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

I'm your host here.
I eat hot sauce. I cook BBQ. I write about both.
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  1. Charlie Rice says

    I was recently introduced to Shane and his outstanding sauce this summer, and it is the best BBQ I’ve had in the 8 years I’ve been here. The sauce is thicker, not runny; a great flavor that doesn’t have an overpowering vinegar taste; has a sweet back flavor while giving you a nice tingle of heat (especially combined with the A.P. Rub on the ribs). I’ve used the sauce as extra dip for the ribs, ribeye steaks, hamburger and on Shane’s pulled pork and smoked pork butts. It just has this great flavor profile that enhances the taste of any beef or pork meats and stands on its own. I haven’t tried it on chicken yet, but I’m sure we will when the weather warms up! The A.P. Rub is awesome and I’m seriously thinking of trying it on a batch of beef jerky to see how it stands up to regular jerky seasoning. Many thanks to Shane for his great product and I’m looking forward to your next smoking day!

    • Hey Charlie,
      Thanks for the extra input. It’s nice to hear what others think about a sauce, especially when it’s brand new to us out here in Maryland.

      • Charlie says

        Your reviews were spot on. I was nodding my head as I was reading your review remembering all the flavors you were describing. I am not a fan of “rub only” ribs yet really dislike ribs that are so buried and drowned in sauce that makes it hard distinguish the meat flavor from the sauce! “Tacky” as you described is absolutely the best to enjoy the smokiness (or grill flavor) of the meat, combined with the tangy sweetness of the sauce. The sauce should enhance the meats…not bury it! Great review!

  2. I also was introduced to the DBQ products this past autumn and immediately fell in love with the rub. It has such a great marriage of flavors and compliments a wonderful variety of dishes. Oh sure it knocks the socks off when rubbed into a pork butt or ribs and beef brisket…but when sprinkled on top of ooey gooey potato gratin?? Oh my. Dresses up deviled eggs quite nicely and makes some darn good homemade sloppy joes and tacos!!

    Then I had the DBQ ribs. The combination of rub and the DBQ Sauce on those baby backs turns a normally wonderful marriage into a full blown battle as I try to get the hubby to SHARE! We have had the sauce on pulled pork mini sandwiches, beef brisket, on ham sandwiches. My favorite Super Bowl food item this year was meatballs slow cooked in the DBQ sauce. I couldn’t stay away from them.

    I am a military wife and I have had the opportunity to sample BBQ from many different regions of this country. Until now, a true blue Memphis style BBQ was the only one for me. Now, I have seen the way – and it is lit by a ‘smokin sauce made with love by a foodie like myself in Western Kentucky.

    • Very cool Dani.
      After next trying the Smokin’ Sauce on some bbq’d chicken, I want to give some meatballs a go.
      Thanks for commenting.

  3. Brian and Marilyn,
    Thank you for the very straightforward and honest review. All I can say is I am glad that my humble bbq offerings landed on your doorstep. You guys nailed it. Every nuance, every layer of flavor, you guys were dead on the money. There is little that can be hidden from your talented taste buds lol.
    I put a lot of time, effort and thought into every component of the Smokin’ Sauce and AP Rub and I am very glad to finally get some trusted feedback on the end product. It really means a lot to me to now officially know that going with my guy and the three other voices in my head is the right path to be on :).
    I have to say though, now I dont think I can give up until I get Brian to give me 5 full stars on a sauce lol. I do have a Honey BBQ variant of the Smokin’ Sauce that maybe more what you are looking for Brian. It’s a bit sweeter and a little more dialed back on the malty flavors and is ridiculously sticky.
    I am also very glad you guys not only addressed the flavor aspects of the products but the texture and the look and feel as well. I spent A LOT of time trying to get that sauce to the right consistency raw and cooked. I ran into a lot of sauces during my research phase that would have a good flavor but were way too thin or just didnt have the right color or tackiness when cooked or couldnt hold up to cooking. I can tell you there is no easy way to achieve that balance, it comes from having zero compromise on ingredients and only using “the good stuff.”
    Again I just wanted to officially say thank you for all that you have done in this review, it is very much appreciated. I look forward to doing some podcasts in the future with you guys and look forward to giving you guys the first shot at the upcoming products over the next year.

    Shane Draper
    Draper’s BBQ

  4. Darn. I need to smoke some ribs. I have nine unopened bottles of sauces to try.

    • Nine different sauces? You sound like me. I *try* to stick to 3 different sauces when doing a big cook to compare / review them… ok, ok, Marilyn makes me stick to only 2 different ribs lately.

  5. I have found many uses in my everyday recipes in which DBQ sauce has absolutely transformed my menu. Adding it to baked beans or into ground beef for burgers just makes them more phenomenal. Goodbye ketchup. Hello Smokin’ Sauce.

    • All excellent ideas, Jodi. I especially like the baked beans suggestion.
      Maybe Shane can use your quote in his advertising… “goodbye ketchup. Hello Smokin’ Sauce”. 🙂

  6. Shawn Mundell says

    Those are some good looking ribs! I’m definitely putting DBQ on the must try list.

    • Shawn,
      We look forward to sending you some DBQ love your way! Thanks for finding us on Brian and Marilyn’s blog, they were the first to ever review our products. They did an EXCELLENT job and are great people. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter if dont already. They are a wealth of information.

    • It’s another winner Shawn!