When to Apply Barbecue Sauce When Grilling

Martin SmazenkoSauce IdeasLeave a Comment


For the serious pit master, there is nothing more cringe-worthy than watching someone incorrectly applying barbecue sauce when grilling. Whether it is applying the sauce before be the meat is cooked or taking the meat off the grill and slathering it in sauce without giving it a chance to caramelize, those who haven’t learned the finer points of grilling with barbecue sauce are limiting the possibilities.

While many grilled meats are served with barbecue sauce on the side as a condiment, by adding barbecue sauce during the cooking process can take the flavor of the meat to the next level. Most barbecue sauces contain high amounts of sugar that will begin to burn at around 260 degrees F. While the caramelization stage that gives grilled meats lathered in sauce that unique rich flavor, the sauce can quickly move past caramelization and into the burning stage, riddling good meat with bad flavor.


When grilling with barbecue sauce, there are two techniques to utilize.

The first technique is to use a marinade-type sauce. These sauces typically contain less sugar and recommend that you marinate the raw meat for an hour or two before grilling. Before placing on the grill, the excess marinade-type sauce is scrapped off and the meat is cooked normally. Due to the low sugar count in the sauce, the meat gets great flavor without burning. Afterwards, the meat can either be lightly glazed in more marinade-type sauce or a thicker barbecue sauce that has more sugar as well as a complimentary flavor.

Alternatively, the second technique can be used with any type of sauce. The meat is cooked on the grill normally without sauce until it is about 10 minutes from completion. The sauce is then lightly brushed on in two or three layers as the meat continues to cook. Flare ups and particularly hot areas of the grill sauce be avoided so as to not burn the sauce or overcook the meat. After the meat has finished cooking, an additional layer of sauce should be added off the grill to create a mouth-watering candied layer over the meat.

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