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 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) or Tesserae’s BBQ Sauce. 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

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. 

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Healthy BBQ Sauce


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

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  • 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

Nutrition

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

Keywords: healthy, homemade barbecue sauce, healthy bbq sauce

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    29 comments
    1. Sarah
      October 18, 2020 AT 2:20 am

      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. Brittany Mullins
        October 19, 2020 AT 10:04 am

        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. Jones John
      January 19, 2020 AT 10:28 pm

      Going to try this

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 20, 2020 AT 5:17 pm

        Awesome! You’ll have to let me know how it turns out.

    3. Ron Kaliszewski
      May 20, 2019 AT 10:25 am

      Excellent BBQ sauce-a keeper

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 20, 2019 AT 4:49 pm

        So glad you like it, Ron!

    4. Sharon Baert
      January 30, 2019 AT 1:45 pm

      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.

      1. Jen
        February 23, 2019 AT 3:14 pm

        Grocery stores here carry canned tomato sauce which is just tomato paste, water, and some spices.

    5. barb aik
      September 10, 2018 AT 6:37 pm

      Making this tonight! Looks yummy. HOw long will this last in the refridge or can I freeze it?
      Thank you

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 11, 2018 AT 11:21 am

        It should last at least 5-6 days in the fridge. I haven’t tried freezing it so I’m not sure about that.

    6. Kim
      August 31, 2018 AT 6:40 pm

      Absolutely excellent bbq sauce recipe!
      Thank you!

    7. Miche
      July 13, 2018 AT 4:24 pm

      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?

    8. Elainee
      January 30, 2018 AT 10:32 pm

      Super ..was looking for less upgrade and more natural ..here it it!
      Will try!

    9. Nina
      November 19, 2017 AT 6:25 am

      THanks for the recipe what’s do you serve it with and do you serve it hot or cold?

    10. Linda Martin
      July 30, 2017 AT 11:14 am

      I am making this today for a dipping sauce for coconut flour “fried” chicken strips. Can’t wait to try it.

    11. Deanna
      June 12, 2017 AT 7:48 pm

      How long does this sauce keep in the fridge for?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        June 13, 2017 AT 12:34 pm

        I’d say 4-5 days.

    12. Anna Wright
      January 12, 2017 AT 5:09 am

      BBQ sauce is a yummy one.It is a great combination for all main dishes.

    13. Sophie
      June 10, 2016 AT 11:57 am

      This sounds AMAZING! I must try.

    14. Kate | HappyForks.com
      April 28, 2016 AT 9:20 am

      I also make bbq sauce at home. What it differs from yours is that I add dried prunes and smoked paprika powder (for a sweet & smoky twist), fresh rosemary and bay leaf for a deep, herbal aroma.

    15. Tiffany
      April 26, 2016 AT 10:45 pm

      Thank-you so much. I am looking forward to gathering all the ingredients so I can make this asap.

    16. Amanda
      April 26, 2016 AT 12:35 pm

      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.

    17. Jason Tsang
      April 25, 2016 AT 11:11 pm

      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.

    18. thegirlyouloathe
      April 25, 2016 AT 7:33 pm

      I’m so excited to try this!! I make my own ketchup, but haven’t been able to find a BBQ sauce recipe safe for me/worth making yet, thank you!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 26, 2016 AT 8:49 am

        You’ll have to let me know what you think of it. 🙂

    19. Roxana
      April 25, 2016 AT 6:03 pm

      Thank you for healthier alternatives! Love this!

    20. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment
      April 25, 2016 AT 5:03 pm

      Reading labels is so important. I have been a label reader forever! Great recipe. Thank you for sharing. xo Lauren

    21. Andrew
      April 25, 2016 AT 4:26 pm

      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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