Barbecue Sauce Mastery: Flavor Foundations

A major contribution to the overwhelming success of the barbecue industry in the United States is the number of unique barbecue sauces available. It may be hard to believe, but expenditures for barbecue sauce production surpass $2 billion per year in the United States. Keep in mind, this doesn’t even consider the home-made recipes that sit in family cookbooks around the country. More often than not, however, all of these choices leave consumers with glaring questions. The most glaring being: which sauce is right for me?

Given the abundance of options, making the right decision can be challenging. Often, the choice comes down to which meat you intend to pair with a sauce. In other words, the sauce that complements slow-cooked ribs may not be the same one you’d prefer for a fresh pulled chicken sandwich. On the flip side, certain meats, like brisket, can become significantly more flavorful when combined with an appropriate brisket spritz, typically comprising a blend of liquids such as water, apple juice, vinegar, and more. Keep in mind that in the world of barbecue and smoking, the choice of sauce or spritz can significantly impact the final taste and texture of your smoked creations.

It’s important to remember that the best sauces will complement the meat, but not overpower it. Mixing the wrong sauce can lead to a disappointing set of flavors. Finding the right combination doesn’t have to be difficult, though.

For barbecue enthusiasts struggling to find their perfect pair, the featured resource accompanying this post is meant to end this search. Even those beginner enthusiasts who may not know any better can benefit from the information in the resource. Hard hitting decisions between acidic or sweet, or mild and spicy are addressed and resolved. Most importantly, the resource will detail a number of the best meat and sauce combinations and variations of these combinations.

While the resource will help, it’s fairly difficult to say that one sauce belongs strictly to one meat. Preferences ranging as wide as they do will leave some barbecue enthusiasts loving unorthodox combinations. The best way to accommodate to these preferences for your family or guests is by providing them with multiple sauce options to choose from. Just try to avoid offering conflicting flavors as best as you can.

Here are a few tips to remember before pairing your sauces and your meats:

  • The sauce does not make the meat. Proper preparation and cooking execution will trump any flavors a sauce can provide to meat. Master your barbecuing skills, sauce knowledge will come along the way.
  • Variety is the spice of life and the spice of barbecue. Leave your comfort zone and try new flavors. You never know, you may come across a new favorite.
  • Local barbecue establishments are the best testing grounds. Not only do these restaurants specialize in barbecue, they likely also offer blends of their own sauce for sale.

For more tips and tricks regarding pairing your sauces and barbecue meats, be sure to review the infographic coupled alongside this post. Courtesy of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants.


Written by Phillipa

I am a mother to two gorgeous twin girls and wife to a wonderful man who serves our country. I love to cook and am fortunate enough to be able to dedicate my life to my art. A healthy lifestyle is the best lifestyle and I can show you how.