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This homemade vegan BBQ sauce is the perfect sweet and smoky sauce to smother on your favorite vegan BBQ sandwiches, salads, BBQ tempeh, and more! It's naturally sweetened with date syrup and blackstrap molasses, making it a healthier alternative to most store-bought versions. All you need is 15 minutes to prepare this quick vegan condiment!

BBQ sauce in a white bowl with a silicone brush dipped in.

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Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • Nutritional! It was important to me to make a homemade BBQ sauce that wasn't packed with tons of unrefined sugars or high fructose corn syrup. After thorough testing, I created this healthy alternative made from date syrup and blackstrap molasses. Both date syrup and blackstrap molasses are both significant sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber!
  • 11 ingredients. Chances are you have most of the ingredients needed for this homemade BBQ sauce already in your pantry. Easy to whip up on the fly when you need an easy and flavorful condiment to pair with dinner.
  • Long fridge life. This vegan BBQ sauce lasts for up to 2 weeks in the fridge when stored in an airtight glass jar. Make it for meal prep and enjoy it throughout the week.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients needed for BBQ sauce measured and labeled.
  • date syrup – date syrup is made from dates and water and is one of the best unrefined sugars to use because it is just as quick and easy to use as cane sugar or maple syrup, but contains far better nutrition and fiber. Although I typically say you can substitute another liquid sweetener, in this instance, using date syrup is needed. Using another liquid sweetener would completely change the color and flavor profile of this BBQ sauce and would be a very different result.
  • blackstrap molasses – When testing this recipe, I tried making it with just date syrup, but it was missing a layer of depth and the flavor fell flat. Incorporating blackstrap molasses created the perfect deep, bold flavor. Blackstrap molasses is also an amazing source of iron.
  • liquid smoke – Creates a great smoky flavor without a grill. I highly recommend the brand Lazy Kettle.
  • tomato sauce and tomato paste – Most BBQ sauces have a tomato base. I tried making this BBQ sauce with just tomato sauce, but similar to the sugar, it needed an extra layer of depth. Using both tomato sauce and tomato paste are necessary to create the best flavor.
  • apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is my favorite acid to use here, but you can also use white vinegar, if necessary.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a small sauce pan. Place the sauce pan over medium low heat and add in all of the ingredients in no particular order.
Ingredients added into a small saucepan.
  1. Whisk together to combine. While the sauce pan is heating, whisk together to combine until smooth.
Sauce ingredients whisked together in sauce pan.
  1. Warm the BBQ sauce through for 10 minutes. Whisk occasionally to keep the BBQ sauce from burning to the bottom of the pot. Make sure to keep the heat low or the tomato sauce will bubble up and splatter out of the sauce pan.
BBQ sauce after simmering for 10 minutes.
  1. Store in an air tight jar. Transfer the sauce to a clean glass jar and allow to cool completely. Once cool, seal and store in the refrigerator for future uses. Alternatively, you can use the BBQ sauce immediately, although I find the BBQ sauce continues to become more flavorful after refrigerating overnight.

FAQs

Why isn't BBQ sauce vegan?

A good portion of the store-bought BBQ sauces are vegan. However, a few are not vegan because they can contain anchovies or honey. If buying a store-bought BBQ sauce, it is always good to check the ingredients. Or buy from one of my favorite store-bought brands: Primal Kitchen Hawaiian BBQ sauce. It also contains no added sugar and is much healthier than a lot of the popular large brands.

Is this BBQ sauce gluten free?

Yes! This BBQ sauce is completely gluten free.

Will BBQ sauce burn in the Instant Pot?

If you add BBQ sauce directly into the bottom of the Instant Pot, it will burn. From experience, any sauces that are tomato sauce based always burn in the bottom of the Instant Pot. If using BBQ sauce in the Instant Pot, always make sure you have at least 1 cup of another liquid, like water, and place the BBQ sauce on the top before sealing.

Will BBQ sauce freeze?

Yes, BBQ sauce freezes well for up to 3 months. For best results, I recommend freezing this sauce (and sauces in general) in a glass jar with enough room in the top for expansion. When ready to use, transfer the jar to the refrigerator until completely thawed, then use as normal.

Expert Tips

  • Date paste and date syrup are not the same. Date paste is made with dates blended with water into a paste and date syrup is made by boiling dates with water down into a syrup. The flavor between the two is very different. Please only use date syrup.
  • Blackstrap molasses and molasses are not the same. Blackstrap molasses is more bitter than regular molasses and is more nutrient rich than other molasses. Please only use blackstrap molasses.
  • Added salt may be necessary. I use tomato sauce that contains added salt and find that it is enough for this BBQ sauce. If you use a salt free tomato sauce, you may want to add salt to taste.
BBQ sauce being brushed on vegan tempeh.

More Homemade Vegan Sauces to Try

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Home-Cooked Roots Logo

Vegan BBQ sauce

5 from 7 votes

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Cost: $7.12 per recipe / $0.89 per serving
This homemade vegan BBQ sauce is the perfect sweet and smoky sauce to smother on your favorite vegan BBQ sandwiches, salads, BBQ tempeh, and more! It's naturally sweetened with date syrup and blackstrap molasses, making it a healthier alternative to most store-bought versions. All you need is 15 minutes to prepare this quick vegan condiment!

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup tomato sauce ($0.53)
  • 1/2 cup date syrup ($4.69)
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses ($1.20)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste ($0.36)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ($0.12)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder ($0.06)
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar ($0.02)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lazy Kettle liquid smoke ($0.05)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder ($0.03)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano ($0.02)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried cumin ($0.02)
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder ($0.02)

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a small sauce pan. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Heat through for 5-10 minutes.
  • Store BBQ sauce together in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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Notes

  • Date paste and date syrup are not the same. Date paste is made with dates blended with water into a paste and date syrup is made by boiling dates with water down into a syrup. The flavor between the two is very different. Please only use date syrup.
  • Blackstrap molasses and molasses are not the same. Blackstrap molasses is more bitter than regular molasses and is more nutrient rich than other molasses. Please only use blackstrap molasses.
  • Added salt may be necessary. I use tomato sauce that contains added salt and find that it is enough for this BBQ sauce. If you use a salt free tomato sauce, you may want to add salt to taste.

Nutrition

Calories: 70kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 198mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g

Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course Sauces and Dips
Cuisine American

Did You Love This Recipe?

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5 from 7 votes
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5 from 7 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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