Homemade Barbecue Sauce Recipe

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This homemade barbecue sauce is a great replacement for the sugar-filled stuff you get at the store.

A lot of you have asked me for this but I put it off for a while because frankly, I buy my barbecue sauce. It’s clean, and I love it. But I also understand that many of you may not have access to buying clean barbecue sauce. So I relented and whipped this up for dinner the other night.

Clean Eating Barbecue Sauce shown in three white spoons lined up on a table. The sauce is a rich, reddish-brown color.

My ex husband loved it, Mini Chef refused to even try it (he’s was going through a phase), I enjoyed it but wish I had put it on the chicken while it was still on the grill. I just schmeared it on after the chicken was done, and that was not such a hot idea. In fact, next time, I think I’ll marinate the chicken in the sauce first before barbecuing it because The flavors never got a chance to really get into the chicken. But it was good! We even dipped polenta squares into it. Yum! And needless to say, I think it will be a while before I buy barbecue sauce again. this was just too easy and too yummy.


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Clean Eating Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Need a healthier barbecue sauce? Look no further! This clean eating barbecue sauce is delicious as a marinade or brushed on at the grill.
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 13 servings
Calories: 138kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry


  • 15 oz. canned tomato sauce (no sugar added)
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste (no sugar added)
  • 1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce OR coconut aminos
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar


  • Combine all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl and mix well using a whisk.
  • Use as you would any other bbq sauce!


Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 293mg | Potassium: 386mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 540IU | Vitamin C: 5.4mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1.8mg

This recipe from the Gracious Pantryยฎ archives, originally posted 6/19/11.

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  1. Melissa Miller says:

    sounds delish, I add in some applebutter too when I make mine ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Melissa – Oh yum!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Mere – I have found two that are clean. One called “Bone Suckin’ Sauce” and the other is a brand called OrganicVille.

  2. Could I can this sauce? Water bath or???? How long does it keep in refrig?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Shelia – I don’t know how to can, so I’m not sure what the specifications are for something like that. I would imagine you could, but I could be wrong. Keeps in fridge for (I’m guessing here) about 3-4 weeks.

  3. Sounds delish! We are going to have a TON of tomatoes this summer and will be making our own tomato sauce so will try with that! My child is 13 yrs and despite introducing new foods, she is just starting to eat outside her few foods! LOL!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Barrie – That’s great! Better late than never! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Stephanie says:

    I can’t stand the taste of normal bottled sauces and have been trying to make my own. I will definitely give this a try. Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Stephanie – Great! Let me know what you think of it!

  5. This is great! I was just looking at our BBQ sauce the other day and was really disappointed when I read the ingredient list. We find BBQ sauce to be too sweet, so this will be perfect. I’m thinking of freezing it in an ice cube tray, do you think this will work?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Irene – That’s probably a great way to store it! Enjoy!

  6. Ruth Morgan says:

    Can this be made in large amounts and frozen?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ruth – I would think so. I can’t see any reason why it would not freeze just fine. Enjoy it!

  7. What is the clean BBQ sauce u buy? What brand?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nicole – I have found two that are clean. One called โ€œBone Suckinโ€™ Sauceโ€ and the other is a brand called OrganicVille.

  8. Oops, sorry I didn’t see the other post

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nicole – That’s okay ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. thanks for the post, was wanting a recipe

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Julie – You’re welcome! I hope you enjoy it!

  10. What is unsulfered molasses and where can I get it?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Amy – You can get it at most mainstream grocery stores in the same section as honey and maple syrup. It’s dark and very thick. It’s what they mix into white sugar to create brown sugar.

  11. Skinny Fat Kid says:

    Looks awesome! I LOVE BBQ sauce but Skinny Fat Kid always yells at me because of the sodium content. Will definitely be making this!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      SFK – Great!!! Let me know how you like it!

  12. Wow, this looks SO easy!! Thank you for sharing this recipe! Im looking forward to trying it out!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Charlie – Hope you enjoy it! I figure, if my husband likes it, it must be pretty good. But I’m eagerly awaiting the feedback of others! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I love that this one calls for soy sauce! Lots of BBQ sauces have worcestershire sauce in them, which includes animal by-products. Your clean version, however, is vegetarian (even vegan) friendly. So, it can be easily enjoyed over tempeh and tofu, and stirred into vegetarian baked beans for the Bush’s Grilled Beans barbeque flavor–Take that, Bush’s!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Charlena – Ha! Yes, you’re right. My first try at this included Worcestershire sauce. But I actually didn’t like the outcome. It tasted much better with the soy sauce. Hope you like it!

  14. Of course, substituting agave (light or amber) for the honey would make it purely vegan. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Charlena – Yes, true!

  15. Michelle Jennings says:

    Oh, I can’t wait to try this! I have been contemplating about a roasted pork loin or chicken with BBQ and mandarin oranges…for some reason that flavor combination sounds so yummy.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Michelle – Oh yes! That does sound yummy! Let me know how it turns out! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Katrina Burnside says:

    I put this BBQ sauce in the crockpot with some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and made pulled chicken sandwiches. It was so good!! I am soooo glad the kids and I get to enjoy a BBQ sauce. None of the stores around here carry clean BBQ sauce and the recipes I have tried in the past…well, let’s just say my kiddos weren’t so happy with the finished product. LOL Thanks Tiffany ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Anonymous says:

      Katrina – That’s fabulous!! Kid approved is always a good thing! lol

    2. Anonymous says:

      Katrina – That’s fabulous!! Kid approved is always a good thing! lol

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  18. Jen @familyfoodfitnessandfun says:

    Thanks for sharing! I love clean BBQ sauce! Just one question: how long can I store it in the fridge?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Jen – That’s a great question! I would say about a week or two. My batch didn’t last longer than 1 week around here before it was gone! So I’m just making a guess here. Sorry!

  19. Meghan Winward says:

    I don’t have balsamic vinegar- just balsamic vinagraette (Sp). Can I exclude the vinegar or subsititute it with something else? If so, what?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Meghan – Ooooh. Tough one. The balsamic really adds flavor. But in a pinch, you could try a different vinegar. Try leaving it out and see if you like the flavor. You can always add some later when you can get a hold of some.

  20. heidibaldini says:

    I JUST MADE BBQ. SO YUMMY!! TY! ๐Ÿ™‚ I did a few things different,,,,used AGAVE instead of honey , added some fresh garlic. I like mine sweet so i put more agave then you said to for the honey ๐Ÿ™‚ I am eating your black beans n squash buritos now. sooo good! i wanna try the bbq with chicken in crock like Katrina below did. Thanks again!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Heidi – Glad you enjoyed it! Enjoy the chicken!

  21. heidibaldini says:

    sorry got the burritos somewhere else ;p ooops!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Anonymous says:

      Heidi – Haha! No worries!

  22. graciouspantry says:

    JessicaH – I have 2 brands that I love. Bone Suckin’ Sauce and the original style OrganicVille brand bbq sauce. Both are clean and have wonderful flavor.

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  24. Nichelle Nichole Brasket says:

    I made this tonight to go with our kebabs. Mine turned out a little on the thick side, which is probably from me not measuring a thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I added some apple cider vinegar, salt, fresh black pepper, and a tad bit more honey. I would even suggest adding pineapple juice to it to give it a fresh, sweet flavor. Before going clean I used to take regular bbq and dilute it with pineapple juice. Sorta the same idea. Anyway, really excited to have this recipe and try it out on tonight’s dinner! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Nichelle – Glad you enjoyed it!

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  26. graciouspantry says:

    RC – Let me know how you like it!

  27. Making some of this tonight and throwing it in the crock pot with chicken so that it’s ready after our bike ride! Yum! Thanks for the recipe! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Courtney – Oh yum! Hope you enjoy it!

  28. graciouspantry says:

    Melodie – My pleasure! Enjoy!

  29. graciouspantry says:

    Tammy – Haha!! Glad you enjoyed it!

  30. Did anybody try to can this sauce? I would like to try.

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Dnl – I know nothing about canning. Sorry!

  31. Tompatsfarm says:

    Can’t wait to try it but have to buy the no sugar tomato sauce & paste. I am taking a class at our church (The Daniel Plan) and hope to change a lot of our “bad” habits – like fancy creamer in my coffee) and eat “cleaner”. Am so glad to have found your site. Pat

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Tompatsfarm – The tomato sauce and paste I used did not have added sugar.
      I have a recipe for condensed milk here on my blog that you might enjoy in place of creamer. Be sure to check it out because I think it may qualify for the Daniel Plan.

  32. graciouspantry says:

    Ashintex – I love Bone Suckin’ Sauce. Great stuff!

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  34. graciouspantry says:

    Hope you enjoy it!

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  36. Paigeconstantine says:

    Thank you for this!!! I LOVE BBQ, but I am allergic to corn, and almost EVERY BBQ sauce has some sort of corn product in it. Just another benefit of eating clean! Thanks again!

    1. graciouspantry says:

      My pleasure! Enjoy!

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  38. Christie Lynn says:

    I added some liquid smoke, sorry had too, and it was GOOOOOD!!! YUM… Making the BBQ Chicken Tacos, twothings my hubs loves in one!!! YUM… thanks

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Awesome! I’ve never had liquid smoke, but I’ve heard it’s good.

  39. graciouspantry says:

    about 1 1/2 weeks.

  40. graciouspantry says:

    Just leave it out. It’s such a small amount, you should be okay without it.

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  49. disqus_CG3A0cfd6q says:

    can you can this?

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Sorry, but I don’t know the first thing about canning. You would have to show the recipe to a master canner.

  50. I cannot wait to make this! ย I absolutely love baked chicken breast with BBQ sauce but I have avoided the bottled version. ย Now I can enjoy it again without the guilt! ย Thank you!

  51. Is there any way to use pure Maple Syrup instead of the molasses? I am overseas and I don’t think our Commissary carries this.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      It will change the flavor slightly, but it should still work and be tasty.

  52. Jessica Trimble says:

    Made this the other day for chicken and everyone (including a 3, 4, and 2 yr old) ate it up! Thanks for putting quality recipes out there.

  53. ThruGodAllThings says:

    I wanted to do some clow cooker BBQ chicken sandwiches. Do you think this sauce will cook good on the chicken in the crockpot?

  54. How long does this store in the refrigerator? I would store it in a mason jar. Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      1-2 weeks approximately.

  55. Was wondering if raw honey was used or just “regular” honey?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Gretchen – You can use any honey you like. Raw or regular, the flavor will still be the same.

  56. Sarah-Jane says:

    hello I am from Australia and was wondering by tomato sauce do you mean ” Ketchup” or a tomato paste?? thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Sarah-Jane – Here in the states, tomato sauce is like spaghetti sauce without all the added flavorings.

  57. This sauce is SO good… Thank you for sharing!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Cristy – Glad you enjoyed it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  58. I love this sauce. I love it even when it isn’t cooked which isn’t the case with bottled sauce. Great recipe. Thank you!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Krista – My pleasure! ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. I’m throwing a Sangria party and plant to serve pulled pork, which calls for bottled BBQ sauce. This will be great, as I can make as much as I need (one recipe makes 2 1/2 cups).

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kathi – Fantastic! I hope you and your guests enjoy it!

  60. Any idea if coconut aminos would be good instead of soy sauce? I try to avoid soy because of gmo’s and have been looking for a bbq without brown sugar forever!! Thanks so much!!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Maureen – Sure can! The last batch I made I used coconut aminos. Worked great!

  61. I made this last night and it is EXCELLENT!! I’m so excited to find a BBQ sauce not loaded down with sugar. We can’t wait to cook more stuff to use up the leftover. Thank you!!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ingrid – My pleasure! You glad you enjoyed it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  62. Is there away to make this with fresh tomatoes instead of Cannes? I’m doing the advocare clean eating diet and your not supposed to do anything in a can.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Randi – I have not yet attempted to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes. It’s on my list, but I haven’t done it yet. So yes, I’m sure there’s a way to do it, but you’d have to find a way to make the tomato sauce.

  63. I actually found tomato sauce in a box (like the chicken broth box) and tomato paste in a tube. Tomatoes in the can are just really bad for you. By the way, I am loving this site!! Gonna do some bbq chicken and they bbq zucchini for dinner!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Randi – I think it depends on the can. If it’s BPA free, I don’t think there’s any reason to avoid it. Unless you have another reason? Hope you enjoy the chicken and zucchini!

  64. I forgot to pick up tomato paste can I use something in it’s place?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Samantha – You can leave it out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  65. What is coconut aminos – where can it be purchased? I would love to try this recipe; however,
    since I am a breast-cancer survivor, I was advised not to use soy sauce in my cooking: can this be substituted with something else?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Phyllis – Coconut aminos are basically “soy sauce” made from coconuts. I get mine at whole foods. Check your local health food store, or you can find it listed in my amazon store here on my site. Link is at the top of the page here.

  66. Christina Burroughs says:

    Hi! I was wondering if you can tell me what size are the 10 servings this recipe makes? Im guessing this makes roughly 3 cups of sauce?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Christina – It’s listed in the nutrition data below the recipe. 1 serving is 1/4 cup. Enjoy!

  67. The recipe turned out great, my BBQ chicken sandwiches were very tasty with your sauce recipe thanks:). The fresh layer of snow we got here in WI won’t deter us from firing up the grill and doing BBQ pork loin with the extra sauce:)

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Angie – Fantastic! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜€

  68. I don’t know why but I feel like I want to cook this sauce, rather than just mix and use? Have you tried it simmered together?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Brooke – No, I haven’t cooked it. But if you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  69. I feel like I am the lone wolf out there. I made this tonight and I honestly didn’t care for it. The tomato taste was way too strong. I added a little more balsamic and soy sauce and it helped a little. I also added 1 tbs black pepper and 1 tsp cayenne pepper (should have done 1/2 tsp) so it now has quite the kick. What else would you recommend to help with the tomato taste?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      KD – I’m sorry you didn’t care for it. ๐Ÿ™ If you really get desperate, you could always mix in another BBQ sauce. Bone Suckin’ Sauce is clean and it’s amazing stuff.

  70. nicolette says:

    I don’t mean to sound rude, but anything that comes in a can is not technically “clean.” I tweaked this myself making my own tomato puree with fresh tomatoes and it came out fabulous.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nicolette – Actually, that’s not true. It depend on what is in the can and how it is processed. And of course, BPA free cans help. But the process of canning itself is not “unclean”. It’s what is done to the food before it is canned, or what other ingredients are added that count. Of course, it’s always best to make things fresh and from scratch. But in a pinch… Glad you enjoyed the sauce! ๐Ÿ™‚

  71. How many ounces does this yield roughly? I would like to try canning it as above mentioned.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Hanna – Well, it makes 10 (1/4 cup) servings. So that’s 2 1/2 cups. If you go by liquid measure, that would be roughly 20 oz. But that’s a very rough guestimate.

  72. Enjoyed the BBQ until the next day, my family didn’t like the consistency. The sauce didn’t stay smooth, does anyone have a suggestion to keeping it smooth and also from separating??

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nicole – Heat it up again and add some olive oil. That should smooth it out pretty well.

  73. I have to say, I have a son who is allergic to apple & “natural smoke flavor” & this is the FIRST BBQ sauce recipe I’ve found that doesn’t have either! I had given up on a safe BBQ sauce, because when I’ve tried just omitting the liquid smoke, it never actually tasted like BBQ sauce. I’ll definitely be trying this! Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Keira – Awesome!! I hope you enjoy it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  74. Larry Sakun says:

    I have a BBQ recipe that calls for 4 C. brown sugar, I understand if you use molasses, the sauce will be thicker….

    How muck molasses should I use??????

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Larry – I had to look this one up. What I found was this: 1 cup Molasses. = 3/4 cup Brown Sugar (firmly packed) But I’m not sure if that much molasses is a good idea. I would maybe mix in a bit of real maple syrup to offset it a bit. Otherwise the flavor could be a little off.

  75. Leanne Dolan says:

    By unsoldered molasses, do you mean unsulphured? Thank you.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Leanne – Yes! Thank you for letting me know. It’s been fixed. ๐Ÿ™‚

  76. What kind of oil do you use?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Holly – Any type you usually use. I’ve used olive, grapeseed… even coconut oil. Whatever you have handy is fine.

  77. Brandi Davis says:

    Is there a substitute for molasses for this recipe?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Brandi – You can use any sweetener you like. The flavor will be different, but it should still work.

  78. What is the serving size used?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jessica – Sorry for the delayed response. I’m going to remake it tomorrow to make sure I give you an accurate answer. Sorry for the wait…

    2. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Okay, I updated the information. Hope that helps!

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