Taste Test: Best BBQ Sauce

21 nationally available barbecue sauces, both original and spicy, were evaluated with these 10 emerging as the finalists.

sweet baby rays original barbecue sauce
Courtesy of Sweet Baby Ray's
21 nationally available barbecue sauces, both original and spicy, were evaluated with these 10 emerging as the finalists. Read on to see our tasters' top picks:
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sweet baby rays original barbecue sauce
Courtesy of Sweet Baby Ray's
Sweet Baby Ray’s Original ($2.49 for 18 oz.)

Tasters’ Pick: Sweet Baby Ray’s Original was a big hit among tasters who loved this sauce’s “sweet and smoky” taste. A few noted that there was a “peppery aftertaste” while others enjoyed that “nice level of spice.” Many tasters were also fans of this sauce’s “good consistency.”

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kc masterpiece hot and spicy barbecue sauce
Courtesy of KC Masterpiee
KC Masterpiece Hot ‘n Spicy ($1.99 for 18 oz.)

Tasters’ Pick for Spicy BBQ Sauce: Tasters enjoyed KC Masterpiece Hot ‘n Spicy’s “spicy kick.” With a “good mix of sweet and sour” and perfect consistency, it’s no wonder this sauce emerged victorious.

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sweet baby ray's sweet and spicy barbecue sauce
Courtesy of Sweet Baby Ray
Sweet Baby Ray Sweet ‘n Spicy ($2.49 for 18 oz.)

Editors’ Pick: A close runner up, Sweet Baby Ray Sweet ‘n Spicy was a big hit among tasters. With a “wonderful” consistency, this sauce was sweet, yet “still had a spicy kick” from “lots of black pepper.” The few detractors felt “the spices overwhelmed the actual flavor.”

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bull's eye original barbecue sauce
Courtesy of Bull's Eye
Bull’s Eye Original ($2.25 for 18 oz.)

Editors’ Pick: Many reviewers said Bull’s Eye Original was “somewhat smoky” and “sweet.” Tasters thought this sauce “had a nice tang and rolling spice” with a “zippy,” “peppery” flavor.

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kraft original barbecue sauce
Courtesy of Kraft
Kraft Original ($1.75 for 17.5 oz.)

Volunteers thought Kraft Original was “tangy with vinegar undertones.” Unlike in some of the other BBQ sauces, the vinegar in this one was welcomed, giving it a “sweet and sour” balance that many enjoyed.

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kc masterpiece original barbecue sauce
Courtesy of KC Masterpiee
KC Masterpiece Original ($1.99 for 18 oz.)

Volunteers were torn between the smoky flavor of KC Masterpiece Original; some liked the “smoky and sweet” flavor while others thought it tasted “almost burnt.” Multiple tasters noted that this sauce had the “thicker consistency” than they’re looking for in a BBQ sauce.

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emeril's bam-bq sauce kicked up barbecue sauce
Courtesy of Emeril
Emeril’s BAM-BQ Sauce Kicked Up ($3.19 for 18 oz.)

Reviewers agreed that Emeril’s BAM-BQ Sauce — Kicked Up had a “lasting heat” and that the spice “got stronger” as they ate it. Reviewers were mixed about the “smoky” flavor with some saying they enjoyed it, while others thought it was “extremely smoky.” With such heat and a “too thin” consistency, one person even said it was “closer to hot sauce” than to BBQ sauce.

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annie's natural organic sweet and spicy bbq sauce
Courtesy of Annie's Naturals
Annie’s Naturals Organic BBQ Sweet & Spicy Sauce ($3.69 for 12 oz.)

Annie’s Naturals Organic Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce was “sweet like ketchup” or “tomato paste.” Some volunteers thought it lacked the heat they were looking for, while others felt it had a “good kick of spice at the end.”

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bone suckin' sauce thicker style barbecue sauce
Courtesy of Bone Suckin'
Bone Suckin’ Sauce Thicker Style ($6.79 for 16 oz.)

The Bone Suckin’ Sauce Thicker Style did not gain many fans in this taste test. Multiple tasters called this sauce “too thin” and “watery” with “no flavor or spice.” It was also deemed “too sweet” by many. More than one taster also said this sauce was more “like salad dressing” than a BBQ sauce.

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hunt's original barbecue sauce
Courtesy of Hunt's
Hunt’s Original ($1.19 for 21.6 oz.)

Testers were not huge fans of the “ketchup-y” flavor of Hunt’s Original. One tester noted this sauce’s “strong aftertaste” that was “too acidic.” Although they didn’t vote for it, they did appreciate that this sauce “tastes like the BBQ sauce of my childhood.”

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