Who doesn’t love a bit of history in their BBQ sauce? Most BBQ sauce makers will regale you with stories about ancient recipes passed from generation to generation and how they’ve kept the spirit of the original sauce alive.
Others get developed by world-leading pitmasters and promise you the most modern BBQ sauce in the world.
Cattlemen’s Classic doesn’t have that. While the bottle talks about decades of experience and being a favorite of chefs worldwide, it doesn’t offer any history behind the sauce. Not that this is a problem. The company is honest about where their product comes from and who developed it.
Cattlemen’s is a relatively popular supermarket brand, so you don’t get much foodie cred for finding it on the shelves of your supermarket. However, it offers a deep and complex taste and aroma and is well worth your time.
If terrible supermarket brands have ruined BBQ sauces for you in the past, we strongly recommend conquering your fears and trying Cattlemen’s Classic Barbecue Sauce, even if it’s just once.
Aroma and Texture
The first two smells you’ll notice are hickory smoke and an overpowering tomato smell. We managed to pick up a bit of mustard and a slight, sweet molasses scent at the end.
The thickness is perfect for a BBQ sauce. It has just enough viscosity to make it stick to meat, but it’s liquid enough to be a great marinade. Some spices clumped together, however, which added a bit of texture that we didn’t like.
Taste Straight from the Jar
The taste from the jar isn’t as exquisite as we’d expect from the smell. The first two major flavors that hit are the tomato and vinegar, and the molasses and smokiness struggle to penetrate.
Some subtler are flavors present, including onion and garlic, though you have to concentrate to notice them. The sauce has no spiciness, as it relies on the combination of tomato and vinegar to give the sauce its kick.
Overall, the blend of spices, onion, and garlic powder combine to add an extra dimension to what would otherwise be a simple, no-frills KC sauce. Luckily, thanks to these spices, Cattlemen’s Classic BBQ sauce stands out above the rest of the supermarket brands.
Cooking with the Sauce
Where Cattlemen’s Classic Barbecue Sauce really shines is on the grill. Once you’ve chosen your best smoker or gas grill from one of our buyer’s guides, you’ll appreciate having this sauce around for your first test run.
We tested the sauce on a piece of chicken, and the results pleasantly surprised us. Thanks to the thickness of the sauce, it clung to the chicken during cooking, and the molasses added an extra layer of caramelization we found impressive.
Thanks to the grill, the overly bold tomato and vinegar taste and smell faded into the background, allowing the more subtle flavors to shine. The tomato still held the star spot, but we could detect plenty of smokiness and just enough sweetness to be interesting but not overwhelming.
Overall, the sauce finds its balance on the grill. It has just enough of everything: smoke, tanginess, flavor, and sweetness, without any particular flavor standing out from the others. Instead, you get a BBQ sauce that adds an extra dimension to any meat and works especially well with chicken, pork, and ribs.
We’ve talked about Cattlemen’s Classic Barbecue Sauce in our guide about the best BBQ sauces, and we still think it’s one of our favorites. The texture and taste are satisfactory, especially when used in BBQ cooking, where the heat from the grill adds an extra layer of texture and taste. The sauce is thick enough that it won’t spill all over your smoker or grill but still thin enough to excellently flavor the meat.
When we first tried the sauce on its own, we were overwhelmed by the flavors that felt too bold and tangy. We had to work very hard to distinguish any of the herbs and spices, and the smokiness and molasses were completely lost.
So why do we put Cattlemen’s Classic Barbecue Sauce so high on our list of BBQ sauces?
Once you put it on the grill, it changes into a different beast entirely. Gone are the overpowering vinegar and tomato flavors, and in their place, we find the perfect flavor of an excellent KC sauce. It cooks well and caramelizes nicely without dripping all over your grill, and the smoky and sweet flavors pair well with almost any meat you can imagine.
Overall, while we do like to support our local brands, Cattlemen’s is an excellent choice if you’re limited to supermarket options. If you’re planning to shop locally, though, you can definitely find better with a bit of research and patience.