Find your way down a crowded aisle to a healthier barbecue sauce.

Find your way down a crowded aisle to a healthier barbecue sauce.

It's probably a safe bet to say that most homes have a bottle or three of barbecue sauce in the refrigerator. What easier dish is there in the summer than barbecued chicken? Simply slather on some sauce, head out to the grill and dinner is served.

But have you ever looked at a barbecue sauce label? Most brands list high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient and contain tons of sodium. Our guidelines for this test were simple: no high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors in the ingredient list, less than 300 milligrams of sodium and 12 grams or less carbohydrate per serving. The worst offender I found on our local supermarket shelves had 540 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, two types of sugar and artificial colors. Luckily we found several healthier options.

EatingWell staff tasters: Carolyn Casner, Stacy Fraser, Hilary Meyer, Carolyn Malcoun, Jessie Price
Analysis per 2-tablespoon serving

365 Organic Texas Barbecue Sauce

With 100 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving, as well as a honey-dijon color and consistency, this sauce from Whole Foods Market seemed more like a sandwich spread than a barbecue sauce. "Where's the tomato flavor?" Stacy asked.

  • Calories: 100
  • Total fat (g): 8
  • Sodium (mg): 260
  • Carbs (g): 7
  • Sugars (g): 6
  • Taste (1-5 stars): 2 stars

Annie's Naturals Organic Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce

Of the three sauces from Annie's Naturals, the Smokey Maple flavor came out on top (Hot Chipotle was close behind). Carolyn M. dug the rich, mahogany color and an almost chocolate-like flavor. Carolyn C. noted an odd celery flavor.

  • Calories: 45
  • Total fat (g): 1
  • Sodium (mg): 220
  • Carbs (g): 9
  • Sugars (g): 5
  • Taste (1-5 stars): 3 stars

Consorzio Organic BBQ Sauce

A sister company of Annie's Naturals, Consorzio makes a variety of dressings, marinades and sauces. Its barbecue sauce garnered average marks. We all thought it was a bit too sweet; not surprising since it has the most sugar, as well as carbohydrate and sodium.

  • Calories: 45
  • Total fat (g): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 280
  • Carbs (g): 11
  • Sugars (g): 9
  • Taste (1-5 stars): 3 stars

Wild Oats Natural Texas Style Smoky & Hot Barbeque Sauce

A few tasters thought this offering from Wild Oats tasted more like steak sauce. A bit vinegary, with some clove and allspice notes. It was the lowest in sugar and sodium and lower in carbs than most of the others.

  • Calories: 25
  • Total fat (g): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 190
  • Carbs (g): 6
  • Sugars (g): 4
  • Taste (1-5 stars): 3 stars

EatingWell Smart Choice: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sensuous Slathering Sauce

Lowest in calories and carbs, as well as the tops in both taste and texture, this was our Smart Choice winner. Jessie said, "This one has the best tangy, bright flavor." Hilary thought it was nicely balanced. We also liked the Roasted Garlic Honey flavor.

  • Calories: 25
  • Total fat (g): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 240
  • Carbs (g): 5
  • Sugars (g): 5
  • Taste (1-5 stars): 4 stars

July/August 2007