Let’s talk something of the upmost importance. Food condiments. Whether eating out, or taking away – I am now of the persuasion that no meal is complete without a dip of some sort. Whether than be to compliment the side of bread or as an integral part of the meal like nachos, dip has become one of the most important parts of my meal.
This is carried across to my daughter, who will quite happily copy me dipping my chicken nuggets in sauce, even though she dislikes the taste.
But, much like my brother-in-law felt the duty to evaluate the various Jaffa Cakes as the world’s leading expert in tangy orange cake disks (you can read his extensive reviews here), I feel the calling to do the same for that of BBQ sauce.
BBQ sauce has slowly become an essential part of the modern diet, eclipsing many of the promising up-and-coming sauces, such as Sweet-And-Sour while remaining heavy competition to the new-comers such as heavy-weight Peri-Peri…
So let’s talk the sauce. Now let’s be clear here, I’m not referring to BBQ glaze or BBQ seasoning. I am talking about the dip. You know, the chocolate coloured Ketchup, as I once had to explain to a waiter who nothing about the wonders of BBQ sauce (I have not been back since). SO let’s review this smokey goodness.
- Sweet Baby Rays. Something of a rarity over here in the UK, but after some lobbying by hardcore fans – it’s now a regular member down the sauce aisle at both Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Which offering a few variants to the brand – the original recipe remains the best. It offers a sweet and sticky BBQ taste, but peppery enough to leave a tang. The balance between the two extremes leaves this particular sauce at the number 4 out of 5 drops
- McDonalds. Ah the unsung hero of all. Let’s just first establish the fact that McDonalds produces two BBQ sauces, one for the luxury Chicken Selects and one for everything else. This is not a review for the luxury sauce, which incidentally is significantly less tasty. The classic BBQ sauce from McDonalds is something of a masterpiece when it comes to the brown stuff. I mean, let me be clear – I literally stock my fridge wit this stuff. I would say this sauce lends itself further to the vinegar flavour than the sweet, but it does blend perfectly. This sauce gets the full five out of five drops. It’s sheer perfection – and it’s only competition for the top spot is it’s Pizza Hut equivalent…
- Pizza Hut. And this is one of the sauces that is essentially a latecomer to my tastebuds. Not until my late teens did I know you could even request their BBQ sauce. I’ve been to multiple PH’s around the country and I find their BBQ varies. But if you get the Pizza Hut branded BBQ – the one that they keep on the table – then you’re onto a winner. It’s hard to tell if it’s the pizza that compliments the sauce so well or if the sauce is so good that everything just works with it. But either way – this is my other five drop wonder.
- Heinz. This is the sauce that restaurants turn to when they wake up and realise they need to stock BBQ. I guess it’s just easy to get hold of from food suppliers or what-have-you. But this version is not only purchasable in stores but is also the go-to BBQ sauce for Burger King here in the UK. It’s a nice BBQ, tasting more like a sweeter brown sauce, but it’s nothing special. It ticks the boxes of a BBQ sauce but does’t go the extra mile. As always, I welcome it when there is nothing else around, but it’s no McDonalds. 3 Drops.
- KP. A difficult one to review as it comes in three flavour – original, Honey and hot. Since there are other sauces in this comparison test that also have variants, I will stick with the same rule – review the original. The original (green bottle) HP BBQ is nice. But that’s about it. It lacks a definitive trait and can taste rather watery at times. It does lend itself to more of a spiced feel but still sweet. If it wasn’t so runny, it would be 3 drops but because of the consistency of the ‘dip’, it’s 2.
- Nando’s. Perhaps not a fair place to review this one, as it is aimed at the ‘Nandios’ menu (for kids). But this all-sweet-no-spice sauce may as well be called treacle. While everything Nando’s puts out usually jumps to the top of my list, their BBQ doesn’t. It’s just not all that – speaking as someone who needs both the sweet and spice in his BBQ. 2 drops.
- Dominos. Perhaps an essential ingredient for any Dominios pizza (especially from the Shoreham Branch) since they are so stingy with cheese and toppings. The recent introduction of the giant BBQ dip has been a lifesaver. Their BBQ is a good example of the balance between sweet and spice. That all said, it’s not quite up there with the greats. 4 out of 5 drops.
- Papa Johns. Our final review for now. Most definitely the most recent addition to my BBQ list, Papa John’s BBQ is extremely unique. It leans further the to spice side than to the sweet, but it’s consistency is slightly more glaze-like than I would like. The flavour is so unique, it gets a strong 3 drops from me.
So there you have it. That’s a quick overview to the way I see the greatest sauce on earth. Some places have nailed it. Others need to perfect it a bit. But that’s coming from someone who needs their BBQ sweet with no spice. But sadly that’s not where I dip my chips.
The glorious joint winners? McDonalds and Pizza Hut. Long may your BBQ flow with your food. Mmm-mmm.