HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Best bottled BBQ sauce? (without Liquid Smoke - ick)

I want to make some easy BBQ chicken with a bottled sauce, but I'm leary of buying anything because I hate the taste of Liquid Smoke.

Can you help me find a good bottled BBQ sauce without the smoke taste in it? (I can burn it on my own to get the real flavor. :-) Actually, I'm going to make the crockpot BBQ chicken that Monica7 posted in a recent slow-cooker thread:

By the way, I'm in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN), if there are any good local options.

Many thanks,

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't know if you have Cattlemen's Honey Barbecue Sauce where you live, but it has no smokey taste. It's really good, I'm usually not a great bottled bbq sauce fan and I love it. I find it at my local chain grocery stores (in So. California :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: wendy8869

      Sorry, but Cattlemen's has "natural smoke flavoring" in it.

    2. No idea if it's sold in MN, but Stubb's is the only OTC bbq sauce I can tolerate. It's spicy, not much sugar, just in case this is important to you.

      1 Reply
      1. I like a lot of the sauces made by Original Juans (www.originaljuans.com). I haven't checked which have liquid smoke. My favorite lines are the Bilardo Brothers and Pain is Good lines, but they have others.

        By the way, just for the record, char (i.e. burned) and smoke are very different things. :_)

        1. I'll second Stubb's! Not a bad flavor, and it works well to enhance if you feel inspired.

          1. I often make my own marinade BBQ sauce, however, if I do buy it I prefer Sweet Baby Ray's- sold in many regular grocery stores.

            2 Replies
            1. re: pamd

              I make a killer BBQ sauce too--lots of Bourbon.

              But, Sweet Baby Ray's is great.
              (The Hickory & Brown Sugar version is my favorite. It does not taste contrived albeit containing your dreaded ingredient...others may want to try it :)

              1. re: Funwithfood

                I agree with SBR's. It's easily the best mass produced sauce. I love the hickory brown sugar one but you'll skip that. For others though, it's the one.
                I live in Canada and travel to the states quite a bit. I always bring home a trunk full of that stuff to satisfy the demand from my friends and family.


            2. here's a third for Stubbs. Comes in three flavors (maybe more):


              I totally dig the original.

              1 Reply
              1. re: amysuehere

                I believe Stubbs does have liquid smoke. Their labels say "Natural smoke flavor," which generally means liquid smoke. I'm pretty sure that Sweet Baby Ray's also has smoke added.

                It is pretty easy to whip up a good BBQ sauce (I know this isn't the Home Cooking Board, so I won't go into recipes here.) But there are several good ones that don't include smoke. Search on recipes.egullet.com, epicurious.com, etc. I also like the one inclded in the new book called "Charcuterie". If you want to continue the recipe discussion, let's move it to the home cooking board before the mods step in. :)

                1. re: chowrottie

                  I second this one. Their Sensuous Slathering Sauce has just the right amount of sweet and hot for my taste.

                2. Another vote for Cattleman's, any version.

                  1. Thanks for all the recommendations! I'll look for Cattleman's, Stubbs (if it's not too smoky), Original Juan's, Sweet Baby Ray's, or Dinosaur. My local stores surely MUST have at least one of these brands.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      You will surely find Cattlemans and Baby Rays in Mpls/St. Paul grocers, I buy Baby Rays all the time at Cub and have seen Cattlemans.

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        Ok. So just make sure you come back and give us your vote on which you think is best!

                      2. Hoboken Eddies has great bottled sauces, come in several varieties.

                          1. Maybe I'm just white trash, but I like Kraft. Regular ol' Kraft. Nothing in it. It's not spicy, but I don't like my BBQ spicy (just other things). It's sweet and flavorful, and everyone at our BBQs loves it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Covert Ops

                              Great post, Covert. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

                            2. No doubt, STUBBS is the ABSOLUTE BEST over the counter BBQ sauce. Others don't even come close... even Sweet Baby Rays... sorry, but they're all too sweet. Stubbs has the best flavor of them all, and without a lot of sugar.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: laurac281

                                Well I guess that all depends on whether or not you like a sweet bbq sauce now doesn't it??

                                I love it sweet.


                              2. In Oklahoma, where stores where you'll be lucky to get iceberg lettuce carry a hundred brands of BBQ sauce, just about everyone uses Head Country. It's made in Ponca City and it's better than the homemade sauce you'll find in most BBQ joints. And I've seen it used in crockpot recipes and it's delicious.


                                1. A couple:
                                  1. Sweet Baby Ray's
                                  2. Carolina Treet. You baste then cook (no dipping). Not exactly a traditional sauce, but fantastic. http://www.carolinatreet.com
                                  3. Stubb's is fine as well


                                  1. Gates Extra Hot.
                                    AB's Original.

                                    1. Here's a thread you might find useful:


                                      Or, as I suggested therein, you could try Eddie Deen's Crawford BBQ Sauce. It was in the goody-bags at the presidential inauguration. If you didn't get one, you can order it here: http://www.eddiedeen.com/about_us.htm


                                      1. Look for Bone Suckin' Sauce available at Cracker Barrels and here and there, but rarely at an average supermarket.


                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                          Depends on where . In NC, it is available everywhee (and much cheaper than Cracker Barrel).

                                          1. re: Westy

                                            I had a hard time finding it here in Indiana. Interestingly, I also saw it recently at some Amish supermarkets.

                                        2. I realize I am resurrecting an old thread but I have to ask Anne - did you try any of these? As a fellow Minneapolitan I've looked and looked for BBQ sauce without liquid smoke, and have come up dry. I make my own but am ready to buy a bottle of something, since it's probably cheaper and certainly less time consuming than making my own.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: MplsM ary

                                            Have you tried the bone suckin' sauce? Its my favorite but does have a smidge of liquid smoke- which honestly i can't detect. Stubbs mentioned in this thread also has liquid smoke...

                                            Are there any bbq places near you that you like their sauce? Most bbq places seem to sell their own sauces too so that could be an option if you keep striking out with the grocery store.

                                            1. re: MplsM ary

                                              MplsM ary, it was so long ago that I barely remember. I think I tried Stubbs and Sweet Baby Ray's. They were pretty good, but I didn't like them enough to try again. I really HATE the artificial taste of liquid smoke!

                                              Now I'm on a very low sodium diet, so store-bought BBQ sauce is completely off my list. Besides, I don't need all that sugar. Instead, I've moved on to this fabulous recipe for crockpot carnitas (without any salt, of course): http://pinchofyum.com/easy-crockpot-c...

                                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                Thanks. I know liquid smoke is in fact just "liquid" smoke and is natural but it tastes super artificial to me, too. This from a woman who drinks TaB for its chemically tang.

                                                I make my own and caramelize the heck out it by baking it to get more depth of flavor, so though I may try a couple bottles listed here, I'm probably stuck making my own.

                                            2. I'll second Ttrockwood's rec for Bone Suckin' brand. But I wonder if you might do better to steer in a direction like Teriyaki or Hoisin sauces. BBQ without smoke is basically a contradiction in terms, and if you're using a crock pot, you won't get genuine smoke. Just forget smoke and BBQ. There are lots of other flavor profiles out there.

                                              I'd suggest you try an Philippine adobo chicken, but I've personally never fancied the vinegar component. It's a good crock-pot prep.

                                              There are some Tex-Mex braises that use Chipotle and Poblano, but I think each of those sometimes get smoke. Just milder smoke.

                                              Maybe chicken cacciatore in the crock-pot? Chile verde?

                                              1. Even though it's now made with HFCS instead of sugar, I still like Bull's Eye for supermarket bbq sauce.

                                                1. I don't like hickory or mesquite flavors and I don't like smoke. When I have the time, I make my own, but when I must rely on the bottled stuff I reach for Rufus Teague Honey Sweet. It's not on every super market shelf -- I buy a couple of bottles at a time at The Fresh Market -- but it's really quite good.