Barbecue is a summer tradition in the South. Whether it’s served between a bun, off the bone or low and slow, it all comes down to choosing the right sauce to create that perfect flavor.
With so many saucy options available, knowing the basics about flavors and products is the first step toward perfecting this savory Southern staple.
1. Mrs. Griffin’s Original Barbecue Sauce ($4.25)
The history of Mrs. Griffin’s dates to 1935, when Macon native Mangham Edward Griffin started bottling and selling a recipe he had concocted for his family’s yearly Fourth of July picnic. Though a product of Georgia, this ultra-tangy mustard-vinegar blend, which Griffin named in honor of his wife, displays the characteristics of sauces typically found in the Low Country of South Carolina. Unique to Mrs. Griffin’s is a 12-step process that takes four days to complete. The ingredients are mixed, not cooked, before bottling, which retains the strong tang of mustard and vinegar (heat typically mellows both tang and spice). As a dip, the sauce works well with sausage and meatballs, or on chicken and ribs.
3330 Piedmont Road N.E.
2. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q Sauce ($5)
Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q began when co-owner Jonathan Fox, who hails from Texas, couldn’t find any decent barbecue here in Atlanta, so he started cooking it himself. It was such a hit with everyone who tried it that a restaurant soon followed. Today, the sauce recipe accenting its famous slow-roasted meats is bottled and sold for fans’ at-home use. Best served with smoked meat cooked in traditional pit style, the rich sauce works great with beef or pork and pairs well as a dip or with beef sliders and cocktail hot dogs.
3535 Peachtree Road
3. Georgia’s Spicy Hot Barbeque Sauce ($6.99)
This Southern-style blend began when 16-year-old Scott Gault started experimenting in his parents’ kitchen. Years after perfecting his original recipe and winning awards throughout Georgia, he added some heat and created this savory, spicy sauce. It’s a perfect blend of sweet, hot, sour, butter and smoke. The first sniff of a newly opened jar is intoxicating enough to want to slurp, but be warned that the smooth taste ends with a blast of heat. The base comes from ripe tomatoes and fresh lime juice (a natural meat tenderizer), making it ideal for slow-cooked pork, ribs and beef. As a dipping sauce, try it with cheese cubes, meatballs, vegetables and tofu.
Cafe at Pharr
3145 Peachtree Road
4. Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q Spicy Chipotle Sauce ($3.89)
This tomato and brown sugar based sauce has been well blended to preserve the traditional barbecue-like flavor without the bite of too much vinegar. The initial taste is semi-sweet, and the chipotle spice adds just enough contrast without being overbearing. The flavors are bold enough to stand up to any meat but tame enough not to overpower or scare off experimenters. It’s probably not mild enough to be a kid’s go-to sauce, but mom and dad (and their heatseeking friends) will enjoy this one. Add a unique twist to taco night or blend it well in slow-cooked chili.
4279 Roswell Road N.E.
5. Num Num Sauce Country Boy’s Mustard ($6)
A fourth-generation recipe, this tangy, Southern, vinegar-based sauce also contains a high content of mustard that makes it thicker than most vinegar based sauces. The flavor starts with sweet familiar tones and ends with a subtle bite. It’s great for cooking or dipping and is extremely versatile—it’s often served as an alternative condiment. As a dip, try it with chicken nuggets or veggies, or use it instead of ketchup to spice up your eggs, burgers or meatloaf.
77 West Paces Ferry
STORY: Jessica Dauler
PHOTO: Sara Hanna