I Asked 3 Pitmasters To Name the Best Store-Bought BBQ Sauce—They All Said the Same Brand

The BBQ sauce that experts can’t go without this summer.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images </p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

As summer winds up and grilling season heats up, my ritual with the grill becomes a dual-purpose delight. Not only does it prevent my kitchen from turning into a sauna, but it also gives everything from chicken wings and potatoes to corn on the cob that perfect, unmatched char that's hard to get any other way. And one of my favorite ways to highlight grilled foods is BBQ sauce.

While I love using BBQ sauce as a marinade and a dipping sauce, a store-bought one can make or break a meal. I’m always looking for sauces with simple ingredient lists that avoid artificial smokiness and the overly sweet, syrupy kinds.

Grocery store shelves are brimming with options—from classic smoky BBQ sauces to tangy vinegar-based concoctions and even sweet and spicy blends. As someone who's often been let down, I've grown cautious about trying out another bottle. Could there be a bottled BBQ sauce that tickles my fancy and is worthy of my hard-earned money?

Determined to find a store-bought sauce that stands up to the discerning tastes of true BBQ aficionados, I reached out to respected voices in the world of barbecue. Their unanimous endorsement presented a new-to-me option that I now can’t live without.

  • Mike Lang, grilled food photographer/videographer, author of the cookbook, One Beer Grilling, and the long-time “grill-ographer” for Weber Grills

  • Cara Nicoletti, fourth-generation butcher, author, and founder of Seemore, a sausage shop

  • Charlie McKenna, two-time Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest winner and founder of Lillie's Q Barbeque Sauce

These three experts all rave about Lillie’s Q Barbeque Sauce. These sauces are balanced and have a depth of flavor—they replicate the authenticity of homemade sauces lovingly crafted and passed down through generations. The line of sauces is named after Grandma Lillie, the founder’s grandmother.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abråham / Retailer below</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abråham / Retailer below

Each expert praised Lillie's Q Barbeque Sauces as a brand that stands out in the crowded market of BBQ condiments. Mike Lang, known for his expertise in capturing the essence of grilled dishes, remarked, “My go-to store-bought sauce is No. 22 Smoky Barbeque Sauce from Lillie’s Q. To me, it’s the ideal balance of sweet and smoky and has this wonderful consistency that can fool you into thinking it just came off the stovetop.”

Cara Nicoletti, who has a distinct dislike for liquid smoke and a preference for vinegar-based sauces, also found her match in Lillie’s Q. She enthusiastically shared, “I hate liquid smoke, so I'm picky about store-bought BBQ sauces, and I prefer a Carolina-style because I love vinegar. I think Lillie’s Q ENC (Eastern North Carolina) sauce is really good!”

Charlie McKenna, an endorser and the creator of Lillie’s Q sauces, offers a unique perspective. He pointed out his personal favorites from his range: “My favorite Lillie’s Q sauce is the Gold Barbecue Sauce—a mustard vinegar sauce—as [South Carolina] is my home state. My second favorite is Hot Smoky, which is a spicy version of our Memphis-style sweet BBQ sauce, a more traditional type sauce flavor profile.”

Lillie's Q Barbecue Sauces are not just for brushing onto meat in the last few minutes of grilling. They are versatile enough to serve as a marinade, giving depth and flavor to meats overnight, or as a robust dipping sauce that complements the smoky notes of grilled chicken thighs and wings.

Whether you’re a grilling novice or a seasoned pitmaster, these expert endorsements suggest that reaching for a bottle of Lillie’s Q might just be the secret to elevating your next barbecue from ordinary to extraordinary.

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.