A Definitive Guide To Supermarket BBQ Sauces

Memorial Day weekend officially marks the start of summer — and the unofficial start of grilling season. But for those of us who don't actually own a grill to make the upcoming season's BBQ staples on, we'll instead need to rely on friends and relatives who do...That, or the grace of pre-made goods from the supermarket.
The condiment aisles in our go-to grocery stores are stocked full of brands that you can use even if you're not grilling as a marinade, dip, or controversial pizza sauce. All you have to do is settle on a bottle. To find the best in consistency (not too thick or thin), flavor (sweet, tangy, AND spicy), and versatility (for dipping, marinating, or slathering), we bought eight sauces —all of which should be available at most supermarkets — and put them to the test.
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Scroll through our bottle breakdown ahead — including which buy took bottled best in show and how we'd use each variety.
1 of 8
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Heinz, $3.49



Consistency
Very thick and almost gelatinous.

Flavor
Intensely sweet and syrupy.

Best For
Dipping or thinning out with vinegar, water, or oil to use as a marinade.
2 of 8
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Sweet Baby Ray's, $1.50 (Least Expensive)



Consistency
On the thicker side, but still smooth and not overly gelatinous.

Flavor
Intensely sweet, almost fruity.

Best For
Serving kids (or adults with a serious sweet tooth).
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3 of 8
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Kraft, $1.50 (Least Expensive)



Consistency
Thick with a ketchup-like consistency.

Flavor
A strong liquid smoke taste with a sweet and tangy aftertaste.

Best For
Creating faux smoky flavor.
4 of 8
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Stubb's, $3.49



Consistency
On the thinner side, almost watery.

Flavor
Very vinegar and Worcestershire-heavy with a tangy, hits-you-in-the-back-of-the-throat finish.

Best For
Spicing up a Bloody Mary.
5 of 8
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Hunt's, $2.19



Consistency
On the thicker side, but still smooth and not overly gelatinous.

Flavor
Strong Worcestershire and molasses notes that combine for a not overly sweet and slightly tangy finish.

Best For
Putting on sandwiches.
6 of 8
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Shbarbecue, $7.99 (Most Expensive)



Consistency
Spreadable, but not too thick.

Flavor
Not overly sweet — more spice and vinegar heavy with a subtle smokiness.

Best For
Marinating meats.
7 of 8
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Bone Suckin' Sauce, $6.99



Consistency
Saucy, but not watery.

Flavor
Very complex and unexpectedly fruit-forward with subtle spices and vinegary notes.

Best For
Slathering on grilled goods.
8 of 8
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Allegro, $4.49 (The Winner)



Consistency
Not too thick or thin — a smooth, almost ketchup-like consistency.

Flavor
A mix of sweet and tangy — a majority of the sweetness hits up front with a flavorful peppery follow through.

Best For
Dipping.
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