Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce | Low Sugar
This easy low sugar BBQ sauce recipe has half as much sugar as other recipes, but it’s still satisfyingly sweet! Made with the ketchup of your choice, apple cider vinegar, coconut or brown sugar, and a few seasonings, it’s wonderfully simple and quick to make. Learn how to make homemade BBQ sauce with ketchup and less sugar in just 15 minutes.
Personally, I like my barbecue sauce sweet, so I prefer to make a low sugar BBQ sauce rather than something totally sugar free. This way, I can decide on the sugar content that works for me, without sacrificing the flavor I love. I think the best homemade BBQ sauce starts with ketchup, so that’s the base for this recipe! Whether it’s Heinz or a sugar free paleo ketchup, choose whatever works for your lifestyle.
Is there a low sugar BBQ sauce?
There are plenty of store bought low sugar BBQ sauce options (I personally like Stubb’s), and even some sugar free varieties made for whole30, paleo, or a keto diet. But, with a homemade barbecue sauce recipe like this, you can control the type and amount of sugar, as well as the overall flavor! Make this as sweet, savory, or spicy as you like—with as much or as little sugar as desired.
What is the difference between ketchup and BBQ sauce?
Traditionally, ketchup is a combination of tomato paste, vinegar, some sugar, and spices. Though it can vary by region, BBQ sauce often consists of tomato paste and/or sauce, vinegar, sugars, spices, herbs, and sometimes liquid smoke! Basically, many barbecue sauces are essentially jazzed-up ketchups.
Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce Ingredients
- Ketchup of choice (regular, low sugar, or sugar free)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- Lemon juice
- Worcestershire sauce
- Spices: ground mustard, pepper, onion powder
How to Make Low Sugar BBQ Sauce at Home
- Add all ingredients to a saucepan, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Serve and enjoy immediately, or allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Try my homemade berry BBQ sauce recipe for another low sugar option!
Adjusting the Sugar Content
This low sugar barbecue sauce recipe contains about half as much sugar as most homemade BBQ sauce recipes out there! Whether you use coconut sugar or brown sugar, the result is equally delicious. If you’d like to adjust the sugar content of your sauce:
- Use up to double the sugar content (⅔ cup coconut or brown sugar) for a sweeter sauce.
- Start with just 3 Tbsp coconut or brown sugar and sweeten to taste for a less-sweet sauce.
- Choose a ketchup with your preferred sugar content. Classic Heinz ketchup contains 4g of sugars per tablespoon. I like to use True Made Foods Vegetable Ketchup, which contains 2g of sugar per tablespoon. You can also find other low sugar, sugar free, or even paleo & whole30 ketchup varieties if desired!
What to add to BBQ sauce to make it spicy?
If you want your homemade BBQ sauce to have a spicy or zesty kick, get creative adding some hot or smoky flavors:
- Paprika, regular or smoked
- Chili powder
- Cayenne powder
- Liquid smoke
How to Use Homemade BBQ Sauce
There are so many delicious ways to enjoy this homemade barbecue sauce throughout the week! Here are some of my favorite easy meals:
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
- BBQ Spaghetti
- Grilled BBQ Chicken Meal Prep Bowls
- BBQ Cauliflower Bites
- BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos
- Spicy Cheeseburger Sliders
To see how this barbecue sauce is made, watch my CRAZY Spaghetti Recipes video!
Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups ketchup, (I used True Made Foods low sugar ketchup)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar*, (or brown sugar)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp onion powder
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan over high heat.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly until reduced.
- Serve and enjoy immediately with pulled pork, chicken, or your favorite protein.
- Allow to cool completely before storing. Transfer to an airtight container or jar, cover with a lid, and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Yields~3 cups homemade BBQ sauce.