If you go to a dad and ask him, “What’s the most important part of a barbecue?” he’d likely respond, “Didn’t I ask you to get me a beer?”
Once you got him a beer, he’d of course say that the meat and the grilling is what makes a successful cookout. And he would be correct. But, there is one thing that is almost as important. No, it’s not the sides, and, ha, it’s not the company.
It’s the condiments. The right condiments can take a burger or hot dog to heaven. The wrong one can spell disaster.
So here are five condiments that every barbecue should have, and five condiments that are horrible, awful ideas.
Ketchup is the GOAT condiment. Even people that don’t like ketchup can agree on that front. It’s literally made to go on anything, and if there are small children at your cookout (hint: there are) it’s very probable that the only way you can actually make them eat without causing an admittedly adorable tiny person prison riot is to douse their food with the stuff.
Simply put, if your barbecue doesn’t have ketchup, you’re doomed.
Mayonnaise on its own is very divisive. Some people love it on everything, while others think it’s literal satan snot.
If you have mayo at a cookout, it’ll probably be met by some appreciated nods and a few grumbles. But aioli, or as it should be called, “super garlicy fancy mayo,” has no place at a barbecue. There’s just too much going on, and it won’t go with anything that anyone else brought. Aioli is fine, delicious even, in the right circumstances, such as a fancy dinner.
But this is a cookout. Leave it at home.
Not only are you a bad host and a possible Russian agent if you don’t have mustard at your barbecue, if you really care about your neighborhood you should have multiple types of mustard. Seriously, if you introduce dijon mustard to a dad, it’s a game changer. Ketchup is the perfect condiment for kids, but mustard, with its bright acidity, is what they shift to when they become grown-ups.
Worst: Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is good for a lot of things. Sushi. Marinades. Dads making cringeworthy jokes using offensive accents. But, come on, at a barbecue? No.
If you don’t put relish on your hot dog, you’re eating hot dogs wrong and I will fight you. For that reason alone, it’s a must-have at all cookout gatherings.
This is a divisive entry on this list. Many of you might say, hey, salsa and chips are great. And they are. But not for a barbecue. It just doesn’t feel right. A barbecue is for chips and dip, bringing salsa along just feels wrong. The heart wants what the heart wants.
Best: Steak Sauce
Most dads will tell you that if you’re a grown man, and you want something ketchupy on your burger, you should just use steak sauce instead. It’s a rite of passage thing.
Worst: Fish Sauce
Listen, as a general rule, any condiment that is a sauce that likely comes from the “Around the Globe” section of your grocery store has no place in a barbecue. Barbecues are intrinsically American, and mixing them with sauces that are best served in a stir fry just doesn’t make sense.
Best: Hot Sauce/Tabasco
Hot sauce has gone from an adventurous condiment to an essential one. You could get away with a barbecue without hot sauce in the 90s, but not today.
You’re thinking of bringing Nutella to a Barbecue? What the hell is wrong with you?