit too sweet (brown sugar is the first item on the ingredients list), it is not unctuous because there are layers of red pepper heat, black pepper bite, nutty garlic, and grassy herbaceousness. It made my ribs sing, and try as I might, I have been unable to duplicate it. One word or warning: Because it is so sweet, use only one layer. Multiple coats is too much.

California Sauces

Gold AwardSFQ - The Original San Francisco Style Barbecue Sauce. First of all we need to make this clear: There is no such thing as a traditional California style barbecue sauce. While I have tried to focus this page on the classic sauce styles, I just could not resist adding this one because, if there is anything classic about California cooking and food, it is creativity, and this is one of the most creative, interesting, unique sauces I've ever tasted. But it has tried to remain true to its roots with a great blend of flavors that just shout "California".

Dark garnet in color, thick, and smooth, the first thing in the mouth is the chocolate and coffee (yes, they are in the blend) followed by a slow, steady march of chile heat, probably chipotle playing the horn with ancho on the base fiddle. The main ingredient is organic (of course) tomato paste, the sweetness is molasses (no high fructose corn syrup, the label proudly brags), and it is not syrupy sweet, and the acid is oak-aged wine vinegar (what else whould it be?). My only complaint is that it comes in an 8 ounce jelly jar, enough for a slab of ribs and not much more. 6 jars cost $29.95 plus $12.50 shipping.


Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

Best in BBQ Silver Medalarthur bryants bbq sauceArthur Bryant's Sweet Heat Barbecue Sauce (Kansas City, MO). Almost orange colored, this sauce is mild, simple, understated. Designed to let the meat come to the fore. A delicate sweetness with a distinct fresh tomato flavor and a gentle heat in the finish than builds slowly and gently. Not a show-off. If you are looking for the rich molasses, smoky sauce that comes to mind when someone says KC barbecue, try one of the others.
slabs bbq sauceGold AwardThe Slabs Kyle Style BBQ Sauce (Lone Jack, MO). Made in a suburb of Kansas City, this is a classic from one of the top teams on the competition circuit. Thick and brown with golden edges, there are black pepper chunks clearly visible, and it is grainy in the mouth, definite sweetness that is not enough to make it gooey, a hint of cumin, complex, with a long black pepper finish.
Gold AwardThree Little Pigs Competition BBQ Sauce (Independence, MO). Dark mahogany color, medium thickness. Molasses and smokiness jump to the nose followed quickly by garlic. There is a nice tomato base and distinct tartness followed by a mild lingering warmth.
Best in BBQ Silver MedalRufus Teague Honey Sweet BBQ Sauce (Kansas City, MO). A shiny mahogany color with orange edges, this medium thick sauce is KC Masterpiece on steroids. Rich with molasses and smoke, it is very complex and complete. No wonder, the ingredient list includes raisins, orange juice, anchovy, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, "and other spices you can't know about".
Gold AwardBig Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Championship Red SauceBig Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Championship Red Sauce (Decatur, AL). A first-rate Kansas City style sauce from Alabama. This multiple award winner is medium thick with some chunky stuff, giving it the feeling of a home-made brew. Orange-brown and just spicy enough to be hot without burning, it's sweet without being cloying, thanks to a citrusy tanginess, a smoky quality, and other complex undertones. Close your eyes and think of the great classic American barbecue sauce. If you look closely the label says Big Bob Gibson Championship Red.
Best in BBQ Silver MedalCookshack Spicy Barbecue SauceCookshack Spicy Barbecue Sauce (Ponca City, OK). Known for their high end electric smokers, Cookshack also makes some pretty fine rubs and sauces. Buy a Smokette for $465 and they throw in a bottle of sauce and two different rubs. It's a classic Kansas City style sauce. Nice garnet color, medium thick, not too sweet, not too tart, not too hot, it's perfectly balanced.
Gold AwardLotta Bull BBQ Original BBQ Sauce (Marietta, OK). is from Mike & Debbie Davis of Marietta, OK. They are one of the top teams on the circuit and have probably won more prize money than anyone. A portion of the credit must go to their slightly sweet, slightly peppery, Kansas City style sauce. Not too thick, not too runny, not too anything, it is perfectly balanced. When I close my eyes and visualize the classic American barbecue sauce, this is what I taste.
Gold Awardhead country barbecue sauceHead Country Original BBQ Sauce (Ponca City, OK). Close your eyes and imagine the quintessential calassic red barbecue sauce. Not too sweet, not to thick, not too smoky, not too hot. In a word: Balanced.
Gold Awardsweet baby rays' bbq sauceSweet Baby Ray's (Chicago, IL) is the #1 top-selling barbecue sauce in the country because it has everything the public loves. It is sweet, smoky, tangy but not too tangy, spicy but not too spicy, and thick. It crisps nicely on the grill, but it can blacken easily if you don't watch out. Because it has a lot of liquid smoke flavor it tastes outdoorsy. If you use real wood to flavor your food, you do not need a sauce like this. But if you do not use wood chips/chunks/pellets when you cook, or if you cook your ribs in the oven, it is perfect.
Gold AwardTexas Rib Rangers Barbeque Sauce Sweet Mild (Blue Label)Texas Rib Rangers Barbeque Sauce Sweet Mild - Blue Label (Denton, TX). Everything you love about rich tomatoey Kansas City-style barbecue sauce is here. Sweet, but not so sweet that it kills the meat, tangy but not too tart, spicy but by no means hot, smoky but not ash tray, and complex with undertones of garlic, onion, and molasses. Just about perfect. This sauce is made by Bill & Barbara Milroy of Denton, TX, perennial champions on the barbecue competition circuit and barbecue instructors who have taught hundreds how to cook real barbecue.

South Carolina Yellow Mustard BBQ Sauce

Gold AwardOle Ray's Classic Gold bbq sauceOle Ray's Classic Gold (St. Augustine, FL). Ray and Susan Greene are master barbecue sauciers. They make six and I rate the three that I've tasted at the top of my scale. One of my faves is this mustard based sauce. Developed by German immigrants in South Carolina, mustard sauces are perfect on pork, and they put it on everything in the Palmetto State. Forget those tomato-based sauces, there is nothing better on pulled pork than mustard sauce. This one is typical. Greenish gold, thin, and mildly sweet, there is a subtle black pepper heat that builds in the finish. Close your eyes and in the background you can taste vinegar, Worcestershire, honey, garlic, onion, and chili peppers. This is much more than ballpark mustard, but try it on hot dogs, anyway!
Gold AwardShealy's Bar-B-Que Sauce (Leesville, SC). This is the prototypical South Carolina mustard sauce. Bright yellow, sweet and sour, with a loooonnng mustard finish. Some others have a lot of fancy herbs and spices, and that's nice, but Shealy has it right, a little ketchup, a little Worcestershire, and a little molasses. If you've never had a mustard sauce on barbecue pork, you don't know what you're missing. The combo is like peanut butter and jelly. It doesn't create a sheen like the sweeter sauces, but it really enhances flavor. And it's great on hot dogs, too.
Best in BBQ Silver MedalSticky Fingers Carolina Classic BBQ sauceSticky Fingers Carolina Classic (Charleston, SC). Created by the Sticky Fingers restaurant chain that began near Charleston, SC, this is the prototypical yellow mustard, South Carolina-style sauce. Almost orange colored, it is thin, straightforward, simple, and strongly mustardy, with a nice lingering black pepper back taste and finish. Sticky Fingers makes a number of nice sauces, but this is my favorite. Todd Eischeid, Jeff Goldstein. and Chad Walldorf knew each other since 7th grade. One summer day when they were in college they made a pact to start a business together. They now have more than a dozen locations and are growing steadily. I think the sauces are their secret.
thomas bessingers bbq sauceGold AwardThomas Bessinger's Spicy Golden Recipe Bar-Be-Que Sauce (Charleston, SC). Golden with red and black flecks, this is a really good yellow mustard sauce amped up with hot pepper sauce. Not too sweet, not too tart, not too hot, but if you don't like a little heat, get another one. I think it is perfect for pulled pork.

East Carolina Mop & Sauce

scotts bbq sauceGold AwardScott's Barbecue Sauce (Goldsboro, NC). Prototypical Eastern North Carolina mop and sauce with nothing but vinegar, salt, peppers, and a few other spices. Tangy from the vinegar, it does a great job of cutting the fat. Spicy, but not scorchin'. This is the kind of stuff that made North Carolina barbecue famous.

Lexington Mop & Sauce

Gold Award Bone Suckin bbq sauceBone Suckin Sauce "Thicker Style"(Raleigh, NC). Bottled in a jelly jar, this shiny garnet colored sauce is chunky with what are probably green jalapeño pepper bits. It has a slightly sweet, fresh tomato undercarriage, with a great balance of sweet-heat-tart components. Though it is from Raleigh, NC, this is not your typical North Carolina sauce. Available in gallon and half gallon jugs.
Gold AwardGeorge's Original Barbecue SauceGeorge's Original Barbecue Sauce (Nashville, NC). A classic Lexington style sauce made in nearby Nashville, NC, George's is mostly vinegar laced with hot red pepper, black pepper, and a whisp of ketchup. A touch of apple juice rounds it out nicely, making it my favorite of this style. It's among my first choices for pulled pork. If you like vinegar, you'll love George's. Definitely not for everyone.
Best in BBQ Silver MedalSam Dillard's Bar-B-Q Sauce (Durham, NC). A pale amber color with red and white flecks, this thin sauce is a light vinegar sauce, but not nearly as acidic as the East Carolina sauces because it is slightly diluted and has a bit of tomato concentrate to mellow it. There are plenty of spices, but it is not very hot. This is not meant to steal the show, just deliver some pleasant spices to the meat.

Alabama White Sauce

Best in BBQ Silver MedalBig Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Original White Sauce (Decatur, AL). This is not what everyone thinks of when they think of barbecue sauce. It is white, first of all. And it is not sweet. It almost like a salad dressing and it is especially formulated for smoked chicken. Mayonnaise dominates, followed by mustard, black pepper, and vinegar. Not everyone likes it. But it's a classic and worth a try if you love barbecue. If you don't like it on chicken, it's just fine on coleslaw.

Texas Mop Sauces

Best in BBQ Silver MedalCooper's BBQ Sauce (Llano, TX). The best Texas barbecue sauce is a puzzlement. It is made to complement beef brisket. It is at all not sweet, it is thin, more like a gravy or a thin tomato soup than a sauce, heavily spiked with vinegary tartness, a splash of hot sauce, and probably flavored with chili or ancho powder, black pepper, cumin, onion, and garlic. It easily penetrates the meat rather than sitting on top.

The problem is that the stuff in the bottle is nothing like the stuff you get served at the pit. The picture here shows the sauce bucket at Cooper's sitting on the pit where they hold meats for customers to select. They start by dumping their bottled sauce in the bucket in the morning, and as the day goes by, the trimmings go in, and if you want sauce on your meat, it is dunked in the bucket. Before long it tastes a LOT different than the bottled stuff. Doesn't that look good enough to jump in to? So don't expect bottled Texas sauces to taste at all like this because they don't have the trimmings and drippings. Now there are plenty of good sauces in Texas, among my faves are those by Texas Rib Rangers recommended elsewhere on this page, but they are really more Kansas City style than Texas style.

To come close to the real deal, you could blend a good beef stock with the bottled sauce, or perhaps some drippings from a roast beef. You can come close by starting from scratch with my Texas BBQ Juice recipe.

To make things worse, Cooper's has a minimum purchase on their website so you just can't order a bottle. If you're tempted, add a brisket onto your order.

Gold AwardLone Star Texas Style BBQ Sauce. Garnet color, thick, smooth, not too sweet, complex, tastes like it has liquid smoke, but it is not on the ingredient list and producer swears it is not in there. Complex with Texas flavors including chili cumin, black pepper, and beer! Mild warm heat in the finish.


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About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, edited by Meathead.

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