A Short Guide to BBQ Sauces: Pairing Your Meat With the Best Sauce

Guide to BBQ Sauces
Photo by Andrés Medina on Unsplash.com

Searching for a short BBQ Sauces Guide to help you pair your meat with the best sauce? Then this page is for you. Choosing the right BBQ sauce for your meats can seem very simple. Most people just grab the first sauce they see. But what should you actually consider?  Here are some factors to consider.

The Thickness of the Sauce

While you may not think about this, the thickness has a real impact on the meat you choose with it. Thick sauces can make the meat sticky and the star of the show. If your meat is not prepared well, a thick sauce may be what you need. But if you want the meat to stay the star of the show, then you may want to avoid a thick sauce.

The Sweetness of The Sauce

For some meats like chicken that do not have a lot of natural flavor, a sweet sauce can be great. Especially if you like sweet things.  Sweet can also pair very well with pork. Sweet works great with lighter meats like chicken and pork.

The Most Popular BBQ Sauces


Tomato-based sauces are definitely among the most popular BBQ sauces on the planet. Why? Because it probably has the tastiest sweet and tangy flavor that perfectly complements BBQ meat. Tomato sauces also have many health benefits.

There are lots of different types of tomato sauces out there. Tomato and Vinegar based BBQ sauces are great for pulled pork. There’s the St. Louis BBQ sauce that includes ketchup, apple cider and a little brown sugar, which is great for pork ribs. The sweeter Kansas City BBQ sauce is perfect for ribs and chicken, and so forth. 


Vinegar-based BBQ sauces give your meat a tangy texture that slashes through the fat and leaves your tummy happy. Like tomato sauces, Vinegar-based sauces also have some healthy elements you should consider. The famous Traditional Southern Vinegar sauces are very thin and have no tomato at all. They are perfect for lamb, chicken, or beef. 

A great BBQ sauce for chicken is the Alabama White sauce, which is made of vinegar, brown sugar, and mayo. If you’re looking for a sauce for your grilled fish – go for the Florida BBQ sauce which has a strong vinegar presence mixed with tropical fruits and Caribbean spices. 


These tasty BBQ sauces don’t need any cooking, and usually include vinegar, different seasonings and yellow mustard. South Carolina BBQ sauce, for example, is a bit spicy and made from plain yellow mustard. It’s great for chicken or pork.

BBQ Sauces
Mustard-based sauce. Photo from Pixabay.com

Ultimately, your flavor palette will determine what sauce works best with your meat. Your region may as well. In the Midwest and Texas, people will prefer thicker sauces as tomato and molasses are popular ingredients. In places like the Carolinas, thinner sauces are more popular because of the use of vinegar.

The perfect sauce for any meat is one that has the right balance of thickness and sweetness. You want a sauce that does not overpower the natural flavor of the meat. 

You want some vinegar in the sauce as that will help tenderize the meat if you choose to marinate with it. You want some tomato as well because it adds great flavor. The right touch of sweetness is important as well. One that uses honey instead of molasses helps balance sweetness and thickness.

The award-winning products of Mike D’s BBQ in North Carolina has worked to find that perfect blend. They use a hybrid tomato/vinegar base with honey in both of their sauces. 

So they are not too thick, they are on the thinner side as an homage to the history and tradition of North Carolina BBQ. They have won awards on the local, state, and international level showing their flavor profile is great no matter the meat or the region. You can find information about their awards and products at www.mikedsbbq.com.

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