Meatless Monday Challenge

12-Minute Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe (Vegan Friendly!)

on February 8, 2022
last updated February 28, 2024
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Did you know that not all BBQ sauce and ketchup brands are vegan? This quick DIY vegan BBQ sauce is the perfect balance of tangy and sweet and uses vegan ketchup.
jar of homemade vegan bbq sauce with some on a spoon

Ready to try your hand at making your own BBQ sauce? This quick and easy Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe will have you feeling like a pro saucier in no time!

Learn how to whip up BBQ sauce at home in less than 15 minutes! This recipe is made with 8 simple ingredients, including ketchup and brown sugar, and can be made completely vegan-friendly by using vegan versions of those ingredients.

The condiment is a great accompaniment to any dish, especially if you’re grilling up some veggies or a plant-based burger. With its perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors, this do-it-yourself BBQ sauce tastes great on everything!

bbq sauce dripping off a spoon into a jar

As a foodie and environmental scientist, making my own sauces and condiments, including this BBQ sauce is one of my favorite things to do!

Green tip: Making your own sauces and syrups is a great way to avoid extra plastic packaging that eventually ends up in landfills or makes its way into the environment and becomes microplastics.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Vegan or Regular Ketchup. Ketchup adds a delicious sweet and vibrant tomato taste to this BBQ sauce. Keep in mind, ketchup is not always vegan! More on that later.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. This provides that classic tang that you want in any finger-licking BBQ sauce!
  • Vegan or Regular Brown Sugar. Again, while sugar itself is a vegan product, depending on the way it’s manufactured, it may not be. Look for words like “raw” and “unrefined” to ensure it’s not processed with animal bone char.
  • Paprika. To ramp up the sweetness, the color, and gives it a slightly peppery taste.
  • Chili Powder. More peppery goodness! Note that chili powder is not generally spicy. If you want a little bit of spice in your sauce, I recommend adding a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Ground Cumin. For some earthiness and a mild citrus flavor.
  • Salt & Pepper. For extra oomph.
paprika, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, ground cumin, brown sugar, ketchup

How to Find Vegan Ketchup

Ketchup is not always vegan, depending on the sugar additive used. The easiest way to tell if ketchup is vegan is to look for vegan labels on the ketchup bottle.

Alternatively, you can check the ingredients and make sure the sugar in the ketchup is certified organic to ensure the ketchup is not from a plant that uses bone char to process their sugar or look for a sugar-free alternative (often, these ketchups will use corn syrup in place of sugar).

The ketchup I used in the plant-based BBQ sauce pictured is Annie’s Organic Ketchup. I love using Annie’s for this recipe because it is made from wholesome ingredients and strikes a great balance between savory and sweet.

Here is a list of ketchup that are safe for vegans for your convenience:

  • Annie’s Organic Ketchup
  • Primal Kitchen Unsweetened Ketchup
  • Heinz Organic Ketchup
  • True Made Foods Ketchup
  • Hunt’s Classic Ketchup
  • Del Monte Ketchup
  • 365 Organic Ketchup (exclusive to Whole Foods)
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup (exclusive to Trader Joe’s)
  • Kroger Original Tomato Ketchup (exclusive to Kroger)
  • Great Value Tomato Ketchup (exclusive to Walmart)
  • Simply Nature Organic Tomato Ketchup (exclusive to Aldi)
  • Greenwise Tomato Ketchup (exclusive to Publix)

Green tip: Organic farms rely on biodiversity to generate rich soil, avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers, which means no toxic runoff.

Homemade BBQ Sauce Tips and Tricks

Cook Your BBQ Sauce Low and Slow

When it comes to DIY sauce and dressing recipes, it all comes down to technique. Start by adding all your ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to a small pot over low heat.

As the sauce thickens, it may start to spatter. Keep your heat low and monitor it closely.

If it starts to spatter, give it a stir. If you are unable to stand over your stove while it’s cooking, simply cover it with a lid, and keep it on the lowest heat.

We don’t want the sauce to stick to the bottom of the pot and burn or to get too thick and almost gluey, so make sure to stir it pretty frequently and monitor it closely.

Green tip: If you have an electric range, it’s best to use a pot that both sits flat on and matches the size of your burner to make sure you are not wasting energy.

Use a Whisk to Stir Your Homemade BBQ Sauce

We cook the sauce not just to thicken it, but also to dissolve all the spices and seasonings into the liquid to make a smooth, velvety sauce.

Using a whisk will aid in this process, and ensure you aren’t left with any lumps.

whisking bbq sauce in a pot

Serving Up Your BBQ Sauce

This homemade BBQ sauce is great on almost anything! Here are some of my favorite plant-based recipe ideas to serve up this BBQ sauce:

  • Vegan BBQ Nachos with Jackfruit. Indulge in a flavor-packed fiesta with these Vegan BBQ Nachos, featuring crispy tortilla chips piled high with smoky BBQ jackfruit, cheese (vegan, dairy-free option!), and a colorful medley of fresh toppings.
  • Vegan BBQ Tofu Sandwich. Elevate your lunch game with this Vegan BBQ Sandwich, a mouthwatering masterpiece of marinated grilled tofu slathered in tangy barbecue sauce, nestled between toasted artisanal buns with a number of crisp and juicy topping options.
  • Vegan BBQ Tempeh Sandwich. Savor the irresistible textures of this BBQ Tempeh Sandwich, a harmony of hearty tempeh strips glazed in rich barbecue goodness, tucked into a pillowy bun with topping options that can only elevate each bite.
  • Baked Old Bay Fries. Rediscover the classic comfort of Baked Old Bay Fries, a delightful twist on a timeless favorite, boasting perfectly seasoned potatoes baked to golden perfection and served with a side of zesty dipping sauce.
  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries. Indulge in the natural sweetness of these Sweet Potato Fries, expertly seasoned and baked to a crispy golden brown, providing a delectable treat that satisfies your cravings.
close up of a jar full of easy vegan bbq sauce

How to Properly Store Homemade BBQ Sauce

The apple cider vinegar acts as a natural preservative in this plant-based BBQ sauce, so when stored correctly, it can last for about 2 weeks.

Just keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Check for signs of bacterial growth, texture change, or an “off” smell or taste if enjoying after 14 days.

You can also freeze individual servings for up to 3 months, and just allow the sauce to defrost before using it.

Green tip: Of the billions of tons of food wasted annually, 50% of food waste happens at home. Reduce your contribution to food waste by properly storing your food.

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Why You Should Make this 12-Minute Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe

  • It’s easy! Just dump the ingredients in a pot, heat it up, and stir!
  • It’s balanced. The perfect combo of tangy and sweet.
  • It gives you control over what’s in your sauce! That includes making it vegan, and avoiding unnecessary preservatives.

If you’re loving this Easy Vegan BBQ Sauce and need some inspo for what to use it for, check out this BBQ Tempeh Sandwich and BBQ Tofu Sandwich!

jar of homemade vegan bbq sauce with some on a spoon

12-Minute Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe (Vegan Friendly!)

4.8 from 4 votes
Marley Goldin
Print Save Rate
Learn how to whip up BBQ sauce at home in less than 15 minutes! This recipe is made with 8 simple ingredients and can be made completely vegan. The condiment is a great accompaniment to any dish, with its perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • cup vegan ketchup
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup vegan brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Shop Ingredients on Jupiter


  • Add all your ingredients to a small pot and whisk together.
  • Heat on low until the spices and sugar are dissolved and the sauce thickens (8-10 minutes). Stir frequently to avoid spatter and the sauce sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  • Allow to cool and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • If you like a little spice in your sauce, add a pinch of cayenne pepper!
  • You can freeze individual servings for up to 3 months! Allow sauce to thaw in the refrigerator before enjoying.
  • Try this sauce on this Vegan BBQ Tempeh Sandwich. 

Share This Recipe

Course Sauces and Dressings
Cuisine American
Diet Vegan
Keyword 30 Minutes or Less, Easy, Homemade BBQ Sauce, One-Pot, Vegan BBQ
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4 thoughts on “12-Minute Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe (Vegan Friendly!)”

    1. Hi Judith!!

      I didn’t include this info because it can vary greatly depending on the ketchup you use, but a rough estimate is about 7g carbs and 6g sugar per 1 tablespoon of sauce. Hope that helps!

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