The Best Way To Kick Back The Sweetness Of Store-Bought BBQ Sauce

Have you ever gotten home with a new BBQ sauce, only to find that it's a little too sweet for your liking? Store-bought BBQ sauces are often on the sweeter side, because sugar is used in them to balance out the tanginess and spiciness of other ingredients. The exact ingredients in BBQ sauce can vary depending on the recipe, of course, but some common ingredients in store-bought sauces include a tomato base, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.

If you find that you have bought a BBQ sauce that is too sweet, you don't have to toss it out. You can tone down the sweetness and improve the flavor by adding a bit of vinegar to it. Vinegar is an acidic substance, which means that it has a low pH level. Sugar, on the other hand, is a neutral substance with a medium pH level. When these two come together, the vinegar can offset the sugar and, overall, tone down some of the BBQ sauce's sweetness.

Mixing up the best BBQ sauce

This trick also works with other ingredients. You can add just about any edible acid-base to tone down a sweeter BBQ sauce. For example, adding a small amount of mustard, which is vinegar-based, or citrus juice can help to cut through the sweetness and balance out flavors. To add even more of a tangy flavor, throw in some apple cider vinegar or more Worcestershire sauce.

If sweetness isn't your main issue, and you just want some new flavors, you can try mixing in various ingredients. If you like a hotter sauce, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper or some hot sauce to the BBQ sauce to spice things up. Umami ingredients, like fish or soy sauce, can also bring some savoriness and saltiness to the BBQ sauce. You can add a smoky flavor by using smoked paprika or liquid smoke. BBQ sauce is a versatile condiment that can be customized in many ways to suit your taste preferences.

Want something really fun and unexpected? Add some fruit purée, such as pineapple or peach, for a fruity flavor. You can also experiment with adding herbs and spices like thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, or onion powder for more depth.

Take it slow for best results

No matter what you add to your BBQ sauce, though, it's best to go slow when changing up the ingredients. It's easier to add more than to take away, so start with small amounts of any ingredient and taste the sauce as you go along. Add more as needed until you get the flavor you want.

Also keep in mind that whatever you add to the sauce can change its consistency, so you will need to be mindful of that when adding it to meat before grilling. If your sauce becomes too thick, it may not spread well. If it's too thin, it may be too runny to create a proper baste for grilling. 

Speaking of grilling, some meats have a naturally salty flavor, and grilling them can enhance that. Steak, pork, and shellfish all have a salty umami taste, so you will want to make sure your BBQ sauce isn't too salty if you plan to add it to those foods.