This homemade vegan BBQ sauce is quick and easy to make with a few simple ingredients. It’s not overly sweet like some barbeque sauces, yet full of a classic smoky flavor. Use it for BBQ tofu, tempeh, vegan chicken nuggets, and as a dipping sauce for just about anything.
I must confess, I was never a big fan of barbecue sauce. It was just too sweet and so many store-bought brands seem more like a smoky flavored syrup. I decided that I could probably make my own and uses less sugar.
I tried swapping out the sugar for maple syrup hoping that it would still be good, and it was even better! It makes the most delicious vegan BBQ chicken sandwiches, BBQ tempeh, and vegan BBQ seitan wings.
❤️ Why make this recipe
- It's quick and easy to make in about 5 minutes.
- You probably already have the ingredients in your pantry.
- It has a fraction of the sugar of store-bought barbeque sauces and no high fructose corn syrup.
- It jazzes up all your favorite plant-based meals.
Is BBQ sauce vegan?
Most store-bought bbq sauces like Sweet Baby Rays and others are vegan-friendly. They don't contain any animal ingredients, but the sugar that they use to sweeten them could be filtered with bone char so some strict vegans may not consume them. For a complete list of vegan and non-vegan BBQ sauces see my post about vegan BBQ sauce brands.
Organic brands of BBQ sauce like Annie's are vegan, but they can be expensive and when it's so easy to make your own, why buy expensive sauces?
🧾 Ingredients and substitutions
- Tomato Paste - this is the tomatoey base of your barbecue sauce. (If you don't have tomato paste, you can use 1/2 cup of ketchup and omit the vinegar, and only use 1/2 the sugar.)
- Vinegar - to give your barbecue sauce some tangy acidity. You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Liquid Smoke - this will give your sauce that smokey barbecue flavor. (I use the Colgin brand hickory smoke flavor.) If you don't have any, you can use 1 tsp of smoked paprika instead.
- Steak Seasoning - to spice up your sauce. I like the smoky Montreal steak seasoning. (This has black and red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, hickory smoke, salt, and paprika).
- Salt - for flavor. You can also swap this out with soy sauce or tamari.
- Sweetener - maple syrup works great, but you can also use organic brown sugar, granulated sugar, molasses, coconut sugar, agave nectar, stevia, vegan honey, or even apple sauce.
❓ How to make refined sugar-free BBQ sauce
You can omit the sweetener completely, but it will be a strong acidic flavored sauce. I recommend that you add small amounts of the sweetener of your choice until the sauce tastes good to you. (People who don't eat sugar, will be more sensitive to the taste and need less than others who eat more sugary foods).
Tip - Use organic tomato paste and make it organic barbecue sauce too!
🔪 Helpful tools
- A small saucepan - to cook the sauce in.
- A whisk - to blend the sauce into a smooth consistency.
🥄 How to make vegan BBQ sauce
Step 1 - Put all the ingredients into a saucepan with about 1 tablespoon of sweetener.
Step 2 - Stir frequently, heat over medium-high heat until it starts to boil.
Step 3 - Taste the sauce and add more sweetener 1 tablespoon at a time until it has reached the desired sweetness. (I like about 2-3 tablespoons of sweetener, my kids like about 4-5 tablespoons of sweetener total.)
Step 4 - Let the barbecue sauce simmer slowly over medium-low heat for about 1 minute to allow the flavors to mix and then turn off the heat.
👩🏻🍳 Pro Tips
Add a small amount of sweetener at first and then add more to taste to ensure that it's not overly sweet.
❓ How to use vegan BBQ sauce
Use this as a dipping sauce for ...
- Tofu Chicken Nuggets
- Vegan Meatballs
- Fried Tofu
- Vegan Popcorn "Chicken"
- Fried Cauliflower or Baked Cauliflower Nuggets
- Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- Vegan Chicken Patties
Use this vegan barbeque sauce to make ...
Store your homemade vegan barbeque sauce in the fridge in a glass jar or air-tight container for up to 1 week. Since it doesn't have preservatives, it will not last as long as other store-bought BBQ sauce.
🌟 More vegan sauces
- Vegan Honey Mustard
- Vegan Buffalo Sauce
- Vegan Tartar Sauce
- Garlic Aioli
- Vegan Honey Garlic Sauce
- Garlic Cilantro Sauce
- Vegan Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Orange Sauce
📌 Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for new vegan recipes!
📋 Vegan BBQ sauce recipe
Vegan BBQ Sauce
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1-5 tablespoons maple syrup (I like about 3-4 tbsp) or other sweetener of choice
- 3 tablespoons liquid smoke (hickory flavored) I use Colgin brand but other brands can be stronger so add to taste if using another brand.
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons steak seasoning or (make your own by adding 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp granulated garlic, 1/2 tsp salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan except for only 1 tablespoon of the sweetener of choice.
- Stirring frequently, heat over medium-high heat until it starts to boil.
- Taste the sauce and add more sweetener 1 tablespoon at a time until it has reached the desired sweetness. (I like about 2-3 tablespoons of sweetener, my kids like about 4 tablespoons of sweetener total.)
- Let the barbecue sauce bubble slowly for about 1 minute to allow the flavors to mix and then turn off the heat. (You may want to add another tablespoon or two of water to thin it to the desired consistency.)
- You can adjust the amount of maple syrup or other sweeteners used to your taste.
- I use Colgin brand liquid smoke. Other brands are thicker and can be stronger so add to the taste if using another brand.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Click the stars above or leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!