The Barbecue Sauce Bobby Flay Always Keeps In His Pantry

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay is well known for his prowess behind the grill. Over the years, the Food Network star has cemented his status as the reigning burger king, showcasing his grilling skills on a variety of barbecue-related cooking shows, from "BBQ Brawl" to "Grill It! with Bobby Flay." Time and time again, viewers have watched the restaurateur slather his ribs, pork, chicken, and the like in sweet and spicy sauces and smoky spice rubs in true artistic fashion. 

However, what some may be surprised to learn is that the chef's secret ingredient for whipping up the perfect barbecue isn't actually homemade. According to Flay, store-bought barbecue sauce can elevate grilled foods like any made from scratch. That's right; the bottled stuff will do just fine, so long as you use his personal favorite — a store-bought spread called Bone Suckin' Sauce, which he always keeps stocked in his pantry at the ready.

During a 2022 video, which Flay posted on Instagram in collaboration with grocery delivery service Misfits Market, the chef gave a tour of his home pantry, noting that he likes to "always have barbecue sauce ready to go just in case," and apparently, he's especially a fan of the spicier varieties.

Bobby Flay's favorite barbecue sauce is spicy

Turns out, salt and pepper aren't the only two ingredients Bobby Flay uses to season his burgers. Bone Suckin' Sauce is another favorite flavor enhancer of Flay's. Founded in 1987, the sauce is from Raleigh, North Carolina, and Flay has featured the bottled spread in some of his Food Network recipes, including his signature BBQ burgers, which call for ½ cup of store-bought barbecue sauce, such as Spicy Bone-Suckin' Sauce. 

The "Sweet Southern" sauce gets its spicy heat from cayenne pepper, blending it with other flavors like tamarind, onion, turmeric, and horseradish. It's also enhanced with cane sugar and molasses to create a balance between that spicy heat and tangy sweetness.

During a 2022 Food Network episode, Flay said he likes to "pump up the flavor" of store-bought barbecue sauces even further by adding in a few key ingredients, including a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce for added tartness and umami flavor, chipotle puree for a smoky kick, and an acid, such as fresh lime juice, to help "cut through the richness" and balance out the flavors — all of which, he adds to the sauce while it's simmering on the stove.

The celebrity chef's other go-to condiments

Store-bought barbecue sauce isn't the only condiment staple Bobby Flay keeps in his pantry. As evidenced by his pantry tour, he also has "tons of different mustards," from Dijon and whole grain to old-style mustard, which he said was a type of "really grainy mustard." He noted that he also has yellow mustard "'cause sometimes people don't like Dijon mustard," adding that he keeps honey mustard on hand, too. And, of course, ketchup. "Gotta have ketchup," he stated.

Then, there's vinegar, which Flay also has plenty of. Red wine, white wine, rice wine, apple cider — you name it, the television personality likely has it stocked and ready to drizzle. Flay said he likes to have capers at the ready to amp up the Mediterranean notes of various dishes like chicken or fish piccata. 

A variety of hot sauces also graced his pantry shelves, including the trusty staple Frank's RedHot Original. Cholulua, another stalwart in the spicy sauce department, was also on hand, which Flay called a "really good quality hot sauce." Now privy to the chef's secret sauce, your meals will probably never be the same.