A lot of vegan foods can be a bit bland (same could be said for food in general).
One of the best ways to make just about anything taste better is barbecue sauce.
And the good news is that almost all barbecue (BBQ) sauce is vegan.
But not all.
You’ll need to check the ingredients for:
- Milk products (uncommon)
Also, very few sauces are labelled as vegan (although I’ve seen one at Whole Foods), and most contain “sugar”. It’s possible that this sugar has been processed with animal bones, and it’s up to you to decide if you’re okay with that.
I’m going to consider “sugar” to be vegan for the rest of this post, since it is in most sauces you’ll find.
While you should check each individual sauce you are thinking about buying, here’s a short list of popular BBQ Sauces that happen to be vegan.
A List of Vegan BBQ Sauces
Keep in mind that some of these sauces have multiple flavors, and they have different ingredients that may not be vegan.
Here are the ingredients in Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce:
Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, tomato paste, modified food starch, salt, pineapple juice concentrate, natural smoke flavor, spices, caramel color, sodium benzoate, molasses, corn syrup, garlic, sugar, tamarind, natural flavors
While not particularly healthy, none of those ingredients are animal products, Sweet Baby Ray’s is vegan.
Heinz has many flavors that they sell in convenient ketchup-like bottles. Some are vegan, and some are not.
Let’s look at the most popular ones.
The ingredients in Classic Barbecue Sauce are:
Spirit Vinegar, Sugar, Concentrated Tomato Puree, Water, Molasses, Salt, Spices, Thickener – Xanthan Gum, Garlic, Smoke Flavouring, Natural Flavouring
No animal products in sight, which is why Heinz’s Classic BBQ Sauce is vegan.
Another popular flavor, Carolina Mustard Style, is also vegan:
Distilled White Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Mustard Seed, Blackstrap Molasses, Tomato Paste, Salt, Apple Cider Vinegar, Corn Starch, Spices, Turmeric, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Xanthan Gum, Natural Smoke Flavor.
Most other flavors by Heinz are also vegan, but not all of them. For example, Sweet & Smoky Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce is NOT vegan since it has anchovies.
Remember to check the label when it’s time to buy.
Bull’s-Eye is another popular sauce that happens to be vegan.
Here’s the ingredient list so you can see for yourself:
Tomato(es) Puree (Water , Tomato Paste) , Corn Syrup High Fructose , Molasses , Vinegar , Salt, Food Starch Modified , Flavor(s) Natural Smoke Hickory , Mustard Flour , Onion(s) Dried , Spice(s) , Garlic Dried
Again, let’s look at the ingredients.
Ingredients: Water, Tomato Paste, Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Vinegar, Cornstarch, Salt, Spices, Onion, Caramel Coloring, Garlic Powder, Xanthan Gum, Smoke Flavoring, Sucralose.
Quite a bit healthier than some of the other options so far, and Guy’s Award Winning Sugar Free BBQ Sauce is also vegan.
Cowtown Night Of The Living BBQ Sauce
Finally, this is a popular sauce coming from Kansas City. It won the Best Hot Barbecue Sauce award at the 2002 American Royal Barbecue Contest, and it reasonably healthy as well.
Take a look at the ingredients:
Ingredients: Natural ketchup (Tomato paste, water, white vinegar, sugar, salt, onion powder), brown sugar, chipotle puree (Chipotle, water, salt, citric acid), salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne powder, ancho chili powder, paprika, spices, natural smoke flavor, mustard powder, chipotle powder, molasses, black pepper, garlic granules, onion powder, tamarind concentrate, cayenne powder, salt, garlic powder
Mainly tomato paste and spices, as BBQ sauce should be. No animal products either, so Cowtown BBQ Sauce is vegan-friendly.
3 Simple Homemade Vegan BBQ Sauce Recipes
If you want to be 100% sure that your BBQ sauce is vegan, make it yourself. There’s quite a few simple recipes that are great.
It’s also cheaper.
Here are 3 homemade recipes that you can try.
This recipe from Veggie Chick is both sweet and spicy. It goes well on just about everything.
Oh She Glows is a super popular recipe blog. I even have a cookbook from them and everything I’ve made from it is great.
This recipe is fairly unique because it is based on olive oil and crushed tomatoes.
You’ll find it mostly spicy, it’s not too sweet.
Finally, this recipe is pretty simple to follow, and it’s definitely on the sweet side. You might want to reduce the amount of maple syrup in it if you find that it’s too sweet.