Little Sauce on the Prairie: The Pioneer Woman’s New Line of BBQ Sauces

Ree Drummond, Oklahoma’s own Pioneer Woman, is back on store shelves with a new collection of “family favorite” BBQ sauces, with disparate flavors based on her “own” recipes that include Peach Whiskey, Apple Brown Sugar and the singular Frontier, all of which sound like Blake Shelton song titles as much as they do tangy sauce names.

Currently available for purchase at any local Wal-Mart for around $2.49 each, for a TV cook that, for many years, has prided herself for a reasonably finger-licking “home-made” BBQ sauce, these store-bought variations up the ante and promises, per the differing labels, to “adorn chicken breasts” or, if you’re so inclined, to “drizzle it on cooked veggies” for a taste that is “good enough to eat with a spoon.”

While I’m not about to sample each flavor by itself with a spoon like a cud-chewing cowboy, instead I made a portentous rack of beef ribs in the oven—cue the OKC Talk message boards!—to drain and dispatch each individual sauce over, giving them a tried and true sampling of just how good (or not good) this Okie-blessed BBQ sauce—distributed by Kraft-Heinz in Chicago, of course—truly is.

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Peach Whiskey

Probably the Pioneer Woman’s most famous BBQ sauce concoction, this sauce typically tops her family’s “favorite” meal, the eponymous Peach Whisky Chicken. This jarred variety has a very unique flavor profile that, trying taste after trying taste on my ribs, made me wonder for a moment if the jar had gone bad; there’s no honest peach flavor and definitely no “sassy southern” whiskey taste—instead all I’m getting is more of a bucket of rancid fruit that’s been sitting on the side of the house for a few weeks. Even worse, after I was done, the aftertaste just floated around in my mouth, a sticky metal feeling like I had just metaphorically had my teeth punched down my throat.

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Apple Brown Sugar

Now here’s a sauce that truly turned the taste tables on me. A sort of double-sweetness that will fill the cavity of your pioneering soul, the Apple Brown Sugar is a truly tart win, taking everything that was seemingly wrong with the Peach Whisky and doing the exact opposite of it. The sauce is filled with small bits of what I think are apples, adding a dense sweetness to the acidic tomato paste, completely upping the BBQ game with a lively bit of dark brown sugar. There’s a chance that if your mother is hosting any barbecue-styled meals anytime soon, if she’s a Pioneer disciple, this is the sauce that’ll leave her ruining her mom-jeans.

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Frontier

I’m really not sure what “Frontier” that Drummond feels like she’s charting here, because this selection is truly the most basic of all her sauces. With a heavy tomato presence, what truly defines this flavor is the not-unpleasant aftertaste of chipotle peppers—made into a fine puree, per the label—that overstays its welcome by a few lingering minutes. Still, it’s not enough to make this exciting either way, a firm middle of a sleepy road BBQ sauce. Still, the label reads that Ree likes to put it on her cheeseburgers, so maybe I’ll try it on one of those 99 cent 7-Eleven monstrosities sometime in the near future.

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