Homemade BBQ Sauce

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on June 6, 2011

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Back in March 2010, Eric decided to clean up his diet. We were on vacation in Florida when he realized that most of his favourite foods and drinks (such as Coke, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Ketchup, multigrain bread, etc) contained high fructose corn syrup. We found this odd because the labels in Canada do not list this ingredient on the very same products. After reading up on it, we realized that high fructose corn syrup is often called ‘glucose-fructose’ on Canadian labels. We were shocked.

When we got home from our vacation, we discovered that many of the same cereals, sauces, and dressings in our kitchen contained ‘glucose-fructose’ so we did a pantry overhaul. Since that vacation, not one pop has crossed Eric’s lips and he also gave up his go-to products that contain glucose-fructose. This meant switching to Nature’s Path cereal, organic ketchup, Silverhills Bread, and 100% natural fruit juices, to name a few.

One of the glucose-fructose containing condiments is our beloved BBQ sauce! We use BBQ sauce a lot in the summer to give a little kick to whatever we’re grilling. We recently purchased an ‘all-natural’ BBQ sauce from Whole Foods only to find out that it contained corn syrup and a few other questionable ingredients. That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to make some myself.

Before the BBQ on Saturday, I made my first batch of homemade BBQ sauce adapting a recipe from Veganomicon that I saw on Matt’s blog. Any you know what? It really wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The sauce was thrown together in no time. I’ll be making a couple modifications to this recipe next time I make it (I’ll talk about them below), but I think it was a good starting point!

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

Adapted from Veganomicon (recipe found here).

Yield: 2 & 1/4 cups sauce


  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized sweet onion, chopped finely
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like it spicy)
  • 22-oz crushed tomatoes (or 28oz can if that’s what you have)
  • 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses (see note)
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar + 1 tbsp apple cidar vinegar (or just use more white vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard (Dijon works too)



1. In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in oil on medium heat for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

2. Add in the rest of the ingredients except for the mustard and cook for about 30 minutes uncovered over low heat. Stir occasionally and make sure not to burn it.

3. Add the mustard and taste for sweetness/sourness. Add more sugar, salt, vinegar, etc if you think it’s necessary to achieve your desired flavour. Cook for another few minutes.

4. Optional: You may puree the sauce in a blender, but it isn’t necessary. I left mine chunky as I didn’t want to dirty the blender! Makes 2 & 1/4 cups sauce.

Note: I found this sauce to have a fairly pronounced molasses flavour. Next time, I will probably reduce the molasses to 3-4 tbsp and slowly add it in to taste.


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The sauce was much easier to throw together than I thought it would be! You basically just chop the onion and garlic, sauté, and then stir everything in, simmer for 20-30 minutes, and adjust the sauce to taste.

The sauce smells wonderful when it’s cooking in the saucepan. The flavour is quite nice, however I found the molasses flavour to be more pronounced than I prefer, so next time I will reduce the molasses to 3-4 tbsp. Other than that I loved it. The original recipe also called for 2 tsp liquid smoke, which I didn’t have, so you can always add that in if you prefer!

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I’m not sure how long it keeps for in the fridge, so I decided to freeze half the batch. Hopefully it freezes ok.

Yesterday, we used some of the leftover sauce and made up some yummy BBQ lentil sandwiches for lunch!

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The sandwiches contained:

  • Silverhills sprouted grain bread
  • hummus
  • lentils + bbq sauce, heated up
  • grilled red onion and yellow peppers
  • tomato slices
  • spinach
  • Cucumber
  • S & P


They were glorious. And messy. ;)

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In other news…it’s June 6th which means…

Happy Birthday to my Sister, Kristi!

I’m looking forward to the 3rd week in July when Kristi, Pete, and my nephews come to stay with us for a week! Kerrie and fam are also staying here for a weekend during Kristi’s stay…it’s going to be a good time! I better start planning some kid-friendly meals. ;) Any ideas?

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Also, Happy Anniversary to my loving in-laws, Ken and Margaret! Red heart


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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

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[email protected] healthy helper blog! June 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm

The sauce looks amazing and the sandwiches look even better! WOW I want to make these NOOOOOW!


Hannah June 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I’ve always been just avoiding BBQ sauce ever since becoming vegan, but this recipe looks incredibly delicious! I’ll have to try it on some baked tofu!


Janel June 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Weelicious.com has some amazing kids recipes! You should check it out!


Jen June 6, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I actually got into an email argument with someone at Kellogg (Canada) when I contacted them to say how disappointed I was to find glucose-fructose so high on the ingredient list in their All Bran Guardian cereal (which I’m not even sure they make anymore as I haven’t seen it on shelves lately). We literally went back and forth for like a week arguing whether g/f was or wasn’t HFCS…it was pretty ridiculous. I’ve pretty much given up on my quest of avoiding g/f foods…it’s in everything! I try not to buy products where it’s high up on the ingredient list; the products I do buy that contain it aren’t typically things that I consume very often so I’m not too worried about it. Sticking to fruits, veggies, and meals prepared at home from whole foods makes it much easier to avoid all that extra crap!


Alaina June 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Ooh, I never thought about homemade BBQ sauce! I would probably add the liquid smoke; I love smokey sauces.

Your in-laws are lovely people! Happy Anniversary to them! :-)


Kait June 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Happy Herbivore has a mustard-based BBQ sauce (who knew there are three different types?!) in her cookbook that is super simple and amazing as well. Plus the mustard base gives it a something different. Just FYI for future BBQ adventures!

BTW – those sandwiches look like they are to die for!


Shay June 6, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Looks beautiful and totally doable. Gorgeous pictures!


Laura @ Starloz June 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm

oh yummy, this sauce looks perfect. so thick & just delicious!


Marit June 7, 2011 at 1:51 am

I’d love to try that.
I’ve been making my own BBQ sauces for years.
In Norway you can’t get Liquid smoke so i have been using a splash of whiskey or Burbon for that smokey tang.
I have also cut the sugar and replaced it with Honey (which is not very Vegan but tastes wonderful…)

Kids will eat pretty much anything as long as it’s on a stick so i suggest you make skewers.
thread sweetcorn slices, mushrooms, peppers and onions on skewers and grill/oven roast. serve with fish and mashed potato and you’ve got a winner.
You could try it with those soy-breaded “chicken” nuggets….
Or do skewers as a dessert if you fill the skewers with fruit…

or spinach Lasagna? All kids like lasagna right?
and how about corn dogs? Just replace the “dog” with whatever tasty veg you have at hand.(or refried beans?)

if they are girls, mini-foods are a winner. my daughter eats those mini-corn that are popular in asian cooking so i’m spending half my time in the supermarket looking for small veggies… But it’s worth it if it makes her eat veg.
I make lots of mini-pies and mini foods these days.
She’s also very keen on baked potatoes at the moment…

I do have a recipe for a fish soup that no child can resist…
But you probably are hunting for vegan stuff…


Apron Appeal June 7, 2011 at 6:05 am

I wonder if the molasses is the thickener and if….oh yeah, honey isn’t vegan. hmmmmmm…..well if it needs to be thicker I wonder if adding flour would help. It looks like I have a fun experiment waiting for me in the kitchen. The kids should get a kick out of this one.


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 7, 2011 at 6:24 am

I think you could also add a small amount of cornstarch or arrowroot powder (dissolve in water first) and it would thicken it up a bit. :)


Kelley June 7, 2011 at 6:10 am


THANK YOU for this bbq sauce recipe. I recently found myself in a simiar dilema searching for bbq sans HFCS, etc. Can’t wait to try this. You’re awesome.

Kelley Forbes
Ann Arbor, MI


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 7, 2011 at 6:23 am

I hope you enjoy it!


The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh June 7, 2011 at 6:30 am

Man that seems intimidating but I’m kind of excited to give it a go!


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin June 7, 2011 at 7:19 am

I actually never even use BBQ sauce because I haven’t been able to find a good brand with non-sketchy ingredients. Thank you for this recipe!!! Who knew it would be so easy?


Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner June 7, 2011 at 7:34 am

Happy Birthday Kristi!!!!

Whoa!!!! I’ve never heard HFCS being called “glucose-fructose;” I know they are changing the name to “corn sugar” to make it more health-conscious user friendly and all-natural.

I love your recipe for BBQ Sauce!


Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers June 7, 2011 at 8:10 am

Thanks for this! It’s just in time for bbq season!


Mallory June 7, 2011 at 8:24 am

I just recently started making my own bbq sauce too. The one my husband and I love is a mango bbq sauce that I found in oxygen magazine.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
two 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1 six oz can tomato paste
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. unsulfured organic molasses
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

heat olive oil in a skillet or pot set on medium-high heat.
Add onions, garlic and mango. saute until soft, about 3 minutes
Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. bring to a boil on medium-high heat. reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes, stirring often
remove skillet from heat and allow to cool uncovered for 30 minutes
transfer 2 cups of the cooled sauce to a blender (this should fill your blender no more than half way). puree on high to thoroughly combine and liquefy all ingredients. Tip: keep your hand on the lid while blending. it’s also a good idea to hold a folded paper towel over the lid to prevent spillage. if the sauce is still warm, it may cause the lid to pop off or the suace to squirt out from the top.
Once all the sauce has been pureed, transfer to storage jars and containers. label, date and store in the refrigerator. Nutrients per serving: calories: 20. total fats:0g. cholesterol: 0g. Sodium: 45mg. Total carbs: 5g. dietary fiber: 0.5 g. Sugars: 3g.


Em Marie June 7, 2011 at 9:01 am

I found the Bull’s Eye Brand of BBQ sauce doesn’t contain any high fructose corn syrup and is very yummy!

For kid foods I’d suggest whole wheat (or regular) english muffin pizzas with pasta sauce or salsa sprinkled with cheese. or maybe hummus with fun things to dunk – carrots, crackers, pita chips, etc. Fun shaped pastas.


meredith June 7, 2011 at 10:27 am

the bbq sauce looks yummy. i am for cutting back on HFCS. every once in a while, though, i really do crave a coke! what are your thoughts on cane sugar soda?


Alison Golden - The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman June 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

I am not a fan of BBQ sauce but I do think that HFCS is the culinary version of the devil! We tossed it five years ago after my son continued to have terrible tantrums when he got stuck in the ‘terrible twos’ for years. We’ve not looked back and he is now calm and peaceful. Now that he’s older he can tolerate a little when we go out. But I wouldn’t go back to those days, not for any of my favorite foods.


Ally June 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I made my own BBQ sauce recently, too! There is nothing like making it yourself and I like how each batch is a little different. I used tarragon infused white wine vinegar is this most recent batch and it was awesome :)


Kelly June 8, 2011 at 9:04 am

oh my gosh, you read my mind!
I was just thinking of playing with the BBQ sauce because my kids love it, but every major brand is so full of preservatives and I hate the “fake” taste.
This is a must try for this grilling this weekend!!


Vanessa @ Project Zen June 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Corn syrup (or glucose fructose – I’ll keep my eyes peeled for that one when I’m in Canada!) is in nearly every BBQ brand. I’m not surprised because high fructose corn syrup is already in ketchup and most other most commonly used condiments.

I love how you took it into your own creative approach to make your own BBQ sauce. I’m saving this recipe for future use!


Crystal June 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This looks good, I’m trying it this afternoon for a bbq tonight. How long do you expect it will keep? In the fridge? Or should I freeze some leftovers?


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I froze leftovers as Im not sure how long it keeps in the fridge. :) I would guess 1-2 weeks in the fridge but im not positive! A wait and see type thing as its my first time making it. I also dont know how it freezes, but hopefully fine!


Amykinz (foodie4healing) June 8, 2011 at 9:47 pm

YAY!!! I am SO excited to try this BBQ recipe! I’m gestational diabetic & can’t have a lot of sugar, so traditional BBQ sauces were out.


autumn June 9, 2011 at 5:27 am

What a cute jar! I think this recipe sounds great and I love that it uses ingredients that most folks are likely to have around. Thanks!


Rachael June 18, 2011 at 2:55 am

I’d love to try making BBQ sauce, and your recipe looks perfect (as always)… except that I can’t find molasses in any of my local stores! The joys of living in small-town Switzerland. Any suggestions on what I could substitute it with?


helen @ healing through positivity June 22, 2011 at 11:49 am

Hi there, this looks yummy – can you tell me how long it keeps and how to store it? x


Alisha Abercrombie June 30, 2011 at 10:47 am

I am a newbie to your site, and quite obsessed actually. I think I have made 7 or 8 of your recipes in the last week! I just wanted to say regarding the kid meal thing that my girls LOVE everything I have made from this site. I made the chickpea pizza snack for a meal but served it with homemade sweet potato and carrot fries with a side of asparagus and they liked it but I should have warmed up the chickpeas and will do that next time. Dunno why I didn’t think of that to begin with! It was a lifesaver since their old favorite meal use to be regular pizza and fries. I am sure you will come up with some amazing satisfying meals for the kids!


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2011 at 10:52 am

Hey Alisha, thanks for your feedback! I am glad you enjoy the recipes :)


Courtney May 10, 2012 at 11:02 am

I started making this today to serve in slow-cooked pulled pork, and already it tastes amazing! I added some chipolte chilli powder, which is giving my whole house this amazingly smoky smell. Can’t wait to serve it tonight!


Kelsie August 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I stumbled upon this post when looking for a bbq sauce recipe for EXACTLY the same reason…how strange. My 2.5 year old has a severe corn intolerance, and I thought I had eliminated all sources of corn from our diet, until this summer….when we were on vacation….in Florida….and I noticed that HFCS was in labels where glucose-fructose would be in Canada. How creepy…haha! I’ll give this recipe a go in a few days. Citric acid is also often sourced from corn, and I’m currently waiting to see if we can get away with SilverHills bread without causing a reaction, since the CA is the last ingredient….then I might try canned tomatoes, otherwise, this is gonna be tricky… ;) Hey, question…do you know if the liquid sugar listed in Heinz ketchup in Canada would be a corn sugar? I can’t seem to find an answer to that one….


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Im not sure, but I know glucose-fructose is the same as High Fructose Corn Syrup. I’ve seen fructose-glucose on so many packaged goods in canada.


Andrea December 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Been meaning to make this for a year. Finally did last night and was thrilled! This will be a definite go to for all things BBQ in the future….except maybe the dog treats. Not sure their taste buds are up for it yet. Thanks for sharing :-)


Natalie May 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I just made the sauce and mixed it with lentils, absolutely delicious! I had to use maple syrup and red onion but it turned out great. The pictures looked so scrumptious I didn’t even notice until after the food is presented on Fiesta! Kudos to the recipe and the greatest dishes in the world :)


Halee October 28, 2013 at 8:35 am

I am in need of some suggestions. I LOVE BBQ and it is one of the things I really miss since going vegan. I made BBQ sauce, but I have no idea what to put it on. Hubby and I are not fans of tofu or tempeh. Any suggestions would be great thanks! -H


Silvia June 16, 2016 at 9:25 am

Could I replace the sugar with maple syrup? (Or if not, coconut sugar or honey?)


Angela Liddon June 23, 2016 at 11:29 am

Hi Silvia, I think maple syrup would work well as a sweetener here. A few other readers have tried it and liked the results, too! If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes. :)


Doreen November 24, 2016 at 11:01 am

I made these for the OMG vegeburgers and it was a total HIT with my guests. I thought that I would have extra sauce to freeze but they ate it all :O
It was easy to make…


Angela Liddon November 24, 2016 at 11:04 am

So glad the sauce was a hit, Doreen!


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