This is the best Vegan BBQ Sauce with a subtly smoky flavor and the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. It’s also easy to make, requiring just 9 simple ingredients and ready in less than 25 minutes!

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Vegan bbq sauce in a jar on a cutting board.
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Is BBQ Sauce Vegan?

Although usually vegan, there are a few ingredients found in store bought BBQ sauce that can indicate that it is not vegan-friendly.

Here’s what to look out for:

Worcestershire Sauce—Worcestershire sauce is traditionally made with anchovies. There is vegan Worcestershire sauce available but most likely won’t be used in BBQ sauce unless the sauce is explicitly labeled vegan.

Honey—Honey is sometimes used as the sweetener. Since it is made by bees, which are technically part of the animal kingdom, it is not vegan-friendly. There are vegan honey options but if you see honey on the label of store-bought BBQ sauce, it most likely is not vegan.

Mayonnaise—Some creamier versions of BBQ sauce contain mayonnaise which has eggs in it. This is less common but something to keep in mind.

Why this recipe works

I grew up near Kansas City so I’m partial to the sweeter KC BBQ flavor. It’s typically a thick tomato based sauce with a balance of sweet and tangy. I made sure to model my BBQ sauce off this classic and delicious sauce.

And might I add that this is a vegan BBQ sauce you can actually feel good about eating! It’s naturally sweetened with dates rather than loaded with high fructose corn syrup often found in store bought ones.

It’s also made with easy to find ingredients! There’s a good chance you have everything in your pantry already. I made sure to keep the ingredient list simple so that it actually makes sense to make your own—if it takes too long it’s just not practical in my opinion.

And this vegan version is full of flavor and better than store bought! Trust me, it’s a game changer to all your favorite BBQ sauce-laden dishes with this incredibly delicious homemade barbecue sauce. You’ll want to make it often!

Ingredient notes

This vegan BBQ sauce only requires 9 easy to find ingredients (including water!). Short and sweet! Reference the recipe card at the bottom for exact measurements.

Ingredients for vegan BBQ sauce measured and labeled.

Tomato paste—to mimic that thick tomato-based KC style BBQ sauce.

Dates—for a natural sweetener. You can also use maple or agave syrup or homemade vegan honey instead. Use half the amount listed if using a liquid sweetener.

Apple cider vinegar—gives it the tanginess found in BBQ sauce. White distilled vinegar works well too or try coconut vinegar.

Like it spicier? Add a little chili powder, cayenne powder or some of your favorite hot sauce.

Like it sweeter? Add a little maple syrup.

How to make

This step by step walk-through shows the process of making this vegan BBQ sauce recipe. Exact times and temperatures are available in the recipe card at the bottom.

1. Start by soaking the dates in hot water for at least 15 minutes (especially if you don’t have a high-speed blender). Then drain and transfer to a blender along with the rest of the ingredients.

Dates soaking in hot water.

2. Blend until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender a couple times.

Vegan BBQ sauce ingredients all blended together in a blender.

3. Add the BBQ sauce to a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.

If you’re in a hurry you can skip the cooking step as it is technically safe to eat, but heating it allows the flavors to meld together better for a richer flavor.

Vegan BBQ sauce in a pan.

4. Transfer to a jar and allow to cool before storing. Enjoy!

What to serve with

Vegan BBQ sauce in a jar with a basting brush.

BBQ sauce is often served with meat-type dishes.

To keep it vegan, this would be so delicious with either tofu or tempeh!

If you enjoy BBQ pulled pork, make it vegan it by using jackfruit and this BBQ sauce!

This sauce would also go great on this Epic Vegan BBQ Sandwich or served with this Vegan Steak. BBQ Sauce is really versatile!

More vegan sauces and dips

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Vegan bbq sauce in a jar on a cutting board.

Best Vegan BBQ Sauce

5 from 6 votes
Author: Rachel
This is the best Vegan BBQ Sauce with a subtly smoky flavor and the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. It's also easy to make, requiring just 9 simple ingredients and ready in less than 25 minutes!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8

Method

  • Blender

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup dates pitted and soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup applesauce unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • If you don't have a high speed blender, soak dates in hot water for at least 15 minutes to soften, then drain and add to your blender along with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Blend until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender a couple times.
  • Add the BBQ sauce to a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer to a jar and allow to cool. Enjoy!

Notes

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This BBQ sauce keeps for several weeks.
Like it spicy? Add a little chili powder, cayenne powder or some of your favorite hot sauce.
Like it sweeter? Add a little maple syrup.
If you’re in a hurry you can skip the cooking step as it is technically safe to eat, but heating it allows the flavors to meld together better for a richer flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 171mg | Potassium: 360mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 451IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Sauces & Dressings
Cuisine: American
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12 Comments

  1. What’s the difference between Kansas and Carolina sauce?
    I prefer Carolina.
    I think it has mustard in it?
    So maybe this recipe plus a little mustard?

    Do you think the water could be replaced with broth?
    Or would that just be weird?

    1. Carolina has a higher vinegar ratio so you could do a cup of vinegar instead of the water and add a little mustard. Maybe a couple tablespoons to a 1/4 cup depending on how much mustard you like in it. Hope this helps! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This really is the best vegan bbq sauce I’ve tried! It was sweet, spicy and tangy – perfect for veggie burgers or for dipping vegan wings!