Alternative To BBQ Sauce For Brisket (Sauce For Brisket Not BBQ)

Some people go to museums to admire fine art. Me? I prefer to just kick back and smoke a brisket.

Much like art, where the preference of each style comes down to the individual’s taste, so can the sauce we like to dip, drench, and smother out brisket with. 

Seriously, it can quite literally come down to the individual’s taste. Where BBQ sauce is a staple for many it’s not the only sauce that’s fit for brisket.

If you’re looking for saucy inspiration for your next brisket, here are the absolute best sauces to use for brisket that isn’t BBQ Sauce.

Its clear BBQ sauce just goes with smoked brisket, whether you’re smoking a full-packer brisket or burnt ends, or are using it as a mopping sauce or a dipping sauce.

Although we should always honor traditions, in the modern ages, since the vast assimilation of all cultures around the world, we now have access to the most delicious barbecue creations of each cuisine.

This means we get to experience some insanely flavorful sauce combinations with our beloved brisket, stretching the boundaries of what’s considered classic barbecue. The same can be said for sauces for pork ribs too!

Alright, enough philosophy, time for sauceology  

Sauce To Use For Brisket That Isn’t BBQ

**Warning: Some dads may want to close their eyes at this point.**

I’m going to say it. There are better sauces for brisket than barbecue sauce.

Don’t believe me? You need only try one of the carefully curated, tried and tested alternatives to BBQ sauce for brisket. 

Only our favorites made the cut:

  • Spicy Sauces: 
    • Jalapeno, Bourbon, & Honey
    • Spicy Marinara
    • Harissa
  • Tangy Sauces:
    • Lemon & Oregano 
    • Chimichurri
  • Sweet Sauces:
    • Honey Garlic Sauce
    • Burgundy Orange Sauce
    • Bourbon Peach Glaze

Let’s get into the why and provide you with the how. 

Spicy Sauces For Brisket

We’re not suggesting any ring burners here, but a little heat can perfectly blend with the savory richness and the distinct smokiness of smoked brisket.

Jalapeno, Bourbon, & Honey

I attended a fellow barbecuers lunch and he served some homemade Jalapeno, Bourbon, & Honey “barbecue” sauce and I almost lost my mind over it.

It’s got that kick from the Jalapenos, but a depth of heat from the bourbon too. The honey blends perfectly to balance it all out.

Perfect for dipping or drenching your brisket in.

For a simple rendition, we recommend trying out Jalapenomadness’s recipe.

Spicy Marinara Sauce

If you love Italian cooking, I know you know about Marinara sauce.

But, how’s this for a freaky combination – spicy marinara sauce for brisket? The result: A hearty, rich, and evenly spiced sauce that complemented the beefy savory flavor of the brisket

We reckon Curry Trails got the best recipe out there.


You know the saying “once you go Harissa, you never go back”. Or something like that.

In our household, we’re fully accustomed to using Harissa to marinate any kind of lamb dish, but it actually works incredibly well with brisket too, either when roasting or as a mop sauce as your brisket’s nearing completion.

Really stunning – bonappetit nailed it with their Pot Roast Harissa Brisket.

Tangy Sauces For Brisket

Tangy as a flavor profile is severely underrated and it’s about time we right some wrongs here.

Of course, barbecue sauce is quite often tangy, which is why these other tangy sauces seem to work so harmoniously with brisket. 

Lemon & Oregano

At first thought, you would think lemon and oregano wouldn’t be strong enough to stand up against the rich nature of brisket.

But, Food & Wine’s carefully crafted lemon-oregano sauce hits your brisket with that perfect tangy, garlicky, lemony goodness that you never thought you needed in your life.

Its distinct earthy and aromatic flavors pair perfectly with the saltiness of smoked or roasted brisket.



Yes, some could argue Chimichurri is more of a spicy sauce, but not the way Yummly does theirs!

Chimichurri is a divine concoction of parsley, cilantro, cumin, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar. 

It literally gives your brisket an entirely new and herbaceous identity and the best kind of street food flavor vibes.

Sweet Sauces For Brisket

Spicy, salty, and tangy, but we can’t forget about those that are addicted to combining the sweet and savory. Yup, here’s the best of the best sweet sauces for brisket.

Honey Garlic Sauce

I used to only associated honey garlic sauce with things like chicken wings or stir-fries, but now my eyes are wide open.

With just a drizzling of honey garlic sauce your traditional brisket can quickly become an Asian-fusion delight.

Its sticky, sweet, and slightly tangy flavor melds just so well.

Although it’s hard to determine the absolute BEST honey garlic sauce – we use a mix of soy sauce, water, garlic, oregano, sesame seed oil, rice vinegar, and a little bit of cornstarch to thicken.

Burgundy Orange Sauce

This Burgundy Orange Sauce successfully marries the sweet with the savory in your brisket. And when we say successfully marries we REALLY mean there’s no chance of a break-up in this relationship. 

The stars of the show are the two main ingredients: Burgundy wine and orange marmalade. You’d think this would give off a more tangy flavor, but the sweetness and floral hints are the ones that stand out!

The orange marmalade helps the flavor pop off. On the other side of things, the berries in the red Burgundy wine add to the sugary side of the sauce.

Bourbon Peach Glaze

Bourbon Peach Glaze Recipe can be the perfect sweet and slightly spicy addition to your brisket.

Its spice comes from the chili powder in the marinade and the cayenne pepper in the glaze. The sweetness comes mainly from the peach preserves and bourbon.

Note: you don’t need to get any kind of fancy bourbon here, as the alcohol itself burns off during the cook. Any ol’ bourbon will do, the plainer the better.

Do You Even Need Sauce For A Brisket?

Out of ideas on what sauce to serve with your brisket?

Just remember, a truly delicious brisket doesn’t need one single ounce of sauce to have every lucky guest’s jaw-dropping.

Serving a brisket without any sauce can also allow the dry rub or the smokiness of smoked brisket to really shine.

The key here is ensuring your brisket stays incredibly moist and tender so that all of its natural juices lubricate every mouthful.

So of course you don’t NEED a sauce for a brisket – but it’s always nice to have a saucy option to spice, tang, or sweeten things up.

The Final Pondering

Of course, we still constantly find ourselves reaching for our most delicious homemade BBQ sauce when we serve brisket.

But, every now and then we like to spice things up, quite literally.

Of course, if your household is adverse to a burning mouth, then you can pick from the above hand-selected tangy and sweet sauces too.

And that’s just what we love at barbecue, there’s no one right way. 

If you’ve been using BBQ sauce as your staple, I highly encourage you to try a good handful of spicy, tangy, and sweet sauces – you’ll be surprised by just how delightful they can be. 

If you like this creative guide, you’ll love our top 10 appetizers for smoked brisket too!

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