We don’t know about you, but we’re ready for the sun to make a return about now. And with that, the first thing that comes to mind is a good barbecue. Then we realised, why wait until the mighty 4-day British summer to really enjoy it? Sure, we can’t actually cook over the flames as nature intended, but we can get pretty darn close with a smoky, sweet, tangy sauce drizzled on some ribs, mixed in with some pulled pork or used to marinade veggies or chicken. We’re salivating even thinking about it!
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the best bottled barbecue sauces money can buy. Whether you’re wanting a jerk, American or Asian style sauce or a vegetarian or vegan recipe, there really is something for everyone. With offerings from Levi Roots, Sweet Baby Ray and Encona, our recommendations can be found on Amazon, eBay and Tesco.
What exactly is BBQ sauce? It’s a taste that is synonymous with the Southern & Eastern United States. Although it's not truly known where the sauce originated from, it is believed to have come from the first American colonies in the 17th century.
The ingredients can vary widely, but the sauce almost always includes some variation of vinegar, tomato paste or mayonnaise (or a mix of these) as the initial base, as well as molasses, black pepper, mustard and different spices to make its distinctive flavour.
The sauce is often used as a marinade or for dipping. For marinating, the times can greatly change depending on what you are cooking. A chicken should be sit for around 12 hours, with steak going up to 24 hours and pork even taking 3-5 days. On the other hand, fish and vegetables should marinate for no more than 30 minutes.
In this segment, we'll look at the various factors you should consider when buying a BBQ sauce. We'll go into the popular types and flavours from all over the world, as well as how to determine if a product will be suitable for you, your family and your diet.
Where a BBQ sauce comes from will massively influence the type of texture and flavour that you're going to get. Whilst there are many individual places from these regions that lay claim to their very own style of sauce, we have rounded them up into three categories to make them easier for you to identify when you're picking one up.
This is by far the most common style of BBQ sauce and the one you've likely found stashed away in the back of your kitchen cupboard from time to time. There's a long-standing debate in the US of whose is the original or better sauce, whether Carolina, Texan, or KC (Kansas City). Although we'd love to get involved, we all have things to do, so we've had to bung them all in together.
Generally speaking, BBQ sauce from the US has 3 main ingredients: vinegar, tomato ketchup (or mayonnaise) and tomato paste. This provides a sweet, salty, smoky taste, all at the same time. Throw in the different variations of other ingredients generally used like onion powder, garlic, black pepper, mustard, and molasses and you're going to be having a taste-gasm in no time.
Although jerk BBQ sauce had existed for many years in the UK, it rose to prominence with the famous Levi Roots, whose Reggae Reggae sauce (which we'll be seeing later on) made a splash after being picked up on the hit BBC2 TV show, Dragons Den. From there it went on to be a staple in most major supermarkets in the UK.
Jerk BBQ sauce traditionally uses fiery scotch bonnets, thyme, and a Jamaican pimento spice mix to create its unique flavour. It's generally seen at it's best when used on barbecued chicken, although it can be used on fish, vegetables and other types of meats as well. This is a type of sauce for those of you that love a little heat with your BBQ flavours.
Asia is big, so generalising a whole continent's worth of sauce in one or two easy-to-read paragraphs can be difficult - but lucky for you, you have us! BBQ sauces in Asia are typically much thinner and often utilised to baste or marinate foods rather than to create a dipping sauce.
Ordinarily, Asian style BBQ sauce will be made with a soy sauce and sesame oil base, as well as other ingredients such as honey, apples, or pears to generate a sophisticated sweetness.
Whilst BBQ sauces are often created using a base of simple ingredients, various flavourings are used to create individual recipes, so it's always good to check the label if you have any dietary requirements or allergies.
For example, if you follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, there can sometimes be surprises in the shape of fish pastes or honey. However, as we like to make life easier for you wonderful folks, this will be specified in our ranking so you can rest assured when purchasing your sauce of choice.
It's worth mentioning that one of the main ingredients in BBQ sauce is sugar or another sweetener like molasses. This is what gives it its distinctive sweet-savoury flavour when mixed with its other herbs and spices.
The recommended daily sugar intake is 30g, so stick to those around 25-30g per 100g and you should have no trouble enjoying your favourite sauce. Unless you're consuming a whole bottle every day, of course!
However, if you're watching your sugar intake, or are on a health kick, you may like to choose a BBQ sauce that isn't too high in the sweet stuff, such as one with sugars under 25g per 100g.
Now that you're familiar with what you're going to get from each wonderful variation of BBQ sauce, it's time to check out our recommendations. From the smoky to the sweet and everything in between, we're sure we have something that everyone will find satisfying.
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||33g|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||15g|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||55g|
|Volume||3 x 315 ml|
|Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly||Vegetarian friendly|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||26g|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||26.7g|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||32g|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||37g|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||11.8g|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||29.5g|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||43.2g|
Sweet Baby Ray
Lee Kum Kee
Reggae Reggae Jerk BBQ Sauce
All Natural BBQ Sauce
Barbecue Sauce Full Flavour Smokey
Jamaican Jerk BBQ Sauce
Korean Barbecue Soy-Free Sauce
Original BBQ Sauce
Char Siu Sauce (Chinese Barbecue Marinade)
Honey Sweet BBQ Sauce
Original BBQ Sauce
|Features||Packed Full of Real BBQ Fla...||Sauce With a Slice of Sunshine||More Nature, Same Great Fla...||Stocked Full of Smoky Flavours||A Little Spice and Lots of ...||An Asian Sauce for Those Wi...||A British Company With Uniq...||Authentic Asian Flavour||For Those Wanting Sweet Wit...||A BBQ Sauce for Those With ...|
|Volume||530 ml||290 ml||250 ml||260 ml||142 ml||355 ml||3 x 315 ml||397 ml||198 ml||300 ml|
|Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly||Both||Both||Both||Both||Both||Both||Vegetarian friendly||Both||Neither||Both|
|Sugar Content (per 100g)||43.2g||29.5g||11.8g||37g||32g||26.7g||26g||55g||15g||33g|
As you know, BBQ sauce isn't the only ingredient you need for making delicious meals every week; you'll need to stock up your pantry with all sorts of essentials to keep your taste buds satisfied. We've found some of the best condiments and sauces to buy online, so have a look!
Whether you're looking for a finger lickin' sauce for dipping or something to add a bit of smokey goodness when cooking indoors, we hope you've found our guide and ranking of the many different types and styles of sauces handy. We'll see you at the cook out!
Author: Lewis Clark
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