The Ingredient You Should Look Out For When Buying Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce becomes a condiment staple during the summer months when home cooks break out their grills and smokers to cook up big batches of chicken, pulled pork, brisket, and other delicious treats. However, before you reach for that bottle of store-bought barbecue sauce, take a minute to glimpse at the ingredients label. There's one ingredient in many brands of store-bought barbecue sauce that might surprise you — and that could potentially make someone at your dinner table extremely ill: gluten.

While we typically think of gluten as it relates to bread, pasta, and other items that require a heavy helping of wheat flour, gluten can also be found in many sauces, soups, and other food items that require flour as a thickening agent, and barbecue sauce is one of these food items. In some cases, the gluten is even extra-hidden, as is the case with Cattlemen's BBQ Sauce Carolina Tangy Gold, which contains gluten due to the item's soy sauce content. Luckily, looking at some of the most popular brands of barbecue sauce, many are gluten-free, including many of the flavors offered by the Sweet Baby Ray's brand, as well as Stubb's. Just aim to be safe rather than sorry, by double-checking your sauce of choice before serving. 

Other ingredients to look out for in store-bought barbecue sauce

Beyond the gluten, there are other less-than-ideal ingredients potentially lurking in your store-bought barbecue sauce. For example, you may want to think twice about buying barbecue sauce if you're watching your sugar or sodium intake. The average store-bought barbecue sauce contains several hundred milligrams of sodium, which can really add up over a meal. Furthermore, high fructose corn syrup is a popular first ingredient in many store-bought barbecue sauces — an ingredient considered one of the primary causes of obesity in America.

If you feel inspired to say goodbye to your store-bought barbecue sauce this summer, though, you don't have to ditch your barbecue plans completely. It's easy enough to mix up a batch of homemade barbecue sauce at home, and you'll find it equally easy to tweak your barbecue recipe to match your tastes. Want a St. Louis-style rib sauce? Go with a barbecue recipe that's heavy on the brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. No tomato sauce on hand? Mix up an easier batch of homemade barbecue sauce with a ketchup base. You can even go international, with a Korean barbecue sauce recipe that incorporates soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and more.