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Is BBQ Sauce Vegan? Yes, Usually but not Always

Where to buy vegan BBQ Sauce

Last updated on December 17th, 2023

When it comes to barbecue sauce, the sweet and smokey smell can leave your mouth watering and you’re belly craving some cauli wings. But if you’re following a vegan lifestyle, you might find yourself wondering, “Is BBQ sauce vegan?” Don’t worry – I’m going to guide you through what to look out for in your search for plant-based BBQ sauce.

Is BBQ Sauce Usually Vegan?

I’ve got some good news, BBQ sauce is usually vegan! But, I don’t want to lead you into a trap, not ALL BBQ sauces are, so you do need to check. To help you understand what you’re looking for, let’s talk about what makes this deliciously smoky sauce vegan and what makes it not vegan.

What Makes BBQ Sauce Taste so..Barbecuey?

BBQ sauce typically consists of a blend of ingredients that help create its signature taste – sweet, tangy, smoky, and sometimes spicy. These ingredients often include tomatoes, vinegar, sweeteners, spices, and seasonings. The real question is whether these ingredients toe the line with a vegan diet.

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cauliflower wings with vegan BBQ sauce

Let’s Look at the Ingredients

Let’s break down some of the key components of BBQ sauce and delve into whether they’re vegan-friendly:

  • Tomatoes: Most BBQ sauces have tomato-based foundations. The good news? Tomatoes are obviously completely vegan. They bring a rich texture and tangy flavour that forms the backbone of many BBQ sauces.
  • Vinegar: An essential element that adds acidity and balance to BBQ sauce, vinegar is typically vegan. Whether it’s white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar, you’re safe to savour.
  • Sweeteners: This is where the variations come in. Some BBQ sauces use honey for its sweetness, while others opt for molasses, brown sugar, or agave syrup. So, honey is one to avoid and sadly sugar isn’t always vegan either
  • Spices and Seasonings: Spices like paprika, garlic, onion powder, and various blends give BBQ sauce its aromatic profile. These spices are generally plant-derived, so they are usually fine for vegans.
  • Liquid Smoke: Often used to get the smokiness, liquid smoke is typically vegan as it’s produced by condensing actual smoke from wood.

Non-Vegan Ingredients in BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce can sometimes take an unexpected turn into non-vegan territory. Keep an eye out for the following potential non-vegan ingredients:

  • Honey: A natural sweetener, honey is not considered vegan. Some BBQ sauces may include honey, so always scan the ingredient list for this sneaky little ingredient.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: This savoury ingredient can be a stumbling block. Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, sadly meaning it’s non-vegan. However, vegan versions of Worcestershire sauce are available, they substitute fish-based ingredients with plant-based alternatives.
  • Gelatin: While rare, some BBQ sauces might contain gelatin as a thickening agent. Gelatin is derived from animal collagen, meaning it’s not suitable for vegans.

Vegan-Friendly Alternatives

If you’re craving a classic BBQ flavour that is fully plant-based, don’t worry, you know I’m here to help. Many brands offer vegan-friendly BBQ sauce options that are void of animal products. Look for sauces labelled as “vegan” or check the ingredient list to ensure there’s nothing sneaky in there.

While there are many options out there, here are some that actually state that they are vegan:

Homemade BBQ Sauce Bliss

For those who love some kitchen adventure time, knocking up your own vegan BBQ sauce is an option. You have complete control over the ingredients, flavours, and sweetness levels. 

Is BBQ Sauce Vegan

While I’m pretty much all things vegan and sustainability, I’m not your recipe gal, but Nisha at Rainbow Plat Life has created a delicious yet simple vegan BBQ sauce recipe for you to follow. 

So, is BBQ sauce vegan? Yes, BBQ sauce can be vegan and often is. 

It depends on the ingredients that go into the sauce. While some traditional recipes might include non-vegan elements like honey or Worcestershire sauce, many brands offer vegan alternatives, and knocking up your own homemade version is an exciting option too. 

Want some more vegan food tips? Check out my page on Vegan Food and Drink.

Meet the Author

Author Bio - Sinead OCarroll - The Wondering Wandering Vegan

Meet Sinead O’Carroll: Vegan explorer, sustainability advocate and the founder of The Wondering Wandering Vegan. Embracing veganism since 2018 and vegetarianism since 2005, Sinead is armed with a Vegan Health, Nutrition and Lifestyle qualification, and is on a mission to share her passion for cruelty-free living. 

With a taste for adventure and a heart for eco-conscious choices, she’s here to prove that vegans never miss out on flavour, fun or style. Join her in enjoying the delights of a vegan-friendly world! 🌱✈️🌍
Want to know more? Check out Sinead’s About page here.

Follow me on Instagram to see all the delicious vegan food I find, the vegan and cruelty-free products I use and what I get up to as a travelling vegan.

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