Healthy Homemade BBQ Sauce

Skip the sugary store-bought BBQ sauce and make this easy and healthy BBQ sauce recipe at home! It has the same bold, sweet and spicy flavor that you love from regular BBQ sauce, just made healthier.

Healthy Homemade BBQ Sauce in a glass jar. Cutting board with knife in the background.

I don’t know if it’s the thought of summer or what, but I’ve been craving BBQ flavored things. And not just snack stuff like barbeque Popchips (although I do love those). I’ve been wanting the saucy stuff.

Ingredients in Traditional BBQ Sauce

My first thought was to run to the store to grab a jar of BBQ sauce, but I quickly realized that healthier bottled BBQ sauce is kind of hard to find. Most store-bought sauces are loaded with sugar and some brands like Sweet Baby Ray’s still use high fructose corn syrup… and it’s the FIRST ingredient!! They’re also packed with a hefty dose of sodium and added preservatives. Not real food or EBF friendly!

Ultimately I said no thanks to the bottled sauces and grabbed ingredients to make my own healthy BBQ sauce at home instead.

Glass jar of homemade BBQ sauce sitting on a linen towel. Cutting board with knife blurred in the background.

How to Make Healthy BBQ Sauce

Turns out, the process of making homemade BBQ sauce is so easy! Literally everything goes into one pot and it takes less than 20 minutes to cook.

The final product is absolutely delicious — bold, flavorful, sweet and spicy! I personally think the homemade version tastes way better than most store-bought sauces I’ve tried. I want to put it on any and everything.

Glass jar of homemade BBQ sauce with a spoon sticking out. Cutting board with knife out of focus in the background.

I know many of you will be using BBQ sauce this summer and I’m happy to share this easy recipe with you. It makes about 2 cups and you can use it in a variety of ways. As a marinade, dipping sauce, salad dressing… the possibilities are pretty much endless. I’ve been using the sauce to test a couple different recipes that I’m super pumped to share. The first one is this BBQ tempeh and it’s delicious.

Healthy Store-Bought BBQ Sauce

If you decide you don’t have time to make homemade BBQ sauce and you’re going to pick up a jar from the store, just be sure to read labels. The serving size is usually 2 Tablespoons. Look for brands that don’t have HFCS or some form of sugar listed as the first ingredient. It’s also ideal to have less than 10 grams of sugar and 300mg of sodium per serving.

There are a few brands that make healthier BBQ sauce with natural/organic ingredients. If I don’t have time to make my own I buy Tesserae’s All-Natural Matty’s BBQ Sauce. It has great flavor, no preservatives and it’s sweetened with dates. Woot!

If you try this healthy bbq sauce recipe please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers. 


Healthy BBQ Sauce

  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 16


This healthy BBQ sauce has the same bold, sweet and spicy flavor that you love from regular BBQ sauce, just made with healthier ingredients. It’s vegan, gluten-free and paleo-friendly.


  • 1/2 teaspoon olive or coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup*
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • dash of cinnamon


  1. Add oil to a medium sized saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture frequently and watch the garlic because it can burn easily.
  2. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, tamari and mustard into the pan. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in seasonings and spices: salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, ground pepper and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
  4. Allow mixture to come to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for about 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Just be careful because if the heat is too high, the mixture will start to boil and splatter.
  5. Use right away or let cool and refrigerate for later use.


  • To lower the sugar content, use powdered or liquid stevia or monkfruit instead of maple syrup. Start with a little (like 1/8 teaspoon) taste and add more until the sweetness level suits your needs.
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
  • Calories: 30
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 1g

Keywords: healthy, homemade barbecue sauce, healthy bbq sauce

Recipes that Use This Homemade BBQ Sauce:

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  1. What kind of tomato sauce? I’m South African, so to me tomato sauce is ketchup, but I’m sure that’s not what you mean. I look forward to trying the recipe.

  2. Do you ever can this sauce? The last time I made it I made a huge batch and canned it….. just curious if you have had success with that also?

  3. I love this, thank you for sharing! I always struggle to find a decent jarred BBQ sauce. I do use Arthur Bryant’s from a local BBQ place in KC. They use great ingredients.

  4. Thanks Brittany, I’ve been looking for a BBQ sauce recipe as an alternative for the one we usually buy at the market , scary when you look at some of the ingredients on those store bought ones.

  5. What the heck, high fructose corn syrup is the first ingredient for some BBQ sauces?! So unnecessary and gross. Thanks for this healthy alternative.

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