Spice up summer cooking with varieties of barbecue sauces

Tania Bazaldua

As summertime rapidly approaches, the aroma of burning charcoal and a variety of meats lingers in the air of every neighborhood. The distinctive smell has hungry people salivating and going home to fire up their own grills.

With outdoor cooking, barbecue is a commonly used method with various applications such as marinades or dry rubs. But one of the most beloved condiments is barbecue sauce.

Choosing a sauce for your slab of ribs or beef brisket might get confusing considering the different regions, styles and flavors. But here are some helpful hints and inspirations from local restaurants that specialize in different types of barbecue sauce that will ensure that you have a finger-licking BBQ experience.

1.) Style: Texas

Restaurant: The Texan BBQ in Lombard

“Texas-style sauce has more of a mesquite wood taste than the rest and can be thinner,” manager Mike Jensen said. “Whether the meat is dry-rubbed or marinated, the sauce can be more sweet and on the smoky side.”

The restaurant cooks everything at a low temperature for long periods of time and has mild, spicy and hot choices of sauce.

Grab it to go: Texan BBQ Sauce, $3.99

2.) Style: Kansas City

Restaurant: Uncle Bub’s in Westmont

“Kansas City style is a sweeter and somewhat thicker barbecue sauce,” general manager Jay Rushford said.

Sauces from the Midwest are different variations of Kansas City-style sauce because of its popularity, he said. Rushford also weighed in on other famous classifications, pointing out the differences between Uncle Bub’s flavoring and its Southern counterparts.

“Alabama-style sauce is a white mayo horseradish-based sauce and is often coated on chicken,” Rushford added. “North Carolina is a vinegar-based sauce that is almost clear, and South Carolina is a mustard-based barbecue sauce.”

Grab it to go: Uncle Bub’s Award Winning BBQ Sauce, Original or Hot’n Spicy, $3.99

3.) Style: Memphis

Restaurant: Memphis Jacks BBQ in Hillside

“Memphis style is a cross between Texas style and the Carolinas,” owner Jack Adams said. “It has a vinegar and tomato base.”

The restaurant’s sauce has a texture and consistency similar to Memphis barbecue sauces, he added.

“There’s a nice balance with a little spice, and it’s not too sweet,” Adams said. “It appeals to the masses because it doesn’t lean to one side more than the other.”

Grab it to go: Memphis Jacks BBQ Sauce, $3.25

4.) Style: Chicago

Restaurant: Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue in Wood Dale

“Our sauce is the second best-selling in the country,” owner David Raymond said.

Although Raymond, also known as “Sweet Baby Ray,” was president of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce for 20 years before selling the brand, he continues to use it in his restaurants. About four out of every 10 people use Sweet Baby Ray’s, Raymond added.

“It’s a tomato-based sauce with sweet and spicy, natural barbecue flavors,” he said. “It gets its unique flavors from pineapple syrup and Worcestershire sauce. It has a slight smoky flavor to it and has a thick consistency. My sauce complements the food — it doesn’t dominate it.”

Raymond’s sauce also has a cling ability, a quality that allows it to stick on the food rather than running off. He attributes a large part of the sauce’s success to this.

Grab it to go: Sweet Baby Ray’s Award Winning Barbecue Sauce, $2

Suburban Life