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No Tomato BBQ Sauce Recipe (Sugar-Free)

October 3, 2018 (Last Updated: November 10, 2023)

Everyone needs a BBQ sauce in their lives. But what if your diet doesn’t include tomatoes and sugar, and you want to eat only clean, nourishing, wholesome food?

There are plenty of ways to make a great BBQ sauce at home that is delicious and also healthy for you. This is my easy recipe for sugar-free, no-tomato BBQ sauce that is sweet, tangy, and even spicy if you want.

What’s in a store-bought barbecue sauce?

Before making this lectin-free barbecue sauce, I checked a few recipes online and labels of different brands, from the nastiest to the healthier ones.

But they all have three main ingredients I wanted to avoid: tomatoes, ketchup or tomato paste, chili peppers, and sugar (some in the form of high fructose corn syrup, molasses); plus the additives, preservatives, and flavors.

In case you’ve never looked at a cheap, store-bought barbecue sauce label, here is one (it has 16g sugar / 2 tablespoons serving), and the first ingredient (which means it is also the predominant one) is high fructose corn syrup.

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, DISTILLED VINEGAR, TOMATO PASTE, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: SALT, PINEAPPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE, NATURAL SMOKE FLAVOR, SPICES, CARAMEL COLOR, SODIUM BENZOATE AS A PRESERVATIVE, MOLASSES, CORN SYRUP, GARLIC,* SUGAR, TAMARIND, NATURAL FLAVOR.

No, thank you!

No tomato bbq sauce in a small jar with a wooden spoon

What’s in this no tomato BBQ sauce?

While some other no-tomato BBQ sauces are made with a base of sweet potato, or pumpkin, I genuinely think that’s unnecessary. Yes, it adds volume, so go ahead and add some sweet potato puree if you want, but I think that will change the flavor.

This BBQ sauce is built on a few layers of flavors.

  • Caramelized onions. Cooking the onions long enough, on low heat, until they start caramelizing will add incredible sweetness and texture to this sauce.
  • Anchovies and garlic. Maybe surprising as an ingredient in a BBQ sauce, anchovies are a great source of umami flavor. Adding the garlic after the onions are cooked prevents the garlic from burning and getting bitter.
  • Spices. A mix of paprika, nutmeg, turmeric, allspice, and pepper will bring sweet and earthy flavors to this BBQ sauce.
  • Acids. Apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and red Tabasco will add acidity and spicy notes without overpowering the sauce and making it require a lot of sweeteners.
  • Sweetener. The onions give a lot of natural sweetness, so we only need a small quantity of a natural, zero-calorie sweetener, like monk fruit or erythritol and stevia. Alternatively, add yacon syrup, monk fruit syrup, allulose, or honey.

Read more about my favorite sugar-free, low-calorie natural sweeteners.

All the ingredients for the no tomato bbq sauce

Full list of ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped (about one heaping cup, you can also use shallots or red onion)
  • 5-6 big garlic cloves, minced
  • 6-7 anchovies fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or a pinch, cayenne pepper will make the sauce very spicy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard (sugar-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon monk fruit sweetener (or another natural zero-calorie sweetener); add more if necessary
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • salt to taste, only if necessary (anchovies and mustard are already salted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon tapioca flour

Optionally, you can add more flavor to this BBQ sauce by using smoked sea salt, smoked paprika, and coconut aminos.

While I don’t recommend skipping the anchovies, if you must, use coconut aminos to bring in some umami flavor and maybe slightly more onion.

When buying anchovies, ensure they are preserved with salt and olive oil, as some have added vegetable oils.

How to make this no-tomato BBQ sauce

  • Add the olive oil to a saucepan and sautee the onions on low heat until they start caramelizing. It can take about 20-25 minutes, and you will stir occasionally. They are ready when you begin getting brown bits sticking to the pan, and you can smell the sweetness of the onions.
  • Add the garlic and anchovies, stir well, and cook for about one minute.
  • Add all the spice powders, stir well, cooking for about 15 seconds, then add the mustard, apple cider vinegar, tabasco, and sweetener. Stir well, and after a few seconds, add one or two tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan and prevent the spices from burning.
  • Add water gradually while the sauce is cooking and thickening on low heat. When you add 3/4 cups water, turn off the heat, let the sauce cool down, then transfer to a blender (or blitz with a hand blender) and blend until a smooth consistency.
  • Transfer the creamy sauce back to the pan, add the remaining 1/4 cup water to the blender, and shake to remove all the sauce stuck to the blender. Pour the content into the pan, bring it back to a boil on low heat, and add the tapioca flour mixed with one tablespoon of cold water.
  • Simmer on low heat for a few minutes, and taste. If necessary, add more salt, Tabasco, and sweetener.
  • Store in a glass jar, in the fridge, for a few days.

How to use this no tomato BBQ sauce

My favorite way to use this sauce is to make BBQ chicken wings. But you can use it with any protein. I also love to make ‘pulled’ oyster mushrooms with BBQ sauce.

Here are a few tips to make these BBQ chicken wings:

  • Use pasture-raised chicken wings.
  • Pat dry the wings, and generously season them with extra virgin olive oil, salt, a mix of minced garlic and ginger, and about three tablespoons of tomato-free BBQ sauce.
  • Bake for about 1 hour on low heat (about 300F), then bake for about 10 minutes at 200F.
  • Remove them from the oven, brush them with more BBQ sauce, drizzle with some honey, and bake for 10-15 more minutes.
Chicken wings on a plate served with the no tomato bbq sauce

*This post contains affiliated links, which means I get a small commission if you choose to purchase something via one of my links, at no extra cost to you.

No Tomato BBQ Sauce Recipe (Sugar-Free)

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By Claudia Curici, Health Coach Serves: yields 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Everyone needs a BBQ sauce in their lives. But what if your diet doesn't include tomatoes and sugar, and you want to eat only clean, nourishing, wholesome food? There are plenty of ways to make a great BBQ sauce at home that is delicious and also healthy for you. This is my easy recipe for sugar-free, no-tomato BBQ sauce that is sweet, tangy, and even spicy if you want.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped (about one heaping cup, you can also use shallots or red onion)
  • 5-6 big garlic cloves, minced
  • 6-7 anchovies fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or a pinch, cayenne pepper will make the sauce very spicy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard (sugar-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon monk fruit sweetener (or another natural zero-calorie sweetener); add more if necessary
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • salt to taste, only if necessary (anchovies and mustard are already salted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon tapioca flour
  • Optional to add more flavor: smoked sea salt, smoked paprika, coconut aminos

Instructions

1

Add the olive oil to a saucepan and sautee the onions on low heat until they start caramelizing. It can take about 20-25 minutes, and you will stir occasionally. They are ready when you begin getting brown bits sticking to the pan, and you can smell the sweetness of the onions.

2

Add the garlic and anchovies, stir well, and cook for about one minute.

3

Add all the spice powders, stir well, cooking for about 15 seconds, then add the mustard, apple cider vinegar, tabasco, and sweetener. Stir well, and after a few seconds, add one or two tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan and prevent the spices from burning.

4

Add water gradually while the sauce is cooking and thickening on low heat. When you add 3/4 cups water, turn off the heat, let the sauce cool down, then transfer to a blender (or blitz with a hand blender) and blend until a smooth consistency.

5

Transfer the creamy sauce back to the pan, add the remaining 1/4 cup water to the blender, and shake to remove all the sauce stuck to the blender. Pour the content into the pan, bring it back to a boil on low heat, and add the tapioca flour mixed with one tablespoon of cold water.

6

Simmer on low heat for a few minutes, and taste. If necessary, add more salt, Tabasco, and sweetener.

7

Store in a glass jar, in the fridge, for a few days.

Notes

Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Carrie McMillan
    March 3, 2021 at 6:05 am

    I am curious if you have a recipe for Lectin free ketchup? I thought I saw that you make it, but cannot figure out where I saw that? Thanks

  • Reply
    Elaine
    October 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I was so excited to see a lectin free BBQ sauce! But aside from the spices and onion, it looks like anchovies is the only thing that gives it bulk and that that is the base for the sauce. I hate anchovies and would also have no idea where/how to buy them. Where are they located in a store? At the fish counter? In canned meats? Is there ANYTHING else one could use in it’s place?

    • Reply
      Claudia
      October 8, 2018 at 9:13 am

      Hi Elaine, anchovies are essential for taste here, they don’t give much volume because they are very small. If you want to give it volume you can add mashed sweet potato, but that’s not something I would do. If I wanted to make a bigger quantity (for a big dinner party for example), I would make it out of many onions, garlics, and anchovies, add chicken, beef or veggie stock and follow the same process. Anchoives should be in the canned fish area.You can find them in cans or glass jars.

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