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Easy + Homemade Vegan BBQ Sauce 

This easy and homemade vegan BBQ sauce recipe is one you’ll make over and over! The perfect blend of sweet, tangy, spicy, and ready in less than 20 minutes. 

Having a homemade BBQ sauce is one of those things that really sounds more complicated than it really is. Using pantry staples like ketchup, soy sauce, and pineapples (the secret ingredient!), you can mix up the best BBQ sauce ever in under 20 minutes. 

A silver spoon dipping into a glass jar filled with the finished vegan bbq sauce. Tiny tomatoes are in the foreground.
Dipping a spoon in the thick bbq sauce.

A bottle of store-bought sauce can be convenient, but they aren’t always vegan. A lot of brands have anchovies to add an umami flavor. 

There are some brands that are available in stores that are fish free, like Annie’s or Primal Kitchen. 

But honestly, this is a super simple brown sugar barbecue sauce that tastes so good, you won’t ever need to buy a bottle of barbecue sauce again! 

We use this exact recipe in my house all the time for things like BBQ Lentil Burgers, as a dipping sauce for sweet potato wedges, or even on pizza! You can also use it for baked beans, on top of a lentil loaf, or anything else you use BBQ sauce for. 

Why You’ll Love this Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce 

  • Super easy to mix up in one bowl and 15 minutes on the stove top! 
  • Naturally gluten free
  • Make with pantry staple ingredients 
  • TONS of flavor; it’s so flavorful! 

Ingredients 

Here is a quick rundown of all the ingredients you’ll need for this brown sugar BBQ sauce. For the exact recipe measurements, see the recipe card below. 

Ingredients for the homemade bbq sauce in many small glass bowls and plates on a wood table. Black and white labels have been added to name each ingredient.
Ingredients for the bbq sauce in small bowls on the table ready to assemble.
  • Ketchup: I use Annie’s ketchup for most of my sauces, however, you can use your favorite ketchup to be the base of this barbecue sauce recipe. If you only have tomato sauce, you can still make this recipe, just increase the sugar and spices to get the similar flavor profile of ketchup. 
  • Brown Sugar: This is the sweetness of the sauce! This sauce is on the sweeter side so if you would like it less sweet, simply use less sugar. I would recommend reducing it to a ¼ cup of sugar to start. 
  • Date Syrup / Molasses: This adds that rich, thick, undertone to the sauce and is a must! I really recommend that you use date syrup if possible. However, using unsulfured molasses and NOT blackstrap molasses is also delicious. 
  • Pineapple Juice: This is the secret ingredient! The pineapple juice brings a bright and tangy flavor to the sauce. 
  • Soy Sauce: I like to use soy sauce in place of liquid smoke or worcestershire sauce. Soy sauce brings that umami flavor and works perfectly. 
  • Spices: Ground mustard powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder round out the spices here. See the recipe variations on how to further customize the flavors to get exactly what you love! 

Variations

The best part about making homemade barbecue sauce from scratch is how adaptable the recipe is. You can totally customize your sauce until it’s perfect for you. Here are a few ideas on how to get started!

  • Make it sweeter: Add 2 tablespoons more of brown sugar and an extra tablespoon of pineapple juice for even more sweet bbq sauce! 
  • Make it tangy: After simmering on the stove, add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and mix. 
  • Make it smokier: Use smoked paprika in place of sweet paprika for some light smoky flavors. I don’t typically like to add liquid smoke, as they contain a lot of artificial colors and flavors. 
  • Make it spicy: In addition to the chili powder, add up to a teaspoon of chipotle powder, depending on how spicy you enjoy it! 
  • Refined Sugar Free: A great way to reduce the sugar content is to replace the brown sugar with an equal amount of coconut sugar. You can also add in some maple syrup in place of the brown sugar, however, this can make the sauce a little less thick. 

Instructions 

Make sure to check out the recipe card below for the full recipe and ingredient list.

Making this sauce from scratch is super simple! All you do is mix it all together in a bowl (or to be honest, you can even mix it in the pot!) and bring it to a simmer for 3 minutes. That’s it! 

Ingredients being mixed together in a small saucepan.
In the pot before mixing and cooking.
White sauce pot on a wood table filled with the cooked down BBQ sauce.
In the pot after mixing and cooking.
  1. Combine the ingredients. Measure out the ingredients into a large bowl. Using a whisk, mix until everything is well combined and smooth. 
  2. Simmer. Transfer to a large pot for cooking. Over medium-low heat, bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. Make sure to stir frequently so nothing burns! Once it is simmering, let it simmer for 3 minutes to melt the sugars. When it’s done remove from the heat to cool for 5 minutes and enjoy! 

Tips and Tricks 

Freeze smaller amounts of this in an ice cube tray if you only need a few tablespoons of sauce at a time, for example for placing on top of a bbq pizza!

Close up of a glass jar filled with bbq sauce. Tiny tomatoes are in the foreground.
Closeup of the bbq sauce in a glass jar with tiny tomatoes.

How to Store + Make Ahead 

Fridge: Allow the BBQ sauce to cool to room temperature and then transfer it to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

Freezer: Allow the BBQ sauce to cool to room temperature and then transfer to an airtight freezer-safe storage container. Pop it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before heating and using again. 

Make Ahead: This sauce tastes amazing after resting overnight in the fridge! Make this a few days in advance to allow the flavors to blend together. 

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If you try these out, please leave a comment below! This provides helpful feedback to both me and other readers. And if you want more delicious, vegan friendly recipes you can subscribe to the newsletter. Did you make these? Please tag me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest! I love to see your creations!

A silver spoon dipping into a glass jar filled with the finished vegan bbq sauce. Tiny tomatoes are in the foreground.

Easy Homemade Vegan BBQ Sauce

This easy and homemade brown sugar BBQ sauce recipe is one you’ll make over and over! The perfect blend of sweet, tangy, spicy, and ready in less than 20 minutes.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dips, sauces
Servings: 8 quarter cup servings
Calories: 101kcal

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoons
  • measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Cooking pot

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar can swap for coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup date syrup can swap for molasses
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce can swap for tamari or coconut amino acids
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder can swap for chipotle powder, add more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Combine the ingredients. Measure out the ingredients into a large bowl. Using a whisk, mix until everything is well combined and smooth.
  • Simmer. Transfer to a large pot for cooking. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. Make sure to stir frequently so nothing burns! Once it is simmering, let it simmer for 3 minutes to melt the sugars. When it’s done remove from the heat to cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

Notes

Recipe Variations 
  • Make it sweeter: Add 2 tablespoons more of brown sugar and an extra tablespoon of pineapple juice for even more sweet bbq sauce! 
  • Make it tangy: After simmering on the stove, add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and mix. 
  • Make it smokier: Use smoked paprika in place of sweet paprika for some light smoky flavors. I don’t typically like to add liquid smoke, as they contain a lot of artificial colors and flavors. 
  • Make it spicy: In addition to the chili powder, add up to a teaspoon of chipotle powder, depending on how spicy you enjoy it! 
  • Refined Sugar Free: A great way to reduce the sugar content is to replace the brown sugar with an equal amount of coconut sugar. You can also add in some maple syrup in place of the brown sugar, however, this can make the sauce a little less thick. Finally, you can simply reduce the amount of sugar used. 
How to Store + Make Ahead 
  • Fridge: Allow the BBQ sauce to cool to room temperature and then transfer it to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 
  • Freezer: Allow the BBQ sauce to cool to room temperature and then transfer to an airtight freezer-safe storage container. Pop it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before heating and using again. 
  • Make Ahead: This sauce tastes amazing after resting overnight in the fridge! Make this a few days in advance to allow the flavors to blend together.

Nutrition

Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 617mg | Potassium: 158mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 458IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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