B(u)y the Bottle: BBQ Sauce Edition

by in Healthy Tips, May 19, 2009

Of course, the healthiest choice is to make your own, but sometimes it’s easier to stock up on a few bottled BBQ sauces. The endless options could make your head spin. Here’s how to tell what goes in the cart and what stays on the shelf.

The Salt & Sugar
Packaged and restaurant food accounts for more than 75% of the sodium we eat daily. The American Medical Association estimates we’d save 150,000 lives each year if we cut 50% of the salt from our diets. Get started by checking the sodium levels in your sauces. Try to skip anything with more than 500 milligrams per serving.

Sugar is the second issue. When I started researching pre-made BBQ sauces, I found high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as the main ingredient on many. Here’s a tip on label reading: items listed first are heaviest by weight. If HFCS is the first or second ingredient in your sauce, that means there’s a heck of a lot of it.

Even if you don’t find HFCS, most sauces are sweetened with something. Molasses or honey (or both) are two other common sweeteners; you may also find brown rice syrup. A little sweetness is okay, but you don’t want a sauce that could double as dessert. I usually look for 15 grams of sugar or less.

Compare Labels
A label’s typical serving is 2 tablespoons. On different brands, I found calories ranged from 25 to 100 per serving. Sugar ranged from 4 to 12 grams per serving and sodium ranged from 190 to 510 milligrams (8% to 21% of your recommended daily intake).

You can find low-calorie versions that have minimal sodium. EatingWell, one of our favorite magazines, taste-tested several popular brands and picked Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sensuous Slathering Sauce as tops. It only has 25 calories, no fat, 5 grams of sugar (from brown sugar) and 240 milligrams of sodium per serving (10% of your daily needs) — definitely a good choice.

Other Healthy Options
Here are some brands we like:
TJ’s Bold and Smoky Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce
Consorzio Organic BBQ Sauce
Annie’s Naturals Organic Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce
Bone Suckin’ Barbecue Sauce & Marinade Original

Or Make Your Own
Recipes to try:
Peach-Mustard BBQ Sauce
Grilled Shrimp with Grapefruit BBQ Sauce
Grilled Chicken with Cherry-Chipotle BBQ Sauce

TELL US: Do you have a favorite store-bought brand?

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Comments (187)

  1. jen boda says:

    Great, great post. I love BBQ sauce but I have never been able to buy it in the store because it is so ridiculously BAD for the body. I make my own with just a bit of mollasses. Still sugar but all natural. Thanks!

  2. Lynn says:

    I don't know about the healthy aspect, but the ONLY store bought I will buy for taste is Sweet Baby Ray's.
    It has an awesome flavor – my favorite is Honey BBQ.
    If I can't make it myself, SWEET BABY RAY's it is!

  3. Kelley says:

    What about "Stubb's?" Love it…especially the "Moppin Sauce!!"

  4. Doug says:

    Sweet baby rays is the best! I just tried the chipotle and LOVED it. It has the tangy but also packs a little heat.

  5. SusieMarg says:

    Yes, Sweet Baby Rays–any of them

  6. Sarah says:

    Sweet Baby Rays is good but it has HFCS! Trader Joes has an awesome BBQ sauce! I can’t think of the name off hand but it’s not the one mentioned in this article it’s another one that’s organic. It’s just as good as Sweet Baby Rays.

  7. Ruth Seward says:

    We do not have ANY of the brands of BBQ sauce you listed in our stores!

  8. Tom says:

    We vote for Montgomery Inn BBQ Sauce (in stores – based on family recipe from Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati, OH).

  9. Monica says:

    For taste, Everett and Jones can’t be beat in fact it may be adictive. Unfortunately, it has high fructose corn syrup. Sweet Baby Rays is a close second.

  10. Loretta says:

    It’s sweet Baby Rays!!!! Or nothing I have even stop making my own since this is as good as mine, and it comes in a variety of awesome flavors. – My favorite is the original, but I love them all.

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