Healthy Barbecue Sauce


With its sweet, smoky, salty and sometimes tangy nuances, barbecue sauce can transform a bland piece of grilled chicken breast into a dish that dances on the taste buds. But most bottled versions are loaded with added sugars — some with 12 to 16 grams of sugar per two tablespoon serving. And, how many tablespoons do you think are doused on your average pulled pork sandwich?

If making your own sauce seems fussy, it’s really not. Simply add the ingredients into a pot and simmer for less than 40 minutes while you do your other weekly meal prep. While it’s not as quick as pulling a bottle off a grocery store shelf, this homemade, healthier sauce provides the smoky-sweet flavor you crave with less sugar.

Try it on this BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizza or these Barbecue Chicken Baked Sweet Potatoes!


Healthy Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce can transform a bland piece of grilled chicken breast, but most bottled versions are loaded with added sugars. Get a healthier recipe.
Servings 12 servings, 2 Tbsp. each


  • 2 Tbsp . olive oil
  • 1 medium onion , finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • tsp . ground chili powder
  • ¼ tsp . ground paprika
  • ¼ tsp . sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • 1 tsp . ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup , reduced-sugar
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 2 Tbsp . apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp . yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp . Worcestershire sauce
  • tsp . liquid smoke (optional)


  1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  3. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  4. Add chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  5. Add ketchup, honey, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke (if desired); cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

• Look for ketchup that has an ingredient list that does not contain artificial sweeteners, additives, or preservatives. There are many brands on the market that are sweetened with small amounts of natural sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
• This barbecue sauce is best when made a day before using. It allows the flavors to meld together.


If you have questions about the portions, please click here to post a question in our forums so our experts can help. Please include a link to the recipe you’re asking about.