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The Best Store Bought BBQ Sauce for Summer

- Written by on May 13th 2015

Summer and BBQ go hand in hand. Barbecue chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, a slab of barbecue ribs. Add a side of fresh corn on the cob and a slice of watermelon for dessert and you've probably got the most summery meal you could have. Even vegans and vegetarians can enjoy this essential summertime condiment with grilled BBQ tofu or veggie burgers with BBQ sauce.

As we discovered with our posts about the best store bought salsa and alfredo sauce, the quality of store bought BBQ sauces varies considerably from brand to brand. Depending on whether the most important thing to you is taste, high quality ingredients, healthiness, or some combination, we have some recommendations for the best store bought BBQ sauce.

Low Sugar BBQ Sauce

If you're watching your sugar intake, you definitely want to pay attention when choosing condiments. Some common BBQ sauce brands contain as much as 16 grams of sugar in just 2 tablespoons of sauce! There are brands using artificial sweeteners to cut sugar out of their products, and if you don't have a problem with consuming these sweeteners, they can be a good option.

A few no to low sugar brands include Guy's Award Winning BBQ Sauce, G Hughes Smokehouse, and Walden Farms. Walden Farms is probably the easiest to find in stores, but it can also be ordered on Amazon.

Walden Farms Barbecue Sauce - Original

  • 0 grams of sugar
  • fairly positively received on Amazon
  • somewhat misleading with its 0 calorie advertising - it has calories once you go over 2 tablespoons!
  • some reviewers found it too runny

Low Sodium BBQ Sauce

Store bought products almost always contain more sodium than their homemade counterparts. With a typical serving size (according to the Nutrition Facts label) of just 2 tablespoons, it is easy to go way overboard on sodium if you're using a BBQ sauce brand that contains 8, 10, even 13% of your daily sodium allowance in this little amount!

The lowest sodium store bought option we found is Jim Beam brand barbecue sauce, which contains 120mg sodium (5% of your daily allowance) per serving. Since that isn't such a small amount, you should really look through some homemade BBQ sauce recipes and consider making your own. Note: the nutritional information on spoonacular, including sodium content, it only an estimate and MAY contain errors. Please consult with a nutritionist if you have a medical condition and need help finding suitable recipes.

Jim Beam Spicy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

  • less sodium and sugar than many store bought brands
  • contains artificial flavors and preservatives
  • not suitable for kids (contains bourbon)

Organic and Gluten Free BBQ Sauce

If you're looking for a certified organic BBQ sauce, the brand Annie's Homegrown makes 4 sauces you could try: original, hot chipotle, sweet & spicy, and smokey maple. As you would expect from organic products, these BBQ sauces have relatively clean ingredient lists. They are also vegan, gluten free, and lower in sugar than most other brands without using artificial sweeteners.

Annie’s Original BBQ Sauce

  • lower in sugar than many brands (4 grams per serving)
  • certified organic, vegan, AND gluten free
  • less popular in taste tests

Best-Tasting Store Bought BBQ Sauce

Bull's-Eye Original gets a lot of love from online taste tests, such as those conducted by Serious Eats, Thrillist, and Rachael Ray magazine. However, the ingredient list shows it is pretty heavy on the high fructose corn syrup (which explains the 12 grams of sugar in 2 tablespoons):

high fructose corn syrup, tomato puree (water, tomato paste), vinegar, molasses, modified food starch, apple cider vinegar, contains less than 2% of salt, honey, natural smoke flavor, mustard flour, spice, dried onions, potassium sorbate (to preserve freshness), dried garlic

Bull's Eye BBQ Sauce

  • popular in taste tests
  • high fructose corn syrup, 12 grams of sugar per serving

That said, Stubb's also fared well in those taste tests, yet looks a bit better ingredient-wise:

water, tomato paste, cane sugar, distilled vinegar, molasses, tapioca dextrin, salt, brown sugar, spices, non-GMO corn starch, Contains less than 0.5% of: onion, paprika, garlic, chile powder, natural smoke flavor, guar gum, xanthan gum, corn syrup, tamarind

It also has a quarter of the sugar!

Stubb's Original Bar-B-Q Sauce

  • gluten free, only 4 grams of sugar per serving
  • pretty clean ingredient list
  • solid performer in online taste tests

We feel confident that Stubb's has the overall best store bought BBQ sauce, especially if you want to keep your barbecuing a little on the health-conscious side without losing any of that authentic barbecue flavor.


Crystal Schlegelmilch

Written by on May 13th 2015

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