The Secret Ingredients In Sweet Baby Ray's Sauce May Surprise You

There's something about Sweet Baby Ray's sauce that motivates tweets of the "I've died and gone to heaven" variety. The barbecue sauce can go on just about anything. For example, says one twitter fan, "[I] made chicken tenders n fries and ain't got no sweet baby rays...lackin." Another swears by "Conecuh [sausage] on Hawaiian bread with sweet baby rays." Of course, others keep it simple, to the tune of,  "And I'm sitting here drinking sweet baby rays bbq sauce from the bottle." Even Mark Zuckerberg swears by it. You can watch him grill his ribs with the stuff, if you are so compelled. 

And while WE tv's Hustle & Soul chef Lawrence Page told Today that he adds a bit of cayenne and white pepper to his before grilling (along with bourbon and maple syrup), it turns out that there are ingredients in Sweet Baby Ray's that give it a little bit of extra "umph" anyway. 

Here's the secret to Sweet Baby Ray's kick

Back in 1990, Dave Raymond, founder of Sweet Baby Ray's, described the sauce to Chicago Tribune as "a unique blend of sweet, hot and smoke designed to complement food flavor and not dominate it." And, in the early 90s at least, it was McIlhenny's Tabasco sauce (a mix of tabasco peppers, salt, and vinegar) that gave the barbecue its special something. ”Other sauces use bell peppers, curry powder or cayenne red pepper, which are cheaper ingredients without the same bite. We also use real brown sugar,” Raymond said.

More than 30 years later, the company has diversified. While Tabasco sauce is no longer listed on its ingredients, Sweet Baby Ray's seems to have steered clear of the curry powders and cayenne red peppers that some of its competition depends upon. The ingredient list on Baby Ray's Original Barbecue Sauce, for example, hints at a tangy combination of pineapple juice concentrate and tamarind. Its Sweet 'N Spicy Barbecue Sauce, on the other hand, promises a bit of jalapeño pepper "for some extra kick." Finally, if you prefer chipotle, go with the company's Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce, which offers a tantalizing mix of chipotle pepper, onion, and honey.