Is BBQ Sauce Vegan? (Answered!)

BBQ sauce is a staple condiment for many meat lovers, especially during the summer months when grilling and outdoor cooking is at its peak. It is a sweet, tangy, and sometimes spicy sauce that is typically used to enhance the flavour of grilled meat.

However, for those of us following a vegan diet, who don’t want to miss out on the action, we need to know… is BBQ Sauce vegan?

Is BBQ Sauce Vegan?

Here’s the thing, in some cases BBQ sauce can contain non-vegan ingredients such as animal bones, honey, and Worcestershire sauce, which can make it unsuitable for us vegans. In this article, I will explore the common ingredients found in BBQ sauce, what makes a BBQ sauce non-vegan, and review both store-bought and homemade vegan BBQ sauce options.

is BBQ Sauce Vegan

What Makes a BBQ Sauce Non-Vegan?

Let’s first understand the common BBQ sauce ingredients not vegan. While BBQ sauce is generally made with plant-based ingredients, some brands may use non-vegan animal products ingredients in their recipes. Here are some examples of animal-based ingredients that can be found in BBQ sauce:

  • Animal Bones: Some BBQ sauces may be made with bone broth or stock, which is made by boiling animal bones. These sauces are not vegan-friendly.
  • Honey: Honey is a common ingredient used to add sweetness to BBQ sauce. However, it is not considered vegan as it is produced by bees.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce is a condiment made from anchovies and can be found in some BBQ sauce recipes.
  • Anchovies: Some popular BBQ Sauce brands contain Anchovies.

Additionally, some sugar products are processed using bone char, which is made from the bones of cattle. This process is used to refine the sugar and give it a white colour. Vegans may choose to avoid products made with bone char sugar to avoid supporting the meat industry.

It’s important to carefully read the ingredient list on the label to determine if a BBQ sauce is vegan-friendly or not.

Store-Bought BBQ Sauces: Vegan and Non-Vegan Options

When it comes to store-bought BBQ sauce, there are many options available on the market. Some popular brands include Sweet Baby Ray’s, Kraft, and Stubbs. Let’s take a closer look at these brands to determine if they offer vegan options.

Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce: While some Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauces are vegan-friendly, others are not. Their Original BBQ Sauce and Sweet ‘n Spicy BBQ Sauce are vegan, while their Honey BBQ Sauce and Sweet Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce contain honey and are not vegan. It’s important to carefully read the ingredient list on the label to determine if a particular sauce is vegan.

Kraft BBQ Sauces: Kraft offers a variety of BBQ sauces, but not all of them are vegan. Their Original BBQ Sauce and Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce are vegan, but their Sweet Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce and Honey BBQ Sauce contain honey and are not vegan.

Stubbs BBQ Sauces: Stubbs offers a range of BBQ sauces, and many of them are vegan-friendly. Their Original BBQ Sauce, Spicy BBQ Sauce, and Smokey Mesquite BBQ Sauce are all vegan. However, their Sticky Sweet BBQ Sauce and Honey Pecan BBQ Sauce contain honey and are not vegan.

It’s important to note that ingredient lists can vary between regions, so it’s always a good idea to double-check the ingredient list before purchasing. If you’re looking for a vegan-friendly option, there are plenty of vegan BBQ sauces available on Amazon. Here are some affiliate links to vegan BBQ sauces on Amazon:

Homemade Vegan BBQ Sauce Recipe

Making your own homemade vegan BBQ sauce is a great way to ensure that it is free of any non-vegan ingredients. Here is a simple and delicious recipe that you can try:


  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. In a bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, soy sauce, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke.
  2. Add the smoked paprika, chilli powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and stir until well combined.
  3. Gradually add water, whisking constantly until you reach the desired consistency.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  5. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool before transferring to a container for storage.

This homemade vegan BBQ sauce is perfect for adding flavour to plant-based burgers, veggie burgers, and other vegan foods. You can also adjust the recipe to your liking by adding more or less of certain ingredients. Enjoy!

The Difference Between Tomato-based BBQ Sauces and Vinegar-based BBQ Sauces (and which one is more commonly vegan-friendly)

When it comes to making BBQ sauce vegan, there are two primary types: tomato-based and vinegar-based. Tomato-based BBQ sauces are the most popular in the United States, and they typically contain a base of tomato paste, along with brown sugar, spices, and other flavourings. On the other hand, vinegar-based BBQ sauces are more common in certain regions of the US, such as the Carolinas, and they are typically thinner and tangier than tomato-based sauces. 

In terms of which type of BBQ sauce is more commonly vegan-friendly, it’s generally easier to find vegan options in tomato-based sauces. This is because vinegar-based sauces often contain non-vegan ingredients such as honey or Worcestershire sauce, which can make them off-limits for strict vegans. However, this isn’t always the case, and there are certainly vegan-friendly vinegar-based sauces available as well. 

If you’re shopping for store-bought BBQ sauce and looking for vegan options, be sure to check the ingredient list carefully. Some tomato-based BBQ sauces may contain non-vegan ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, while some vinegar-based sauces may be sweetened with vegan-friendly ingredients like beet sugar or organic sugar.

Alternatively, you can always make your own vegan BBQ sauce at home, using whichever base (tomato or vinegar) you prefer. By making your own sauce, you have full control over the ingredients and can ensure that everything is vegan-friendly. In general, vegan BBQ sauce recipes often use plant-based sweeteners like maple syrup or coconut sugar, along with soy sauce or vegan Worcestershire sauce for added depth of flavour. 

Ultimately, whether you prefer tomato-based or vinegar-based BBQ sauce, there are plenty of vegan options available to satisfy your taste buds while sticking to your plant-based diet. 

Modifying Non-vegan BBQ Sauce Recipes to Make Them Vegan-friendly

If you have a favourite non-vegan BBQ sauce recipe that you’d like to make vegan-friendly, there are some simple substitutions you can make to replace animal-based ingredients with plant-based alternatives. 

Here are some tips:

  1. Replace Worcestershire sauce: Worcestershire sauce is a common ingredient in many BBQ sauces, but it contains anchovies and is not vegan. To replace Worcestershire sauce, you can use vegan Worcestershire sauce, which is made without animal products. Alternatively, you can use soy sauce or tamari, which will provide a similar umami flavour.
  2. Swap out honey: Honey is another common ingredient in BBQ sauces, but it is not vegan. You can replace honey with maple syrup, agave nectar, or coconut nectar, which will provide a similar sweet flavour.
  3. Use plant-based sweeteners: Many BBQ sauces contain high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar, which may not be vegan-friendly. Look for organic sugar or beet sugar, which are often vegan, or use coconut sugar as a natural sweetener.
  4. Choose a vegan-friendly base: Some BBQ sauces are based on vinegar, while others are based on tomato paste. Both can be vegan-friendly, but it’s important to check the ingredients to ensure that there are no animal products. For a tomato-based sauce, look for brands that do not contain animal ingredients, such as Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce or Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce. For a vinegar-based sauce, check the ingredient list for any animal-based flavourings or additives.
  5. Add smoky flavour: Liquid smoke is a common ingredient in many BBQ sauces, but it can be difficult to find a vegan-friendly version. To add a smoky flavour, try using smoked paprika or chipotle powder instead.

With these simple substitutions, you can modify your favourite non-vegan BBQ sauce recipe to make it vegan-friendly. Experiment with different ingredients to find the combination that works best for you, and enjoy a delicious and cruelty-free BBQ sauce.

Best Ways to Use Vegan BBQ Sauce

Vegan BBQ sauce can be a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some of the best ways to use vegan BBQ sauce:

  1. As a dipping sauce – Vegan BBQ sauce can be a great dipping sauce for vegetable sticks, tofu bites, or vegan chicken nuggets.
  2. On burgers and sandwiches – Use vegan BBQ sauce instead of ketchup or mayonnaise on your vegan burgers or sandwiches for a sweet and smoky flavour.
  3. On plant-based meats – Vegan BBQ sauce can be brushed onto plant-based meats such as veggie burgers, seitan, or tofu before grilling or baking for added flavour.
  4. In marinades – Use vegan BBQ sauce as a base for marinades for vegetables, tofu, or vegan chicken for added depth of flavour.
  5. On roasted vegetables – Toss your favourite vegetables in vegan BBQ sauce before roasting them in the oven for a delicious and flavourful side dish.
  6. In stir-fries – Add a few spoonfuls of vegan BBQ sauce to your stir-fry sauce for a unique twist on traditional stir-fry dishes.

Overall, vegan BBQ sauce can be used in similar ways to traditional BBQ sauce. However, it can also be used as a versatile ingredient in a variety of vegan dishes, from marinades to stir-fries. Experiment with different uses and find your go-to vegan BBQ sauce recipe for your favourite dishes.


In conclusion, for those following a vegan diet, it’s essential to check the ingredient list of any BBQ sauce before purchasing it. Some traditional BBQ sauces may contain non-vegan ingredients such as animal bones or honey, which can be problematic for strict vegans. However, the good news is that there are many vegan-friendly store-bought and homemade BBQ sauces available that are delicious and cruelty-free. Whether you choose to purchase a vegan BBQ sauce at the grocery store or make your own at home, there are plenty of options available to enjoy the sweet and smoky flavour of BBQ sauce while staying true to your vegan lifestyle.

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