The Best Vegan BBQ Sauce

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Homemade vegan BBQ sauce is super easy to make and way better than store-bought! This recipe whips up in minutes using just a handful of ingredients. Bonus: it’s freezer-friendly, so you can have some on hand at all times!

Jar of Vegan BBQ Sauce with pot in the background and basting brush in the foreground.

I know, I know. You can buy vegan barbecue sauce at the store. If you decide to go this route, be sure to put your label reading hat on! You’ll want to look out for ingredients like honey and anchovies. You’ll usually be able to find at least one or two brands that don’t contain these ingredients.

But I just can’t! Every time I try a bottle from the store it’s either too sweet or too bland or not spicy enough. Plus they usually contain loads of preservatives and other unwholesome ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup. No thank you!

So a while back I took to making my own, but I never really used a recipe. I always just threw a bunch of ingredients together and taste-tested until I was happy with the flavor.

Since we’re quickly heading into barbecue season, I thought maybe you guys would appreciate an actual recipe. So here it is! My homemade vegan barbecue sauce recipe is super easy, requires only a handful of ingredients (most pantry staples), and it’s way better than anything you can buy at the store.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Ketchup. Sorry not sorry. Here’s the thing: You could, in theory, go more from-scratch, using just tomato paste, vinegar, and sugar. But it’s way easier to start with something that already has a decent flavor balance, as well as a handful of seasonings already in the mix. So we’re using ketchup. I always check the ingredients on my ketchup to avoid stuff like high fructose corn syrup.
  • Whiskey. This adds so much flavor to the sauce, but you can substitute with water if you’re not a fan of cooking with alchohol.
  • Brown sugar. Make sure to buy organic, so you know it’s vegan.
  • Molasses. Use unsulfured molasses, such as Grandma’s brand.
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce. Yes, this is a thing! Use homemade vegan Worcestershire sauce or look for brands like Annie’s or Edward & Sons at the store.
  • Tomato paste.
  • Spices. We’re using garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and a bit of cayenne pepper.
  • Salt & pepper.

Variation: For extra smoky barbecue sauce, add a dash of liquid smoke. Liquid smoke can be found at most supermarkets. It tastes like bacon, but is totally vegan. Just go easy if you try it, as the flavor is intense!

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

Ready to exercise some serious culinary skill? Okay, get ready: throw all of your vegan BBQ sauce ingredients into a pot.

Ingredients for making Vegan BBQ Sauce in a pot.

Place the pot over medium heat, stir or whisk it all up, and bring it to a simmer. Let it cook for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it (it can sputter), and make sure to give it a stir from time to time. The sauce should have thickened slightly by the time it’s done.

Pot of Vegan BBQ Sauce with a wooden spoon.

That’s it! Your sauce is done!

Spoon filled with of Vegan BBQ Sauce sitting across the top of a pot.

Shelf-Life & Storage

Homemade vegan BBQ sauce will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 1 week, or in the freezer for about 3 months. I like to keep mine in a mason jar — just make sure to leave a bit of head room if you want to do this and store yours in the freezer!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this sauce gluten-free?

It is!

Is this barbecue sauce spicy?

The cayenne pepper adds a little kick. Leave it out for a milder version of the recipe, or up the amount for some extra heat.

Can I substitute blackstrap molasses for unsulfured molasses in this recipe?

You can, but I’d recommend going cutting it with an equal amount of another liquid sweetener such as maple syrup or coconut nectar, otherwise the flavor might be too intense.

Jar of Vegan BBQ Sauce on a wooden surface with basting brush and pot in the background.

Serving Ideas

The possibilities for using this vegan barbecue sauce are endless! Make some barbecue tofu, pulled jackfruit, or tempeh ribs. Use it for dipping tofu chicken nuggets or baked tofu bites. Pour it on your veggie burgers or mushroom dogs. Eat it from a spoon if you feel like it!

More Homemade Vegan Sauces

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Jar of Vegan BBQ Sauce with basting brush in the foreground and pot in the background.

The Best Vegan BBQ Sauce

Homemade vegan BBQ sauce is super easy to make and way better than store-bought! This recipe whips up in minutes using just a handful of ingredients. Bonus: it’s freezer-friendly, so you can have some on hand at all times!


  • 2
  • ½
    (can substitute with water)

  • cup
    organic brown sugar
  • ¼
    vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2
    unsulfured molasses
  • 2
    tomato paste
  • 1
    onion powder
  • ½
    garlic powder
  • ½
    smoked paprika
  • ¼
    cayenne pepper
  • ½
    plus more to taste
  • ½
    black pepper,
    plus more to taste


  1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium saucepan and set it over medium heat.

  2. Bring the mixture to a low boil, and lower the heat to a simmer.

  3. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring or whisking occasionally, until it reaches your desired level of thickness.

  4. Remove the pot from heat, taste-test and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Adjust any other seasonings to your liking.

  5. Use it immediately, or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes about 2 cups of sauce.

Nutrition Facts

The Best Vegan BBQ Sauce

Amount Per Serving (2 tablespoons)

Calories 54
Calories from Fat 1

% Daily Value*

Fat 0.1g0%

Sodium 453mg19%

Potassium 148mg4%

Carbohydrates 13.5g5%

Fiber 0.2g1%

Sugar 12.3g14%

Protein 0.7g1%

Calcium 1mg0%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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