The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

Fri Jun 24, 2011

Sauced: Open Pit

Posted by

Open Pit

Sauce Stats

Name
Open Pit Original Barbecue Sauce
Produced by
Pinnacle Foods Group, Inc.
Cost
Appx $2.50 for 18oz
Ingredients
High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Tomato Puree, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Contains 2% of Less of: Soybean Oil, Hydrolyzed Corn and Soy Protein, Spice, Onion Powder, Dehydrated Garlic, Artificial Tomato Flavor, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Colored with (Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 1, Titanium Dioxide), Caramel Color
Color
Pinkish Red
Meatwave Rating
110
out of 10
Pretty Awful
More Sauce Reviews

For anyone not already familiar with this sauce, there is no reason for you to be. It has some loyal followers, but to me its artificial flavors had more in common with a science experiment than a barbecue sauce and I think it's destine to do more bad than good on any food it touches.

Open Pit

Background

It's hard to distill any real information regarding Open Pit from their website. Besides noting that it's "tangy" 8 times, they do tell us that it got its roots in 1953 in Detroit. Since then its spread throughout the Midwest and beyond, as it's a fairly common sauce to see on the shelves here in New York. Open Pit comes in two main varieties: Original and Thick and Tangy. The Original series is comprised of a suite of six different flavors, while Thick and Tangy has 3.

Aroma

Reminiscent of the horrid artificial smell of Nathan's sauce, Open Pit bares only the faintest resemblance of a barbecue sauce aroma. There's a sweet vinegar tang with some tomato in there, but there's nothing natural smelling about it—its as if a chemist tried to conjure up a barbecue sauce strictly from lab ingredients.

Thickness & Texture

This is an incredible smooth, medium-thin sauce. With a pinkish-red hue, it has the properties of a ketchup thinned with water. The sauce easily and quickly flows off a suspended spoon in a fairly steady stream.

Out of the Jar

My thoughts on the smell carry over all too well to the taste—it's like a science experiment gone wrong. Incredibly artificial, there are manufactured barbecue sauce flavors in there that all taste very off. You start with a tomato sweetness, which quickly turns into an acidic burn. The flavor left in your mouth has only fleeting similarities to a good vinegar, but starts to cross the line into putrid. So it does have the tang Open Pit boasts about, but it's not a tang I'd want to highlight.

Open Pit

Slathered & Cooked

The sauce only fared slightly better when grilled. Despite starting to burn rather than caramelize and leaving an odd pinkish hue, the sauce did bake into the chicken and the flavor was not as bad after being cooked. It still did not have the qualities of a natural sauce and the super sticky chicken suffered from those off flavors.

Put to Use

I've noticed some allegiance to Open Pit out there, but I can only imagine these are people who may have grown up on the sauce. For anyone not already familiar with this sauce, there is no reason for you to be. Its artificial flavors had more in common with a science experiment than a barbecue sauce and I think it's destine to do more bad than good on any food it touches.

Comments

  • 01
  • William says
    This sauce is horrible. Its not bbq sauce
    Posted Sun, Jan 15 2012 5:34pm
  • 02
  • Pete says
    Gotta say, I actually like Open Pit (original only, though). It's one of the few commercial sauces that doesn't have Liquid S*** in it. It's a bit better doctored up with some cider vinegar, hot sauce/flakes, etc., but it's a solid tangy sauce that is not overly sweet, doesn't taste like soot, and has a nice kick of allspice (or clove or whatever that flavor is).
    Posted Mon, Feb 6 2012 2:35am
  • 03
  • galen says
    First time tryin this so call BBQ sauce and my wife and I are trying to add something to it to make it taist better. we dont have any other bbq sauces at all and this stuff makes us cringe from taist.... and teh comments i have red about are right this is a science experiment gone wrong....

    Posted Wed, Feb 22 2012 10:26am
  • 04
  • jennifer says
    I have to say I totally disagree with the writer as I find this barbeque sauce one of the BEST out there. For people who don't care for fake hickory and smoke flavors in their sauces, this stuff is the BEST!! I did not grow up with it, but notice quite a number of sports bar/restaruants have this sauce and I had to ask what brand it is, so I could buy it for my family and friends... WE ALL LOVE IT!!!!!
    Posted Thu, Jun 21 2012 12:08pm
  • 05
  • John says
    The Author also doesn't realize Open Pit has a uniqueness that can be turned into something great. Mull through your mind about Chopped.... Any stupid ingredient becomes great and also don't forget there's not ONE kind of BBQ sauce. For God sakes people make their own and there's regional types. You might not think its good when you later realize its hidden greatness -_-

    Posted Wed, Aug 15 2012 8:48pm
  • 06
  • Dave says
    I have to agree with John, this is a unique sauce and when one tires of the sweet smokey sauces that are so common these days it is nice to have an alternative.
    Posted Thu, Aug 30 2012 12:30pm
  • 07
  • Caius says
    The best sauce strictly for cooking. Then again, I don't use any bbq sauce for anything else besides bbq'n. I feel that the reviewer fails to see the strongest point about the sauce. It is supposed to be brushed on, and SLOW q'd till it becomes thickened. If cooked properly, the vinegar punch fades, and not cooking your meat to the point that it's dry eliminates the meat from absorbing the vinegar. I agree with other posters that the lack of any false smoke or mesquite extracts make this sauce far less of an experiment than many sauces on the market. I believe we have a smokey sauce biased reviewer that really should take into account that smokey is more the style you'd find when you head South. Here, in the Midwestern states, vinegar based sauces are the way. So no matter what you may have read here, you must consider this fact, Open Pit is the most popular commercially used bbq sauce out there. Then, you must consider that Open Pit has two seperate recipes, one for the store, and one for a restaurant or bar/grill. They are different recipes, however,nothing is different about the packaging. So if you do try it at home, find it unfit, then you go to your favorite smokehouse, and fond they use it...... try it again. The difference is very big between the two sauces. I personally love this stuff as the properties of the sauce work well for curing and drying jerky, and for slow-b'q. Hope this helps to clear this sauces name a bit, been my friend at the pit since I was tall enough to see over the grill.
    Posted Thu, Sep 13 2012 7:46pm
  • 08
  • Stephen says
    This isn't the best sauce, but it's a fine cooking sauce. The trick with this sauce is to marinate the food in it for 2 hours, then grill. If you brush it on, it'll drip off before it can soak into the meat. The thing with sauces liek this is it'll help tenderize the meat as well as add a nice peppery kick to it. This sauce is amazing on ribs, good on beef, not quite so good with chicken (not sweet enough).

    It shouldn't taste foul or rancid at all...you may have found a bad bottle...if it gets too hot, it will ferment.
    Posted Wed, Oct 10 2012 4:46pm
  • 09
  • Austin says
    This sauce was my friends favorite and at his beckoning I tried it. I almost fired him as a friend after that. Not good. Like the reviewer said, fans probably grew up with this sauce.
    Posted Sun, Nov 4 2012 8:12pm
  • 10
  • james espinoza says
    Man all of you ppl talkin down on open pit must be used to that sweet, thick commercial junk so commonly found in franchise restaurant's. And I bet you all be using them gas grills too!! Up here in the Murda Mitten, Open Pit is a hit to any real CHARCOAL BBQ chefs in the hood!!
    Posted Tue, Nov 20 2012 9:15pm
  • 11
  • kat says
    This sauce stained my dishes!! My blue plate has a nice pink ring on it from this! And it tastes bad too! UGH!
    Posted Thu, Dec 6 2012 3:25pm
  • 12
  • Rison says says
    Wow, all this to put down a sauce. Well for the blue plates with a pink ring, use Totally Awesome from your 99 cents stores it will remove the stains off anything. Second buy better dishwashing liquid, it sounds like your dishes have what is called soft paint (will obsorb everything).
    As for the originator and the negative commentors on Open Pit. Grow-up, open pit is not any different then your favorites. Your favorites just hide theirs better with the large quantity of brown sugar and molasses. READ YOUR LABELS. If medicine tasted bad when you were a kid your mom put it in something sweet. Open pit uses vinegar, which I have to say is a huge plus because it help prevent the meet from spoiling in hot temperatures, where the sweet sauces, feed the ants and flies.

    Posted Sun, Jan 13 2013 10:20am
  • 13
  • John Lazur says
    Does Open Pit Original have a hint of pork flavor going on in it?
    Posted Fri, Feb 1 2013 8:32pm
  • 14
  • Josh says
    @John Lazur I wouldn't say I tasted any hint of pork in there. A lot of people refer to barbecue sauces as "meaty," and I just don't get it. Besides one that was made with bacon, I wouldn't say any sauce I've tested had a meat flavor. I think people taste barbecue sauce and immediately think meat, which is where that perception comes from.
    Posted Sat, Feb 2 2013 10:16am
  • 15
  • Eddie says
    I grew up with this stuff in Michigan. I remember liking it, but this was back in the time when BBQ sauce was Kraft and Open Pit. I swear I remember their commercials advertising how they were sweetened with brown sugar (which would have appealed to my mother; she used to make her own brown sugar pancake syrup b/c she hated maple).

    I found it in a store down here in Alabama and checked out the ingredients. High fructose corn syrup and water? Artificial tomato? What is this stuff?

    Credit for no liquid smoke, though.
    Posted Mon, Feb 4 2013 11:08pm
  • 16
  • K-Billie says
    Caius and James you know it!
    This sauce(original), has been my base for 40 years.
    Many folks that pig out on my pig q'ing say I should open my own eatery,LOL! I'm sure most of you have heard that before.
    I dry rub then add the sauce. I say "base", because I add: a little honey,lemon and whiskey,your choice but, mine is Famous Grouse.
    Of course brush the sauce on about 20 min -1/2 hr before table. It's the best in the midwest and I've tried a bunch and always comeback to the pit. Tangy is best over sweet in my taste -buds opinion.
    Posted Thu, Jun 6 2013 5:46pm
  • 17
  • Jack says
    The whole point of "real" barbecue sauce to me is that it does not taste like smoke. That's the whole point of barbecuing itself. You infuse smoke into the meat using wood. Why would you want to wreck your hard work by putting a sauce with smoke flavoring on it? Smoky barbecue sauce is for stuff you cook in the oven or on the stove, for when you want to cheat a bit and put smoke flavor without doing the hard work. That's why this stuff works well on real barbecue. It's not really a Midwest/South divide, either. Go to any good barbecue pit, and dollars to donuts the pit master is not using liquid smoke in his sauce. There's just no point to it (I'd argue it ruins the barbecue) and Liquid Smoke products just have this bitter, acrid creosote taste to them. It's made from real smoke, but that's not the type of smoke you want to cook with.

    Anyhow, it's a fine sauce. Better used as a base than on its own, but a good starting point . It's still a bit sweet for my tastes, but I tend to like my barbecue with a vinegary Carolina style sauce.


    Posted Wed, Jan 1 2014 8:18pm
  • 18
  • Bbq in a blizzard says
    This is the best sauce for the superior meat of the American Midwest. Other areas of the country have to cover up the taste of their inferior meat!
    Posted Sun, Mar 9 2014 9:58am
  • 19
  • james espiniza says
    If you don't like it, don't buy it. And stop trash talking what we like up here in Michigan. Faygo Pop, Vernors, Open Pit and Cadillacs.... PURE MICHIGAN!!
    Posted Sun, Mar 9 2014 12:09pm
  • 20
  • Richard C. Smith says
    I have used open pit for more than 40 years and its the only sauce that I use. In fact I won 2 rib burn offs with it. For a few years now I have been meaning to get in touch with the company to talk to them about the mix of their sauce that I use that my kids fondly refer to as Ricks mix. I have had people that absolutely do not like open pit not only like mine but 8 out of 10 of them don't know that it's open pit. I hope that the open pit company sees this and calls me. Thanks.
    Posted Mon, Apr 28 2014 9:16pm
  • 21
  • Mc says
    worst sauce I ever tasted. tastes like tomato soup with sloppy joe mixed. I agree the other sauces with fake smoke are not good either. Anything loaded with high fructose corn syrup is nasty. The best sauce is a homemade Georgia style but I ain't giving away the recipe
    Posted Tue, Jun 24 2014 9:57am
  • 22
  • Mc says
    forgot to mention, the bottle got tossed in the garbage right after I tasted it.
    Posted Tue, Jun 24 2014 9:58am
  • 23
  • DAN says
    HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, GOES RIGHT TO LIOVER RIGHT TO FAT, KILL IT, DO NOT EAT THIS CRAP,
    Posted Thu, Jun 26 2014 6:40pm
  • 24
  • Melissa says
    I am a TRUE Marylander..not from the Midwest and not from Michigan. Open Pit is used in almost all of our roadside Pit Beef stands including the Famous "Chaps Pit Beef" that Guy Fieri featured on his show "Diners Drive-Inns and Dives". And Yes I grew up with my Dad using Open Pit as his only go to BBQ sauce. And then about a year ago, my local grocery store stopped carrying it. So I finally found a store that does carry it, so now I can actually have food from off the grill again. Because I will not grill without it. And yes I marinate the meats that I grill in it for at least 12 hours before I grill, because the Vinegar in it helps to make the meat tender and the sauce does caramelize if you cook it at a slow even temp. I LOVE Open Pit and will never use any thing else.
    Posted Sat, Jul 26 2014 4:20am
  • 25
  • sam says
    He dont know how to cook with it. It needs a little doctoring but with no liquid smoke its my choice for a base sauce. Merinade over night with chicken and use a tad of honey for sweetness. For my pork i pour in cider. For beef i add brown sugar. Its pretty simple.
    Posted Tue, Sep 2 2014 8:15pm
  • 26
  • Rose Morowitz says
    Open Pit was not created in Detroit. It was created in Chicago by Max Slater of Wass foods.
    Posted Tue, Oct 7 2014 3:33pm
  • 27
  • David says
    I've lived in Michigan all my life and the only reason people seem to like this is that it's what we grew up with. It's more watery than pretty much any BBQ sauce out there, and has an odd pink hue. I'm not a fan of the overly sweet thick crap like Sweet Baby Rays but Open Pit is just horrible. Bad ingredients and bad taste.
    The only excuse people have is that "Oh it's not that bad if you doctor it up". If you have to add so much stuff to make it not suck, it sucks.
    Posted Sun, Oct 12 2014 1:01pm
  • 28
  • RB says
    O-P wins every time over trying those other disgusting bottle sauces that will kill a good BBQ every time. O-P is trying to appease those with bad taste buds by offering several varieties, but it's only Original for me. Cravers are desperately seeking how to duplicate the recipe, but good things seem to be a secret. Open Pit has survived for good reason.
    Posted Sat, Mar 14 2015 6:59pm
  • 29
  • Duke E. Shoez says
    I tried some of the honey kind and my tongue is feeling tingly. There's a definite aftertaste, and not a good one.
    Posted Fri, May 22 2015 11:38am
  • 30
  • Daulton T says
    I grew up in Michigan and the only bbq sauce we used was Open Pit. Anything else is strictly imitation. We live in Memphis now and you can't find it on the shelf at any store. My dad used to add a little brown sugar and lemon juice when he grilled. Great taste!!
    Posted Thu, Jun 18 2015 9:03pm
  • 31
  • Mrs. G says
    I used to use this sauce because, as quite a few comments stated, I grew up with it. Back then there weren't many choices. I do not buy it anymore because of the very first ingredient. It's hard to find a bbq sauce without high fructose corn syrup. Maybe the makers will finally realize people are not finding this ingredient appetizing or attractive at all.
    Posted Sun, Jun 28 2015 12:02pm
  • 32
  • Ray says
    I don't always use bottled barbeque sauce but when I do I like Open Pit, especially the onion variety. Partly because of nostalgia, but also because every other bottled sauce is too thick and sweet. Also, if I wanted to use liquid smoke I would. I really like Open Pit on slow smoked chicken. It penetrates the meat really well.
    Posted Thu, Jul 2 2015 11:40am
  • 33
  • Don S says
    I highly disagree with this reviewer. For a store-bought sauce, I don't think that it gets any better than this! It is an outstanding sauce with a nice bite to it. Excellent for dipping, cooking, etc. My only complaint is the artificial color. Do NOT get this on your clothes...the stain will never go away.
    Posted Mon, Jul 6 2015 1:56pm
  • 34
  • Jai Turner says
    The author obviously doesn't know good bbq when he tastes it! I own three barbecue restaurants all over the country. For over 20 years open pit is one of the main ingredients to my signature sauce. It has that sweet yet tangy taste that cannot be duplicated by any other sauce. For those people that like the standard barbecue bottled sauces like Kraft or Sweet Baby Ray's or Bullseye, this sauce is not for you. For those who like a unique and distinctive flavor, and actually like to taste the meat, this is one of the best sauces ever produced!!! We use it as a base and add our signature seasonings and flavorings to OP to create our sauce, but it easily can be used straight out of the bottle for those who like a very different type of bbq. Yes it DOES have a following, and it is very hard to get... But for those who want something other then the McRib... this sauce is a definite must!
    Posted Thu, Aug 6 2015 1:16pm
  • 35
  • Jason says
    I am so glad all of you came to the defense of open pit. I love it on the grill. It gives the meat great tangy taste you can't find anywhere. I'm from Chicago and everyone I grew up with love it.
    Posted Thu, Dec 10 2015 8:09pm
  • 36
  • Bruce says
    I bought this because it was the lowest priced at Wal Mart. I only need something to flavor my mac and cheese, so I am not into the meat aspect. It does not taste good and it was very much watered down. Maybe it was just an anomoly that someone watered the batch down, but it still did not taste good.
    Posted Mon, May 30 2016 11:45pm
  • 37
  • Kathy Sheese says
    YOUR , BROWN Sugar & Bourbon. IT'S GOSH TERRIBLE, MADE People SICK. I. WoNT BUY ANY More Of Your CRAP.. SHOULD PULL From SHELF . OUGHT To Be ASHAMED Of Yourself
    Posted Sun, Jul 3 2016 8:18am
  • 38
  • Trish Semevolos says
    I bought this sauce because it was cheap and have to say I love it. I put it on steaks, burgers, hotdogs and chicken and it's the best. I grilled today with it and my kids said these were the best burgers ever. I don't care for the thick sweet sauce like Kraft but found this is the best for bringing out the flavor of the meat without being overbearing.
    Posted Tue, Jul 5 2016 12:51am
  • 39
  • Brian Whiteside says
    pretty awful commentator lost his taste buds cause for $1.50 the small original is boss. Just have to fancy sweet bbq KC style.
    Posted Mon, Jul 11 2016 11:37am
  • 40
  • Stephanie Romano says
    Open pit is the absolute best BBQ sauce! Whoever wrote this clearly has no taste buds. Yes I'm one of the ones that grew up on the sauce, but contrary to what was written above every person I have made try open pit loves it! I use it on everything sometimes I just lick it off my finger. I'm a die hard open pit fan and the reason I found this website was to order in bulk because everyone in my house uses it so much. OP we love you
    Posted Tue, Oct 25 2016 12:00am
  • 41
  • Bk all day says
    I was googling pit beef and this thread came up and I never knew about it. As far as open pit-5 years ago my wife and I were in a pub eating burgers and fries and we both liked the BBQ sauce that were served with the steak fries. I asked the waitress what it was and she told us it's open pit. We have been buying it ever since. I have added honey and hoison to it to change it up which I have basted grilled wings with and everyone was raving. I won't stop buying it anytime soon but I also make my own sauces too when I have time.
    Posted Thu, Oct 27 2016 3:02pm
  • 42
  • Joseph McCracken says
    We got some of the original open pit barbecue sauce and it tastes horrible I think maybe something was wrong with it it smells like pure vinegar I don't know how to describe the taste good it is nasty maybe I just got a bad bottle
    Posted Thu, Jan 26 2017 6:58pm
  • 43
  • Rick Martel says
    Open Pit Onion Barbecue Sauce is great on grilled cheeseburgers
    Posted Thu, Jul 27 2017 11:23am
  • 44
  • Marybeth says
    I slow cooked a pork roast to serve pulled pork sandwiches along with burgers and hotdogs at party. We occasionally douse the pulled pork with BBQ sauce prior to serving. Always a crowd pleaser. However, this time, we used Open Pit BBQ sauce, and while it tasted good, it actually turned the entire batch an odd pink color. Unfortunately, we ended up with a lot of leftovers, but the burgers, hotdogs, and side dishes were all gobbled up. The color turned it to an unappetizing crockpot full of pulled pork. Very disappointing!
    Posted Mon, Aug 14 2017 5:26pm
  • 45
  • Robert Zigler says
    Have to say I totally disagree with the writer! Open Pit is a fantastic sauce For chicken or ribs applied to it repeatedly while cooking it on the grill. It has a great tangy unlike many of the sickeningly sweet sauces like sweet baby rays or those with artificial smoke flavoring. I like the smoky flavor to come from cooking with wood chips and/or charcoal not the sauce! Sadly I no longer eat this or most other off the shelf sauces due to the main ingredient High Fructose Corn Syrup! They are putting that crap in everything we eat! Bad, bad stuff!
    Posted Fri, Aug 18 2017 10:10am

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