This delicious homemade gluten-free BBQ sauce recipe is ideal for all your grilling pursuits. Be the pit master you are meant to be with this quick and easy sauce.
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I use BBQ sauce in so many recipes on this website. I always give the option of using a store-bought barbecue sauce.
While there are some good ones out there many are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners. Not to mention unclear labels which is a problem if you, like me, have celiac disease.
When I a reader commented on my grilled BBQ chicken thighs recipe I knew I had to get this recipe up for you!
📖Why This Recipe Works
There are so many different ways to make BBQ sauce at home. Some people like it hot, some people like it really sweet.
But this recipe is my base because it uses everyday ingredients and perfectly balances the sugar and acid. I have provided recommendations on ways to make this sauce your own! Very similar to my homemade honey mustard sauce recipe.
And you can make this recipe dairy-free.
Unsalted Butter- Other ingredients are going to have salt so I recommend starting with unsalted butter, you can always add more salt later.
White Onion- You can use yellow onion, and yes this is one of the few times you can use a sweet onion. I don't recommend using onion powder in this recipe.
Fresh Garlic- I don't recommend using garlic powder in this recipe but you can use roasted garlic if you like.
Red Pepper Flakes
Ketchup- Out of ketchup? Try a small can of tomato paste plus water. Or a little tomato sauce but increase the brown sugar.
Apple Cider Vinegar- Technically you can use any type of vinegar you like. Red wine vinegar is lovely. I am not a fan of white vinegar in barbecue sauce.
Dark Brown Sugar- You can substitute ½ light brown sugar plus 2 tablespoons of molasses. Coconut sugar is an option just make sure it is darker in color so you get a rich flavor.
Worcestershire Sauce- Yes this is gluten-free if stated on the bottle (i.e. Lea and Perrins manufactured in the US). If you want to keep this vegetarian, try gluten-free tamari soy sauce instead. Coconut aminos are another option for a savory flavor.
Chili Powder- You can use regular or try Ancho chili powder for a twist.
Dijon Mustard- I used to use mustard powder in the original recipe but I found that Dijon mustard adds a more complex flavor.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
Other times you might want to consider adding to make this recipe your own:
- Make it smokier by adding up to a ½ teaspoon of liquid smoke or rehydrating ancho chili peppers (will require a longer cooking time).
- Make it spicy by adding hot sauce, a diced jalapeno, or cayenne pepper.
- For vegan BBQ sauce swap out the Worcestershire sauce for gluten-free tamari. Worcestershire sauce contains fish.
⏲️How to Make Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce
If you have been buying BBQ sauce, you are going to be amazed at how quick this homemade barbecue sauce recipe is! Definitely worth making a double batch.
STEP 1- Saute
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and cook until it becomes soft and translucent, which usually takes about 5 minutes.
Then, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook for an additional 30 seconds. Toasting the red pepper until it is fragrant will bring out the oils so the BBQ sauce is the right level of spice from the beginning.
STEP 2- Simmer
Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and chili powder. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 to 30 minutes.
It is a wide range because you really can get it as thick as you like. If you overdid it, just add a little water.
Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
STEP 3- Puree
Technically optional, but highly recommended. Puree your BBQ sauce until smooth.
At this point, if it is too thin, add it back to the heat and simmer until it reduces to your desired consistency.
🥗Creative Ways to Use Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce
I use this BBQ sauce on my crockpot BBQ beef, grilled chicken thighs, BBQ chicken zucchini boats, and of course, my smoked ribs recipe.
Additionally, you can use this recipe as a dipping sauce for gluten-free chicken nuggets or homemade GF pigs in a blanket.
Drizzle on BBQ chicken nachos. Or add some to your baked beans. Swap out boring tomato ketchup and use this BBQ sauce to add smoky flavor to your Wagyu burger or homemade meatloaf.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
Want to add more tang to your sauce? Try adding up to ¼ cup of fresh squeezed orange juice. It adds more flavor but less acid than vinegar.
Homemade BBQ sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before transferring it to a mason jar or other airtight container.
You can also freeze the sauce for up to 6 months, just make sure to label it with the date so you know when it was made.
When ready to use, simply thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight. You may need to heat the sauce on low heat and whisk it to incorporate it if it has separated,
Gluten-Free BBQ Side Dishes
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Some commercially available BBQ sauce is gluten-free and some are not. Certified gluten-free products will be the safest. A few key BBQ sauce ingredients to be on the lookout for are soy sauce, malt vinegar, malt syrup, and "natural flavorings" or "spices".
My favorite brand of gluten-free BBQ sauce is Stubbs. But making my own GF BBQ sauce from scratch is much more affordable.
Just mix in a little warm water or orange juice until it thins out.
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Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup white onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups ketchup
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.½ cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup white onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, cook 10 minutes over medium-low heat.2 cups ketchup, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup dark brown sugar, 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tablespoon Chili powder, 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Optional, puree with an immersion blender or high-speed blender to smooth out the onion.
- Leftover BBQ sauce can be stored in the fridge for several weeks in an airtight container or jar.
- You can also freeze BBQ sauce for up to 6 months. Be sure to leave headroom in the jar.
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