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Best BBQ sauces 2023: Bring the flavour to your plate with BBQ sauce

Not just a marinade for grilling, the best BBQ sauces will elevate even the simplest dishes into a culinary delight

Whether it’s for adding a dollop to your fry-up, marinating your meats or for dunking your chips, BBQ sauce is pretty much a staple condiment in most of our kitchens. Offering more tang and spice than regular ketchup, a BBQ sauce promises to liven up even the most boring of foods. And it isn’t only an option in barbeque season; BBQ sauce is a condiment that works all year round.

However, if it’s too sugary or lacks oomph then one dollop alone could ruin a meal. To ensure that doesn’t happen, we’ve taste tested a range of BBQ sauces on the market to bring you the definitive list of BBQ sauces to try. From low-sugar sauces, to spicy varieties and those made with all-natural ingredients, there’s a BBQ sauce for all tastes. However, if you’re a BBQ sauce newbie, then read our guide first on how to pick the best BBQ sauce for you.

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Best BBQ sauces: At a glance

How to choose the best BBQ sauce for you

What is BBQ sauce made of?

Each brand will vary but the standard BBQ sauce recipe usually consists of classic tomato as a base and then items such as vinegar, mustard, liquid smoke and black pepper (to bring that famous kick of spice) and sugar (or a sugar substitute) to deliver that contrasting sweetness of which we can’t get enough.

READ NEXT: The best vegan cheese for your summer BBQ

What can you use BBQ sauce with?

BBQ sauce is really a great kitchen staple with its versatility a key selling point.

Let’s start with the obvious: BBQ sauce is great for marinating all kinds of meats (whether you’re popping them in the oven or firing up the grill), while also being pretty addictive as a dipping sauce for things like chips. It’s perfect for breakfast, too: whether that’s a sausage bap or a full fry-up.

However, there’s many more ways that BBQ sauce can tantalise your tastebuds: use it in your slow cooker to make the perfect BBQ ribs; or even swap out your usual pizza base tomato sauce for a smoky option.

Is BBQ sauce healthy?

Like most condiments and sauces, it depends on the brand you opt for. BBQ sauce can be high in sugar and salt (which is kind of what makes it so delicious!), but there are “low sugar” varieties available. A little BBQ sauce goes a long way, too, so it should be okay when used in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

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The best BBQ sauces you can buy in 2023

1. Real Good Smoked BBQ Sauce: Best low-sugar BBQ sauce

Price: £3 | Buy now from Ocado

Real Good Ketchup is made in the UK. It’s a condiment brand that’s on a mission to make amazing products using plant-based ingredients and which contain less sugar. And when it comes to the latter, the brand says this sauce offers 60% less sugar than other sweet BBQ sauces, making it ideal for families who are worried about their children’s sugar intake.

It’s a smoky sauce that doesn’t quite capture the full flavour of traditional barbecue sauce, but is ideal for those who prefer a milder BBQ flavour. Unlike some brands, it isn’t too overpowering in spice either, which means it was a hit with our toddler. Made with allergen-free ingredients, it arrives in a recyclable plastic bottle (which uses 40% upcycled material) that’s super-easy to squeeze. A great buy that will work for all the family.

Key specs – Size: 485g; Style: Squeezy; Vegan? Yes; Gluten free? Yes

Buy now from Ocado

2. Wilkin & Sons Ltd Tiptree Barbecue Sauce: Best natural BBQ sauce

Price: £2.45 | Buy now from Ocado

Tiptree Barbecue Sauce is made with natural ingredients from Tiptree Farm in Essex. The brand itself has a long, prestigious history: it’s been making preserves since 1885, and it even has a Royal Warrant. This sauce is made with completely natural ingredients (such as red peppers, garlic puree and chili puree) in small batches, in traditional copper-bottomed pans. The quality of ingredients shine through, with a sauce that’s on the fruitier side. It has a similar texture to ketchup, thanks to its tomato and pepper base, and proved super-versatile, faring equally well with burgers, fry-ups and dipping chips.

Key specs – Size: 310g; Style: Glass bottle; Vegan? No; Gluten free? Yes

Buy now from Ocado

3. Tropical Sun Jerk BBQ Sauce: Best spicy BBQ sauce

Price: £1.79 | Buy now from Tropical Sun

For those who like to walk on the spicier side of life, this sauce gives traditional barbecue a makeover by adding in fruits and specific herbs and spices that are a perfect marinade for making jerk chicken. Thicker in texture than most on the list, its spicy aroma hits you immediately on opening the lid. Although mild on initial taste, the chili delivers its kick soon after at the back of your throat. Not for the faint-hearted, if you love your barbecue sauce with a bit of oomph then this one certainly won’t disappoint.

Key specs – Size: 285g; Style: Choice of glass bottle or squeezy plastic bottle; Vegan? No; Gluten free? Yes

Buy now from Tropical Sun

4. Sticky Barbecue Sauce: Best all-round BBQ sauce

Price: £4 | Buy now from Tracklements

Tracklements offers a smoky-sweet barbecue sauce that has quite a thin, runny texture. As such, it lends itself well to marinades – although perhaps it isn’t as great for a dip for your chips. Including both cider vinegar and malt vinegar, this one packs a tangy punch that’s in nice contrast to the raw cane sugar.

Combining smoky chipotle chilli with Mexican honey, we’ve found ourselves regularly adding a glug to slow-cooker chicken and pulled pork. If you’re not a fan of particularly sweet BBQ sauces, then this one might go down a treat.

Key specs – Size: 230ml; Style: Glass bottle; Vegan? No; Gluten free? No

Buy now from Tracklements

5. F&Co Barbecue Sauce: Best-tasting BBQ Sauce

Price: £6.95 | Buy now from Farmison & Co

Whilst £7 may seem a little on the pricey side for a kitchen condiment, this BBQ sauce had us hooked after just one serving. With good reason, too: it’s actually created by Michelin-starred chef, Jeff Baker. It strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savoury; the balsamic vinegar offers sharpness without being too sour while a pinch of sugar brings sweetness without going over the top. Also including ingredients such as cinnamon and ginger, this sauce was our favourite for marinating meats; its price point means it’s best used for creating a special dish rather than as an everyday condiment.

Key specs – Size: 250g; Style: Glass bottle; Vegan? Yes; Gluten free? Yes

Buy now from Farmison & Co

6. The Smoky BBQ Virtually Zero Calorie Skinny Sauce: Best low-calorie BBQ sauce

Price: £3.99 | Buy now from The Skinny Food Co

Read the statements on the front of the packaging (which include “gluten free”, “zero dairy”, “fat free”, “vegan-friendly” and more), and you’d be forgiven for questioning how on earth this could replicate the sweet and earthy notes of barbecue sauce. Compared to the other condiments that feature on this list, it doesn’t quite live up for taste and it’s a tad on the sweet side. However, if weight-loss is your mission, then it does a decent job to liven up lower calorie dishes – a 10ml serving of this sauce contains 0g of fat and sugar and very few calories.

Note, though, that it does rely on more processed ingredients such as sweeteners, preservatives and caramel colours to do this, so it won’t be to everyone’s liking.

Key specs – Size: 425ml; Style: Plastic bottle; Vegan? Yes; Gluten free? Yes

Buy now from The Skinny Food Co

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