Paleo Barbecue Sauce

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!

66 thoughts on “Paleo Barbecue Sauce

      1. 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!


        1. More likely to be in a Middle Eastern store….. which is probably also pretty hard to find in Alaska ;-(


  1. 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!


  2. 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.


  3. 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!


  4. 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 ;)


  5. Hi there! I have all the ingredients you are using except I am using date sugar instead of date paste, not available locally😏, I am using tomato paste concentrate, to turn into a ketchup-like sauce for my base, a few pinches of cayenne pepper for a little kick, and maple syrup. It’s tastes PRETTY GOOD!! Now for it to simmer!!😊


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