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Hot Sauce Taste Test

Hot Sauce Taste Test

We love hot sauce. Hot sauce is probably the quickest way to add flavor and heat to any dish, and what’s great about it is that you can put it on pretty much anything. Chicken, eggs, even popcorn are all improved with a dash of some good hot sauce. After all, who likes bland, flavorless foods? No one, that’s who.

Click here for the Hot Sauce Taste Test (Slideshow)

But the thing about hot sauces is that there are so many of them, in so many different varieties. How is anyone to choose between the dozens of bottles on the grocery store shelf? There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a hot sauce, and so we asked our staff to brave the heat and try 11 hot sauces to choose the best one.

The main criteria for our hot sauce taste test were flavor, heat, and smell. What we really were looking for in a top hot sauce was one that had a good balance. Too often do we find a hot sauce that is way too spicy, but not flavorful enough, or one that tastes less like hot sauce due to the lack of, well, heat. And sometimes, hot sauces just smell too unappetizing to even be tasted.

So with those criteria in mind, we had our staff blindly taste all 11 hot sauces and rank them from best to worst. We kept the identities of the hot sauces secret during the test because hot sauce is one of those foods whose brands spark intense loyalty in people, and we didn’t want that interfering. Don’t worry, though, there was milk on hand for when things got a little too hot. Eventually, a clear winner emerged from the rest, while others failed to impress. Keep reading to find out which hot sauce you should rush out to buy, and which ones you should avoid.

11. Da’ Bomb Beyond Insanity

This hot sauce was described by one of our staff as “smoky murder,” and we think that’s a pretty accurate description. It’s made with a combination of habanero and chipotle peppers, but it tastes more like a bottle-full of the fires of hell. Another editor claimed that one dot of Da’ Bomb “scorched my whole heart,” and the truth is Da’ Bomb is just way too hot. You can’t taste anything after you have it, which isn’t exactly what a hot sauce should do. It “kills taste buds,” as one of our staff said. Seriously, approach this hot sauce with extreme caution.

10. Pickapeppa Sauce

This sauce fell to the bottom of the list for pretty much not tasting like a hot sauce at all. One of our staff described it as “spicy Worcestershire,” and many thought that it lacked any heat at all. The smell of it also was a little too much for some of us. We think we might use Pickapeppa for marinades, but not as a hot sauce.

Click here to find out which hot sauce is the best of them all


Team Taste Test Series: Hot Sauce Edition August 29, 2015

All work and no play makes HelloFresh dull! So this Thursday we put our computers down for a bit and integrated our passions for food and games into a team taste test. This will be the first of many in a series of taste tests and today’s spotlight is a fan favorite- HOT SAUCE.

Is hot sauce the only thing you’re brand loyal to? Do you add it to everything? Do you keep a mini supply in your pocket to bust out at restaurants? It turns out most of our team members would answer “yes” to all three of those questions.

Name: Matt F.
Fun Fact: When I was 23, I started a hummus company Cool Beans. My favorite flavor was Taco Chili, our spiciest hummus!


Name: Donna
Fun Fact: I love baking with excessive amounts of butter!

Name: Gregory
Fun Fact: I can only eat food that is medium to lukewarm in temperature.

Name: James
Fun Fact:
I’m deathly allergic to shellfish, but I don’t carry an Epi Pen #LivingLifeOnTheEdge

Name: Jordan
Fun Fact: One time, I drank a coffee mug of liquefied butter for $30.

Name: Matt M.
Fun Fact: Olives are the one food that I don’t like, but wish I could like.

And let’s meet the Hot Sauce contestants!

The indisputable favorites in every American household, the race is mostly between these three contenders: Cholula, Tabasco, and Frank’s. We put these brands to the test and got some interesting feedback from our judges. We had each judge try them one at a time without knowing which was which. After much deliberation, here are the key takeaways:

James: “It’s sweet rather than spicy. I could rinse my eyes with this, it’s not hot”

Donna: It has a barbeque type-taste, not as much spice.”

Jordan: “There’s a definite tang to it that sits on the pallet and resonates.”

Matt F: “I know this is Tobasco. I hate Tobasco. I like the secondary line of their flavors better.”

Donna: “Tastes peppery, no?”

Matt M: “Be original, Donna.”

James: “Oh man! Deceptively spicy. It lingers…I would put this on eggs.”

Greg: “That’s my favorite. Oh yea…there’s the heat.”

Matt F: “Oh I effing love it. I look uncomfortable when I eat it but I can’t stop.”

Donna: “It has a fruity taste, with veggie undertones…”

Matt M: (dipping) “Here’s to being very sick later!”

Jordan: “Evenly distributed low-grade heat. I would baste my wings in this all day.”

James: “I taste celery, is that weird?”

Ultimately, what we all agreed upon through further discussion, was that each one of these hot sauce flavors has their place. Tobasco is meant for Mexican food and eggs, apparently. Frank’s is the go-to for wings, and the most common to keep around the house. Cholula has a milder taste more suited for the general public not ready for a true kick.

As a special bonus this week, one of our team members has generously shared his special simple & delicious Wing Sauce recipe. This one is straight from the kitchen of a HelloFresher so you know it’s good!


Test Kitchen Favorite Hot Sauces

We're hot sauce fiends here in the test kitchen. Not in the hotter-the-better sense&mdashafter all, we still need to be able to taste the recipes that we're featuring in the magazine. But we love the nuanced flavors that a good hot sauce can give to a dish, while adding, of course, some tongue-tingling spice.

In our opinion, you can't just go dousing your food willy-nilly. Certain sauces pair best with particular foods, and of course, we each have our favorites:

Marie Sharp's Hot Sauce

Despite habañeros being among the hotter chiles available to us, this habañero sauce from Belize is on the milder side of fiery and has an unusual carrot base. Jessica's brother Matt introduced her to it&mdashhe buys it by the case! Matt loves it on an egg-and-french-fry concoction he used to eat when he lived in Tanzania, while Jess splashes some on breakfast burritos.

Chili garlic sauce & Hot black bean sauce

These Chinese sauces are thicker than your typical hot sauce, often with the coarsely ground chiles more in evidence. They're great stirred into soups or stir-fries. Genevieve uses the black bean sauce in noodle dishes (her preferred brand's translated name: Sichuan Spicy Sauce Chongqing ShanCheng Hot Black Bean Sauce, but just look for the red and yellow jar with the chef on the label), while I love mixing Lan Chi's chili garlic sauce with soy and rice vinegar-it's phenomenal for dipping dumplings.

There's a whole wide world of flavorful hot sauces out there - if you're a newbie looking for something to pep up your meal, or a hot head who wants to branch out, there's no better way than to get out there and taste - but make sure to have some crackers on hand!

Want to see how we decide which hot sauce to use in a recipe? Come for a tour of the Good Housekeeping Institute.


Asian hot sauce taste test


The contenders. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

The Sriracha shortage scare of 2013 turned out not to be the Srirachapocalypse that fans of the Huy Fong (a.k.a. “rooster”) chili sauce had feared. Despite the averted crisis, we decided to hedge our bets and sample a few other varieties of Asian hot sauces from stores in the Washington area, including Steven Kim’s KimKim sauce — which, let’s put it out there, is not pretending to be a Sriracha usurper.

Fortified with water and saltines, Food section staff members rated sauces for flavor and level of heat, using a rating scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the best).

Here’s how they ranked, in order of preference.

Huy Fong Sriracha Chili Sauce (17 ounces, $4.69). Average score: 3.8. Comments: “tangy, hints of garlic” “pleasant!” “very strong aroma, off-putting” “fruity” “bland, comparatively.”

Sriraja Panich Chilli Sauce
(8.8 ounces, $1.79). 3.4. “Mild at first, pleasant aftertaste” “classic tasting” “spicy but not painful” “a tad musty, but sourness is good, too” “little sweet, fruity.”

KimKim Korean Hot Sauce
(16 ounces, $6.99). 3.2. “Heavy sesame-oil taste” “more spicy complexity than heat” “touch of sweet smoke, tastes handmade” “a little tangy, sort of Asian-soy flavor.”

Kikkoman Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (10.6 ounces, $2.99). 2.8. “Too hot for me — I taste nothing” “fermented flavors, a little funk. Complex” “not much aroma!” “icky — barbecue-ish.”

Kim Tu Thap Sriracha Chili Sauce (28 ounces, $2.99) 2.2. “Pretty darn hot” “very ugly color, neon orange, unnatural” “like it’s gone off” “strong, not entirely positive smell.”

Thai Taste Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (15.23 ounces, $3.49): 1.4. “Cardboardy, thin, bad syrupy consistency” “meh” “kinda fishy” “a little vegetal.”


I’m Mr. Hot Sauce: Taste-Testing The Killers’ Hot Sauce

Jealousy, turning sauce into the heat
Swimming through hot sauce supplies
Choking on your hot sauce fries
But it’s just the price I pay!
Hot sauce is now calling me!
Open up my eager eyes!
‘Cause I’m Mr. Hot Sauce!

Yes, what you’ve assumed from that hot sauce-themed parody of “Mr. Brightside” that I myself composed is correct: the Killers have released a line of hot sauces, and no — I do not know why. Here’s how the Killers explain it on their hot sauce website:

First of all, thank you for getting involved with our hot sauce! We’ve been involved, with the idea at least, for years. You might say starting the band was just a means to make hot sauce. Yeah, it’s that good. Hotter than Vegas, and with four tasty flavors, it’s more than we thought we’d pull off, to be honest.

Made by hand, in small batches using only the finest ingredients like aged chilis, habanero peppers, cayenne peppers, hickory-smoked sea salt, and a dash of real sin from Las Vegas to make this most fabulous hot sauce on the market. So get ready, folks. Oblige your senses and pair with your favorite food and Killers records. DO IT! Your pals in music and sauce.

First of all, you’re welcome! And, okay, here are the facts we have related to why the Killers have made hot sauce:

Fair enough. Also on the site, the Killers suggest their hot sauce functions as somewhat of a live music alternative during the COVID-19 era, saying: “We aren’t seeing you on tour but it tastes like we sound.”

An interesting concept. But does it taste like they sound? Let’s find out by taste testing each of the four hot sauces contained in their hot sauce bundle, which comes in a cardboard boombox that confused me greatly before I realized it contained hot sauce.

Description: “With aged cayenne peppers and a touch of sea salt, this is the perfect tangy Louisiana hot sauce that goes well on everything.”

My tasting notes: It occurred to me immediately when undergoing this taste test that I did not know how to taste test hot sauce, so I Googled “how to taste test hot sauce” and the internet told me to do it with cheese. Okay. So I sipped a bit of the hot sauce alone, and then tried a bit with cheese. This one tasted, to me, like wing sauce. What’s interesting is that apparently this is incorrect there is a hot sauce the Killers recommend for wings, and it is not this one. I’m not sure if the fault is with me or the Killers.

The Killers parody that it inspires:

Well somebody told me
You aren’t a wing sauce
But you taste like wing sauce
That I had at some point, I’m sure, in last year
It’s not confidential, you are apparently just a tangy Louisiana hot sauce that goes well on everything

Does it taste like hot sauce, or how the Killers sound?: Hot sauce.

Fire In Bone

Description: “This is our verde hot sauce with fresh jalapenos, serrano, and cilantro, along with freshly dried garlic, onions, and hatch green chilis.”

My personal hot sauce tasting notes: In my taste test I found that this was clearly the sort of sauce that the description said it is. Good job to the Killers. My note was “green peppers, use on eggs.” To be honest, all of these hot sauces are pretty good and I will continue to eat them this one in particular I will use on top of eggs.

The Killers parody that it inspires:

I wanna verde, fresh jalapeno!
You know, serrano, you don’t, cilantro
I want dried garlic, in the hearts of onion
I-want-a-meaning-from-the-back-of-my-hatch-green-chilis

Does it taste like hot sauce, or how the Killers sound?: Hot sauce.

Description: “Hickory-smoked sea salt, habanero, hatch, tellicherry peppers, fresh dried garlic, onion, and a little brown sugar.”

My tasting notes: The Killers note that Caution is “Brandon’s favorite,” and isn’t that nice for Caution? (Other Killers members do not get a favorite.) I would say that I either agree with Brandon or slightly disagree. I think maybe the next one is “Kelly’s favorite,” but this one is pretty good. My tasting notes were “black pepper, chili.” During this hot sauce taste test I got a new appreciation for when on Top Chef they have to do blind taste test challenges. It always looked easy to me, but it’s actually hard.

The Killers parody that it inspires:

They say that Brandon’s favorite, it ain’t so sweet
It is actually hot sauce
But you can dip your cheese
Every once in a little while…

Does it taste like hot sauce, or how the Killers sound?: Hot sauce.

Description: “Ghost pepper (in abundance), habanero, and hatch chili take this sauce to another level!”

My tasting notes: The Killers write that this is the spiciest of their hot sauces, and in my taste test I agreed, noting: “smoky, spicy.” This is also the one they tell you to put on wings, writing: “Pro tip: this makes an amazing wing sauce. Add a 50/50 of Blowback and honey. It’s epic!” I’m sure it’s epic but I have to say that first one is just regular wing sauce and this one, while perhaps also a sauce you can use on wings, is not. I hope the Killers are reading this.

The Killers parody that it inspires:

Ghost pepper in abundance …
Ghost pepper in abundance …
Ghost pepper in abundance …
Ghost pepper in abundance …

Does it taste like hot sauce, or how the Killers sound?: How the Killers sound. Just kidding, hot sauce.

So I suppose what we’ve found is that the hot sauce tastes not like how the Killers sound, which for the record is good, but instead like hot sauce, which for the record is also good. Fantastic. A proud day for both the Killers and hot sauce in general. I wish the band lots of luck on this endeavor which, as we know, they have been involved with the idea of for years.


Chaza Bros Southern Hot Sauce Taste Test

“Where is the Chaza?” That is a question that I didn’t think I’d ask in my home. I know sauce. I know spice. I have extensive knowledge of ingredients and don’t need any help in the condiment department, thankyouverymuch. I’m also a hot sauce loyalist. Do NOT sit between me and my Valentina. While I’ll try anything once, I will still have my favorites.

However. When we got the chance to try Chaza Bros Southern Hot Sauce, I was open, but not so sure that I’d like them nearly as much as our old standards. Before long, I was meal planning with the anticipation of using Chaza on various meals. First, I tried it in a chicken soup. Next, scrambled eggs. I needed it on my breakfast burrito. Grilled pork loin. Then Spanish rice. My next go to will be to incorporate it into my deviled egg recipe. What was born in the kitchen of Sara and Matt Grow of Raleigh has taught me that the savory combo of vinegar, mustard, tamarind and brown sugar could be a perfect accompaniment to foods that don’t need to be hot, but ‘woken up’ in their words. The three recipes that they offer include habanero peppers, molasses, Carolina Reaper peppers and brown sugar.

Sara and Matt developed the recipe for friends and family gatherings, and were encouraged to bottle it before long. Inspired by their twin sons who have big personalities, they named them Chaza, a pet name for them for acting ‘spicy.’ I’ve learned something about myself, too–it’s that the perfect combination of ingredients might be around the corner, and sometimes a loyalist might need to realize that not all answers have been found yet. And that a refill of Chaza sauce is in order.


This flavorful sauce was a close second. Everyone agreed that it was the most unique of the bunch. It has a Mexican-style taste, and most folks said they noticed hints of cumin, garlic, and chili pepper. This hot sauce would be the perfect choice for tacos, fajitas, and tamales.

Coming in at third place was Frank&aposs Red Hot Sauce. This was a crowd favorite because it wasn&apost too hot, and the buffalo flavor was delicious without being overwhelming. Be sure to have this sauce on hand when preparing game-day food like wings, meatballs, and buffalo chicken dip.


Ashley Ellen Martin

Ashley is a certified sommelier and entrepreneur based in Toronto, Canada where she specializes in wine tasting workshops. She is fond of saying, wine, beer, and spirit is more than just what’s in the glass – it can be the stuff of legend and folklore, it’s language and geography, history, and science – and, it is with great pleasure that she has made telling these stories of provenance and production the focus of her career. You can follow her on Instagram or learn more about her workshops by clicking here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashlie Head

Ashlie Head is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a degree in English: Editing, Writing, and Media. She recently moved to New York City to begin her career. Ashlie is interested in music, lifestyle, fashion, and travel. Follow her on instagram: @ashliehead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashtin Berry

Ashtin Berry is what you would call a Champagne fiend with a scotch habit and a knack for ridiculous, but tasty pairings. Fried chicken and rosé Champagne will change your life! Trust her! She is working towards her WSET (Wine Spirit Education Trust) Diploma with the hopes of continuing on to become a Master of Wine. Follow her on Instagram @thecollectress as she collects experiences across the world and in your city!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Becca Yeamans-Irwin

Becca Yeamans has a Bachelor's of Science in Biology from Saint Michael's College in Colchester, VT, and a Masters of Science in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. She has extensive research experience as well as experience working in the wine industry. She is a freelance writer with a focus on wine science and research, and is the author/creator of the technical wine blog, The Academic Wino (www.academicwino.com). You may also follower her on twitter @TheAcademicWino.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Heskett

Ben is a technology marketing executive, award-winning former journalist, lifelong music fan, and wine adventurer, always willing to try something new. Inspired by the wine industry around him in California, he started www.CORKZILLA.com, a wine and music blog, in 2010. His Twitter handle is @corkzillasf.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bernard Kenner

Bernard Kenner is a freelance wine educator and writer. His interests are eclectic, becoming adept in wines from all over the globe, including Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Soviet Georgia, Mexico, Canada, Croatia, Lebanon, Israel, France, Germany, as well as many of the wine growing regions within the United States. When he finds something interesting to share with the world, his occasional writings can be found on isantemagazine.com, quiniwine.com and other outlets. In addition to writing, he happily hosts wine themed events such as bridal showers, birthday parties, industry and private tasting events, wine dinners and corporate team building sessions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill McMahon

Bill McMahon is a freelance writer, copywriter and content producer. He is the author of several published secondary level textbooks and teaching guides, as well as email copy, promotional materials, online content, blogs, and business communications. He is also a published and produced playwright, as well as a screenwriter. His sitcom pilot is in development with Kierstead Productions, and you can find more of his writing on his website www.storytellingcontent.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bozkurt Karasu

Bozkurt "Bozzy" Karasu (@bozkurtkarasu) moved to NYC in 2003 to join The Wooster Group as their Production Manager after working as a freelance performing arts production manager and designer in Istanbul, Turkey for 13 years. In 2012 he moved to Cambridge, MA this time to join Theater Arts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Technical Instructor. He regularly tastes whisk(e)y and blogs about it at tire-bouchon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Petro

Brian Petro, a native of the great state of Ohio, found himself in the town of Dayton after graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art. His path has wound through the design, education, and restaurant industries, all of them adding a little something to the overall flavor of his creative endeavors. The first time he stepped behind a bar, it felt like home. Ever since, he has absorbed all of the liquor knowledge he can find, from culture to history to recipes, and done his best to share what he knows with the world. Or, at least the readers of Dayton Most Metro, where he is the writer about all things cocktail. He also likes the word 'Brilliant'.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Taste Test: The Best BBQ Sauce You Can Buy

Barbecue sauce has zoomed from obscure to everywhere in the past few years, as more cooks discover the joy of cooking meats low and slow. Supermarket shelves are stocked with dozens of choices, ranging from old standbys like KC Masterpiece to sauces created by prize-winning pitmasters and Food Network stars (yes, Guy Fieri has a sauce line!). It&aposs great to have options, but so many selections can also be confusing. That&aposs why our Tasting Panel took up the challenge of naming the best tomato-based sauce in the land from a lineup that included widely available sauces as well as regional favorites.

Keeping Score

The samples were served "blind," which means the Tasting Panel didn&apost know which brand they were judging, just like in competition barbecue contests. The panel was asked to rate taste, color, and texture on a scale of 1 to 10. In competition, it&aposs common for winners to be separated by fractions, but this tasting yielded a clear winner.

The Grand Champ

Memphis-based Hog Wild came out on top, garnering glowing comments: "exotic and unexpected," "very balanced with a nice pop," and "delicious, balanced, nice acid, nice heat" -- though one skeptic pointed out that different isn&apost always better: "Nice, but not what I expected. Leaning towards a chutney but would be great on a non-traditional cut." The richness reminded one taster of bourbon and beef.

The sauce&aposs creator, Ernie Mellor, owns and operates Hog Wild and A Moveable Feast catering company and has competed at Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest for more than 25 years in the pork shoulder category. Shoulder cooked low-and-slow is a perfect partner for this complex sauce, along with grilled chicken and chops. It&aposs available in supermarkets around the South, and can also be ordered online.

The Runner Up

The Shed&aposs Original Southern Sweet impressed the panel with its versatility — "a sauce that could go on most meats" — and complex flavor profile. Sweet tea, molasses, pepper, dark beer, roasted garlic, onion, and smoke were used to describe the taste created by an award-winning team headed up by brother and sister, Brad Orrison and Brooke Orrison Lewis. The Shed is also the name of the family&aposs landmark roadhouse restaurant on the Gulf Coast in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The full lineup of sauces (Spicy Mustard, Spicy Sweet, and Spicy Vinegar) are available at Walmart stores around the country, and also can be ordered online.

Third Place

Kansas City-style sauce from Rufus Teague in Johnson County, Kansas, narrowly edged out the Guy Fieri Bourbon Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce, as one panelist effused: "I could eat this by the spoonful." The maple bourbon flavor was on the sweeter side, a plus for ultra-rich barbecue like smoked brisket or pork ribs. It&aposs widely available in supermarkets across the U.S., and can also be ordered online.

Try Saucing This

Any seasoned barbecue cook knows that sauce is the supporting character to superstar ribs, brisket, or pulled pork. It&aposs a finishing touch meant to complement the juicy, tender meat, not too drown it. Try these winning sauces on these recipes:

Watch panelists Stephan Giles (pitmaster at Campfire BBQ), Dezi Bonow (chef at The Carlile Room), and Allrecipes own Saffron Hodges (pitmaster on Bush Cooking barbecue team) discuss the results on Facebook Live:


Taste Test: The Best Barbecue Sauces

Our judges loved the whole line of Williams-Sonoma barbecue sauces, but this flavor -- inspired by the Carolinas&apos tradition of adding mustard to a sauce -- earned the top rating in our test. The thick, dark caramel-color sauce starts off with a tart bang, then dissolves into a sweet-andspicy finish. Tasters raved about the initial hit of vinegar and "mustardy tanginess" and the unusual "sweet ending," which comes from the recipe&aposs apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and molasses. ($10.50 for 20 ounces, at Williams-Sonoma stores)

BEST IN TEXAS

Secret Recipe Salt Lick Bar-B-Que Sauce

Tasters were hooked on this sauce from beloved Austin-area restaurant The Salt Lick. The blend&aposs base is mustard, not traditional tomatoes, and its "smoky, smooth" flavor made one judge say, "I could drink this." ($30 for six 12-ounce bottles, saltlickbbq.com)

BEST IN THE CAROLINAS

George&aposs Original Barbecue Sauce

This eastern North Carolina sauce packs a vinegary punch at first, but George&aposs Original eases the kick with apples and sugar for "a perfect balance of sweet, sour and spicy." ($11 for three 16-ounce bottles, georgesbbqsauce.com)

BEST IN KANSAS CITY

Kansas Citys Cowtown Bar-B-Q Sauce

Don&apost be fooled by the dancing cows on the label -- Kansas City&aposs Cowtown is serious about sauce. This one is tomatobased (main ingredient: ketchup), and judges loved the "thick texture." One tester said, "It&aposll stick to anything you grill." ($6 for 18 ounces, cowtownbbq.com)

BEST FROM OUTSIDE THE BARBECUE BELT

Legend Southwest Thick and Smoky Barbecue Sauce

Judges raved over the "slightly sweet, fresh tomato flavor" of this Michiganmade sauce. While tasters disliked the fake smokiness of many competitors, cumin gives this sauce&aposs flavor natural warmth. ($4.50 for 8.5 ounces, seasonsharvest.com)

BEST IN THE GROCERY AISLE

Bull&aposs-Eye Barbecue Sauce Sweet Homestyle Blend

Most grocery brands were syrupy sweet, but Bull&aposs-Eye broke that pattern with "smoky flavor and just a touch of sweetness." One taster said the "extrathick texture is great for basting." ($2.10 for 18 ounces, at grocery stores)

BEST HOT AND SPICY

Curtis&apos All American Bar-B-Q

Sauce Spicy Southern Style Pit master Curtis Tuff sells barbecue ribs and chicken out of blue school buses in Putney, Vermont. He can&apost bottle the dining experience, but he captured the "hot and vinegary flavor." Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper ensure a fiery -- yet flavorful -- finish. ($7 for 12 ounces, piecesofvermont.com)

Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in May 2008