Sugar Free BBQ Sauce

I really like condiments… mayo, mustard, ketchup, sauces, dressings… you name it and I want to dip in it or slather it on my food. Unfortunately finding condiments that taste good and also sugar free can be darned difficult.


Several years ago I worked for a local sauce and dressing bottler. Part of my job was to work R & D and I helped develop many different products. Often I was called on to “reverse engineer” a brand name product so we could replicate the flavor profile in one of our house brand products. While doing that I gained some understanding of the process as well as the “secret” ingredients in many typical condiments. Of course the one not-so-secret ingredient that was in almost everything was sugar aka: dextrose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, beet sugar, cane sugar, cane juice, brown sugar, date sugar, palm sugar, dextrin, maltodextrin, brown rice syrup, caramel, fruit juice, invert sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, etc. (If you think that list is long you should look into the variants of artificial sweeteners.) 

Wow. It’s everywhere and in everything… so when we started eating sugar free it was a tough assignment to find my beloved condiments without added sugar. As a result I started making my own home-made ketchup using the two “approved” sweeteners in our home: xylitol and stevia which are both all natural and very low on the glycemic index.

[Note: when using xylitol (a sugar alcohol) it may loose sweetness when cooked for long periods — it is best to add it toward end of cooking time, as noted below, to retain the sweetness. Stevia handles heat better but remember a little goes a long way.]

Since many home-made BBQ sauce recipes start with ketchup as a base, I decided to convert my own sugar free ketchup into a Sugar Free BBQ Sauce that we could enjoy on grilled meats, chicken, burgers, or in baked beans, pulled pork, and so on.

While we’re savoring the end of Summer and many of you are out there grilling, barbecuing, and enjoying their favorite warm weather fare – I wanted to share my Sugar Free BBQ Sauce recipe for those of you that might want to try it. 

Dan’s Sugar Free BBQ Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes: about 3 cups

1 cup Water
1 (8oz) can Tomato Sauce (check label that no sugar is added)
1 (6oz) can Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Stevia Powder (or to taste)
1/4 tsp Mustard Powder
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper (or to taste)
1/8 tsp Ground Allspice
2 TBSP Xylitol (added after cooking)
2 tsp Liquid Smoke (optional)

1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat – combine water, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar and salt. Whisk to combine and bring to a simmer about 15 minutes.
2. In a small bowl combine the onion powder, stevia, mustard powder, paprika, black pepper, cayenne and allspice. Thoroughly mix spices and add to the sauce – whisking until blended and smooth. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 30 minutes.
3. When sauce is simmering and begins to reduce – turn heat to low and add the xylitol and liquid smoke (if using). Whisk to combine and let cook uncovered for another 15 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt or sweeteners to taste.
4. Serve finished BBQ sauce with your favorite grilled meats or use in recipes. To keep for later use: pour hot sauce into a clean glass container, tightly sealed, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

There you have it, my response to the too-much-sugar-in-the-condiment dilemma. Hope this Sugar Free BBQ Sauce is one way you can eliminate some added sugar from your own diet. Like any good sauce you can tweak the recipe for your own liking and adjust the vinegar, sweeteners, liquid smoke, etc. to your particular tastes. We serve this sauce with grilled chicken, ribs, kabobs, and even brushed on grilled veggies. We have also used it in the slow cooker for baked beans, pulled pork, and barbecued beef. It’s also great for dipping!

Until next time remember, “The Sauce Makes the Difference!”