Never buy store-bought bbq sauce again! This Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce is perfectly smoky, sweet, and vegan. Make barbecue tofu or spread it on sandwiches, pizza, and more!
It's made up of organic ketchup, brown coconut sugar, and apple cider vinegar.
The brown sugar provides sweetness, the apple cider vinegar adds tanginess, and liquid smoke and smoked paprika add smokiness.
Cayenne is optional but a delicious addition to add a touch of heat and to help balance the sweetness.
This easy vegan bbq sauce will be your new go-to sauce for slathering on tofu, tempeh, roasted vegetables, veggie burgers, sandwiches, and more!
This vegan bbq sauce recipe is smoky, sweet, with a hint of spice and tons of flavor! It's made with simple ingredients like organic ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and spices.
Organic Ketchup: The base of this sauce is organic ketchup. Not all ketchup should be treated equally. Make sure you're buying quality ketchup for the best results.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Sometimes bbq sauce calls for malt vinegar but this is a gluten-free recipe so we are opting for apple cider vinegar. It tastes better too!
Molasses: Molasses adds so much flavor and helps us create a beautiful color. It's not to be left out!
Tamari: This is a gluten-free recipe so we are using Tamari instead of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce for umami.
Liquid Smoke and Smoked Paprika: Both add smokiness. I use a combination of both but you can use one or the other. Add to your preference!
Spices: The perfect blend of spices for bbq sauce is garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Hot sauce can be added as well to add spice.
Nothing fancy is required for this homemade barbecue sauce. It comes together in a saucepan with a whisk in under 15 minutes!
How to Make This Recipe
Good news! Homemade vegan bbq sauce is super easy to make. All you need is a handful of pantry staple ingredients, some common spices, and 10 minutes.
You'll have the best vegan bbq sauce ready in no time to slather on all your favorite foods.
The full recipe can be found in the recipe card below.
Whisk together the bbq sauce ingredients in a large pot and bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Turn to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Whisking occasionally.
If you prefer a thicker bbq sauce, leave it as is. If you prefer a thinner bbq sauce, add a splash of water until the desired consistency is reached.
Take off the heat and allow it to cool completely.
This vegan and gluten-free barbecue sauce can be used in a variety of creative and delicious ways to add flavor to your dishes.
BBQ Jackfruit sandwiches: Jackfruit has a meaty texture that works well as a pulled pork substitute. Best served on a bun with coleslaw and pickles.
Baked or pan-fried tofu: Cut tofu into cubes or triangles and coat them in spices and bake or fry until crisp. Toss in bbq sauce and serve! Check out my bbq tofu recipe.
BBQ Pizza: Use BBQ sauce as the base for your pizza instead of tomato sauce. Top it with your favorite veggies like onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Add some vegan cheese and vegan chicken.
Tempeh Tacos: Slice tempeh into thin strips and pan-fry until crispy. Then, add the bbq sauce and cook until sticky and warmed through. Serve on warm tortillas with this cucumber salad. Soy curls would be great as well.
Cauliflower wings: Coat cauliflower florets in a mixture of gluten-free or regular flour, plant-based milk, and spices. Bake them until crispy, then toss them in BBQ sauce! You can use the same recipe and cooking method I used in this Teriyaki Cauliflower recipe but replace the teriyaki sauce with bbq sauce.
Substitutions & Variations
BBQ sauce is a versatile sauce that can be adjusted in a variety of ways.
Less Sweet: BBQ sauce is typically sweet but if you prefer yours to be on the less sweet side, simply reduce the amount of brown sugar.
Smokier: Add a touch more smoked paprika or add in an extra splash of liquid smoke.
Spicy: This sauce recipe includes a pinch of cayenne that adds a touch of heat but if you'd like more spice, add more.
Thinner: Add a splash of water.
Thicker: Simmer the sauce for longer until it reduces to your desired consistency.
Tips & Tricks
Everyone has a different preference when it comes to the ideal homemade bbq sauce so feel free to get creative and adjust as you go!
Start with a base you enjoy: BBQ sauce is a tomato-based sauce. I chose to use organic ketchup as the base for this gluten-free bbq sauce. This will provide the rich, tangy flavor characteristic of traditional bbq sauce. If you prefer less sweet bbq sauce, you can use tomato sauce. I don't recommend tomato paste.
Sweeten it up: Add sugar to balance the tanginess of the tomatoes and create that classic BBQ sauce sweetness. I used brown sugar.
Balance with acidity: Incorporate acidic elements like apple cider vinegar to enhance the overall flavor and add tang.
Spice it up: Adjust the spiciness level according to your taste preferences.
Choose your smoky element: To achieve that smoky flavor associated with traditional BBQ sauces, you can use liquid smoke or smoked paprika. I like the combination of both.
Add umami: Enhance the depth of your sauce with umami-rich ingredients like soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Since this is a gluten-free recipe, I used gluten-free tamari. Vegan Worcestershire sauce does exist so if you'd like to add that, go for it. But be aware that not all of them are gluten-free.
Adjust consistency: If your sauce is too thick, you can add a bit of water to achieve the desired consistency.
Taste and adjust: Remember to taste your sauce and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Everyone's ideal bbq is different, so feel free to change it up!
Let cool completely and then store in an airtight jar for up to a week.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, BBQ sauce is not always gluten-free. The ingredients can vary depending on the brand and recipe used. Some BBQ sauces may contain wheat-based soy sauce, malt vinegar, or certain thickeners. Always check the ingredients or use this gluten-free recipe.
Oftentimes bbq sauce is vegan but sometimes can include non-vegan ingredients like Worcestershire sauce which contains anchovies or sometimes honey is added for sweetness. It's always best to thoroughly check the ingredients or look for a vegan label.
Yes. BBQ sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge and use as needed.
More Homemade Sauces You'll Love
Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce (Vegan)
- 2 cups Organic Ketchup
- ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- ¼ cup Brown Coconut Sugar or regular brown sugar
- ¼ cup Molasses
- 2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke
- 1 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Ground Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt see note
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
- Whisk together the bbq sauce ingredients in a large pot and bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Whisking occasionally.
- If you prefer a thicker bbq sauce, leave as is. If you prefer a thinner bbq sauce, add a splash of water until the desired consistency is reached.
- Take off the heat and allow it to cool completely and then store in an airtight jar for up to a week.
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