13 Best BBQ Sauce Brands, From Kansas City-Style to Alabama White

Nothing gets me craving sticky barbecue sauce-coated chicken thighs or pulled pork like a warm evening. There’s just something about the heat—maybe it’s the near-constant earthy aroma of other grills at work—that screams "slather everything in barbecue sauce"! And it’s a year-round favorite too—barbecue is just as much of a welcome addition to a Super Bowl spread as it is a summer cookout. Apparently, other food writers and chefs think so too, so I asked some to tell me about their favorites.

So what exactly qualifies as “good” barbecue sauce? First and foremost, it must be flavorful and representative of the regional style. A Kansas City-style barbecue sauce will not taste or look like an Alabama White sauce in any way. KC barbecue sauce will be a perfectly balanced sweet and spicy sauce; you should taste equal hints of brown sugar, black pepper, and a little bit of tang from apple cider vinegar. It should be thick enough that you can baste ribs or toss pulled pork with it using equal ease. Alabama White sauce should be thick, tangy, and creamy, thanks to a combination of mayonnaise, vinegar, and pepper. Head over to the Carolinas and you’ll find two more styles of sauce—Carolina Gold, which is a mustard-based sauce popular in South Carolina, and a tangy, vinegar-based sauce known as Lexington-Style Sauce.