Whenever there’s mention of a barbecue it conjures up certain images in your mind such as a traditional charcoal grill, friends getting together, the mouth-watering smell of the meat cooking and of course the best BBQ sauce which adds a delicious flavor to the taste.
Of course those who do the grilling each have their own favorite way and style how they cook, which will make a big difference to the end result. Some think it best to rub in wet or dry seasoning before they start the grilling while others prefer to use marinades and let the meat soak in it overnight.
Variations to the Best BBQ Sauce
Traditions on this vary from region to region as to which ingredients are used, plus different woods and charcoal are also used to influence flavors. No matter how good the cooked result is, using the best BBQ sauce will make all the difference.
These sauces fall into different categories depending on the ingredients they’re based on. Popular examples are tomato, vinegar and mustard based sauces. For the best results to get a really distinctive taste and to make sure the meat doesn’t burn, the sauces should be brushed on as the meat is being cooked. The exception to this is with tomato based sauces because they will burn much more easily than other types and this can ruin the flavor.
If you’re making your own sauce the possibilities are almost endless as you can make them hot, spicy, sweet, sour, tangy, thick or thin, however you want them. This is probably another reason why homemade sauces are popular as you can put your own stamp on them and create something unique. Paul Newman did it, so why not you!
You can find BBQ sauce recipes if you do an online search but the best ones can be hard to come by. If you buy them, the list of ingredient is normally included on the jar but not the method, so if you can, it’s best to make your own and you’ll most likely get a great result and satisfaction. Perhaps you can use a basic recipe and experiment with it by adding your own twist with different ingredients. You may be surprised at how good it turns out.
BBQ Sauce Basics
Probably the most popular are those which are tomato based, they certainly seem to be top of the list with both bought and homemade. One of the reasons for its popularity might be that preparing it is really easy, plus tomatoes are readily available and liked by many because of their sweet taste. If this is what you intend to make, be sure to cook the tomatoes really well which will allow their flavor to blend with the other ingredients you’re using.
Tomato based sauces are naturally high in acidity which means it will breakdown the flavors of the other ingredients, blending them with the tomatoes. The drawback to using tomatoes, as already mentioned, is that they burn easily so it’s best to limit their use while grilling. You can make the flavor come out much better with tomato based BBQ sauce by making it the day before using it which will give it time to infuse.
Mustard based sauces are popular in North Carolina and can add a wide range of taste. You can add some vinegar or make it spicy if you like hot flavors. Alternatively, use a little brown sugar to dampen the flavor a little and make it almost like a honey mustard. It tastes great with any meat but is particularly good for grilling pork.
Vinegar has some great properties and is sometimes overlooked. It helps to tenderize the meat and because it has high acidity, even more that tomatoes, it tends to penetrate well into the meat. It’s easy to experiment with this type of sauce to get a better flavor. Try using some cider vinegar and mixing with a little chilli, or red peppers, sugar and salt or any other ingredient you wish to use.
These sauces have changed a lot in how they’re now used compared to the way they were traditionally used. You’ll often see them used as a condiment on the table in the same way as steak sauce, ketchup, salsa, salt and tabasco. If you make your own it can be very satisfying.
It might be that you’re not interested in making your own and experimenting with different ingredients and if that’s the case, there are plenty of good ones you can find in many stores. One thing to look out for with bought sauces is to make sure they don’t have “added smoke flavor” on the label as this is quite common, particularly with tomato types.
The smoke should come from the wood or charcoal, not a bottle, after all that’s what grilling is all about. That’s one thing to consider when thinking about the best BBQ sauce to get the perfect taste, but also remember it’s about the way you grill too so you might want to read our article Grilling the Perfect Steak.