The Best BBQ Sauces for Summer

. February 17, 2016
Photography by Bryce Carleton.
The Best BBQ Sauces for Summer

Time to light the barbecue and get fired up about the best hot, spicy and smoky sauces on the shelves right now. The story that appeared in our latest issue had some pricing errors which have been corrected below.

Sweet, tangy, fruity or smoky – there’s a barbecue sauce out there to match every meat. In America, the spiritual home of barbecue sauce, there are distinct styles for different regions – from the thin vinegar sauces of Eastern North Carolina to the thick and spicy tomato-based ketchups found in Kansas. Tomato, sugar, vinegar and mustard are key ingredients across the board, but it's when ingredients such as  habanero chillies, chipotles, tamarind and sultanas get thrown in that flavours offer even more varied flavour profiles. 

Kiwis are no less enthusiastic about cooking with fire than our American cousins and the recent interest in traditional “low and slow” Southern-style barbecue has seen it elevated from the back yard to trendy restaurant status. Condiments have been getting the premium treatment, too, with dozens of artisan barbecue sauces elbowing the classic Kiwi ketchup to one side. Here's a selection of our favourites to slather, drizzle and baste meat with this summer. 

1. Alderson’s Morepork BBQ Sauce ($12)

This is a classic barbecue sauce done well – thick and slightly chunky, with a natural smoky flavour from manuka-smoked onions and gentle jalapeño kick. It’s made using all-natural ingredients including unrefined sweeteners such as apple juice and backstrap molasses. A dollop or two won't go amiss alongside beef, pork, chicken and roast vegetables.

2. Huffman’s Bloody Mary Ketchup ($12.95)

When Wellington-based sauce company Huffman’s turned my favourite breakfast cocktail into a sauce, I didn’t need much persuasion to try it out. It tastes exactly as you’d expect it to: like a spiced Bloody Mary (minus the vodka kick), flavoured with fresh, ripe tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and celery seeds. Genius. 

3. Martin Bosley’s Marty Sauce ($12.50)

If you’ve tried one of chef  Martin Bosley’s famous bacon butties, which he served up at Wellington’s City Market each Sunday until recently, then you’ll know how addictive this incredible brown sauce is. Sweet, smooth and tangy, it gets a lift from gentle warm spices, lemongrass, ginger, hoisin and more. Pair it with any grilled meats and, of course, bacon.

4. Lillie Q’s Carolina Gold Barbecue Sauce  ($21.95)

The champion pitmaster of Lillie’s Q restaurants in Chicago is behind this tangy South Carolina-style barbecue sauce, which gets its golden hue from a mustard base. It’s a little pricier than the local stuff, but if you want a real deal Southern barbecue sauce, it’s the way to go. Visit for the full range. 

5. Culley’s Chipotle Ketchup ($12.90)

A classic Kiwi ketchup  gets a fiery, smoky lift from  the addition of chipotle peppers. Slather it on ribs, serve it with saussies, spread it on a steak sandwich – anywhere a rich and tangy ketchup would work.  

6. Glasseye Creek 12 Gauge Sauce ($11.95)

Wood-roasted tomato, sweet raisins and earthy, peppery spices all go into this unique barbecue sauce from Glasseye Creek. I was a bit confused to see “hickory bong water” listed as one of the ingredients, before Google reassured me that this is a term for liquid smoke. 

7. Aromatics Hot & Grunty ($8)

The sweetest and spiciest of the line-up, this Texas-style barbecue sauce packs one heck of a punch. It’s thick and fruity like a ketchup and would work just as well as a marinade as it would poured over sizzling meats. 

8. 362 Grillhouse Smokey Barbeque Mayonnaise ($8.50)

It's not exactly a sauce, but this mayonnaise  was too delicious to leave out. Creamy and smooth with a lemon juice tang and smoky paprika kick, it’s a match made in heaven with barbecued chicken wings, prawns and fish.