The most essential element to any summer cookout? Barbecue sauce. Depending on where you live and what you’re grilling, that sauce could be creamy and mayonnaise-based or tangy and mustardy. In the Midwest, we’re known for our sweet tomato-based sauces, yet almost every other style of American barbecue sauce is produced locally.
Tour the country's best ‘cue without leaving your backyard with these best-selling bottles.
Duke’s BBQ Shack
In March, Duke’s BBQ Shack in Wentzville, Missouri, debuted five bottled sauces: original, spicy, smoky hot sauce, buttermilk ranch and Alabama white. Traditionally served with poultry but also popular on pulled pork, Duke’s white sauce is made with mayonnaise, horseradish, sour cream and house spices. The creamy sauce has a slight kick and makes an ideal pairing with smoked chicken. To learn more or order a bottle, visit dukesbbqshack.com.
Although Memphis-style barbecue sauce is typically tomato-based, it's thinner and tangier than the thick and sweet varieties popular in the Midwest. Usually made with a base of mustard, ketchup and vinegar, Memphis-style sauces like Washington, Missouri’s Blues Hog’s Tennessee Red Sauce adds crushed red pepper for an extra kick. The award-winning pitmasters at Blues Hog suggest the sauce as a marinade, baste or dipping sauce for pork and beef. To learn more or order a bottle, visit blueshog.com.
Sugarfire Smoke House
Tomato-based, sweet heat sauce reigns supreme in Missouri. The style is a variation on the thinner, tangier sauces of Memphis and was first brought to the region by Tennessee pitmasters in the early 1900s. Today, the sauce coats pork, beef, chicken – really, whatever you’ve got. At Sugarfire Smoke House – with locations in the St. Louis area, Washington, Missouri, and Edwardsville, Illinois – try the St. Louie Sweet BBQ Sauce with ribs, pulled pork and brisket. To learn more and find a list of retailers, visit sugarfiresmokehouse.com.
17th Street Barbecue
At 17th Street Barbecue in Marion and Murphysboro, Illinois, revered pitmaster Mike Mills offers Mike’s Original sauce, which reflects influences from a variety of regions. This is the tangy sauce that 17th Street serves daily, made with ketchup, vinegar and mustard. It’s best suited with chicken and pork, but also pairs well with beef and lamb. To learn more or order a bottle, visit shop17bbq.com.
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Bubba’s Hot Vinegar Barbeque Sauce is Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que’s tribute to North Carolina-style dip sauce. The tangy and peppery sauce gets a dose of sweetness from tomato paste and complements pork shoulder. Grab a bottle at Joe’s Kansas City in Kansas City or online at thekansascitybbqstore.com.
South Carolina is the home of mustard-based sauces. For a Midwestern spin, grab a bottle of mustard sauce from Brobeck’s Barbeque in Kansas City, which is seasoned with garlic salt, onion salt, chile powder, vinegar and brown sugar. Mustard sauces are usually served with pork, but Brobeck’s suggests it with egg-based dishes like egg salad and deviled eggs as well. To learn more or order a bottle, visit thekansascitybbqstore.com.
Editor's Note: The barbecue sauce bottle shown here for Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que is the Original Bar-B-Que sauce, not the Bubba's Hot Vinegar Barbeque Sauce.