6 Best Vegan BBQ Sauces: Let’s Get Saucy (2024)

Every country has its own unique type of sauce, marinade, or seasoning that it’s known for. In America, I’d argue that we’re best known for our delicious BBQ sauces. Although the concept of barbeque isn’t exactly vegan, I still love the sauce! 

Most BBQ sauce, by itself, is vegan. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some non-vegan BBQ sauces out there, but I’ve managed to find some of the best vegan BBQ sauce on the market over the past few years.

Vegan BBQ sauce goes great on top of my Beyond Meat plant burgers, tofu nuggets, and more. 

After being asked countless times about where to find vegan BBQ sauce, I figured that it was finally time for me to write a conclusive post for you all. So, if you’re ready to dip your nuggets in some of the best vegan BBQ sauce made by mankind, then you’ve come to the right place… 

Let’s get saucy! 

Portland Organic BBQ Sauce by Portlandia Foods
Portland Organic BBQ Sauce by Portlandia Foods
  • Sweet & Savory
Editor's Choice
Bachan's - The Original Japanese Barbecue Sauce
Bachan's - The Original Japanese Barbecue Sauce
  • Sour, sweet & spicy
Reader's Choice
Keto Barbecue BBQ Sauce by Yo Mama's Foods
Keto Barbecue BBQ Sauce by Yo Mama's Foods
  • Tomato, herbs, spice

Can Vegans Eat BBQ Sauce? 

One of the most common questions I get regarding BBQ sauce is usually, “Can vegans eat BBQ sauce?” Most people assume that since barbeques typically involve the slaughter of pigs, cows, and chickens the entire concept of BBQ is off-limits for vegans. 

When I first went vegan around seven years ago, I had the same mentality. Thankfully, I had a few vegan friends who brought me to my senses. They explained to me that most BBQ sauce is vegan-friendly and contains no animal-derived flavors or by-products

After a little bit of additional research, I found out that they were telling the truth! Most BBQ sauce is made from relatively simple ingredients, like:

  • Sugar
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Herbs & spices
  • Vinegar

As you can see, BBQ sauce is about as natural as it gets. 

What Makes Vegan BBQ Sauce Different From Regular BBQ Sauce? 

While simple BBQ sauce is most definitely vegan, not all BBQ sauce is vegan. Depending on who you’re buying from and the ingredients they use, you may find some animal-derived ingredients in BBQ sauce. 

To make your shopping easier, here’s a helpful table outlining what makes vegan BBQ sauce different from non-vegan BBQ sauce

Vegan BBQ SauceNon-Vegan BBQ Sauce
Use vegan sweeteners, such as unrefined sugar, blackstrap molasses, brown sugar, or corn syrup.  Some vegan BBQ sauces also contain no added sugar. These BBQ sauces are typically marketed to the low-carb community and are known for their more “natural” sugar-free flavor. One of the most common non-vegan sweeteners used in BBQ sauce is honey. While honey may be all-natural, it’s an animal product that’s obtained by exploiting honey bees.  Some non-vegan BBQ sauces may also contain refined white sugar, which is filtered through animal bone char. 
Use an all-natural flavoring that comes from spices, herbs, vegetables, and roots.  Sometimes, plant-based or synthetic natural flavors are added as well. It’s common to see animal-derived flavoring in the BBQ sauce community. Flavors obtained from bacon, pork, or beef are common additives. 
Vegan BBQ sauces are often made using more natural, organic ingredients. Additionally, you’ll find that some of the best vegan BBQ sauces are made by small family-owned farms and businesses.  That’s just another great reason to give vegan BBQ sauce a try! Most of the big-name non-vegan BBQ sauces are made using non-organic ingredients, which is evident in their lack of flavor. 

Is Vegan BBQ Sauce Healthier Than Regular BBQ Sauce? 

Although vegan foods often have a reputation for being healthier than non-vegan foods, this isn’t the case with BBQ sauce. Vegan BBQ sauce typically uses the same base recipe as non-vegan BBQ sauce. 

The only difference is that the vegan BBQ sauce won’t use any meat-derived flavors and will swap out honey and refined sugar for organic unrefined sugar or molasses. This means that vegan BBQ sauce usually has the same nutritional value as non-vegan BBQ sauce. 

What Can I Eat With Vegan BBQ Sauce? 

This is where you can really get creative… 

The sky’s the limit when it comes to BBQ sauce. I’ve eaten BBQ sauce with so many different foods that I’ve lost track. Some of my favorite foods to eat vegan BBQ sauce with are:

  • Tofu nuggets
  • Plant-based burgers
  • Vegan tacos
  • Rice and beans
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Pan-sauteed tofu
  • Pretzels
  • Mushrooms
  • Pasta

The list could go on a lot longer, but I won’t bore you. Ultimately, it all comes down to you and the food you like. I find that vegan BBQ sauce adds a sweet, savory, and slightly spicy flavor to just about anything that I put it on.

So, pretty much anything that isn’t dessert is on the table for me! 

If you really want to test your cooking skills and use one of these sauces to make your own vegan BBQ brisket, then check out this awesome cooking tutorial:

The 6 Best Vegan BBQ Sauces You Need To Try

Alright, so now that you know a little bit more about what makes vegan BBQ sauce so special, it’s time to take things to the next level. Being the sauce-loving vegan that I am, I decided to show you six of the best vegan BBQ sauces that I’ve ever tried. 

From traditional American BBQ to Japanese and Korean BBQ, I guarantee you’ll find the perfect vegan BBQ sauce for you below. 

Flavor Profile: Sweet & Savory

If you’re looking for a traditional sweet and savory American BBQ sauce, then it’s hard to beat Portlandia Foods’ Organic Vegan BBQ Sauce. It’s made in the heart of Portland, Oregon, which is known for being a hub of vegan innovation. 

The ingredients are all organic, which makes for an incredibly flavorful, wholesome sauce.

The recipe is made using water, tomato paste, white vinegar, brown sugar, blackstrap molasses, sea salt, smoked paprika, natural hickory flavor, onion, tamarind paste, cumin, garlic, chipotle, cayenne pepper, allspice, celery seeds, and a bit of clove to pack an herbal punch. 

If you’re used to BBQ sauces like Sweet Baby Ray’s original BBQ sauce, then you’ll find that this has a similar flavor profile. However, it has none of the junk ingredients

Portlandia’s Vegan BBQ Sauce doesn’t contain any preservatives or chemical additives at all. Of course, the downside of this is that this sauce won’t last forever. You’ll typically only have a couple of weeks to use this sauce after you break the seal and open it. 

In my opinion, though, that’s a small price to pay for such an organic, high-quality sauce. 

What I Like About It:

  • It’s made from 100% organic ingredients.
  • It’s naturally sweetened with organic brown sugar and organic blackstrap molasses. 
  • It has a traditional American BBQ flavor. 
  • It’s made by a small local Portland business. 
  • It’s flavorful and made with a variety of herbs and spices. 

What I Don’t Like About It: 

  • It’s not as hot and spicy as I would have liked. 

Flavor Profile: Sour, sweet & spicy

When I first tried Bachan’s Original Japanese BBQ Sauce, I had no idea what to expect. My friend from Japan sent me a bottle for my birthday and told me that I’d love it. I didn’t even know that BBQ sauce was a thing in Japan. Then again, they do have teriyaki and hibachi, so it makes sense… 

So, I put one of my vegan burgers on the grill, constructed my burger, and topped it off with my newly-gifted bottle of Japanese BBQ sauce.

The flavor was out of this world! It has a hint of that traditional American sweetness to it, but the dominant flavor comes from soy and ginger. This gives it a completely new flavor profile. 

It’s made using a few simple ingredients: soy sauce (non-GMO, of course), water, soybean, wheat salt, unrefined sugar, mirin, rice, koji seeds, sea salt, tomato, ginger, green onion, rice vinegar, garlic, and toasted sesame oil. 

Most of the ingredients are organic, which is just another great reason to love this sauce! Like Portlandia, Bachan’s is a small family-owned business. The sauce was created from a generational family recipe passed down to the owner by his “Bachan,” (granny, in Japanese). 

What I Like About It:

  • I love the sour, umami-heavy flavor profile that comes from the soy and ginger. 
  • It’s made from mostly organic ingredients. 
  • It’s 100% preservative-free. 
  • It tastes great on just about anything. 

What I Don’t Like About It: 

  • It’s not very spicy. 
  • If you don’t like soy sauce or umami flavoring, then this may not be for you. 

Flavor Profile: Tomato, herbs, spice

If you’ve ever wanted a zero-calorie vegan BBQ sauce, then this is one of the best-tasting no-sugar-added sauces I’ve ever tried. It’s not my go-to BBQ sauce, as I prefer something a little bit sweeter. However, the last time I was cutting calories, I remember eating a lot of this sauce. 

It’s made without any sweeteners, and only includes tomato paste, water, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, onion, garlic, chili powder, paprika, black pepper, mustard seed, smoke flavor, monk fruit extract, and a bit of bay leaf. 

Essentially, it tastes like a spicy, smokey tomato sauce. It may not have that sweet-hot BBQ flavor that you’re used to, but it’s a great way to add some flavor to your food without the calories. 

The upside of this sauce is that it’s all-natural. It doesn’t contain any chemical additives, preservatives, or any nasty artificial dye. What you’re consuming comes straight out of nature and is as pure as it gets. 

What I Like About It:

  • It’s zero-calorie. 
  • It’s made using all-natural ingredients, and doesn’t contain any chemicals or preservatives 
  • It has a smokey, slightly spicy flavor. 
  • It’s 100% vegan. 

What I Don’t Like About It: 

  • It’s not as sweet or thick as I usually like. 

Flavor Profile: Soy, sweet, umami

Before going vegan, I remember trying Korean BBQ one time, and I remember it being some of the best-tasting BBQ I’ve ever had. What made it so good to me wasn’t the meat, though. It was the delicious sauces they used.

I completely forgot how good Korean BBQ sauce was until I tried Fody Foods’ Vegan Korean BBQ Sauce a couple of months ago. 

I sauteed some steamed rice and firm tofu in the sauce, and it brought me back to my trip to Korea I took during college. It has a heavy umami flavor that comes from soy and tamari. However, it has a sweet, slightly tangy aftertaste thanks to the raw cane sugar, tamarind, and ginger added. 

If you thought that was good enough, this sauce is also spicy! The heat comes from jalapeno pepper puree and organic cayenne pepper, which give it a serious kick and take this recipe to the next level.

Last but not least, this vegan Korean BBQ sauce is also low-carb and low-calorie. Although it has a slightly sweet flavor, each serving only has 25 calories and 3 grams of carbs (2 grams from sugar). So you can use as much as you’d like without feeling like you have to hit the treadmill afterward! 

What I Like About It:

  • It has a strong umami flavor profile. 
  • It’s sweet, sour, spicy, and tangy all at once. 
  • It gives you vegan food the flavor of authentic Korean BBQ. 
  • Uses all-natural ingredients. 
  • Doesn’t have any added preservatives. 

What I Don’t Like About It: 

  • I LOVE it. However, if you don’t like soy or spice, then it may not be for you. 

Flavor Profile: Spicy, earthy

Who says that BBQ sauce has to be tomato-based? Although most American BBQ sauces use a ketchup base, I’ve found that some of my favorite vegan BBQ sauces don’t use any tomato at all. This is one of them. 

Sabatino’s Tartufi Truffle Hot Sauce is made using water, chili peppers, olive oil, unrefined sugar, spices, apple cider vinegar, black truffle, citric acid, white truffle flavor, salt, garlic, and xanthan gum. 

If you’ve never had them before, truffles are a type of fungi and taste very similar to mushrooms. They’re commonly regarded as a culinary delicacy and are known for their slightly nutty flavor profile. This hot sauce uses real black truffles and natural white truffle flavoring to deepen the complexity. 

The earthiness of the truffles mixes perfectly with the spicy heat from the blend of fresh chili peppers and the slightly sour tang that comes from the salt and citric acid. 

My only qualm with this particular vegan BBQ sauce is that it contains xanthan gum, which means it’s not quite as natural as some of the other BBQ sauces I’ve shown you. While the food additive is FDA-approved, it does have a few risks when consumed in large amounts

What I Like About It:

  • It has a wonderfully earthy flavor, thanks to the fresh truffles. 
  • It’s naturally spicy and flavored by chili peppers. 
  • It’s a very thick sauce, which makes it great for grilling. 

What I Don’t Like About It: 

  • It contains xanthan gum, which is used as an emulsifier. 

Flavor Profile: Mustard, sweet pineapple. 

The Carolinas are known for their famous “Carolina Gold” BBQ sauce. Unlike other states in the south that are known for their tomato-based BBQ sauce, North and South Carolina traditionally use a mustard-based BBQ sauce, which makes for an extra tangy flavor. 

Usually, Carolina Gold BBQ sauce is off-limits for vegans, since it’s sweetened with honey. However, Whole 30’s BBQ Sauce by Halo and Cleaver is one of the only Carolina Gold BBQ sauces made without honey!

Instead, it’s sweetened with pineapple juice, which adds a whole new layer of tropical flavoring to the food. 

The ingredients are water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, turmeric, paprika, apple cider vinegar, apple puree, pineapple juice, tomato paste, paprika, tapioca starch, garlic powder, vegan-friendly natural flavor, and onion powder. 

As you can see, it doesn’t really get any more vegan than that! 

This sauce isn’t very spicy, but it’s got a super-sweet, fruity tang to it that you won’t get out of any other BBQ sauce. It’s great with vegetables, tofu, plant burgers, and just about anything in between. 

What I Like About It:

  • It’s one of the only vegan “Carolina Gold” BBQ sauces on the market. 
  • It’s sweetened with pineapple and apple, giving it a fruity, tropical flavor. 
  • It’s made with all-natural ingredients. 
  • It doesn’t contain any preservatives or chemical additives. 

What I Don’t Like About It: 

  • It’s not spicy at all. 

Conclusion – Where Can I Find The Best Vegan BBQ Sauce? 

Well, that about sums it up! These are all some of the best vegan BBQ sauces that I’ve ever tried. If you haven’t tried adding BBQ sauce to your vegan food yet, I encourage you to.

It’s one of the best ways to add flavor, sweetness, spice, and complexity to your food. One good BBQ sauce is all it takes to turn your boring tofu into a gourmet meal! 

Most of the brands I reviewed above are small-batch brands that can only be found online at Amazon or from specialty retailers.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the most common store-bought vegan BBQ sauce brands, then check out my post breaking down the main ingredients in BBQ sauce here

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Author Bio
Im Emma and I’m the creator of Vegan Calm. When I became a vegan seven years ago, I mainly did it for health and ethical reasons. To my surprise, it had another amazing benefit; I became a much calmer and peaceful person. This change inspired me to create Vegan Calm. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or just want to learn more, this website will have something for you!

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