Paleo Barbecue Sauce

21 Feb

NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

We make ribs at the house pretty often, so much so that we seem to always be buying BBQ sauce. Although I like the taste of the all-natural (and unfortunately-named) Bone Suckin’ Sauce, I’ve been wanting to make my own sauce for a while.

(makes six cups – three pint-sized jars)

You’ll Need:
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onions, minced
2 28oz cans whole tomatoes in juice
2 8oz cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
4 tbsp date molasses
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp chili powder
4 tsp hickory liquid smoke
4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp worcestershire sauce (contains tamari)
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 tsp all spice
1 bay leaf

It’s amazing how much time (and how many ingredients) it takes to make a good barbecue sauce. If you’re planning on making your own, be sure to set aside several hours to get the flavors right. The act of making barbecue sauce is pretty easy – cook some onions, add the rest of the ingredients, simmer, and blend. The trick is balancing the hefty ingredients list to get the taste you want. It took quite a bit of experimenting to come up with the ingredients above, but the sauce tastes great – it’s pretty sweet, tangy, and has just a tiny hint of spice.

Mince the onions in a food processor and set aside. In a dutch oven, heat up the coconut oil on medium for a few minutes. Add the onion and saute until the onion becomes translucent, about five minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, and just as it starts to boil, set the heat to low. Simmer for two hours, using a potato masher to break up the tomatoes as they cook. After two hours, remove the bay leaf and blend the sauce in batches until it’s smooth. Return the now-smooth sauce to the dutch oven and simmer for another 30 minutes. Or, if you have an immersion blender, you can just blend it in the pot. If the sauce isn’t thick enough, you can add more honey or molasses and cook it for another 30 minutes or so.

This sauce can absolutely be canned. To do so, submerge it in a hot water bath for 45 minutes, using the method from my earlier canning post. It should be good for a year after that point. After opening, I suggest finishing the sauce within a month.

Feel free to make large batches of the sauce at once, but keep in mind that it will take significantly more simmering to get the ingredients to blend together. I made a few gallons of the sauce at once, and it took me a good eight hours!

54 Responses to “Paleo Barbecue Sauce”

  1. Cayla February 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    yum! can’t wait to try out this recipe. i was just telling my boyfriend this past weekend how much i want to start making my own BBQ sauce!

  2. SHERRY E SHOWALTER February 22, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    mouth watering. thanks. blessings to you and yours.

  3. Fuyung February 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    A Very nice looking list of ingredients, the end result can only be good. Thanks for sharing

  4. Debra @ Blue Raven Wellness February 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Finally! A paleo-friendly BBQ sauce recipe that’s not full of sugar. Can’t wait to try this on the ribs in my freezer.

  5. Breezy February 27, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    Could you use regular molasses or would it interfere with the canning safety?

    • Russ Crandall February 27, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      Breezy, you can definitely use regular molasses. I used date molasses because it’s a more natural sugar (but admittedly, pretty hard to find).

      • Breezy February 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

        Thanks, I appreciate the quick reply. I’ve never seen the date variety, and it looks like it’s pretty expensive (not to mention shipping to Alaska on top of that!). Looks really good- can’t wait to try it!

      • Gina Casagrande Levitt September 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

        Maybe find it in asian store?

  6. kris May 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    I am making this right now…but do not want to can the extra. Do you think this will freeze well?

  7. Jennifer November 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Tried this last night.. excellent! It’s a little spicy, a little sweet, and packed with flavor. I cooked it for over 2 hours and still ended up with about 4 1/2 pints. I probably could have cooked it down a bit to thicken it more. I did the canning bath for 3 pints and just refrigerated the rest. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Nora December 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    How long could this keep refridgerated. Making this for Christmas gifts to all my paleo friends.

  9. Catherine April 14, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    i have some local avocado honey that has a very smokey flavor.. i’ve been looking for a barbeque sauce recipe to put it in.. i think this might do the trick. might even be able to elminate the molasses.

  10. Sarah kolien May 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    I thought molasses was not paleo ?

    • Russ Crandall ( May 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      Many Paleo chefs happily use blackstrap molasses sparingly. Date molasses differs from regular molasses in that it’s really just pureed and simmered dates.

  11. Margo August 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Working from home today to care for a sick 2 yr old, and figured I’d throw a pot of this on and can it… this is the second time making it and last time it received rave reviews!

  12. coreysuzanne January 15, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    This is the best BBQ sauce I have ever tasted! I made mine with dates and applesauce because I was on my Whole30 when I made it. I canned what I had leftover and I gave it away as gifts. Everyone said they loved it! Thanks for the recipe! I featured it on my blog:

    Thanks again!

  13. Jennifer W May 21, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    Wow, I mean it, yummy! The only thing I did different was I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and wow. My son and daughter, 8 and 3, ate it all over chicken, then when we ran out of chicken, she, my three year old, said ” can I eat this for the next 5 days!? Can I put it on my watermelon?” So if that doesn’t tell you how good it is, you can’t be told ;)

  14. linda October 13, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    I am allergic to apples. Could I use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar? This sounds so good.

    • Russ Crandall October 15, 2014 at 8:53 am #

      Linda, yes that should work fine. Halve the amount of vinegar since white vinegar is a little stronger than ACV.

  15. Chack December 6, 2014 at 12:30 am #

    Any advice on processing this in a pressure canner?


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