These top-notch BBQ sauces are surefire shortcuts to delicious, lip-smacking BBQ. Whether you're a BBQ purist devoted to a regional style, or like to mix things up when you turn on the grill, you'll find your ideal sauce here. In no particular order, here are my top BBQ sauce picks:
1. American Stockyard Harvest Apple BBQ Sauce
A 2011 sofi Silver finalist, this micro-batch BBQ sauce owes its intriguing flavor to tart Washington apples, brown sugar and spices. There are several other sauces in the American Stockyard line worth a taste, from KC Pitmaster and Smoky Mustard to Northwest Red Raspberry. All-natural. Gluten free. Buy online at OriginalJuan.com. Price: $6.99/22 oz.
2. SFQ BBQ
The artisanal SFQ Barbecue Sauce was born out of a delicious thought experiment: If San Francisco had a BBQ tradition, just what would go in the sauce? Founder Michele Manfredi, together with husband (and former About.com American Food Guide) John Mitzewich, honed in on iconic San Fran ingredients — think coffee, chocolate, red wine (as oak-aged vinegar), and melting pot spices — for her BBQ sauce. It was so good, she ended up jarring it; SFQ's farmers' market successes landed it in local specialty stores. You can get it online at SFQInfo.Blogspot.com. Vegan. Price: $29.95 +$12.50 S&H/ 6 8-oz jars.
3. Bone Doctors BBQ
Here's more sauce with a cool backstory. Two orthopedic surgeons met nearly three decades ago, and bonded over their mutual culinary interests. They set out to create the ultimate barbecue sauce to enjoy with family and friends. But thanks to fundraising cookouts for a daughter's soccer team, their sauce won over a wider audience. So the good doctors took the plunge and started bottling their Original, Sweet & Spicy, and Carolina Bold BBQ sauces and spice blend, and Bone Doctors was born. Surgeons to the core, they even handcraft wooden gift boxes for the line, and won a 2011 Silver sofi for Food Gift. Price: $6.95/12 oz.
4. Wild Thymes Farm BBQ Sauces
No matter your barbecue preference, you're likely to find a Wild Thymes BBQ sauce that suits your taste. The Original and Hot sauces blend Kansas City and Texas style, while the gluten-free Mama's Whistlin' Dixie is a mustard-based sauce inspired by South Carolina style BBQ. The flavors of Mexico, Thailand, and Morocco lend international flair to the rest of the BBQ sauces in the line, which won a 2011 sofi Silver nomination for Outstanding Product Line. KSA Kosher. Buy online at WildThymes.com. Price: $7.50/16 oz.
5. Bone Suckin' Sauce
Sweet, spicy and smoky, this BBQ sauce gets its bold, balanced flavor from natural ingredients including tomatoes, cider vinegar, molasses, honey, mustard, horseradish, natural hickory smoke, and spices. It's reliable, and best of all, it's fairly easy to find in specialty stores and groceries nationwide. Gluten free. OK Kosher. Buy online at BoneSuckin.com. Price: $6.79/16 oz.
6. Slather Brand Slatherin' Sauce
Pineapple lends sweet-tart flavor to this this all-natural, all purpose sauce. It may not have been developed specifically for grilling, but the blend of tomatoes, honey, and spices is a natural fit for slathering on BBQ. Gluten free. Buy online at SlatherItOn.com. Price: $7.99/16 oz.
If it's classic Kansas City BBQ you crave, then Three Little Pigs Huff and Puff Competition BBQ Sauce belongs in your pantry, and on whatever you're throwing on your grill. The multiple award-winning sauce earned a 5-star review from Barbecues & Grilling Guide Derrick Riches. Gluten free. Find it online at BBQIslandInc.com. Price: $7.95/19.5 oz.
8. Bourbon Barrel Foods Kentuckyaki
This sorghum-sweetened sauce gets a kick from Kentucky Bourbon, garlic, and ginger. All-natural and artisan made with locally-sourced ingredients. Vegetarian. Buy online at BourbonBarrelFoods.com or Foodzie.com. Price: $9/12 oz.
9. Outta the Park BBQ Sauce
Fresh ginger adds a welcome kick to Outta the Park's award-winning all-natural BBQ sauces, made with organic ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, brown mustard, ginger, chile peppers. Butter mellows the Regular sauce, while the dairy-free Hot & Spicy version gets extra heat from chile peppers and spicy mustard. Gluten Free. Buy online at InsaneChicken.com. Price: $5.95/ 15 oz.
10. 'Cue CultureSauce
If you're looking for something a little different, 'Cue Culture's chef-driven BBQ sauces may be just the ticket. The small-batch sauces get their flavor inspiration from creator Wayne Tuohey's travels throughout the US and Caribbean. His creations are an amalgam of entrenched regional BBQ styles and culinary experimentation, so you'll find Pomegranate Jalapeño, Apricot Habanero Rum, and Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauces alongside more traditional offerings like North Carolina Vinegar and Texas Style sauces. Buy online at CueCulture.com. Price: $5.50/16 oz.