Written by Lauren Cox of Closer To Your Food 
Grilling is an American pastime. BBQ sauce is a flavorful source of pride, family togetherness and a cornerstone for foodies and outdoor grillers everywhere. Many BBQ sauce connoisseurs are partial to their favorite styles and regions including Carolina, Missouri, Louisiana or Texas.
However, we all know that every griller has a bottle of BBQ sauce sitting in their pantries waiting for the next time we grill ribs or need to throw something in the crockpot. The problem is, most commercial BBQ sauce brands are loaded with toxic ingredients that the health-wise among us know we should be avoided like the plague.
So since most BBQ sauces are–how should we say it–not good for you, we thought it was time to offer an alternative. Most sauces have a million ingredients (okay, dozens, but still) and take hours to cook. What if I told you that you can make a gluten-free, no sugar added whole food smokey spicy BBQ sauce in under an hour? Close your jar, it’s actually possible. We’ve taken organic whole foods and spices common in classic BBQ that can easily be blended together, cooked down a little and then perfect and ready to go in whichever BBQ direction you desire.
Here are some of the common culprits we substituted, you can use these in other recipes you may have as well:

  • Sugar and Corn Syrup = 1 whole sweet apple chopped or applesauce
  • Molasses or Brown Sugar = 6-12 pitted dates
  • Smoke Artificial Flavoring = smoked sea salt or chipotle peppers
  • Iodized salt = garlic, a little natural sea salt or a pinch of lemon
  • Soy and Soy Sauce = Liquid or coconut aminos
  • Artificial Spice = whole spicy peppers

Closer to Your Food—Classic Smokey BBQ Sauce
Paleo • Gluten-Free • Vegan


  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz organic tomato paste
  • 1 can San Marzano or organic tomatoes, crushed
  • 6 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons liquid aminos
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 chipotle peppers, from can
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup filtered water

In a food processor, add all ingredients and set the processor on ‘pulse.’ Then turn it on to blend; about 2–3 minutes or until the sauce is very smooth.
Transfer the sauce to a pot on medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Once it is simmering, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium low.
Cook about 1 hour. If the sauce is too thick and not to your liking, you can always thin it with a little water. Allow the sauce to cool and store in an airtight container. Now delicious, whole food BBQ sauce is a real, tasty alternative to store-bought BBQ sauce.

Closer To Your Food is a wellness blog and YouTube channel dedicated to better wellness through whole food nutrition, sensible eating and informed food preparation with healthy-eating recipes. They are a frequent contributor to Natural Partners blog and you can visit them at www.closertoyourfood.com and follow them on Twitter @Closer2YourFood 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.