Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce Review

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Medically reviewed by:
Dr. Jennifer Hughes, MD

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Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce is an accurate, clean, and unsweetened version of the classic, but customers may have to pay more than they would expect.

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Our Rating:

A

» Rating Methodology

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Our Rating Methodology

We determined this rating by evaluating the following factors:

  • Ingredients & Nutritional Quality: A+
  • User Experience: A
  • Brand Experience: A
  • Value: B+
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Welcome to our Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce review!

With respect to the great and varied traditions of sweet, spicy, and other styles of bbq sauce embraced by different parts of the country, we’re keeping a neutral stance on style in this review so as not to cloud the importance of taste and nutritional value.

Still, after ample sampling, we found that Primal Kitchen Classic BBQ Sauce is one of the closest to the mark in terms of accurately mimicking the taste and texture of the less nutritious sauce it intends to replace.

If you’re looking for a clean, organic, and unsweetened BBQ sauce that just might fool your taste buds, we recommend Primal Kitchen BBQ sauce, which earned an overall grade of A in our review—here’s how. 

Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce
  • Description

    A little sweet, a little spicy, this organic barbecue sauce borrows from multiple styles in a way that still seems familiar.

  • Ingredients

    Water, Organic Tomato Paste, Organic Balsamic Vinegar (Organic Wine Vinegar, Organic Concentrated Grape Must), Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Dijon Mustard (Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Water, Organic Mustard Seed, Salt, Organic Spices), Sea Salt, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Coriander, Organic Cumin, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Chipotle Powder, Natural Smoke Flavor, Organic Garlic, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Garlic Powder

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Excellent taste and texture
  • Superior ingredient list
  • Cons
  • Sweet bbq sauce fans may be turned away (less sweet)
  • Small bottle may require purchasing two at a time

Ingredient and Nutritional Quality

Summary:

Grade: A+

Once again, Primal Kitchen demonstrates both a commitment to high-tier organic ingredients and the ability to tactfully formulate around artificial flavorings, sugar, and harmful preservatives.

Here is the ingredient list for Primal Kitchen BBQ sauce:

Water, Organic Tomato Paste, Organic Balsamic Vinegar (Organic Wine Vinegar, Organic Concentrated Grape Must), Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Dijon Mustard (Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Water, Organic Mustard Seed, Salt, Organic Spices), Sea Salt, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Coriander, Organic Cumin, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Chipotle Powder, Natural Smoke Flavor, Organic Garlic, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Garlic Powder

If you’ve checked out the ingredient lists for Primal Kitchen Mayo or Primal Kitchen Teriyaki Sauce, along with most of Primal’s other products, this probably isn’t going to come as a surprise—almost everything is organic.

Between the tomato, vinegars (apple cider and balsamic), mustard, and seasonings, there’s plenty to argue for in favor of a nutritionally dense ingredient selection that can enhance immunity, regulate blood sugar levels, improve heart and brain health, and much more.

As thickeners go, organic tapioca starch is widely regarded as safe to consume, as this clean-label, plant-based (cassava) starch is low in sodium, cholesterol, and trans fats.

At the same time, tapioca starch is essentially pure carbs, and contributes little in the way of micronutrients, but considering the carbs per serving (3g/2Tbsp) of Primal Kitchen BBQ sauce and the position of organic tapioca starch on this ingredient list, there isn’t nearly enough starch to pose a threat nutritionally.

Speaking of carbs and such, here’s a quick look at the nutrition facts for Primal Kitchen BBQ sauce (2Tbsp serving size):

  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 160mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Dietary Fiber: <1g
  • Total Sugars: 2g

The second and final ingredient that may cause a little hesitation is the natural smoke flavor.

Many don’t know that natural smoke flavor is actually made from real smoke that is condensed and concentrated after being produced from burnt wood chips.

Numerous studies like this one warn against the potential harms of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a cancer-causing compound found in wood smoke.

In fairness, this breakdown from Superfoodly shows that the two brands of liquid smoke flavoring tested contained 0.8 nanograms and 1.1 nanograms per teaspoon of benzo(a)pyrene, the source of the problem, whereas BBQ chicken contains 88.5 nanograms, citing the fat-solubility of the cancer compounds as the reason why liquid smoke is actually much safer in comparison (the recommended “daily upper safety limit” is 47 nanograms).

In light of this evidence, our review team decided a deduction isn’t merited beyond a mention, and in light of the rest of the Primal Kitchen BBQ sauce ingredient list, it’s an A+ for ingredient and nutrition quality. 

User Experience

Summary:

Grade: A

Where hardcore barbecue purists may find their taste buds in limbo between a classic brown and spicy/vinegary barbecue sauce, the casual consumer has plenty to savor in this tasty rendition.

As important as taste and texture are to the user experience with any given food product, these factors don’t encompass the whole picture, which is why we include packaging, shelf life, and other elements of the total user experience.

In the case of our Primal Kitchen BBQ review, we committed our once-weekly venture out of the home (writers, what are you gonna do?) to picking the product up from the grocery store, so the issues of damage on receipt, shipping times, etc. are moot.

The sauce comes in a standard glass bottle with plastic, threaded lid, and the label features the product’s certifications (keto, Whole30, paleo, and non-GMO), nutrition facts, ingredient list, a blurb about Primal Kitchen, and more.

Several realizations struck us regarding the taste, starting off with the fact that the lack of sweetness was compensated for skilfully; it didn’t seem “flat” or “bitter” without the added sugar.

This landed the flavor in a sort of purgatory between the classic, sweet barbecue sauce most of us are familiar with and a slightly spicy, “vinegary” version—Virginia style bbq sauce comes to mind.

Either way, the taste was very enjoyable and fairly accurate; this sauce may be the closest to the mark as far as mimicking less nutritionally upstanding versions (sorry Primal Kitchen Ranch, you’re still good).

Finally, the texture was also much better than other Primal Kitchen sauces we’ve tried in that it wasn’t too thin.

Like Primal Kitchen Ketchup, it’s a little “grainy,” but not to a very noticeable extent.

We’re sticking with an A for taste and texture, but we’ll qualify our score with this: If you really like sweet BBQ sauce, it might be closer to a B (though Primal Kitchen Hawaiian BBQ might come closer to the mark).

Brand Experience

Summary:

Grade: A

With a couple minor exceptions, Primal Kitchen stands behind this product and the rest of their catalog with top-tier customer support, shipping and return policies, and more.

Taking a step back from the specific product review for a moment, this is where we credit the reviewed brand for how it manages each point of interaction with the consumer, which includes the following elements at a minimum:

  • Depth and breadth of website content
  • Online shopping experience
  • Customer service
  • Shipping/return policies
  • And more

In this particular case (reviewing Primal Kitchen BBQ,) customer service testing didn’t apply, but we learned in our Primal Kitchen Review that the customer service is solid.

Available services include phone, live messenger, and email support, and when we tested the phone line, we were quickly connected to a polite and knowledgeable support agent.

Free shipping kicks in at the $50 mark for subscribers and $25 for non-subscribers, both of which are fairly realistic thresholds given the pricier products.

Concerning the depth, breadth, and quality of content on the Primal Kitchen site, we found a wealth of informative blog posts and podcast episodes, but there isn’t really a beginner-friendly, “start here” page that neatly packages the basics (what is keto/paleo/clean eating, etc.).

The browsing and shopping experience is effortlessly fluid and engaging, assisted by drop-down menus that portion the rather large catalog (80+ products) into simple categories.

Every product page is attractively designed and informative without feeling stuffy or cluttered, and the “this much more to free shipping” meter stays out of the way while providing a gentle incentive.

Taking into account our total brand experience, our two gripes include the already mentioned issue of site content consolidation and the policy of not paying return shipping, which cumulatively amounted to a small deduction.

Otherwise, every part of our experience with Primal Kitchen gave us the impression that they care about accommodating their customers, so they earn an A for brand experience. 

Value

Summary:

Grade: B+

Alongside a slight relaxing of the price point is the issue of a smaller bottle (that may require two-at-a-time purchasing), balancing out to a B+ for value.

Primal Kitchen charges $6.49 on their website for their 8.5oz bottle of Classic BBQ Sauce, which reduces to about $0.76/ounce.

Where Primal has generally poked through the price ceiling in other categories, they enjoy a slightly more competitive position here, beating other top-tier competitors (sugar free, organic, etc.) like Mother Raw Organic Sweet Heat BBQ ($0.84/oz)  and Good Food for Good Organic BBQ ($1.03) by small-to-medium margins.

However, the price is still premium, and moreover, the smaller bottle hurts their case for more reasons than the price-per-ounce equation; it’s likely you could use an entire bottle or more if you’re throwing down some ribs or other classic bbq dishes for multiple people.

Hence, it’s a B+ for value.

Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce FAQs

Is Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce spicy?

Our review team did find this sauce to be a little spicier than most classic bbq sauces, though not quite to the extent of spicy bbq sauce or hot sauce.

How long does Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce last?

Each bottle of Primal Kitchen BBQ sauce will have a best-by date printed on it, and Primal Kitchen recommends using within 60 days and refrigerating after opening.

What does Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce taste like?

Per our review team, Primal Kitchen BBQ sauce tastes much like classic (sweet) bbq sauce, though it’s a little less sweet and a little spicy.

Our Verdict

Primal Kitchen sticks to their zero-compromise philosophy in the case of their Classic BBQ Sauce, which is loaded with organic ingredients while staying away from harmful preservatives and added sugar of any kind.

With the exception of being a little less sweet and a little more spicy than most classic barbecue sauces, Primal Kitchen’s version comes very close to the mark on the flavor and texture department (though sweet tooths may not love it).

Primal Kitchen supports this product and the rest of their catalog with industry-leading standards in customer service, shipping and return policies, and e-commerce features with a couple of minor exceptions.

The price point is a little more competitive than normal, but the smaller bottle may necessitate purchasing two at a time.
Overall, we are impressed with the flavor, nutritional content, and support behind Primal Kitchen Classic BBQ Sauce, which earned an overall score of A in our review.

Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce
  • Description

    A little sweet, a little spicy, this organic barbecue sauce borrows from multiple styles in a way that still seems familiar.

  • Ingredients

    Water, Organic Tomato Paste, Organic Balsamic Vinegar (Organic Wine Vinegar, Organic Concentrated Grape Must), Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Dijon Mustard (Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Water, Organic Mustard Seed, Salt, Organic Spices), Sea Salt, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Coriander, Organic Cumin, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Chipotle Powder, Natural Smoke Flavor, Organic Garlic, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Garlic Powder

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