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Best Ever Homemade BBQ Sauce

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
Jul 6, 2015 | 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:

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  • 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

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
Joy McCarthy   •   August 26, 2015

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

Ashley   •   June 6, 2017

What size can of tomato paste did you use?

Rachel Molenda   •   June 7, 2017

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

Kella   •   September 29, 2017

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

Rachel Molenda   •   October 2, 2017

Lindsay   •   October 1, 2017

Can you freeze this sauce?

Rachel Molenda   •   October 2, 2017

Angela   •   July 13, 2018

Looks good. Could you replace tomato paste with ketchup

Joy McCarthy   •   July 13, 2018

JL   •   July 14, 2018

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

Joy McCarthy   •   July 14, 2018

Lydia   •   July 14, 2018

Can I substitute the maple syrup for honey?

Joy McCarthy   •   July 15, 2018

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

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

Larayne   •   May 17, 2019

Your BBQsauce recipe sounds delicious. I am wondering about leaving out the tamari sauce to reduce the sodium--would there be any sodium-free alternative(s) that you might suggest? Just wondering. It sounds like it would be good with or without the tamari. Thanks!

Joy McCarthy   •   May 19, 2019

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