Draper’s BBQ Smokin’ Sauce and All Purpose Rub

Draper’s BBQ is a Western Kentucky family owned company begun by James Draper. Their Smokin’ Sauce started as a dare that has since grown into a life of its own. Their A.P. Rub (All Purpose Rub) was brought to life right alongside the sauce. Many ingredients were put in the rub to dovetail with the sauce, to create a different flavor profile than if they were used alone or separately.

Shane Draper, James’ grandson, now runs DrapersBBQ.com and sent us a limited edition gift set of their Smokin’ Sauce and A.P. Rub for review. We were so impressed with the presentation, we just knew there was a great story in the Draper’s history, as well as a promising BBQ taste experience ahead of us. Here’s a photo of the set we received:

Drapers Sauce & Rub

We begin our review of Draper’s with the rub.

Draper’s A.P. Rub:

When we received the rub, it was a pre-production package with no ingredients listed. (We’ve since received the ingredients list from Shane. They are listed below).

From Draper’s promo sheet:

… the rub is wonderful as a standard meat rub – but highly flexible as well. Great when added to flour for batters or used as a seasoning in home style green beans. Exceptional when used as a replacement for black pepper on baked potatoes or as a replacement for salt on popcorn. There are many uses for this rub and it has earned its “All Purpose” name.

drapers rub in bowl

Texture & Appearance:

Brian: This rub has a beautiful color and appearance. My first taste is a mild overall flavor. Very smooth. I smell celery seed in it. The texture is a very fine grind – almost delicate.
Marilyn: I smell paprika, cayenne, celery salt, onion, pepper, garlic. It has a deep red color, and the consistency is a very even blend, save the bits of herbs and peppers in it. It reminded us of Old Bay Seasoning in it’s appearance – just a nice looking rub.

drapers rub closeup

Taste: straight up

Brian: Sweet and just a bit salty, but mild overall, with a tame pepper profile. I like that in a rub. I like my rubs tame.
Marilyn: Yes, it’s sweet, but not too salty for me, and there is some heat coming through that gives it a slight spicy tone.

Heat Level:

Brian: Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – Tasting it straight out of the package, I still think it has a mild heat and a mild savory taste.
Marilyn: Rated 3 out of 5 Stars – I disagree… I think it has quite a spicy kick.


Brian: The same great graphics as on the sauce bottle. See below.
Marilyn: Our sample came packaged in a nice 8 oz. foil bag. Overall, a great presentation.

Overall Rating:

Brian: Rated 4.5 out of 5 Stars – This rub is up there in our top 5 rubs.
Marilyn:Rated 4.5 out of 5 Stars – Agreed. It is truly among the best of the best we’ve tried.


sea salt, turbinado sugar, spices including paprika, brown sugar, dehydrated onion and garlic, not more than 1% tricalcium phosphate as anti-caking agent

Draper’s BBQ Smokin’ Sauce

Draper’s wanted a sauce that could be used right out of the bottle at competitions but wasn’t so over the top that it couldn’t be appreciated by the back yard cook. After many attempts and much testing they achieved what they feel is a versatile sauce with great balance and solid flavors:

drapers sauce in dish

“This sauce isn’t Kansas City, Memphis, North Carolina,
St. Louis, or Texas style. It’s DBQ style!” ~Shane Draper

First Impressions:

Brian: Smokin’ Sauce comes in a nice big 18 ounce bottle. A very smooth looking sauce.
Marilyn: Yes, the bottle is a larger size than most other sauces which makes it a great buy. Smells of tomato and vinegar.

Texture & Appearance:

Brian: There are flecks of pepper in this smooth but not real gloppy sauce. I can see where it would make a nice glaze – but I’m all about the thick, many-layered build up of sauce. I can tell this sauce will meet or exceed that goal.
Marilyn:It coats the spoon well, I see bits of pepper & garlic. It’s very smooth, but not too thin.

drapers sauce on spoon

Taste straight up:

Brian: Sweet and savory, this sauce is very unique. I’m excited to try it.
Marilyn: Quite different taste than what I expected. Not too vinegary – just enough to be balanced.

Heat Level:

Brian:Rated 1.5 out of 5 Stars – Again, a mild, slightly spicy heat level that is just enough for me.
Marilyn:Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – Just a slight “burn” – I’m getting a light heat level that doesn’t last. Very tasty.


Brian: A flaming DBQ logo speaks of quality, with the rest of the label having a simple, uncluttered look.
Marilyn: I think it’s beautiful, the DBQ is lit of flames which may lead you to believe it’s hotter than it actually is. But this is from a Chilehead’s perspective. From a BBQ-er point of view, it merely speaks of live fire cooking with a unique sauce!

drapers label

Overall Rating Out of the Bottle:

Brian: Out of the bottle, delicious. It tastes so different, that I was taken aback. Very unique.
Marilyn: I love it and can’t wait to have it on our ribs!


ketchup (red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, onion powder, spice, natural flavor), molasses, honey, brown sugar, mustard (distilled vinegar, mustard seed, salt, tumeric & spices), water, vinegar, worchestershire sauce (vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, water, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor), spice, dried onion, chile powder, dried garlic, salt, cinnamon, soy sauce (water, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, corn syrup, caramel coloring), nutmeg, basil, smoke flavor, thyme and spices

Final Thoughts:

How we cooked the ribs: We sprinkled about 2 Tbs. of rub on each of 2 racks of baby back ribs, lightly dusted all over, with more on the meat side and less on the bone side. We then baked them covered in the oven at 325° for about 1 hour 45 minutes.

rub on ribs

We finished them on the grill and sauced them over the fire to get them all dark and sticky!

We would have preferred to slow smoke the baby backs, but with the crazy cold, rainy, icy weather lately, we went with our tried and true Plan B – getting them just shy of done in the oven, and finishing for the last 30 – 40 minutes on the grill. No liquid was needed or added in the oven. Just the rubbed ribs in a deep baking dish, covered in foil with holes poked in for venting. The ribs make their own juices for roasting.

We placed the racks of ribs onto the grill, meat side down / bone side up, over indirect heat, for about 30 minutes. Then the fun part… sauce the racks!

We sauced the bottom twice, flipped them over then sauced the top 3 times. The sauce set up perfectly!

… I can’t wait to try this sauce on chicken. ~brian

The rub and the sauce were a perfect match, with the rub adding the spiciness and the sauce bringing the sticky, sweetness.

The Smokin’ Sauce was tacky, not runny. It set up remarkably well. Just as we had hoped and just as Shane had promised.

finished ribs

The flavor of the sauce didn’t really change much after heating, a testament to the quality and integrity of the sauce.

Overall Rating:

Brian:Rated 4.5 out of 5 Stars – The only thing keeping it from a “5” from me is its not exactly what I like – a sweet & sticky Memphis style. I’d like to see Draper’s expand into the very sauces that they say theirs is not – that is a Memphis, KC, St. Louis, Texas and Carolina styles. That’s a tall order, but this sauce is of such a high quality, I have faith in them that they could craft a few more flavors out of their awesome base.

Marilyn:Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – They didn’t set out to be any of those regional sauces – they set out to make the best sauce they could make. I don’t think they need to change anything. They met their goal – this is a great BBQ sauce. It’s one of the best BBQ sauces I’ve ever had.

Where to buy:

Draper’s BBQ products are available at DrapersBBQ.com – their prices are LOW and shipping is reasonable. Tell ‘em HotSauceDaily.com sent you!

We hope you enjoyed this review. Please click on the Comments below to leave your thoughts. ~brian and marilyn.

About Brian Meagher

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