This is the Best Vegan BBQ Sauce is easy to make and delicious on everything from vegetables to tofu to vegan burgers. This sauce comes together in about 5 minutes and is healthier than anything you can purchase at the store.
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I haven’t tried ALL vegan BBQ sauces out there, but this one is SO good that I feel confident saying it is the BEST vegan BBQ sauce.
It’s also gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and oil-free, and with one simple swap you can make it soy-free as well.
It’s also great as a pizza sauce with some vegan chicken and topped with some vegan cheddar cheese? Uh, yes please!
You could even use it with some beans to make some classic baked beans perfect for a cookout or if you’re English, as part of a delicious traditional breakfast.
This quick and easy recipe only takes about 5 minutes to make, so let’s just get into it!
What You’ll Need
This recipe only requires a few basic ingredients and some spices, but you can totally mix it up too. Because this sauce is so easy to make, keep experimenting until you find the version that blows your mind!
My tastebuds are thrilled by the following combination, but keep reading for a substitutions section in case you don’t have some of these ingredients handy.
Tomato paste because most BBQ sauces do contain tomatoes. However a major pet peeve of mine is opening up one of those little 6 oz cans of tomato paste and not being able to use it all--so this recipe uses the whole thing!
Molasses is sweet and smoky--and in my opinion disgusting on its own but it’s perfect for BBQ sauce! It’s also unrefined and healthier than straight up sugar.
For saltiness, but to stick with that flavor profile, reduced sodium tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free) does a great job of intensifying the deliciousness of this sauce. I’ll explain below but you can use liquid aminos to keep this recipe soy-free.
A little acid to balance out the salt is always good--so I used apple cider vinegar which has a slightly sweet tang and is awesome in this, but any neutral vinegar should work (i.e., anything but balsamic which can be a big flavor player and not what I was going for, but you do you, boo).
Some cornstarch or arrowroot powder will thicken everything up, and now we can move onto spices!
In this recipe I used a bunch of spices I just happened to have lying around. Feel free to substitute what you like if you don’t mind experimenting.
Spices I used: onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and a bit of mustard powder!
Alright but you may find yourself without one of these ingredients. If you’d like to talk substitutions, this next section is for you
What Substitutions Can I Make?
I understand not everyone can have or has access to the same ingredients I do, so I’ve provided a common list of ingredient substitutions below. It can’t include everything (we’d be here all day), but part of the joy of cooking is experimentation!
Tomato paste is concentrated pure tomato puree. If you don’t have it, you could use straight up tomato sauce or regular tomato puree, but reduce the water you add to the sauce later on so it doesn’t get too thick.
I would use around 1/4 cup of tomato sauce if I were substituting, and then taste as I go.
Molasses isn’t for everyone. Fun fact, I HATE the way it tastes, but I could DRINK this plant based BBQ sauce!
Still, if you’d like to substitute it, maple syrup or coconut sugar will work great and will still not be counted as refined sugar. You could also use regular organic cane sugar or brown sugar if you like (organic to keep things vegan).
Tamari / Soy Sauce
Apple Cider Vinegar
I like the sweet tang that apple cider vinegar adds to this recipe, but you could also use another vinegar like white vinegar or rice vinegar. I would stay away from balsamic unless you really wanted to change the flavor profile. ;)
If you can’t have corn, arrow root powder does the same thing, so you could definitely use that as a thickener. I haven’t tried any others in this recipe, but you could certainly try anything you like.
Tapioca starch would probably make a stretchy BBQ sauce and that would be weird. But if you have a surplus of tapioca starch or flour, why not try one of my stretchy melty cheeses like Mozzarella or Cheddar?
I used the following spices: onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and a bit of mustard powder. But feel free to play around!
Paprika would work in place of smoked paprika (you could also use liquid smoke) and you could easily substitute the mustard powder for any kind of prepared mustard.
If you’re not into spice, leave out the chili powder.
How to Make the Best Vegan BBQ Sauce
It’s REALLY easy to make this BBQ sauce and I’m excited to tell you about it. I was nervous to try for the longest time but I’m so glad I finally tried it. I’m NEVER going back to store bought!
First, in a medium saucepan or pot over medium high heat, add half the water and everything else but the cornstarch / arrowroot powder to the pot.
Stir it well with a whisk and bring it to a slow boil.
Now use your whisk or a fork to mix the cornstarch / arrowroot powder with the rest of the water until no lumps remain.
Turn the heat on your stove down to medium.
Stir this mixture into your sauce and stir or whisk until the sauce has thickened, or about 3-4 minutes.
That’s it! Let the sauce cool for a bit before storing or serving.
Refrigerate it in an airtight container (I like to use a mason jar) for up to 1 week.
It may thicken up a bit more in the fridge. If it thickens too much, warm some up with a tablespoon or two of water to release it.
Where Can I Buy Whole Food Plant Based BBQ Sauce?
The trouble with being WFPB sometimes is finding condiments. Store bought versions often have added oil, refined and possibly non-organic sugar, a lot of sodium, preservatives, and sometimes things I don’t even recognize!
Even before starting this blog, I started making my own sauces and condiments and really found that it’s much easier, cheaper, and healthier to just make them at home.
You can customize the amounts and only make what you need, so you don’t have to throw out half empty containers when you clean out your fridge.
Additionally, when you make it, you not only know what goes into your food so you can feel good about it, you also know what you like and can easily customize it to your own tastes!
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This plant based BBQ sauce is:
- And delicious on pizza, veggies, potatoes, vegan burgers, or served on the side as a dipping sauce!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!