Homemade BBQ Sauce – without ketchup!

homemade bbq sauce

Being from the South, I love BBQ’s and all the fixin’s, but it isn’t exactly the healthiest of meals. The meat is usually over-cooked and the side dishes are typically mac ‘n cheese, potato salad and cornbread – a carbohydrate explosion!

One of the worst offenders is bottled BBQ sauce. Most commercial preparations include high fructose corn syrup, food starches, and preservatives like sodium benzoate. One serving, which is typically “two tablespoons” can include as much as 18 grams of sugar —  but we all use much more than that!

homemade bbq sauce

So, I decided to come up with my own quick version that includes whole food ingredients and half the sugar…and doesn’t require any ketchup. You can ramp up the sweetness or the spiciness, according to your tastes.

homemade bbq sauce
4.19 from 16 votes

No Ketchup BBQ Sauce

This quick BBQ sauce has half the sugar of commercial barbecue sauce, but doesn't use any ketchup!

Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Keyword homemade barbecue sauce, no ketchup barbecue sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 21 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes
Yield 2 cups
Calories 312 kcal
Author Andrew


  • 2 cups organic tomato sauce preferably homemade, or jarred
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper to taste


  1. Whisk all of the ingredients over medium high heat in a saucepan. Boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

  2. Pour into a mason jar and allow to cool. Then, seal and store in the fridge. Once opened, it will last about 3-4 weeks. 
    homemade bbq sauce

About the Author

Unprocessed Living: 3 Easy Steps to Transition Into Healthy EatingCindy Santa Ana is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, speaker and author of Unprocessed Living: 3 Easy Steps to Transition Into Healthy Eating.

Having lost 50 pounds herself by cutting out processed foods, Cindy now helps her clients maintain their happy weight and get back their energy by creating a personalized “roadmap to health” that suits their unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.

Learn more about Cindy at Unlock Better Health, and of course you can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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Rita Maphis
Rita Maphis

I can’t wait to try this. My grandkids love ketchup on everything. Any suggestions for tweaking this recipe into plain old ketchup?

Rita Maphis
Rita Maphis

5 stars
Tonight We grilled chicken breasts and basted them with the sauce just before they were done. Everyone loved them. I accidentally used 1/2 tsp of garlic, onion, and pepper. But it was still really good.

Art Ramos
Art Ramos

4 stars
I’ve experimented with not putting any sugar, molasses, honey, etc. What I have done is sauted finely chopped onion to get some sweetness into the recipe. For your recipe, 1/2 a small onion should suffice.


1/2 Cup Molasses=126g Sugar


That’s for the entire jar. This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups. A serving would be 2 tbsp.

Art Ramos
Art Ramos

2 1/2 cups equals 40 tbs. each 2 tbs serving will have 5.3 grams of carbs. You could replace the mollasses with Agave syrup which will cut it down to 4.2 grams of carbs. Or, you can try my suggestion above and saute some onion to bring some natural sweetening to the barbeque sauce!