This healthy BBQ sauce gets its sweetness from dates and blackstrap molasses. Use it just like you would store-bought BBQ sauce!
My kid is obsessed with BBQ saucet, and, by extension, so am I. We've been eating BBQ tofu, dipping carrot sticks in BBQ sauce, and using it as the base for homemade pizzas.
I even caught my son dipping cashews in it. Which, it turns out, is kind of delicious.
The point is, my kid is more BBQ sauce than human right now, and BBQ sauce is not ideal, as sauces go. Like ketchup, it has a lot of added sugars in it, which I'm sure is part of its appeal.
Healthy BBQ Sauce
This BBQ sauce recipe is me making a healthier a version of my son's favorite thing by replacing some of the refined sugar with whole fruit. And I'm super jazzed with how it turned out!
There are a lot of recipes for homemade BBQ sauce out there, and at their core, they contain pretty much the same things:
- chili powder
- worcestershire sauce
What's fun about making your own BBQ sauce is that the recipe is flexible. If you like more vinegar, add more! If you want it spicy, add hot peppers! If you like it sweeter, use more sugar (or dates! or molasses!).
The recipe below suits my tastes, and I encourage you to consider it a jumping-off point for experimentation.
You make this sauce on the stovetop, then use an immersion blender or standard blender to puree. I suggest doing your flavor adjustments after blending, since it melds the flavors more, giving you a better sense of the finished flavor.
Date Sweetened Healthy BBQ Sauce
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- pinch of cloves
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes - If you can’t find fire roasted, plain diced tomatoes will work fine.
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
- ¼ cup chopped dates - packed
- ¼ teaspoon vegan worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper - to taste
- In a small saucepan on medium heat, combine the garlic tomato paste, chili powder, paprika, and cloves. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, except the salt and pepper, and turn up the heat to medium high until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can taste as you go along and adjust, if you like, but I recommend NOT adding more molasses or dates until you’ve pureed it. The dates sweeten the sauce as they cook, and they’ll release even more sweetness when you puree.
- When your 30 minutes are up, remove the pan from the heat, then use your immersion blender to puree into a nice, smooth sauce. If you don’t have an immersion blender, let the sauce cool a bit, then transfer to a regular blender.
- At this point, you sauce may be ready to bottle and refrigerate (It will keep for up to a week.). Taste it, and see if it needs any adjusting. This is where you’ll stir in salt and pepper, to taste. If it does need anything else, blend again after adding, before you taste again.