This BBQ sauce recipe combines a delicious smokey aroma with a mouthwatering sweet, tangy, and savory flavor.

It’s a simple recipe you can make with pantry staples in 15 minutes. It’s bold, rich, and excellent with anything grilled. It’ll leave you and your guests craving for more.

BBQ Sauce with spoon
bbq sauce serving suggestions

Are you ready to take your backyard BBQ to the next level?

If so, then this homemade barbecue sauce is the recipe for you. No worries, the recipe is easy to make with simple pantry staples.

Plus, it’s naturally vegan, so everyone can enjoy it. The result is a flavor explosion that will leave your friends and family begging for more.

The best thing about making BBQ sauce at home is that you can tweak the taste based on your preferences.

For example, if you like it extra spicy, you can easily increase the heat. If not, you can omit the spice altogether. More tanginess? Adjust the vinegar. Less sweetness? Reduce the sugar. You get the point.

This homemade BBQ sauce recipe pairs perfectly with anything cooked on the grill, from veggies to meats and tofu. It’s also excellent for a burger or a sandwich.

Try it in a buttered and toasted bun with our BBQ tofu and creamy coleslaw – it’s our version of a meat-free pulled pork sandwich, and I think it will leave you speechless.

And while this isn’t your typical Kansas City-style, Memphis-style, or North-Carolina-style bbq sauce, we are sure you’ll love it nonetheless.

BBQ sauce in a burger with coleslaw

Ingredients & Substitutions

BBQ Sauce ingredients

Ketchup

Use your favorite ketchup brand.

Mustard

We recommend yellow American mustard, but Dijon mustard works too.

Apple cider vinegar

Substitute red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar.

Sugar

You can use white or brown sugar.

Substitute maple syrup, agave syrup, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, honey, coconut sugar, or palm sugar for regular sugar.

Soy sauce

Soy sauce adds richness, umami, and depth of flavor, and it’s essential in this recipe.

Substitute tamari if gluten-free, coconut aminos, or Worcestershire sauce for soy sauce.

Smoked paprika

We use smoked paprika to add a pleasant smokey flavor.

Substitute liquid smoke or chipotle powder for smoked paprika. Chipotle powder is delicious if you want to add smokey spiciness to your BBQ sauce recipe.

Garlic and Onion Powder

Try to use at least one of the two.

Optional ingredients

  • Hot sauce: add if you like your barbecue sauce spicy. Cayenne pepper works too.
  • Cumin: add a pinch to make the sauce aromatic.
  • Molasses: for an extra sweet tang.
BBQ sauce with vegetables and a sausage
BBQ sauce served with grilled zucchini, air-fried veggies, grilled tofu, and plant-based sausage.

How to make BBQ Sauce

To a saucepan, add ketchup, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and optionally hot sauce.

BBQ sauce ingredients in a pot

Whisk while bringing to a light simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Partially cover the saucepan with a lid to allow the steam to escape. The lid is essential to protect you from the sauce splattering as it simmers.

Whisk in a pot with BBQ sauce

Let the sauce cool down at room temperature, then store it in a mason jar.

BBQ sauce storage

Serving suggestions

Make BBQ Tofu

BBQ tofu with a spoon

BBQ tofu is the best tofu you’ll ever eat (no jokes). It’s meaty, chewy, tangy, sweet, sour, and flavorful from a simple rub and BBQ sauce coating.

You can make it in the oven in about 30 minutes, and you’ll devour it in 30 seconds.

Check out our BBQ Tofu recipe.

In a sandwich

BBQ sauce in a burger with coleslaw

Sure, BBQ sauce is delicious with your usual ribs and chicken wings; however, here we encourage you to try it with our plant-based version of pulled pork sandwich, which we make with pulled BBQ Tofu, Coleslaw, buttered and toasted buns, vegan mayo, and this delicious BBQ sauce.

As a dip or brushed on grilled foods

BBQ sauce with vegetables and a sausage

We love it on our grilled tofu and with plant-based sausage, and you can have it on your favorite grilled protein. It adds a bold, sweet and tangy flavor that is irresistible.

Don’t forget a side of grilled or air-fried veggies like zucchini, eggplant, carrots, and more.

Other serving suggestions

Try it with/on:

  • Baked beans (coming soon)
  • As pizza sauce on BBQ chicken pizza (coming soon)
  • Plant-based chicken wings, aka cauliflower wings (coming soon)

Storage

Make ahead: BBQ sauce is excellent to make ahead because it thickens as it sits and it keeps well for days.

Refrigerator: let the sauce cool down at room temperature, then store in a mason jar on the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Freezer: let the sauce cool down completely, then transfer it into a freezer-friendly container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Thaw: in the refrigerator over several hours.

BBQ sauce storage

More sauce ideas

These easy sauce ideas are perfect for any occasion:

  • Vegan mayo (vegetable oil, soy milk, lemon juice, salt, etc.)
  • Chimichurri (parsley, red pepper flakes, olive oil, garlic, etc.)
  • Chipotle sauce (mayonnaise, pepper in adobo, lime juice, garlic, etc.)
  • Tahini sauce (tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, etc.)
  • Marinara sauce (onion, canned tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, etc.)

More BBQ recipes

BBQ Sauce

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 4 votes
This BBQ sauce recipe combines a delicious smokey aroma with a mouthwatering sweet, tangy, and savory flavor.
It's a simple recipe you can make with pantry staples in 15 minutes. It's bold, rich, and excellent with anything grilled. It'll leave you and your guests craving for more.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Course: Dressing & Sauces
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce optional

Instructions 

  • Add all ingredients to a sauce pan.
    BBQ sauce ingredients in a pot
  • Whisk while bringing to a light simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Partially cover the saucepan with a lid to allow the steam to escape. The lid is essential to protect you from the sauce splattering as it simmers.
    BBQ sauce in a pot
  • Let the sauce cool down at room temperature, then store it in a mason jar.
    BBQ sauce storage
  • Serve in a sandwich, with grilled foods, as a dip, or pizza sauce.
    BBQ sauce in a burger with coleslaw

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for the whole cup of barbecue sauce.
STORAGE
Make ahead: BBQ sauce is excellent to make ahead because it thickens as it sits and it keeps well for days.
Refrigerator: let the sauce cool down at room temperature, then store in a mason jar on the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Freezer: let the sauce cool down completely, then transfer it into a freezer-friendly container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw: in the refrigerator over several hours.
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Nutrition

Calories: 395kcal, Carbohydrates: 98g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 1010mg, Dietary Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 75g, Vitamin A: 3212IU, Vitamin B6: 1mg, Vitamin C: 10mg, Vitamin E: 5mg, Vitamin K: 11µg, Calcium: 96mg, Folate: 42µg, Iron: 3mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 76mg, Zinc: 1mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I make nomato ketchup since I canโ€™t eat tomatoes. It turned out really well. A new go to barbecue sauce for me!!

    1. Hi Debbie,
      Fantastic – I’m very happy you found a good way to eat BBQ sauce ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment.
      Kindest,
      Louise