Top 9 Rib Sauce Recipes

No matter how you cook your ribs, you want a great barbecue sauce to cover them with. The best sauces for ribs tend to be thick and sticky so that they hold to the ribs. While most of these sauces are tomato based, there's a lot of variation among them.

Remember that any sauce that contains sugars (like tomatoes do) will burn at temperatures above 265 F (75 C). If you are cooking at temperatures above this, wait until the ribs are cooked before applying the sauce. This will prevent burning so you can avoid blackened ribs.

  • 01 of 09

    Classic BBQ Rib Sauce

    Classic BBQ Sauce

    The Spruce

    A great rib sauce should cook on the ribs, low and slow so that it can sink into the pores of the meat and create a sticky crust on the surface.

    This classic recipe starts with ketchup and then adds brown sugar and a host of flavors to give it that authentic barbecue flavor without relying on liquid smoke. The secret to this sauce is to let it simmer until it reaches the perfect thickness.

  • 02 of 09

    Kansas City Rib Sauce

    Kansas City Rib Sauce
    Sabrina S. Baksh/Regarding BBQ Inc.

    In Kansas City, you typically get a thick tomato-based sauce that is sweet and often spicy. This is the classic barbecue sauce that most people seem to like. The rich, dark color adds that barbecue looks to your favorite ribs while giving them a sticky, sweet flavor that makes you roll up your sleeves and dig in. Since this is a sweet sauce, avoid letting it get above 165 F. since it will burn easily. 

  • 03 of 09

    Jack Daniel's Rib Glaze

    Jack Daniel's Rib Glaze
    Iain Bagwell/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Whiskey-based barbecue sauces have a long history in the South. This tomato-based sauce gets that great whiskey flavor, which is simmered into the sauce with brown sugar to tame the bite of the whiskey. If you make this sauce a few days in advance it will have time for the flavors to blend and for the whiskey to mellow.

  • 04 of 09

    Savory Rib Sauce

    Baby back ribs
    Juanmonino / Getty Images

    Once upon a time, barbecue sauces, were, well, sauces. This barbecue sauce is an old-fashioned approach that starts with chicken stock and then adds in the flavors you'd expect. This is a great sauce for all kinds of barbecue, but the perfect blend for ribs.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

    Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
    LOVE_LIFE/Getty Images

    Many commercial barbecue sauces use liquid smoke or some other smoke flavoring to give it that "authentic" barbecue flavor. This sauce uses chipotles that are smoked jalapenos and already have a smokey flavor. This is the perfect barbecue sauce for ribs that haven't been smoked. What makes this smokey barbecue sauce work is that it relies on a traditional tomato barbecue sauce base to get it started.

  • 06 of 09

    Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce

    BBQ ribs on grill


    You've got a plate of smoky ribs and chances are an ice cold soda sitting next to it. This barbecue sauce takes the sweetness of Dr. Pepper and puts it into a fantastic sauce that is perfect on those ribs. Cooked low and slow, the secret is to baste those ribs with this sauce and to let it cook into place, absorbing some smoke hopefully and becoming perfectly sticky. 

  • 07 of 09

    Best Odds Rib Sauce

    Grilling Ribs
    mphillips007 / Getty Images

    This classic barbecue sauce is specifically designed for great barbecue ribs. Starting with tomato sauce instead of ketchup, this sauce goes on thick and slowly cooks in place.

  • 08 of 09

    Apple City Barbecue Sauce

    BBQ ribs
    mphillips007/Getty Images

    From legendary pitmaster Mike Mills, this award-winning barbecue sauce is a labor of love. Loaded with flavor, this sauce balances sweet with vinegar tartness and bacon. Yes, there is actually bacon in this barbecue sauce, so it must be good.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Burning Tomato Barbecue Sauce Recipe

    Memphis Barbecue Sauce

    The Spruce

    Sometimes you just want a spicy hot pork rib. This is the sauce to help get you there. Balanced between sweet and heat, this sauce contains 1/2 cup of Louisiana-Style Hot Sauce. That will give your ribs a little kick.