The Store-Bought BBQ Sauce That We're Keeping Beside The Grill All Summer

If you're planning a long summer of enjoying your favorite barbecued foods, we've got the perfect recommendation for a versatile sauce that works for almost any food you want to toss on the grill. After testing a huge range of barbecue sauces, one surprising, non-traditional option rose to the top of the list: Bachan's Original Japanese Barbecue Sauce. With a base that reminded us of teriyaki sauce, full of umami and sweetness, this sauce is balanced with just enough tomato paste to add body and a savory tang.

The reason this sauce works with so many foods is the light flavor profile, which results from the lack of heavy molasses and overabundance of tomato that some traditional smoky sauces lean on. This is an umami-packed soy sauce background enhanced with just enough garlic and ginger to add depth. The sauce is thin enough to pour, but can be built up in repeated brush strokes on the grill. The sauce works for red meats, but also more delicate flavors like seafood and veggies won't be lost under a layer of Bachan's.

Japan is the home to a simple barbecue tradition

You might be more familiar with KC or Memphis barbecue styles, where ribs or tough cuts of meat are smoked to perfection and served with a thick, savory sauce meant to stand up to all that smoke. Japanese barbecue, also known as yakiniku, is usually a more simple affair, where you'll get a side of sweet and salty sauce for dipping or brushing on while thinly sliced meat is cooking at your table rather than a giant barbecue. Bachan's Original Japanese Barbecue Sauce is made in that tradition — a hybrid of marinade, dipping sauce, and barbecue condiment all in one.

A few key tips you should know for using this thinner, sweeter-style sauce include not brushing it on too early to avoid burnt, over-caramelized edges, as well as building up layers by frequent basting with the sauce if you want intense flavor. The sauce can be used to marinate meats, but remember that salty soy sauce and sugar can both pull moisture out quickly, so keep the soak a maximum of 8 hours, and if the meats are cut small, cut that time much shorter. You'll enjoy the flavor of this sauce as it grills, but it's also great for dipping your meats as you eat, Japanese-style!