Clean Eating Barbecue Sauce

Recipe Key - Paleo60

It took me several barbecue sauce recipes to really find the right one. Some were too ketchup-like. Some not spicy enough. But finally I found the perfect combination of ingredients for a CLEAN easy to make barbecue sauce.

Clean Eating Barbecue Sauce

The key ingredient that I used to leave out because it’s odd and I didn’t want to buy it – liquid smoke. It’s a MUST. I also incorporate it into my barbecue hummus – because that’s basically my barbecue sauce ingredients mixed with chickpeas and without all the tomato sauce.

There are several reasons I take the time to make sauces instead of buy them from the store.

  1. Clean ingredients: Many barbecue sauces start with the ingredient “high fructose corn syrup”, which means by weight it is primarily sugar. Also they have a lot of preservatives or thickeners and emulsifiers like soy lecithin which come from GMO’s. While the jury is still out on whether or not GMO’s are detrimental to our health or our environment, it’s probably best to just stay away from them.
  2. Cheaper: With the exception of guacamole I find that most sauces are way cheaper to buy all the ingredients for. A lot of it is spices which upfront can be costly but they last you forever so you still save in the long run.
  3. Room for creativity or ability to alter to specific diet restrictions: Is a particular sauce too spicy or not spicy enough? You can modify it when you make it yourself! Similarly I make things that are dairy free that you can’t find in stores (unless it’s made with a lot of fake ingredients).
  4. Credit: when I cook a meal I like to be able to say I made it all – I didn’t just pick a bottled sauce, cook some pasta and chicken and throw it together. I was the one that carefully crafted what spices, condiments, herbs etc went in to the mix so the flavor profile was entirely my own creation. I like being the creator of things – it’s why I enjoy time in my kitchen rather than find it a chore.

Check out some of these other sauce recipes I’ve tried from other creators like myself:

Vegan Cashew Cheese Sauce

Enchilada Sauce

Pizza Sauce (except I leave out the sugar!)

Sauces can range from really simple to rather labor intensive but most are totally worth the effort. For this barbecue sauce I’ve tried two methods:

Easy Way: Blend and store

  • Pros: Easy and quick. You don’t have to chop the onions or mince the garlic since they go straight to the blender
  • Cons: Flavors aren’t as rich

More Difficult: Sautee the onions and garlic in a pan, pour in remaining ingredients, simmer for 20 minutes.

  • Pros: More delicious
  • Cons: More labor intensive – but still not bad! Especially if you take care of it the night before the meal you’ll serve it with OR while something is baking in the oven/crockpot for a while.
Clean Eating Barbecue Sauce

Clean Eating Barbecue Sauce

A clean barbecue sauce without any high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, or preservatives. Chose the easy version and blend it all together in 5 minutes or let the flavors come through more and simmer it on the stove.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8


  • 15 oz tomato sauce no salt added
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic about 3 cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp unsulfured blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke more to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper depending on spice preference
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch


  1. Easy way: Leave out water and tapioca starch - blend everything until smooth, store in the fridge

Better Way

  1. heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and diced onions. Sautee until onions are translucent and garlic is golden brown and fragrant

  2. While that's going you can mix the remaining ingredients together in a blender. Add the cooked garlic and onions, and blend to incorporate them into a smooth sauce.

  3. Pour the sauce back into the pan. Bring to a boil, add the tapioca starch and stir to incorporate.

  4. Lower heat and simmer for about 10-20 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.


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