28 Jun 10 Black-Owned Sauces for Summer Grilling
Can you smell it? The smokey scent of charred brisket and ribs? Can you hear the Frankie Beverly and Maze playing from your cousin’s Bluetooth speaker? Do you see the shoes? You know the ones.
For many Black Americans, those are the unmistakable sights, sounds, and scents of (grilling/cookout) season. Though it varies by region – much like the BBQ techniques themselves –the season starts around Memorial Day and ends Labor Day weekend, hitting Father’s Day, Juneteenth, family reunions, and, of course, the Fourth of July, along the way. While some may be hesitant to venture from the tools and techniques of previous pitmasters, there are plenty of opportunities to innovate and build on this culinary tradition.
Bring something new to the backyard – and continue your year-round support for Black-owned restaurants and culinary businesses – by trying one of these Black-owned sauce brands this (grilling/cookout) season. Whether you’re looking for something sweet, salty, tangy, spicy – or a combination– you’re sure to find something that adds flavor, moisture, and texture without overpowering the smoke or natural flavor of the meats or veggies. Happy grilling!
Ubah Hot is an ambitious brand. It aims to create sauces that capture the joy of eating by igniting as many of the senses as possible; use locally sourced, vegan, preservative-free ingredients that balance flavor with nutrition; and introduce African spices to (cookouts/BBQs) around the world. That ambition reflects that of its founder, Ubah Hassan. Before becoming a culinary entrepreneur – and having her sauces featured as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2021 – the Somali-born Hassan was the face of a Ralph Lauren campaign and modeled for Gucci, Oscar de la Renta, Rachel Roy, Betsey Johnson and more. Each of Ubah Hot’s signature flavors are named after precious gemstone – Ruby (Fresno mild), Emerald (Serrano medium), and Yellow Tanzanite (Habanero hot). Their premier collection sells for $60.
What started as a mommy-and-me kitchen experiment has grown into a full-blown family business. With 18-year-old Tyla-Simone Crayton as CEO and her mom as President, Sienna Sauces has been featured on NowThis, inside Edition, Good Morning America, C-Span, CNBC, Revolt TV, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and ABC’s Shark Tank, where she successfully secured a deal. But despite her proven ability to wow investors, the secret to their success is still the sauce. It’s considered a versatile “everything sauce” that can enhance just about anything that comes off the grill. The low-sodium, gluten-free, honey-based sauces are also made without high fructose corn syrup; can be used as a dip marinade, glaze, or added ingredient; comes in flavors like Lemon Pepper and Smoky Brown; and can be ordered online or in select HEB, Wegmans, and Target stores across the nation. A three-pack of their incredible sauces goes for $30, while the six-pack will run you $45.
Everybody who knew Judith Stratton – a.k.a. Lady J – would request her homemade hot sauce at family cookouts and neighborhood get togethers, and they all bemoaned its absence after she passed. But in the kitchen and in life, Lady J’s life motto was to “pay it forward.” By teaching her daughter, Wanda V. Hill, to make the sauce, she made sure the good feelings people got from her sauce would continue for years to come. At the urging of those same neighbors and family members, who have now experienced two generations of Lady J’s hot sauce, Hill went on to bottle that sweet, tangy concoction. Now, people in neighborhoods across the country are putting it on everything from wings to vegetables and mac and cheese. Individual bottles are $7, three-packs are $20, and 12-packs are $72.
Lost in the Sauce
These artisanal sauce makers are most proud of the complexity of their inventions and how well they complement other foods. Their line of sauces blends with meals instead of blanketing them. The Peri Peri Chili Sauce is a spice explosion using cinnamon and thyme, and the Mango Pineapple Sauce is a real tropical treat. Selections run from $10 to $18.
Both the names and flavors of this family-owned company were inspired by Gunnery Sergeant Stanton Beal’s storied service in the U.S. military, which began with him hiding his real age so he could enlist at 15-years-old, and culminated with him receiving an Antarctic Expeditionary Medal for being the flight engineer for the longest recorded flight in Marine Corps history. His service sent him all over the world, with ingredients from various regions inspiring the his unique mix of sauces. The mild Schmuckatelli includes bell peppers, Fresno chilies, and peaches, while the Gunny Fire – their hottest – features Thai chilies. Each bottle comes in at $6, while the promotion package of three runs about $16.
Big Red’s Hot Sauce
Genie, the co-host of Master P’s small business review show, thought what everyone thinks after trying one of Big Red’s Hot Sauces. “He’s not an amateur,” she said after being blown away by its fullness and flavors. “He was probably mixing sauces since he was like 12 or 9 or something!” But nope. Paul Ford, the saucier behind Big Red’s, began making sauces for his wife and kids a mere ten years ago. Since then, he’s helped put “Arizona-style hot sauce” on the map and usurped crowns from some long-reigning kings at national hot sauce competitions.
While they often use superhots – a category of pepper that starts with ghost and gets hotter – they balance them with other flavors that curb the heat and give their sauces a fruitier, tangier, smokier flavor, like their Maple Bacon Jalapeno, Green Chili Avocado, and Blackberry Rum. But for those looking to go all the way, their hottest sauce, 3 King’s, combines ghost peppers, scorpion peppers, and Reapers. Single sauces start at $8, while gift boxes top out at $55.
Hot N Saucy
Chef Sam Davis-Allonce’s Hot n Suacy sauces have given Queen Latifah the tingles and made Khloe Kardashian cry. Her sauces have been part of the lineup on not one, but two seasons of the YouTube sensation, “Hot Ones,” earning not one, but several celebrity seals of approval. “You know the feeling when you douse your collard greens in hot sauce and it’s the perfect pairing for a plate of fried chicken?” host Sean Evans asked in a teaser for the recent season. “Chef Sam of Hot n Spicy in Harlem has bottled that flavor memory perfectly, but with considerably more Scoville’s thanks to liberal use of ghost peppers.” She’ll help you make more flavor memories as well. In addition to Collards n Hot, check out unexpected blends like Garlic n Peperoncini or Sweet Potato n Habanero. Individual bottles are $10. Three-packs are $30.
TrapButtah by Chef Oya the Trap
Chef Oya Woodruff has become something like royalty in the Indianapolis food scene since opening The Trap, an acronym for “Towards Restoring food and Access to the People.” Both her succulent seafood and the TrapButtah sauces she serves it with have earned her appearances on Food Network’s Bite Club and Good Morning America, and she was recognized by Food & Wine Magazine for helping make Indianapolis one of America’s next great food cities. But despite her ascension, Oya’s food and sauces – which comes in OG Garlic Herb, Island Curry, Yaad Jerk, and Sweet Thai Chili – are still for the streets. “Since day one at her walk-up counter The Trap in the Eastside, a food desert where most residents lack access to affordable, nutritious food, chef Oya Woodruff has been giving out trays of boiled seafood smothered in her signature Trap Buttah (an irresistibly garlicky and herbaceous sauce) to those in need, showing she’s committed to feeding everyone, no matter the cost,” Food & Wine writes.
Capital City Mambo Sauce
Mambo Sauce, with its sweet, sticky, tangy flavor, has long had a cult-like following in D.C. Half smokes and corner chicken shops have had it on their menus for decades, but D.C. native Arsha Jones made it mainstream. She began making it at home because she missed the sauce she ate growing up and wanted others to try it for a “real taste of D.C.” Years later, that mission has been more than accomplished with Capital City Mambo Sauce. Bottles have been sold in select Target, Safeway, Giant, Walmart, Wegmans, and Food Lion locations; they have come as a special chicken wing condiment at some KFCs and Papa John’s; and it’s used as the “house” wing sauce at various restaurants. They’ve even partnered with New Balance for a special sneaker collection paying homage to D.C. street style.
Trade Street Jam Co.
Trade Street Jam Co. is “not your regular, schmegular, or degular jam.” For one, they are vegan, low in sugar, and free of pectins, thickeners, stabilizers. They also offer titillating, experimental flavors like Sour Cherry Ginger and Blackberry Mulled Merlot. But least regular of all? Their jams can be spread on a lot more than toast. This grilling season, try their Raspberry Hot Sauce on wings, burgers, and maybe even cocktails for a simultaneously sweet and savory condiment. It’s $16 per bottle.