The Meaty Difference Between BBQ Sauce And Steak Sauce

Barbecuing is a form of art for most people who enjoy spending time at the grill, and they all have their own ways to cook and flavor their meat. Whether it's a dry rub, barbecue sauce, or steak sauce (or a combination of them), flavoring your grilled and smoked meats is a top priority for making the best barbecued meal. You may be thinking that barbecue sauce and steak sauce are the same, but they're not. Both sauces are used for flavoring meat, sure, but there are some distinct differences between them.

Barbecue sauce is commonly used as a flavoring agent for grilled or smoked meats and it is added to them before they are cooked. Steak sauce, on the other hand, is usually served with cooked steak to enhance its flavor after it has been cooked. While the two sauces are similar in ingredients, and may even have similar flavors, the main difference between the two is that barbecue sauce is made for slow-cooked meats and steak sauce is best for fast-cooked meats.

Using barbecue and steak sauces for your meats

Steak sauce is a thick sauce that is usually more savory and tangy, with a slightly sweet undertone. Fast-cooked meats tend to lose moisture because of how they are cooked, so the steak sauce is meant to add moisture back to the meat after it is cooked. You don't have to use steak sauce on just steak, though. You can also add it to chicken, pork, and even fish to crank up the flavor. You can dip the meat in it or put some of the steak sauce on top of your cooked meats. Because it isn't exposed to the cooking process, it doesn't evaporate. 

Barbecue sauce, on the other hand, is usually thinner in consistency and typically has a sweeter and smokier flavor, with a distinct tanginess. This sauce is good for a marinade or a baste that you slowly cook into the meat, like smoking, grilling, or baking methods. This flavors the meat as it cooks, but it isn't needed to add moisture back into it because most slow-cooked meats retain their own juices. Barbecue sauce tends to evaporate as it cooks, so if you want a heavier sauce, you can add some more after the meat has finished cooking. 

Flavor variations for barbecue and steak sauce

Another difference between the two is that barbecue sauce has a stronger tomato-based flavor, and steak sauce has more of a Worcestershire-based flavor. For barbecue sauce, the sweetness usually comes from ingredients like sugar or molasses, while the tanginess comes from vinegar or citrus juice. The smokiness is often achieved by using smoked paprika or other spices. Of course, the exact taste of barbecue sauce can vary depending on the recipe and the region where it is made. For example, in the southern U.S., it is often made with more mustard or vinegar, while in the Midwest, it tends to be sweeter and thicker because it has more brown sugar or molasses in the recipe.

Likewise, the specific flavor of steak sauce can also vary depending on the recipe used. Steak sauce is usually made with a combination of vinegar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, spices, and sometimes sweeteners like molasses or brown sugar. Some steak sauces may include various herbs, chili peppers, or smoke flavoring. Choosing which sauce is best for your barbecue meal depends on what flavor you prefer and how you plan to cook your meat.