06 August 2008

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce

I thought it would be fun, and maybe beneficial, to take a look at some sauces that are widely available in supermarkets. One that I've always been curious about is Sweet Baby Ray's. It has kind of a plain looking label, which is intriguing to me. Also, I like the name.

For the most part, any time I buy barbecue sauce from the grocery store, I have low expectations. Barbecue sauces produced for the masses tend to have very little depth of flavor, relying instead on liquid smoke and pedal-to-the-metal sweetness. They all seem to be variations of KC Masterpiece, which has, for all intents and purposes, become the archetype of barbecue sauce in mainstream America.

On the surface, Sweet Baby Ray's in no exception. It is an unabashedly Kansas City style sauce - thick and dark, sweet and smoky. However, I found the sweetness to be lighter and more playful than the cloying assault normally associated with mass-marketed barbecue sauce. It has no spiciness to speak of, but there is plenty of smoke flavor. And a refreshing bit of vinegar twang rounds things out.

All in all, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised. This is not a bad barbecue sauce at all. In fact, it is actually better than some of the highfalutin' sauces we have examined here. If you must buy barbecue sauce at a grocery store, Sweet Baby Ray's is not a bad way to go.

Grade: B


Unknown said...

I was at Publix and an older lady asked me if I knew anything about bbq sauce. I kinda laughed and I tried to help her. She was looking at some Hunts bbq sauce, and I recommended Sweet Baby Rays. However, she just wanted to know if the Hunts sauce was spicy or not.

She ended up buying some Hunts original because it was $0.88 per bottle.

Terry (aka) Big Daddy said...

Got to love Hunts. Our parents grew up with this stuff. At the time, that was the only sauce around.

That's all my dad ever used. When I started cooking, I used it myself until I found a whole new world of bbq sauce.

Hot damn, I thought to myself with this new insight, the rest is history...

Love the sauce reviews and the posts boys.

Keep up the good work.


Unknown said...

Have you tried making your own BBQ sauce? Its a wonderful experience to savor your own sauce, especially if you have a ready-made guide to make things easy. Check out The Mantuary for a great article.