15 Best Award Winning BBQ Sauce Recipes

Barbecue sauce is a staple condiment in many households, especially during the summer months when grilling and outdoor cooking are popular activities.

While store-bought BBQ sauces are readily available, nothing beats the taste of homemade BBQ sauce. Making your BBQ sauce allows you to customize the flavor to your liking and experiment with different ingredients.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the 15 best award-winning BBQ sauce recipes. These recipes have been tried and tested by experts in the field and have won awards at various BBQ competitions. From sweet and tangy to spicy and smoky, there is a BBQ sauce recipe for every taste preference. Whether you are a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, these recipes are easy to follow and can be made with ingredients that are readily available at your local grocery store.

Making your own BBQ sauce is not only a great way to impress your guests at your next BBQ party, but it is also a fun and rewarding experience.

With these award-winning BBQ sauce recipes, you can elevate your grilling game and take your taste buds on a flavor journey. So, fire up your grill and get ready to slather on some delicious homemade BBQ sauce!

The Basics of BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce is a staple condiment in many households, and it comes in a variety of flavors and styles. Understanding the basics of BBQ sauce can help you create your own unique recipe or choose the best one for your taste buds. In this section, we will explore the core ingredients, the role of sweeteners, balancing flavors, and creating the perfect texture.

Understanding the Core Ingredients

The core ingredients of BBQ sauce are sugar, ketchup, vinegar, and spices. These ingredients are combined to create a sweet, tangy, and spicy sauce that complements grilled meats. Other ingredients such as honey, mustard, molasses, and onion can also be added to enhance the flavor.

The Role of Sweeteners in BBQ Sauce

Sweeteners play a crucial role in BBQ sauce by balancing the acidity of the vinegar and adding depth to the flavor. Brown sugar is the most commonly used sweetener in BBQ sauce, but honey, molasses, and maple syrup can also be used to add a unique flavor profile.

Balancing Flavors: Spicy, Tangy, and Sweet

A good BBQ sauce should have a balance of spicy, tangy, and sweet flavors. Spices such as paprika, cumin, and chili powder can be added to create a spicy kick. Vinegar adds tanginess to the sauce, while sugar balances the flavors. Mustard and onion can also be added to enhance the flavor profile.

Creating the Perfect Texture: Thick and Rich

The texture of BBQ sauce should be thick and rich, so it coats the meat and doesn’t run off. To achieve the perfect texture, the sauce can be cooked down to reduce the liquid content. Cornstarch or flour can also be added to thicken the sauce.

By understanding the basics of BBQ sauce, you can create your award-winning recipe or choose the perfect sauce for your next BBQ.

Award-Winning Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipes

When it comes to BBQ sauce, regional variations are important to consider. Each region has its own unique flavor profile and ingredients that make its BBQ sauce stand out. Here are some of the most popular regional variations:

1- Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

Kansas City-style BBQ sauce is known for its sweet and tangy flavor. It’s made with a tomato base, molasses, and a blend of spices such as garlic, onion, and paprika. Brown sugar is often added to give it a sweet taste. This sauce is perfect for beef, brisket, and chicken.

Kansas City-style BBQ sauce in a mason jar sitting on gray and white napkin with some loose seasoning on the table in front

2- Texas-Style BBQ Sauce

Texas-style BBQ sauce is all about the heat. It’s made with a tomato base, chili powder, cumin, and other spices to give it a smoky flavor. This sauce is perfect for brisket, ribs, and sausage.

Texas Style BBQ Sauce! The perfect blend of sweet and spicy. Use this on any grilled meats for an extra burst of flavor.

3-Vinegar Based Carolina BBQ Sauce Recipe

North Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce is a tangy and spicy sauce made with apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar.

It’s perfect for beef and chicken —its tanginess mixes with the meat’s smoky flavors, making it delicious. It’s not too thick, not too sweet, but it packs a tasty punch that many barbecue lovers adore.

jar of carolina vinegar based bbq sauce

4- Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce (Carolina Gold)

Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce, a staple in South Carolina, is a golden-hued sauce made from mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, and spices like paprika or cayenne pepper. Its tangy, slightly sweet, and zesty flavors make it stand out.

This sauce pairs brilliantly with smoked or grilled pork, offering a unique contrast of tanginess against the meat’s savory taste.

Mike serving tangy Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce with a spoon

5- Alabama White Sauce (White BBQ Sauce)

Alabama White Sauce, or White BBQ Sauce, is a creamy and tangy sauce originating from northern Alabama. It’s concocted from mayonnaise, vinegar, black pepper, and other seasonings, delivering a unique flavor profile.

This sauce is notably famous for its versatility, complementing various meats like chicken, turkey, and beef. It’s particularly popular as a basting sauce for grilled chicken, offering a rich and tangy taste that beautifully complements the smoky flavors of barbecued meats.

Alabama White BBQ Sauce on a basting brush

6- Memphis-style BBQ sauce

Memphis-style BBQ sauce is a tomato-based sauce that blends tangy and sweet flavors with a hint of heat.

It’s typically made with tomato paste, vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, and a blend of spices like paprika, garlic, and mustard.

This sauce is famous for its balance of tanginess and sweetness, perfect for slathering on ribs, or brisket. Its bold flavor profile, with a touch of sweetness and a smoky undertone, pairs wonderfully with slow-cooked meats.

Memphis BBQ Sauce in mason jar with brush on turquoise plate

7- Bourbon BBQ Glaze

If you are a fan of bourbon, then this bourbon BBQ sauce recipe is a must-try. Made with bourbon, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and a variety of spices, this sauce is perfect for beef and even seafood.

This glaze gains fame for its caramelized sweetness with a subtle kick from the bourbon, makes it a favorite for grilled chicken, beef, or even grilled vegetables.

close up view of Bourbon Whiskey BBQ Sauce in a white bowl with a wooden spoon

8- Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

For those who prefer a sweeter BBQ sauce, this honey BBQ sauce recipe is a must-try. Made with honey, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, ketchup, vinegar, and spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.

This sauce is renowned for its unique sweet and smoky profile, making it a perfect complement to grilled meats, especially chicken and brisket.

Honey chipotle BBQ sauce in a glass mason jar.

9. Coffee BBQ Sauce

Coffee BBQ sauce is a blend of coffee into traditional barbecue sauce. Typically made with brewed coffee, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices like garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper, this sauce offers a unique depth of flavor.

The coffee infusion adds a complex, slightly bitter undertone that beautifully complements the sweetness of the sauce. It’s famous for its rich, dark flavor profile and its ability to elevate the taste of grilled meats, particularly beef and pork. The coffee create a deliciously smoky and slightly tangy sauce, making it a fantastic choice.

Coffee BBQ Sauce

10 –Korean Gochujang BBQ Sauce

Korean Gochujang BBQ sauce is made using Gochujang, a fermented chili paste, mixed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, and ginger.

This combination creates a sauce with a sweet, spicy, and tangy taste profile, offering a perfect balance of heat and sweetness.

Gochujang BBQ sauce is famous for its bold and unique flavors derived from the fermented chili paste, giving it a distinctive umami-rich taste. It pairs wonderfully with grilled meats, especially chicken and beef.

korean bbq sauce recipe

11- Pineapple Habanero BBQ Sauce

Pineapple Habanero BBQ sauce is a zesty and sweet sauce with a fiery kick. It’s made using ripe pineapple blended with habanero peppers, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, and spices.

Its is famous becuae of the the vibrant contrast between the tropical sweetness of pineapple and the intense heat of habanero peppers.

It pairs exceptionally well with grilled meats like chicken or beef, adding a burst of fruity heat that elevates the dish with a delightful combination of flavors.

Hak's Habanero Pineapple BBQ Sauce Review :: The Meatwave

12- Blackberry BBQ Sauce

For a unique twist on traditional BBQ sauce, this blackberry BBQ sauce recipe is worth a try. Made with blackberry jam, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and a variety of spices, this sauce is perfect for pork, chicken, and even game meats.

The blackberry jam adds a fruity sweetness to the sauce, while the apple cider vinegar adds a tangy kick.

blackberry barbecue sauce in glass jar with spoon filled with sauce on the side

13- Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

If you are looking for a BBQ sauce that is both sweet and spicy, then this recipe is for you. Made with brown sugar, honey, apple cider vinegar, and a variety of spices, this sauce is perfect for chicken, ribs, or even burgers.

The sweetness of the brown sugar and honey is balanced out by the spiciness of the cayenne pepper and chili powder, making it a crowd-pleaser for those who like a little kick in their BBQ sauce.

Spicy BBQ Sauce - In a Weck Glass Jar with Basting Brush

14- Smoky Applewood BBQ Sauce

For those who enjoy a smoky flavor in their BBQ sauce, this smoky apple BBQ sauce recipe is a must-try. Made with apple juice, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and a variety of spices, this sauce is perfect for pork, chicken, and even tofu.

The apple juice adds a natural sweetness to the sauce, while the smokiness comes from the addition of liquid smoke.

15-Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

Hawaiian BBQ sauce has a tropical essence of the islands with its unique blend of flavors. It’s typically made with a base of soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger, creating a perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and savory notes.

It’s a popular choice for grilling chicken, beef, or even seafood, as it adds a burst of vibrant flavors that beautifully complement the meats.

Spoon drizzling Hawaiian BBQ sauce into a decorative bowl.

Pairing BBQ Sauce with Proteins

When it comes to pairing BBQ sauce with proteins, it’s important to find the right balance of flavors. Here are some of the best BBQ sauce pairings for different types of meats.

BBQ Sauce for Beef and Ribs

Beef and ribs are classic BBQ meats that pair well with a variety of sauces. For a sweet and tangy flavor that complements the richness of bbef, try a Kansas City-style BBQ sauce. This sauce is made with tomato sauce, honey, molasses, vinegar, and spices, and is perfect for ribs or brisket.

If you’re looking for something a little spicier, try a Texas-style BBQ sauce. This sauce is made with chili powder, cumin, and other spices, and is perfect for pork tenderloin or ribs.

Perfect Match for Chicken

Chicken is a versatile meat that can be paired with a variety of BBQ sauces. For a classic BBQ flavor, try a Memphis-style BBQ sauce. This sauce is made with tomato sauce, vinegar, and spices, and is perfect for grilled chicken.

For a sweeter flavor, try a honey BBQ sauce. This sauce is made with honey, tomato sauce, and spices, and is perfect for chicken wings or drumsticks.

Beef and BBQ: A Classic Combination

Beef is another classic BBQ meat that pairs well with a variety of sauces. For a smoky flavor that complements the richness of beef, try a Texas-style BBQ sauce. This sauce is made with chili powder, cumin, and other spices, and is perfect for brisket or steak.

If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, try a molasses BBQ sauce. This sauce is made with molasses, tomato sauce, and spices, and is perfect for beef ribs or pulled beef.

No matter what type of meat you’re cooking, there’s a BBQ sauce out there that will complement its flavors perfectly. Experiment with different sauces and find your perfect match!

Using BBQ Sauce Beyond the Grill

While BBQ sauce is commonly used as a marinade or dipping sauce for grilled meats, it can also be used in a variety of other ways. For example, it can be used as a glaze for roasted vegetables or tofu. It can also be used as a condiment for sandwiches, wraps, or even pizza.

BBQ sauce can also be used as an ingredient in other dishes. For example, it can be used as a base for chili or as a flavoring for meatloaf. It can also be used to add flavor to baked beans or mac and cheese.

Overall, BBQ sauce is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways. Whether you’re serving it as a dipping sauce or using it as an ingredient in a dish, there are many ways to enjoy the rich and smoky flavor of BBQ sauce.

Storage and Preservation

Homemade barbecue sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you want to preserve it for longer, you can freeze it for up to three months. To freeze the sauce, transfer it to a freezer-safe container and label it with the date. When you are ready to use the sauce, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.

In conclusion, making homemade barbecue sauce is an easy way to add flavor to your dishes. By following this simple step-by-step guide, you can customize the flavor of the sauce to your liking. With proper storage and preservation, you can enjoy homemade barbecue sauce for weeks to come.

Seasonal and Special Occasion BBQ Sauces

When it comes to BBQ sauces, there are plenty of options for every occasion and season. From summer grilling favorites to holiday-inspired sauces, there’s a BBQ sauce for every taste and preference.

Summer Grilling Season Favorites

During the summer months, grilling is a popular activity for many people. Whether it’s a backyard BBQ or a day at the park, these BBQ sauces are sure to be a hit:

  1. Sweet and Smoky BBQ Sauce: This classic BBQ sauce is a favorite for many. It’s sweet, tangy, and has a smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with grilled meats.
  2. Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce: For those who prefer a sweeter BBQ sauce, honey mustard is a great option. It’s a little tangy, a little sweet, and has a hint of mustard flavor.
  3. Spicy BBQ Sauce: If you like a little heat with your BBQ, a spicy BBQ sauce is the way to go. It’s perfect for adding some kick to your grilled meats.

Holiday-Inspired BBQ Sauces

During the holiday season, there are plenty of opportunities to add some festive flair to your BBQ sauces. Here are a few holiday-inspired BBQ sauces to try:

  1. Cranberry BBQ Sauce: Cranberry sauce isn’t just for Thanksgiving! This sweet and tangy sauce is perfect for adding some holiday flavor to your grilled meats.
  2. Apple Cider BBQ Sauce: Apple cider is a staple of fall and winter, and this BBQ sauce is a great way to incorporate it into your grilling. It’s sweet, tangy, and has a hint of apple flavor.
  3. Pumpkin Spice BBQ Sauce: For those who love all things pumpkin spice, this BBQ sauce is a must-try. It’s sweet, and spicy, and has a hint of pumpkin flavor that’s perfect for fall.

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