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BBQ Sauce Taste Off: Store Bought or Homemade?

| Wednesday August 29, 201214 comments

August is coming to an end, but we think we've still got a few weeks of excellent BBQ weather left. Plus, who says there has to be a rule about when and where you have to BBQ? We say BBQ'ing is always a good idea. All year round and no matter what the weather! So when the lovely Lisa, who you might remember as the author of the Rice Pudding and Pancake Taste Offs asked if she could stop by and organize a little BBQ sauce taste test for us at CA HQ, we immediately said, 'Um, YES!'. 

She came by with four sauces for us to test out: one homemade and three store bought sauces (Irresistibles [a generic, store brand], Bull's Eye and McDonald's BBQ sauce). We did a blind taste test and voted to see which one we liked best. 

I'll turn it over to her to let you in on our taste off results! 


A: Irresitables, B: Bull's Eye, C: Homemade, D: McDonalds

The Results:


The homemade barbecue sauce and the Irresistables barbecue sauce had very similar taste profiles. In fact, some taste testers actually thought that the Irresistables barbecue sauce was the homemade one! People could generally recognize the Bull’s Eye barbecue sauce because of its dark color. 

The results of the taste test demonstrated that barbecue sauce can be a very personal preference. Some people preferred a strong smoky flavour whereas some people preferred sweet or spicy. No wonder there are so many different varieties of barbecue sauce available (chipotle, chicken and rib, smoky, hot and spicy to name a few). The general consensus from the taste test was that people preferred the sweeter tasting sauce to go with chicken and the darker, more smoky sauce to go with beef or ribs. None of the barbecue sauces were really voted as being better or worse - just different. 

Overall, store bought barbecue sauce tastes just as good as homemade (and costs pretty much the same). Making barbecue sauce from scratch really pays off if you have a top notch secret recipe or need very large quantities (think restaurant scale). But for the home cook, you’re better off going out and buying a jar of your favourite barbecue sauce. You can switch up the flavour depending on whether you feel like smokey, spicy, chicken, beef or ribs and won’t be stuck with a large vat of sauce that you need to use up.


However, if you are interested in making your own barbecue (because it is kind of fun and it makes a great host/hostess gift), here is a good recipe you can try:


2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground mace
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
a pinch of ground cloves
3 cups water
3 cups light corn syrup
3/4 cup cider vinegar
4 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
6 Tbsp dark molasses
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup Dijon mustard


Directions:
Combine the salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, black pepper, sugar, red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano, ginger, mace, allspice, cayenne, and cloves. Set aside.

In a 4 to 6 quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the water and corn syrup and bring to the barest simmer, stirring occasionally. Whisking constantly, add the dry spice seasoning mixture to the pan along with the vinegar. Continuing to whisk, add the tomato paste and cook for 4 minutes. Add the molasses, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and mustard and whisk to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon, about 25 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to jars with tight-fitting lids and refrigerate for up to 3 months. 

Recipe via Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook  

Once you've made your very own BBQ sauce, check out these drool-worthy recipes that you can make with it.  


(clockwise from top left) BBQ Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños, BBQ Hoecakes (aka Pancakes), BBQ Eggplant Tacos, BBQ Chicken Thighs

Do you have a favourite BBQ recipe? Be sure to read up our BBQ Fruit and Veggies, Hamburger and Hotdog round ups for more foodie inspiration! 

Additional Photos by Liz Yeung
Lisa is a dietitian, food lover and blogger. Check out her other taste tests on confessionsofadietitian.com
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14 Comments

on September 29, 2014  brit_tany33  5,939 said:

YUM! I love home made BBQ sauces!

on August 31, 2012  Cassie_  2,311 said:

Sweet! I bet its so much healthier than store bought

on August 30, 2012  annmarie  4,246 said:

yummy. mouth so watering for the bbq bacon wrapped jalapenos.

on August 30, 2012  Jessi  5,641 said:


I have tried making my own but I still prefer the "Diana" brand BBQ sauces. I use them for everything! Makes a mouth watering BBQ chicken pizza and top it off with ranch sauce..... to die for!!!

on August 30, 2012  shanaz  5,826 said:

I don't have a favorite BBQ recipe, although I LOVE Diana's ready-made BBQ sauce. It is the right balance between sweet and savoury!

on August 30, 2012  JustUsGirls  3,248 said:

I just recently started making my own bbq sauce and absolutely love it! It's more fresh and I love that I know everything that's going into it. These pics look delish!

on August 30, 2012  shagtownlady  9,133 said:


Mm those bacon wrapped jalapenos! I'm interested in making bbq sauce from scratch, but we definitely have a few store bought favourites - the Smokin Stampede from PC, Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory Brown Sugar, Diana and of course Bulls Eye (we really love to barbecue around here lol).

on August 29, 2012  Bren  24,585 said:

Oh my!those barbecue hoecakes sound so good!I love making homemade sauce with chipolte it has such a nice smokey flavor with some heat..

on August 29, 2012  KatelynRose1984  20,704 said:

I make an amazing barbecue sauce. The recipe has been passed down for generations, so I can't share the recipe, unfortunately. But, I definitely love homemade BBQ sauce over store bought.

on August 29, 2012  no1-mom  1,031 said:

Ooooo what yummy looking food! Looks really good......where did you get the recipe from? I use The Jack Daniels BBQ cookbook when trying a new taste for the BBQ. Thanks for sharing! Just might try it! Yumm!

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