2017 Awards of Excellence

Do you have a righteous rub or a sauce that simply stands out? The National Barbecue Association’s Annual Awards of Excellence recognizes the very best barbecue products across 17 unique categories. This is your chance to share your inspiration with the rest of the barbecue world and be recognized for your outstanding contribution to our industry!


NEW Rules & Conditions
If the entry is not compliant with the rules stated below, the NBBQA sauce committee has the right to disqualify your entry with NO refunds:

  • Sauces, rubs/seasonings and marinades must be commercially available to the general public through wholesale, retail or direct market outlets. 
  • The ingredients must match the category in which it is entered.  Example: Fruit or Mustard entries must be on the label of ingredients. EXCLUDING tomato from the fruit category even though it is a fruit.  We have a category specifically for tomato. 
  • Barbecue Marinades and Hot Sauce must have the words marinade or hot sauce on the label.
  • Barbecue dry rub/seasoning entry labels must match checked category.
  • Entries must be professionally labeled with product name, ingredients and all current FDA required nutritional information.
  • All entries must be properly processed and sealed. Any entry received with broken seal will not be eligible for judging.
  • Broken products are not eligible and non-refundable and packing is responsibility of the entrant.
  • The minimum weight for product samples is 8 oz. for sauces and 2 oz. for spices and rubs.
  • All items submitted for the Awards of Excellence become the property of NBBQA and all judges’ decisions are final.

Judging Criteria
An experienced pit master will apply rubs and sauces to cooked product.  Your entries will be evaluated by themselves as well as with the cooked product. Judging is conducted under the independent direction of the Rend Lake Culinary Arts School in Ina, Illinois. For each entry, judges will assign a score from 6-10 in the categories of Appearance, Taste and Texture, with Taste being weighted at 300 percent. All scores are then combined to create a single cumulative score for each product. Your entries will be evaluated by themselves as well as with the cooked product. Product labels and other packaging for all food entries will be covered and assigned a random number to assure anonymity. Barbecue Specialty Items and Labels will be judged on a ten-point scale based on appearance, design, content and consumer appeal.

Awards Presentation
Results will be announced during the Awards of Excellence ceremony on March 30, 2017 and posted online shortly thereafter. The ceremony will take place at the 26th Annual NBBQA National Conference (March 30 – April 1, 2017) at River Ranch, Fort Worth, Texas. All entrants are encouraged to attend the conference to accept potential awards in person, be recognized by peers, and take advantage of official photo and press release opportunities. However, you do not need to be present to win. Awards will be mailed to winning entrants who are not able to receive them in person. First, second and third place winners in each category receive medals (gold, silver, and bronze) along with custom award certificates. Fourth and fifth-place finishers are also awarded certificates. All winners are linked on the NBBQA website, published in the National Barbecue News and recognized in an official NBBQA press release. Winners are also entitled to showcase the Awards of Excellence and NBBQA logos on the labels, publications and websites of winning products.

People’s Choice Awards
Contestants who enter sauces in the Awards of Excellence are also invited to submit samples in the People’s Choice Awards – a public tasting competition on April 1, 2017 at the NBBQA BBQ Bash. The above AOE Rules and Conditions also apply to the People’s Choice Awards. Members of the public will join conference attendees to sample each sauce and vote for their overall favorite. First, second and third place finishers will be announced at the Bash. There is no additional fee to participate or form to complete. However, sauces must have been entered in the Awards of Excellence to be eligible for the People’s Choice. These sauces must be mailed to the Kristin Laird at River Ranch Stockyards, 500 NE 23rd St., Fort Worth, TX 76164 and received by Wednesday, March 30, 2017 to be included in the People’s Choice Awards. A maximum of 2 bottles, please!

Click here to submit your entry.

Click here for the printable entry form.