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Food & Drink

7 BBQ Sauces You Should Be Grilling With

If you rely on sauces alone to propel your at-home BBQs to new heights of smoke-infused delicious-osity (a word I just made up, for this right here) -- you clearly haven't been keeping up with our grilling tips.

And while you should certainly be rubbing your meat (sorry, there's no better way to say that) with dry rub, there's still a time and a place for good old fashioned BBQ sauce in your cookouts and kitchens. Really, you need both dry and wet components to truly make your backyard fare shine -- think of them as the Yin and Yang of grilling season.

But herein lies the problem: there is a literal brown, smoky sea of available BBQ sauces out there. And since most major grocery outlets don't let you break the safety seal and sample their sauces in-store (so draconian!), you might be a little lost when it comes to carefully selecting a BBQ sauce that won't remind your friends of a bullshit BBQ joint. If you weren't, you wouldn't have clicked into this post in the first place, would you?

So peruse this list carefully to discover the BBQ sauce that sings to your own personal soul, and order a bottle. Hell? Why not order two (one for the road).

Then you can turn every BBQ into a BYOB(S).

Daddy Sam's Bar-B-Que Sawce
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Daddy Sam's BBQ Sawce

The Crowd Pleaser
The only thing disagreeable about Daddy's Sam's BBQ Sawce is the intentional misspelling on the label (but even that is a little funny). This BBQ sauce has made a name for itself -- and Daddy Sam -- by being right in the middle of the pack, in a good way. You can slap this ready-to-roll sauce on just about anything, serve it to almost any BBQ fan, and expect a reasonably positive reaction. It might not set the world on fire (unless you have an unfortunate grill mishap), but it's a solid starting point for beginners, and a safe bet for large crowds. And it's versatile, too. Expect this to work with everything from salmon, to broccoli. If you really want to serve broccoli at your BBQ, that is.

Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce
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Sweet Baby Rays

The Kansas City Classic
Almost certainly the most widely known and consumed sauce on this list, Sweet Baby Ray's has been bringing their sweet, tangy, cinnamon-y brown sauce to the masses for decades. It's definitely a little thicker than some other, similarly tasting sauces -- but it's also the perfect sauce to add at the last second to bring a bland dish back to the promised land. It's strong, sure, but sometimes that's what you need. Every BBQ fan should have a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's cooling in their fridge. Or in their glove compartment, just in case your buddy makes an under-seasoned chicken.

Pappy's Hottest Ride barbecue sauce
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Pappy's Hottest Ride

The Really Freakin' Hot One
Ye who are adverse to intense levels of spice in their BBQs, do not enter. For those who want a little bit of a kick in their steaks, chicken, and ribs -- look no further than Pappy. It's essentially an even mix of BBQ and hot sauce, so fans of heat can slay two BBQ birds with one stone here. And it is indeed very hot. Be warned, in their own promotional materials, they claim "...it burns faster and hotter, from tongue to tailpipe." Think about that for a second. Such is the price to pay for delicious, spicy BBQ.

Sonny's Real Pit Sizzlin' BBQ Sauce
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Sonny's Real Pit Sizzlin' BBQ Sauce

The Sauce for Wanna-Be Pitmasters
Out of all the BBQ sauces that come via restaurant chains, Sonny's Real Pit (from Southern staple Sonny's BBQ, naturally) does the best job at nailing a consistent, restaurant-style taste in a take-home bottle. Sonny's is certainly legit in the world of BBQ, and a bottle of this sauce has the consummate sweet and tangy dynamic of a Daddy Sam's, for example, with a little more kick to it. If you are the kind of person who likes to slap on an apron and pretend their posted up in an field, smoking meat under a hot summer sun, drinking domestic beer and saying things like "it's ready, ya'll!" you'll be pleased with Sonny's.

Blues Hog barbecue sauce
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Blues Hog

The Sauce for Ribs, Specifically
Blues Hog get a note of distinction for two specific points: firstly, they probably have the best label of the bunch. Secondly, this is the sauce for those looking to bring their ribs into another echelon of meat-on-bone perfection. Blues Hog will work for almost anything else (as promised on their -- again, tacky and amazing -- label, but this is sauce is really meant for ribs. It has an extremely sticky, delicate stickiness to it that is just as enjoyable licking off your fingers as licking off the bone. (No, wet naps are not included).

Bone Suckin' Sauce barbecue sauce
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Bone Suckin' Sauce

The Utility Player
Just as Bone Suckin' Sauces' transcendent dry rub was the "utility player" on our rub list, the original liquid version takes the same mantle, here. Bone Suckin' Sauce has an aggressive name, but a decidedly versatile style, that allows it work with almost any food you would ever think to put BBQ sauce on. It's flavors are a little milder than the rest of the pack -- and it blends well with myriad flavors. Salmon? Sure. Steak? Yes. Broccoli? Well, yes… but again, think twice before you make broccoli at your BBQ. You don't win friends with salad. And you might make enemies with broccoli.

Kosmos Q Peach Habanero BBQ Sauce
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Kosmos Q Peach Habanero

The "Kind of Different" One
You should know this right up front: this is not going to be for everyone out there. It is different. But if there's anything the late great Prince taught us, it's that being different is more often than not, a great thing. As its name betrays, Kosmos Q's sauce blends the distinct sweetness of peach with a kick of habanero pepper. And while so many sauces have that spicy, sweet dichotomy, this one in particular delivers it with a haymaker to the taste buds. You'll get compliments on this one from your guests -- and the best part is, you can tell them it's a "Secret recipe." You won't be lying. It just won't be your secret recipe.

Lily Q's Ivory Sauce
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Lily Q's Ivory

The Only White Sauce on This List
White sauce is -- quite easily -- the most underrated BBQ accoutrements in the world (apologies to these bear claw things). This Northern Alabama classic goes exceedingly well with chicken and pork -- basically, it's a white meat speciality. It will not gel well with your steaks and burgers, as it's almost reminiscent of a creamy dressing, instead of a tangy brown sauce. It's so much an acquired taste as a speciality role player. If you know how to use it -- and do so accordingly -- it can become one of the most potent and memorable sauces in your repertoire.

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer at Thrillist and a passionate doer of other stuff. For more info, you'll have to do a free background check.