Store Bought Steak Sauces Ranked From Worst To First

There are people, "experts" they may call themselves, who say that ordering steak sauce with a steak is a huge, huge mistake. And while asking for a bottle of A1 with your $53 prime filet will get you even more side-eye than ordering it well done, well, what you do in the privacy of your own home is your own business. So if you are the type who likes a blast of pepper, vinegar, and garlic on their grilled meat, slathering your stuff in steak sauce where no one can see you can be quite the guilty pleasure.

Where once upon a time, choosing a steak sauce at the grocery store pretty much meant picking up a bottle of A.1., now even that classic brand has multiple styles to choose from. And that's not even considering the famous steakhouses who've put their special sauces on the shelves, and the stores who've brought us their own blend. So which steak sauce is best, and which is best left unopened? We tried a bunch of 'em –- with nobody watching -– and ranked them for you.

16. Peter Luger Steakhouse Old Fashioned Sauce

The legendary Brooklyn steakhouse that appears on nearly every list you'll find of best steakhouses in America has been open since 1887, when it was called Carl Luger's Café Billiards and Bowling Alley. The simple, German-style steakhouse is absolutely worth hitting if you're ever in New York. But do yourself a favor: Wait until you're in the actual restaurant to try anything with the name "Peter Luger."

The steak sauce is, quite simply, inedible. That is, unless you're a fan of dousing your meat in cocktail sauce. It makes sense, though, that a place who prides itself on serving the finest meat in New York has a steak sauce that tastes like a prep cook was playing a prank on the chefs. Typically if you're dining at Peter Luger you're not bothering with sauce, so don't bother with it at home either. This might be nice with a shrimp cocktail, but otherwise it should stay on the shelf.

15. Primal kitchen Steak Sauce

There are some products where finding a natural, organic version with no added sugar is a fine idea. Fruit juices. Coffee creamer. Lavender scented counter cleaner. Then there are some products that are best left in their not-so natural state. Deodorant is a perfect example. But, after trying Primal Kitchen's steak sauce, we'd also add steak sauce to the list.

That's not to say that you should go around looking for high fructose corn syrup on steak sauce labels. It's just saying that this particular brand, found at Whole Foods and other socially responsible grocers, does not taste good. What it lacks in sweetness it makes up for in vinegar, which is kind of like making up for bad breath by drinking coffee. It will overpower any steak that's not already bursting with flavor, and the combination of citrus and vinegar makes this taste much more like a bloody Mary mix than a steak sauce. If you're trying to avoid sugar, we suppose it's a viable option. Though you'd be better off just eating the steak plain.

14. Lawry's Steak & Chop marinade

Granted, Lawry's entrant into the steak sauce category markets itself as a marinade. And, yes, if you throw it all over your steak half an hour before putting it on the grill, it cooks in a smoky, garlicky sweetness that oftentimes gives you steaks that don't need any more sauce. That said, if you decided to make your steaks at the last minute, or just flat out forgot to marinate them, this stuff works just as well post-grilling as it does before.

The onion and garlic flavor in this sauce is dominant, so much so that if you're averse to either taste this may not be the sauce for you. The onions definitely taste dehydrated, and that concentration of flavor is accentuated by the strong vinegar punch. Using marinade as steak sauce is not for the faint of heart, but if you're not unto stuff like "subtlety" this can be a pleasant surprise.

13. HP Sauce

Some may argue that HP is more of a brown sauce than a steak sauce. But when was the last time you saw an entire section of brown sauce at the supermarket, or could even name another brand other than HP? This classic British condiment is often grouped in with steak sauces in stores and restaurants, and so we have grouped it here, too. The classic was invented in 1899 by English grocer Frederick Gibson Garton, who later sold the recipe to settle a bet with a vinegar tycoon. It gained the name "HP" after the U.K.'s House of Parliament, as it was allegedly served in its restaurant once upon a time.

However you categorize it, the sauce is thicker and tangier than traditional steak sauces, and if you're not into stuff like "flavor" –- kind of like the English -– it adds quite a nice kick. In true British fashion, it'll never upset you or really even cause much of a fuss. But it's not gaining any undue attention either. It's a mild, vinegary flavor with a salty overtone, that adds just enough spice that you know it's in the room.

12. Shula's Special No. 347

If you're not a huge football fan, but somehow still find yourself at a tailgate full of Dolphins fans who insist on using Don Shula's sauce, you can impress them with this fun fact: The steak sauce name comes from the legendary football coach-turned-steakhouse impresario's career win total, the most of any coach in NFL history. The sauce is a staple at Shula's restaurants around the country, but is also easily found in the grocery store.

As great as Miami Dolphin's coach Don Shula was at coaching football, his steak sauce making prowess is not quite at that level. The sauce has a strong burst of lime, which might seem an appropriate tribute to Miami, the city that made him famous. But on top of a fine, grilled steak gives it an identity crisis. Is it trying to be a stand-alone steak ? Or lime-soaked fajitas ? Or some weird hybrid ? In any case, if you find yourself at a Shula's restaurant this may be worth a look. Otherwise, there are better steak sauces out there.

11. Lea and Perrins Worchestire

Technically, no, Worcestershire sauce on its own is not a steak sauce. But if there is one that is able to stand alone it's the classic from Lea and Perrins. According to The BBC, the sauce originated in Worcester, England, the creation of chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins in 1837. The two were approached by Lord Sandys, a British noble who wanted a sauce based on a recipe he'd found in India. The chemists mixed it up, keeping an extra bottle on hand for personal use.

They didn't like it, and stored it in a cellar for a while, then tasted it again a long time later and found it fantastic. Tasting it straight out of the bottle nearly 200 years later (not the original stuff, obviously) it's a sharp taste that may need to be acquired. While Lea and Perrins's exact recipe is a tightly held secret, the current iteration slaps pretty hard when you first taste it, though when absorbed by steak it matches well. We'd suggest putting this on before cooking rather than after, as it really does work better as a marinade than a condiment.

10. Burman's

Kudos to the label design team for Aldi house brand Burman's, who's created bottles that, at first glance, appear to be name brands. But lean in a little closer and you'll see this white bottle with red trim is altogether nothing like A.1., both in appearance and in flavor. The sauce sits a little on the thinner side, making it ideal for pouring on top of a steak, but maybe not so great for dipping, as it'll definitely drip off between the plate and your mouth.

Burman's sauce has a vinegar that slaps hard, and while the sharp, spicy flavor works well with meat, it's missing a softening ingredient to balance it out. Looking at the bottle, the major difference between Aldi's sauce and A.1. is the raisin paste, of which Burman's has none. The result is a sauce that's close to the name brand it emulates, but doesn't quite make it. This may explain why it hasn't picked up the cult following of some other Aldi favorites.

9. Heinz 57 Sauce

According to Businesswire, this classic sauce first hit the market as Heinz Beefsteak sauce back in 1911, and went for a fat quarter a bottle. It's done a lot of growing up in the 110-plus years since its introduction, and is now used as an all purpose sauce, with a recipe for chicken gracing the bottle when we gave it a shot.

The sauce's name stems from founder Henry J Heinz, who, as legend has it, saw an ad for 21 styles of shoes and decided he liked the idea of marketing things with numbers. Even though Heinz was making over 60 different products at the time, he marketed his sauces as having "57 varieties" because of his and his wife's lucky numbers, five and seven respectively.

It has a markedly different flavor from every other steak sauce on the shelf, which is likely what gives it its versatility. For lovers of the thick spice and fermented flavor of traditional steak sauce, this may not be your favorite. It's long on tomatoes and has an onion and vinegar finish. Satisfying, but a bit sharp to rank higher.

8. Delmonico's Restaurant Classic 1837 Steak Sauce

If you're not familiar with the legend of Delmonico's restaurant in Manhattan, you can read all about it on the label of this sauce. The short version (via Gothamist): The Delmonico brothers opened this spot in 1837, and at the time it was the first white tablecloth, fine dining restaurant in the city. Since then, it's birthed the Delmonico steak, eggs benedict, baked Alaska, and all kinds of other stuff that's kept cardiologists in business.

The steak sauce tastes, quite simply, like it came from a fancy restaurant. It's rich and thick with heavy notes of burgundy and wine. The most overwhelming note you'll get is molasses, which is certainly an acquired taste if you're not into it. If you're looking for something robust, Delmonico's is your sauce. Just don't be surprised if your guests think it's a little much.

7. A.1. Thick & Hearty Sauce

The labeling on this varietal of the classic A.1. sauce may confuse people who take food instructions a little too literally. The side of the bottle reads "for steak, pork, and chicken, " like every type of A.1. But on the front, you'll find a photo of a big, juicy cheeseburger. Not to worry, this sauce works well on all of the above, and though it's not lying about the thick and hearty texture, the flavor isn't quite as bold as the original.

The ingredients in Thick and Hearty don't differ much from A.1., other than the use of high fructose corn syrup and regular corn syrup, which explains its aggressive sweetness. It also seems whatever thickening agent A.1. uses to make this stuff dulled the spiciness a little, as anyone who's ever added cornstarch to a spicy sauce can recognize. Still, it's a great one for dipping small pieces of meat, as the consistency lends itself to staying on the meat and off your napkin.

6. A.1. Original

One might think the name of A.1. Steak Sauce dates back to the days of the Yellow Pages, and its makers desire to be the first sauce listed when people looked up "steak sauce" in the phone book. But, in fact, it pre-dates the telephone, all the way back to the 1820s. This was when Henderson William Brand, who was personal chef to King George IV, developed the stuff for the king. As the legend has it, the King tasted this sauce and immediately dubbed it "A1." Interestingly, its original ingredients included raisin paste, because it helped slow the meat's rotting process, according to Portable Press

The current iteration has some more modern stuff thrown in, including xanthan gum, caramel color, and corn syrup. Still, it's the granddaddy of all steak sauce, and is one many associate with "steak sauce." It's definitely got a lot of muted fruit –- thanks to the aforementioned raisins and crushed orange puree. The taste is mellow and unobjectionable, and you'll never offend someone by having A.1. at your picnic table. Though you well might if you ask for it in a fine steakhouse.

5. A.1. Bold & Spicy Sauce

If you're the type of person that finds yourself devouring entire orders of Thai curry because the adrenaline of the spice compels you, this may well be your favorite sauce on the list. No, it's not so hot you'll find yourself crying, and the fat and protein from your steak will neutralize a lot of the heat from the epic amounts of Tabasco in this stuff. But the flavor rush from the heat definitely makes you want to eat more than you should. And in this way, A.1. Bold & Spicy is dangerous.

If you're not big on the red pepper flavors of Tabasco sauce, don't here. There's no avoiding the taste as it dominates this sauce like the tenor who sings too loud in the church choir. That said, if you're the type to put Tabasco sauce on your oatmeal, this sauce is pure nirvana. Divisive, sure. But even if you're a spicy food moderate the stuff is still pretty danged good.

4. Essential Everyday Steak Sauce

If you're a fan of peppercorn steak or steak au poivre, but don't have time to whip up a batch of the cognac-and-cream based sauce, this one might be a serviceable alternative. The bottle describes it as a "robust blend of the finest spices," which may well be accurate, but the finest spice we taste here is pepper. And by "finest," we mean "only." The sauce is a bit thin, and runs from the bottle fast, so if you don't want your steak overpowered with that flavor, take it slow.

That said, it's a nice taste that balances well with fattier cuts of meat. The vinegar cuts into the grease and the pepper tops it off nicely, and this sauce will round out your steak to perfection. There's even a hint of tomato, giving the sauce some complexity. "Everyday" might be a bit excessive, but you won't go wrong with this one. It's just not so great your friends will be asking about it later, either.

3. Great Value Steak Sauce

Walmart doesn't lie when it calls its private label sauce "great value," as the pretty-solid stuff will cost you only about a dollar. And while it's not topping the list of great store bought steak sauces, it's without question the most bang for your literal buck. And though we'd say it's neck-in-neck with the next sauce on the list in terms of flavor, that value gives it the edge.

The sauce pours out thick and hearty, altering the eater that it will hold up to whatever meat it's served on. Great Value's taste is equally bold and thick, using the same raisin paste A.1. does to give it rich overtones. The vinegar cuts through the tomato and spice, and while it doesn't overpower the sauce gives it just enough of a kick to stand up to the fat of the steak. Not that steak sauce is ever a major drain on your grocery bill, and if you're not at Walmart it's not worth going out of your way for. But if you do your grocery shopping there anyway, you're not finding a better sauce on their shelves.

2. 365 Whole Foods Organic Steak Sauce

Proving that if done right, organic and "healthy" can be just as good as anything else, Whole Foods' private label sauce gives us a steak sauce with a flavor unlike anything else out there. You can taste the full bits of onion, garlic, and other spices, and they meld together to a strong, herbal burst when you first put it in your mouth. It may be a bit much for some, and if you're more into the classic, A.1.-style stuff that's long on molasses and raisins, then this might not be for you.

However, if you're into complex flavors, it's an excellent pick. It runs the risk of overpowering your meat, so if you've got a cut you're super excited to grill, you may want to go with something milder. But if you want the kind of sauce that'll have you dipping your meat in it over and over again because it's just so darned interesting, Whole Foods has your sauce.

1. Lea & Perrins Bold Steak Sauce

The inventors of Worcestershire sauce also bottle a steak sauce. And though it's unclear if the chemists who developed the famous sauce had a hand in the creation of this thicker, bolder steak sauce, its flavor is just as complex and intriguing as the original stuff. The sauce is among the thickest on the shelf, making it perfect for dipping a small piece of meat into with no worries about sauce dripping onto your lap.

The sauce by itself almost tastes like grilled meat, so when you put it on a bite of steak it's almost like a wrapper for the flavors inside. It's got a sweetness with hints of grape, which one might not immediately think would work with steak, until you remember red wine. It's a rich, complicated flavor that's clearly got some thought behind it. Simple this steak sauce is not, but it works perfectly if your steak is hot off the grill.