Once you have mastered the basics of grilling, you may be looking for ways to up your flavors to the next level.
It’s not just about how you cook the meat, but also what you add to the meat.
If your taste buds are getting bored with the same repertoire of flavors every week, it’s time to get saucy.
Flavor accessories like sauces or salsas will add that extra pizazz and little bit of kick to your next cookout.
Grilled ribs wouldn’t be the same without that sticky sauce, the same way, for many, ketchup is essential with hot dogs.
Some BBQ sauces like Sweet Baby Rays, which comes in several flavors, will provide a good go-to sauce for almost anything, others tend to be rather bland.
Just like most things in life, making your own sauces at home can be so much better. And while we get busy in the kitchen, have you ever experienced the difference between homemade salsa and a store-bought jar?
Join me as I look at some of the best recipes to add that extra sauciness to your outdoor grilling party.
Let’s start at the beginning, which is without a doubt the most common sauce you will find by the grill in the US: BBQ sauce.
A good BBQ sauce is used to baste meats when cooking, or simply left on the counter for guests to add themselves. Personally, I think the measure of a good cookout is in the BBQ sauce.
Depending on which style of BBQ you are cooking, the BBQ sauce can vary the most.
Kansas City style sauces are like those found in the aisles of most grocery stores, a thick and sweet, tomato based, tangy mixture.
Carolina and Southern BBQ sauces tend to add more vinegar to the sauce for that extra based tang.
Traditionally, Memphis BBQ uses dry rubs rather than sauces. However, you will find BBQ joints that put a sweet vinegar-based sauce on the table with that characteristic Memphis heat.
St. Louis style sauces, often found on ribs, are somewhat thinner and tangier than a Memphis sauce, but retain a hint of that heat.
Texas style BBQ sauces draw on the many melting flavors from around the world. In South Texas, it may be more Mexican influenced, whereas Eastern Texas combines so many different flavors.
The sauce starts with a ketchup base to create a classic thick sauce, blended with flavor combinations you will want to just pour on almost everything.
Many of the sauces we grill with use a combination of sweet and savory ingredients to offer a unique taste.
The sweeter ingredients will impart a fabulous depth of flavor to your grilled meats. However, sugar burns more easily at high temperatures and can add a bitterness to the sauce.
Sauces that are high in sugar should always be added to the meat in the final five or 10 minutes of grilling.
This will help avoid that bitterness, and prevent the sauce burning on the exterior of the meat. For a deeper flavor, you could use a brush to apply layers of the sauce for a delicious glaze.
And never use a sauce at the table which has had the brush touching the raw meat.
To avoid cross contamination, you should divide the sauce prior to grilling. If you have already brushed the sauce on, you can boil the remaining sauce in a pan before placing it on the table.
This variation on a traditional Kansas City style sauce creates a thick, sweet sauce with that little extra kick from the cayenne pepper.
It’s ideal for use on ribs, or placing on the counter as a pouring sauce.
Passed down from my grandpa, this recipe is the type favored in South Carolina for use on their famous pulled pork sandwiches.
The style of grilling is very different in the Carolinas, with an emphasis on tang rather than sweet.
This tangy sauce will go well with any pork, shredded chicken, or even lamb.
Next time you want to bring a taste of the Orient to your grill, try this simple Chinese style BBQ sauce.
It can be used on most grilled or smoked foods, and is perfect for those sticky ribs found in your local Chinese takeaway.
You could also use this sauce on a pork tenderloin for some of the most delicious Char Siu pork you have ever tasted.
However, be warned, like most BBQ sauces this one can burn quite easily due to its high sugar content.
Only use it at the end of cooking and use a brush to apply it rather than pouring and causing potential flare-ups.
Salsa, originally from Mexico, is a chunky type of sauce which is served as a side rather than a cooking sauce.
Usually containing a mixture of fresh vegetables, herbs, and sometimes fruit, they often add fresh chili for that extra kick.
They tend to be less wet and more chunky, ideal for dipping chips or placing on top of your grilled meats.
Tacos just wouldn’t be the same without a choice of salsas, and many grilled meats benefit from a salsa too. Fruit-based salsas will work well with pork or poultry, while tomato- and chili-based salsas go well with steaks and other cuts of red meat.
Traditionally, salsas use a combination of tomato, chili, onions, and other spices. However, many of today’s salsas will add far more flavors.
The combination is totally up to you, and making your own salsa at home will normally be far superior to store-bought equivalents.
Everybody’s tried the tomato-based salsas you get with nachos at the local Tex Mex spot, but how many have tried a pineapple salsa?
You’ve already got the grill going, so why not use it to grill some fresh pineapple for this refreshing salsa?
If you perfect this recipe, you will truly deserve the title of condimelier—an expert in the creation of perfect condiments!
Most of the sauces and salsa we have looked at go very well with meats and poultry.
This fruity salsa is ideal for fish and I just love it with grilled fish tacos. It could also be used with grilled poultry, and the cooling flavors go with any spicy dish.
We have only had time to include a few recipes for your sauces and salsa for your next grill.
However, the possibilities are endless.
Remember, salsa isn’t just a dance, but also a delicious condiment too. Follow the tips we have included here and maybe try a few of your own recipes too.
Soon people will be commenting just what a saucy guy on the grill you are!
This post was last updated on April 15th, 2019 at 07:56 pm
William Clay is a BBQ enthusiast dedicated to sharing his grilling (and overall cooking) expertise with FireFoodChef's readers.