Joyous Blog

Best Ever Homemade BBQ Sauce

Jul 6, 2015 BY Joy McCarthy

This one is for you joyous readers! You've been asking me for a homemade BBQ sauce for a while now that is full of flavour and free of fake ingredients. It's finger lickin' good! Growing up, I used to put BBQ sauce on just about anything, my favourite use was to dip chicken in it. My mom always used to buy Diana Sauce -- do you remember that brand? Back in the day when I was a teen it was by far the cleanest BBQ sauce at the grocery store. I haven't had a bottle of store-bought BBQ sauce in my fridge in well over a decade, because it's so easy to make yourself. You'll save some dollas and you'll be getting a FAR healthier version than any that Diana can create ;)

This sauce is so easy to make and requires ZERO equipment, no food processor or blender. Just a bowl and whisk or spoon!

Whether you eat animal foods or not, this sauce makes everyone happy because all the ingredients are vegan and you can use it a variety of ways:

Smother it on grilled tempeh

Enjoy with sliced grilled chicken, like I did

Slather it in a wrap or a sandwich

Use it as a marinade sauce for any meat you BBQ

This is not a spicy sauce, but it is incredibly flavourful and goes well with just about anything. And of course, one of my favourite Canadian Superfoods maple syrup is a main ingredient. If you want it spicy, simply add some cayenne or hot chili peppers finely chopped. I'm not a fan of the smokey flavour so I skipped using mesquite, chipotle powder or smoked chili peppers. This isn't a pregnancy thing, that smokey flavour is just not my thing. But of course you can add those spices if you like because this sauce is a great base. However, I think it tastes SOOOO yummy as is you may not need to add anything else! As you can see, the ingredients are probably all in your kitchen right now -- simple whole, real food.  Here's the recipe:

Mains + Sides
  • 1 small can (5.5oz) tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tamari sauce (this is made from fermented soybeans*)
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mix together. Store in an air-tight container for up to 7-10 days.


It makes about a cup and a half, so this is a good amount if you plan on using it a couple of times.

*You can purchase tamari at a health food store or in the health food section of the grocery store. I prefer certified organic because soybeans are highly sprayed with pesticides.

It is also possible to purchase "gluten-free" tamari.

What's your favourite way to enjoy BBQ sauce? Feel free to share your BBQ sauce recipes below, I'm always on the lookout for new ones.

Happy BBQ Season! Joy

Jul 6, 2015 BY Joy McCarthy
Carolyn   •   July 13, 2015

Hi Joy, This looks right up my alley. Here is the inevitable question - can you substitute soy sauce? I'm guessing you used tamari because it's wheat-free? Or was it for the flavour? Thanks!

Kate McDonald Walker   •   July 13, 2015

Tamari's definitely more flavourful. We chiefly use tamari because it's wheat-free, but I find it definitely tastes better in recipes like this as well. Kate - Joyous Health Team

Vicki Brydon   •   August 26, 2015

This looks great - can it be frozen? It would take me longer than 7-10 days to go through 1.5 cups. Thanks!

Joy McCarthy   •   August 26, 2015

I haven't tried freezing it yet, but I don't see why not? The only thing is the water from the tomato pasts might separate out. I'm not 100% sure!

Joy McCarthy   •   August 26, 2015

Ps. You could always cut the ingredients in half.

Dera   •   March 10, 2016

Can I freeze this in individual servings to have it last longer? Thanks!


stephanie   •   January 30, 2017

Hi Joy! Just wondering what the measurements are for the maple syrup and tamari. There are questions marks there and not numbers. Thanks!

Rachel Molenda   •   February 1, 2017

Hey Stephanie! Oh no! You must've caught is in the midst of the soft launch of our new site. We're still ironing out some kinks, but luckily this post and the recipe are back in working order :) So sorry about that! Thanks so much for your co-operation and your understanding. Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Ashley   •   June 6, 2017

What size can of tomato paste did you use?

Rachel Molenda   •   June 7, 2017

Hey Ashley, The small tomato paste cans :) I think they are about 156ml! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Kiren   •   June 23, 2017

If we have to stay away from soy products is it still okay to use the tamari sauce or what would you suggest instead? Thanks :) Kiren

Rachel Molenda   •   June 26, 2017

Hey Kiren, Tamari would be the exception because its fermented so its anti-nutrients (the ones that interfere with our body in a negative way) our removed so you don't have to worry about that! Organic and fermented is best if you decide to have soy-containing foods like tamari or tempeh! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Kella   •   September 29, 2017

Can coconut aminos be used because I can't have soy?

Rachel Molenda   •   October 2, 2017

Hey Kella, Yes, absolutely! Coconut aminos is awesome :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Lindsay   •   October 1, 2017

Can you freeze this sauce?

Rachel Molenda   •   October 2, 2017

Hey Lindsay, Yes, I'm sure you could! We haven't tried it but it should be fine. Just let it thaw on the counter when you're ready to use it :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Angela   •   July 13, 2018

Looks good. Could you replace tomato paste with ketchup

Joy McCarthy   •   July 13, 2018

Hi Angela! You could, but then you're adding quite a bit of sugar which I wouldn't recommend, plus tomato paste adds a nice thickness to the sauce. Tomato sauce can be purchased for under a dollar, so it's worth it :)

JL   •   July 14, 2018

Could you use coconut aminos in place of the tamari sauce?

Joy McCarthy   •   July 14, 2018

Yes absolutely and would be just as delicious!

Lydia   •   July 14, 2018

Can I substitute the maple syrup for honey?

Joy McCarthy   •   July 15, 2018

Yes definitely!

Karen   •   August 25, 2018

Made this today. It’s super easy and very tasty. I added a few drops of liquid smoke. I am never buying bbq sauce again!!!

Joy McCarthy   •   August 29, 2018

Wonderful addition!

Geeta Sakhuja   •   October 12, 2018

Hello! I can't have any natural sweeteners or vinegar. Any thoughts around what I can substitute the maple syrup and the Apple Cider Vinegar with? Thanks!

Joy McCarthy   •   October 12, 2018

You could use stevia to sweeten and you could just omit the apple cider vinegar. I do think you'll need to add some more liquid though, so maybe just add water. 

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