Healthy Homemade BBQ Sauce



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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 high fructose corn syrup 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 Primal Kitchen’s BBQ sauce (their golden BBQ sauce is delicious). If you’re on the hunt for healthy store-bought condiments, I also have a list of all my favorite healthy store-bought salad dressings.

Ways to Use this BBQ Sauce

More Staple Recipes

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4.40 from 38 votes

Healthy BBQ Sauce

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.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 16


  • 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


  • 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.
  • Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, tamari and mustard into the pan. Stir to combine.
  • Add in seasonings and spices: salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, ground pepper and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Serving: 2Tablespoons | Calories: 30kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy, healthy bbq sauce, homemade barbecue sauce
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
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Recipe Rating


  1. Isn’t tomato sauce (ketchup) filled with sugar, preservatives and sodium? I feel like it defeats the purpose of this sauce. Unless, I’m missing something?

    1. Hi Sarah. Tomato sauce isn’t ketchup.. it is tomato puree with salt and spices, no sugar. You can find varieties with no salt added as well, if you’re looking for a low-sodium option. I hope this helps!

  2. Thank you so much, great, easy, delicious and simple recipe! Other ones are so complicated.
    Good job you are a star

  3. Hey there! Thanks so much for this recipe 🙂 I was wondering, could I replace the Maple Syrup with Jaggery?

    1. I’m not sure how that would turn out as it would be replacing a liquid sweetener with a dry sweetener. Let me know if you try it!

  4. 5 stars
    Excellent flavor and comes together quickly. Day two: using this as a base for baked beans. Yum!!

  5. Do you know of I can switch out the tomato paste and tomato sauce with pumpkin??? Tomato’s instantly cause me pain, and I miss BBQ Sauce and I love making beef Jerky.

    1. I’ve never tried it so I’m not sure how that would change the flavor of this sauce, but let me know if you end up trying it!

    1. So glad you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

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