How to Use and Make the Best of BBQ Sauce from the Bottle
The scent and flavor that comes to mind when people mention barbecue is that smoky, tangy, sweet, and sticky BBQ sauce. It is the essential flavor enhancer for most of the food that you pull off the grill. But do you know how to use sauce straight from the bottle? How do you make the best of the bottled barbecue sauce from the store? Read on and learn the ins and outs of the grill’s most important condiment.
Try the delicious BBQ sauced chicken stuffed potatoes in the feature image.
What is Barbecue (BBQ) Sauce?
Barbecue sauce is a thick, brownish red, condiment. What you generally tend to find in the store is a Kansas City Style sauce that is tomato or molasses-based. They tend to use a flavor enhancer called liquid smoke to get you that off-the-fire taste in lieu of actual fire and smoke. This is why it can be used indoors while cooking on the stovetop and oven. Most of these sauces are made to fit a very specific flavor profile and only vary slightly in sweetness, smokiness, tanginess, and spiciness.
What you may be surprised to learn is that there are other sauces out there.
Alabama white BBQ sauce – a combination of mayo, vinegar, mustard, and sugar used to finish or top barbecue and is rarely used during cooking.
North Carolina sauce – a very tangy vinegar-based sauce that is thinner and goes great on pulled pork. This sauce is used as a mop while smoking and poured over the finished product too.
South Carolina BBQ sauce - also known as Carolina Gold sauce is a yellow mustard-based sauce enhanced with vinegar, a splash of hot sauce, and seasonings (plus a few other things).
Memphis Style BBQ sauce - is a thinned tomato-based sauce with tangy hits of vinegar and the sweetness of brown sugar.
How to Use Barbecue (BBQ) Sauce
Of course, you can use your chosen sauce directly from the bottle. However, any thick sauce, especially Kansas City Style, or similar, which contains large amounts of sugars, should be saved to be brushed on until the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking. This is done to ensure that the sauce doesn’t burn or make a mess on the cooking grids. Instead, this gives you and your food the chance to create a caramelized glaze that is the perfect balance of sticky and smoky. Sear marks will be darker and slightly burnt, but this is a good thing. That char will offset the sauce perfectly, for the ideal barbecue flavor that you crave.
Use a silicone basting brush, like Napoleon’s dishwasher-safe Silicone Basting Brush, to slather sauces onto your barbecued creations. It can be fully sanitized after every use and won’t shed bristles. Using a basting brush provides control as to where you put the sauce while cooking, saving on messy grids. Silicone basting brushes are also great for basting your holiday meals with juice or butter, as well as painting a protective coating of oil onto your cooking grids when seasoning them. Alabama white barbecue sauce can be used as a baste for chicken while cooking – the mayo will lead to a crispy finish but is mainly used as a condiment or dip once food has been served.
North Carolina’s vinegar-based BBQ sauce is quite a bit thinner than the others. This means that it can be used as a mop or spray while smoking. It is again used as a sauce or dip on most barbecue already served.
South Carolina Gold BBQ sauce is another used as a condiment or dip once the food has arrived at the table. Try it on some grilled pork chops.
You need to try this recipe for Smoky Ribs with Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce, they’re the perfect example of using your barbecue sauce to create a delicious and sticky finish to your meal.
Preventing Cross Contamination
Food safety is something that everyone who cooks a meal, be it indoors or outside, should be aware of. Ensure that your food and your sauce do not get contaminated. To ensure that you don’t find yourself in a spot of trouble, decant some sauce into a bowl or jar and use that for basting and brushing only. Only brush thicker barbecue sauces onto your food in the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking and never serve guests sauce that was used to baste or glaze. The last application of sauce should be at least 5 minutes before you remove food from the grill. Remember to use a different basting brush to add any sauce to cooked meat after it has left the barbecue.
Barbecue sauce is not a marinade. Even thinned out with water, juice or stock, barbecue sauce should not be used to marinate meat. This is because the sugars and spices present in the sauce can and will burn, especially when cooked over direct heat. Instead, use a rub or if you are pressed for time and need a marinade, check out our Marinade Masterclass blog.
Not quite Carolina Gold sauce, this Honey Mustard Pork Chops recipe is quite easy and delicious.
How to Enhance Barbecue (BBQ) Sauce
Barbecue sauce off the supermarket shelf can be pretty good, others can be pretty… meh. So, what happens if you find yourself in possession of a sauce that doesn’t tickle your tastebuds? You can enhance it with the things you happen to have on hand.
Adding honey or maple syrup to your sauce will add an even sweeter note to the finished dish while providing your cooking food with a glassy, candied appearance – very delicious. Brown sugar and molasses are more delicious ways to sweeten up a sauce, but they won’t create the same glassy look as honey.
Adding fruit juices like apple, pineapple, mango, or any citrus (orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit) can lighten and add freshness to a sauce and will cut any greasiness with bright acidity. Brown sugar can also help when you find a sauce that is too tangy or vinegary. Beer, wine, or booze like tequila or whisky can also add huge flavor to your bottled sauce. The added benefit of thinning your sauce out with a little juice (although booze or stock will also do the same) is that it can protect the sauce from burning and make it easier to work in some cases. Keep in mind, though, that thin sauce will drip and run which can be messier on your cooking grids.
If you are a spice-head, naturally you should add some chilis or a few extra hits of your favorite hot sauce to the mix. This will increase the bite your sauce has. Just remember that not everyone likes it as hot as you do, so try to balance that flavor out with some sweetness or tanginess. Ginger and cinnamon are both warming spices and can add heat and layers without the physical spiciness that chilis and hot sauce possess.
Create depth by adding dark chocolate and coffee to your barbecue sauce. These two, feature a bitter-sweet combo that can truly enhance the blend of spices and flavors present in your bottled barbecue sauce.
Enhance your Barbecue Sauce using almost anything, including your favorite beer. Try this Vegan Mushroom Steak recipe, the sauce is enhanced by a bitter and hoppy beer for a big and flavorful contrast with the sweet sauce.
Now that you know how to use and make the best of barbecue sauce that comes from a bottle, how will you use this knowledge? Share your delicious and saucy barbecue adventures on our social pages like Instagram and Facebook. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #NapoleonEats and #FreestyleGrilling!