Store-bought BBQ sauces are usually loaded with sugar, honey, or molasses and might contain a high sugar content. However, cutting down on sugar intake doesn't mean you have to skip delicious BBQ dishes since there are many sugar-free BBQ sauces available online that are still sweet and spicy! Instead of sugar, they are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners, or sugar alcohols. There are also sauces that are completely free from all of them.
If you are struggling to find a sugar-free BBQ sauce, take a look at our list of favorites! G Hughes' Smokehouse BBQ Sauce ranked first on our list. It has a rich, smoky, and oaky flavor that goes perfectly with all kinds of meat and veggies. Importantly, sucralose is the only sweetener in this BBQ sauce. In addition to our 9 best list, we also created a buying guide, reviewed by a registered dietician, with many tips to help you choose the best sugar-free BBQ sauce for yourself and a recipe if you want to go the homemade route!
In this buying guide, we will discuss all the factors you should take into consideration when choosing a BBQ sauce, including flavors and some common sugar substitutes.
Sugar-free BBQ sauces are usually made with artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners, or sugar alcohols. Read on to learn more about these sugar substitutes.
Artificial sweeteners are synthetically made and are many times sweeter than sugar. Since they aren't found in nature, they can impact your gut health. But there's yet to be any conclusive evidence showing that artificial sweeteners lead to any digestive problems.
Another concern about artificial sweeteners is that they might cause cancer. However, the National Cancer Institute says that there's no sound proof that artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration lead to cancer.
On another note, artificial sweeteners have no glycemic impact and are generally safe for those who have diabetes. They also have zero to a few calories and are a great option if you're trying to manage your weight.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener used frequently in many sugar-free BBQ sauces. It's recognized as generally safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Plus, it doesn't have a bitter aftertaste like many other artificial sweeteners.
Some BBQ sauces might contain stevia or monk fruit extract. While stevia is made from the leaves of the stevia plant, monk fruit extract is derived from the fruit of Siraitia grosvenorii, a subtropical melon in Asia. Both of them contain virtually no calories and are much sweeter than sugar.
These sweeteners don't affect your blood glucose and are suitable for those with diabetes. They can also be metabolized by the body more easily than artificial sweeteners too.
Sugar alcohols are not alcohol but a kind of carbohydrate. In comparison to sugar, sugar alcohols are less sweet and are lower in calories.
However, sugar alcohols cannot be completely absorbed by the body and might cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea if consumed in a high quantity. They are not suitable for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or FODMAP intolerance. They might raise your insulin levels, too!
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol often used in sugar-free BBQ sauces. It has about 70 percent of the relative sweetness of sugar but provides only five percent of the calories. Unlike other sugar alcohols, erythritol is less likely to irritate your digestive system as it can be absorbed in the small intestines. It also doesn't affect your insulin levels.
When searching for a sugar-free BBQ sauce, you might find claims such as "no sugar added," "unsweetened," and "sugar-free." So what are the differences between them?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, a product can only be labeled "sugar-free" if it has less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. It can include both natural and added sugar.
The "no added sugar" label means that sugar isn't added to the product during production. However, it might still contain naturally-occurring sugar, sugar alcohols, and artificial sweeteners. So, unsweetened BBQ sauces are usually free from sugars or sugar substitutes but might still contain naturally-occurring sugar.
Some BBQ sauces are made with Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and fruit juice. Worcestershire sauce includes molasses and has sugar in it. Tomato paste and fruit juice might also contain natural sugar. Although the sugar content might not be significant, avoid them if you're searching for a sauce with no sugar.
However, some products without a "sugar-free" label are actually sugar-free or low in sugar! So, if you see a BBQ sauce that seems appealing, it doesn't hurt to check the nutrition facts to see if it happens to be sugar-free.
There are four prominent BBQ styles in the United States: Carolina, Kansas, Texas, and Memphis. Each style has unique flavors that might work better for certain types of ingredients or recipes.
Carolina-style BBQ sauce is usually tangy with just a slight hint of sweetness. While North Carolina BBQ sauce is vinegar-based and has a thin consistency, South Carolina-style sauce is made with mustard and has a thicker texture.
The tanginess of both North Carolina and South Carolina sauces can cut through the rich and fatty flavors and are especially good on pulled pork. They're fantastic on grilled pork chops, grilled chicken, smoked pork ribs, and veggies as well.
Memphis-style sauce is the ultimate accompaniment for pulled pork but is also great on ribs, chicken, and veggies. It's usually made with cider vinegar, tomato sauce, and sugar and strikes a nice balance between sweet and tangy. Also, it has a nice kick of spices.
Kansas City BBQ sauce is tomato-based and quite sweet. It usually contains smoke additives that impart a smoky flavor to the sauce. Its sweet, tangy, and smoky flavor works beautifully with ribs and can compliment the richness of beef!
Texas-style BBQ sauce is thin and has many strong ingredients like garlic, chili powder, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce. It might also contain meat drippings for a hearty and rich flavor. This style of BBQ sauce is delicious slathered on beef brisket or brisket sandwiches.
Below are the 9 best sugar-free BBQ sauces available online. Whether you're looking for something intensely spicy or sweet and tangy, this list has everything you're looking for!
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Andrea Marincovich. For more on our selection process, check out our content policy. Prices were gathered from respective EC sites on October 19, 2022.
G Hughes Smokehouse
Sweet Baby Ray's
G Hughes Smokehouse
Scott's BBQ Sauce
Hickory Flavored Sugar Free BBQ Sauce
Zero Sugar Carolina Barbeque Sauce
No Sugar Added Original Barbecue Sauce
Honey Flavored Sugar Free BBQ Sauce
Red Hot Barbecue Sauce
Barbecue Sauce Variety Pack, Honey, Original and Hickory Smoked
Classic BBQ Sauce
You Won't Think This Sauce Is Sugar-Free
Great for Pork and Beef
A Well-Balanced Flavor That’s Great on Many Things
Give Meat or Veggies Some Sweetness
Vinegar-Based Sauce With a Sour and Peppery Taste
Three Flavors With No Fat, Sugar, and Low in Calories
Crafted With Natural Ingredients Only
|Amount||18 oz.||18 oz.||18.5 oz.||18 oz.||16 oz.||12 oz.||8.5 oz.|
|Main ingredients||Vine-ripened crushed tomatoes, cider vinegar, white vinegar, salt, hickory smoke||Apple cider vinegar, mustard seed, salt, turmeric, paprika, spices, tomato paste||Water, tomato paste, salt, apple cider vinegar, dried garlic, paprika, dried onion||Vine-ripened tomatoes, lemon juice concentrate, spices, garlic powder, caramel color||Vinegar, water, salt, peppers, spices||White vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, tomato paste, onion, garlic||Water, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, sea salt|
|Sweeteners||Sucralose||Sucralose||Sucralose||Sucralose||None||Erythritol, steviol glucosides, monkfruit||None|
|Main ingredients||Vine-ripened crushed tomatoes, cider vinegar, white vinegar, salt, hickory smoke|
|Main ingredients||Apple cider vinegar, mustard seed, salt, turmeric, paprika, spices, tomato paste|
|Main ingredients||Water, tomato paste, salt, apple cider vinegar, dried garlic, paprika, dried onion|
|Main ingredients||Vine-ripened tomatoes, lemon juice concentrate, spices, garlic powder, caramel color|
|Amount||15 oz. each|
|Main ingredients||Water, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder|
|Main ingredients||Water, apple cider vinegar, paprik, hickory smoke flavor, garlic powder|
|Sweeteners||Stevia, monk fruit extract|
|Main ingredients||Vinegar, water, salt, peppers, spices|
|Main ingredients||White vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, tomato paste, onion, garlic|
|Sweeteners||Erythritol, steviol glucosides, monkfruit|
|Main ingredients||Water, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, sea salt|
Finding foods that are sugar-free is not an easy task. So if you need some suggestions, check out our articles below!
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
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