Tasting Barbecue Sauces

In trying to find the top five barbecue sauces, we put our favorites on a list to try, added others we had read awesome things about, and went to HEB and picked up a basket of sauces to try (along with other snacks to dip them in). We set some rules in selecting sauces -- if it was from a Texas barbecue chain, it went in the basket. Products had to be under $4, and they had to be of some traditional flavor (no mango sauces). The taste test was for straight-out-of-the-bottle sauce. After recruiting a handful of hungry friends, our experiment was ready to go.

The contenders - in no particular order:

  • Stubb's Smoky Mesquite BBQ sauce
  • Salt Lick Original Recipe sauce
  • Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse
  • Head Country Original BBQ Sauce
  • Cattleman's Award Winning Classic Sauce
  • Argia B's Mumbo Sauce, Hickory Smoke Flavor
  • Bullseye Guinness Draught Beer Blend
  • Sweet Baby Ray's Original Sauce
  • Jack Daniel's Original #7 Recipe
  • HEB Brand Carolina Specialty Series BBQ sauce
  • The results, after the jump.

    5. Bullseye - Some comments: "too fake" and "sweet, ugh!"

    4. Sweet Baby Ray's - We think that the other flavors are better than the original, but it still ranked well. Comments ranged from "kinda bland" and "ketchup?" to kudos on the hint of tamarind in the flavor.

    3. and 2. Jack Daniel's and HEB Carolina, tie - Jack Daniel's pulled in awesome comments like "gross" and "too sweet," while the HEB sauce got a "this is my most favorite ever," and a "does this have horseradish in it?"

    1. Head Country Original Recipe BBQ Sauce - This sauce was the winner, by a full 5 points (we used a point system to be fair). It's from Oklahoma, but we've seen it around the Rodeo Championship BBQ tents over the last few years (we admit to being brave enough to steal tons of sample packets after a few drinks). It was called a little bland by some folks -- "is this cocktail sauce?" -- but like most of these sauces, it tastes killer on your favorite smoky meats.

    We were pretty surprised by the results, as were our taste-testers, but the numbers don't lie. Perhaps things would be different once they were heated up on some meats. What are your favorite sauces?

    KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
    Becky Means