This homemade vegan BBQ sauce recipe is made with healthier ingredients and no ketchup! It's bold, tangy, and smoky with a hint of sweetness. Plus it's simple to make and easy to customize the flavors! (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free.)
Let's gather some simple pantry ingredients and make an amazing vegan BBQ sauce! This is my homemade version of a Kansas City-style BBQ sauce.
I've tested so many BBQ sauces over the years, and was never satisfied enough to share. But I finally landed on this version that hits all the right flavor notes!
It's bold, tangy, and smoky, with a hint of sweetness. I was determined to create one without using ketchup as the base, and am so happy with how it turned out.
The best part is you can fine tune it to suit your taste. See the notes below for customization ideas!
Ingredients for Vegan BBQ Sauce
For this recipe you'll simmer in a medium saucepan on the stove:
- Tomato sauce: Instead of the traditional ketchup, which often contains added sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors, we'll use one 15-ounce can plain tomato sauce (tomato purée) for this recipe. I use organic when possible.
- Tomato paste: Including three tablespoons of tomato paste adds rich flavor and helps thicken the mixture.
- Apple cider vinegar: I prefer this type of vinegar for this recipe, but you can substitute white distilled vinegar instead. (Just be aware it will slightly alter the taste.)
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce: I use the Whole Foods 365 brand which is organic and vegan-friendly. (Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies.) Try not to omit this ingredient as it adds really nice depth of flavor. But if you must, you can substitute 1-3 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce instead.
- Pure maple syrup: This is a great natural sweetener that I use as a substitute for refined brown sugar often found in BBQ sauces. Feel free to use brown sugar instead however.
- Dijon mustard: Or you can substitute yellow mustard if desired.
- Molasses: This is a classic ingredient in BBQ sauce. I use unsulfured organic blackstrap molasses. (I only use a tablespoon, but you can increase if you prefer.)
- Smoked paprika
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Chili powder blend: I use a half teaspoon which gives a very subtle hint of heat in the background. If you're sensitive to spice, you can decrease to a quarter teaspoon or omit entirely. (Or increase if you'd like more spice!)
- Salt: I use fine grain salt for this recipe. You can also whisk in black pepper to taste.
Make it spicy: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, more chili powder, or hot sauce to taste for a spicy BBQ sauce.
Make it smoky: There's a slight smoky flavor from the smoked paprika, but for even more, add liquid smoke to taste.
Onion flakes: Add one tablespoon onion flakes for texture and extra onion flavor.
Adjusting flavors: Customize it with more or less of the ingredients you enjoy! Use more vinegar for a tangier sauce, more or less mustard, more garlic, or more maple syrup for a sweeter sauce.
Condiment: Drizzle it on your burgers, sandwiches, and wraps. (Try it on this Black Bean Walnut Burger or Southwestern Black Bean Burger!)
Dipping sauce: Dip your oven fries, French fries, sweet potato fries, Crispy Baked Tofu, or anything else that sounds good!
Pizza sauce: Spread it on your homemade pizzas in place of traditional red sauce. I like Hawaiian-style BBQ pizza with pineapple, red onion, and fresh cilantro.
Main dishes: Slather it on protein such as baked tofu, tempeh, or vegan chicken. Or use it to create baked beans, sloppy joes, etc. It's also great on this BBQ Chickpea Salad and BBQ Ranch Tempeh Wrap!
Grilling & marinade: Brush it on your grilled vegetables, or make BBQ tofu & veggie skewers.
Let your sauce cool completely, then store it in an sealed glass mason jar or other airtight container in the fridge. I find it keeps for about a week.
For more inspiration, also browse all vegan sauce & seasoning recipes.
Vegan BBQ Sauce (No Ketchup!)
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. molasses
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt (more/less to taste)
- Add all ingredients to small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine.
- Bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Whisk occasionally.
- Use sauce immediately or let it cool completely then store in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
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