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What Are The Best Substitutes For Barbecue Sauce?

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Barbeque sauce is an American institution in any American home, used to slather on barbequed meats, as a mere condiment on its own, or even as a pizza sauce.

No matter how you choose to enjoy your favored barbeque sauce, when you don’t have any, it can be really heartbreaking. But, don’t fret, there are so many awesome sauces out there that you may have never tried.

What Are The Best Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce?

If you love barbeque sauce but are out, or can’t find any at the grocery store, this might be an opportunity for you to find your new favorite condiment.

There are loads of sauces and condiments out there, so if you want something different, then hear us out. Find out below what our favorite condiments are that are great swaps for barbeque sauce, today!

What Actually Is Barbeque Sauce?

While most people in the modern world have a good understanding of barbeque sauce and its flavors, many might not be able to actually state what goes into barbeque sauce and gives it its unique flavors.

In reality, it’s quite simple and is generally concurrent across most barbeque sauces.

A huge misconception is that barbeque sauce is a combination of ketchup and mustard, this is not true, albeit this might have some similar flavors.

Yet, this does identify the two main flavors that go into barbeque sauce: acidity and sweetness.

Ironically, barbeque sauce does actually use ketchup, but it also adds vinegar and brown sugar. This is generally considered the main basics of barbeque sauce, some tomato base, some acidic element, and some sweet element.

Most recipes will use brown sugar for sweetness, while the tomato base could be tomato paste, and the vinegar is often quite different as one recipe might use red wine vinegar and another recipe might use apple cider vinegar.

Other ingredients can include Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, cumin, molasses, and more.

You may have realized that you already have most of these ingredients in the cupboard, so one way to sub your barbeque sauce is simply to make your own portions of it. Here’s a pretty simple and adaptable recipe you can trust.

Best Substitutes For Barbeque Sauce

Here are the best condiments that are easily swappable for barbeque sauce, if a little different. We are only talking about commercially sold barbeque sauce condiments, rather than a barbeque marinade you might use, which is a little different.

1. Ketchup

As we mentioned, ketchup is often used in barbeque sauce outright, plus most people have a bottle of ketchup in their cupboard.

Theoretically, if you mix this with something acidic and add some sugar and other spices, you will land on something similar to barbeque sauce pretty quickly.

Regardless, ketchup on its own is a really great condiment and probably the most popular condiment in the world.

The sweet and salty combination is really the perfect sauce for dipping fries and on any sandwich, and it’s popular for a reason.

The sweetness of the tomatoes is basically where the sweetness of the barbeque sauce comes from, plus some added sugar, so it works well as a substitute for the barbeque sauce.

2. Reggae Reggae Sauce

Reggae Reggae sauce is a relatively new condiment but is super popular in most Caribbean and West Indian restaurants in Europe and the US.

Put simply, Reggae Reggae sauce is a riff on barbeque sauce itself. It is inspired by the flavors of barbeque sauce but adds other elements inspired by Caribbean cooking, namely jerk flavorings.

As a result, the sauce is spicier than barbeque sauce which many may enjoy but also has more tropical sweetness.

If you are making jerk chicken or any Caribbean style dish, Reggae Reggae sauce is awesome and can really spice up your barbeque and make it something different.

It’s mainly sold in the UK but has become popular in the US. You might be able to find it in specialty Caribbean stores, as well as being present in Caribbean restaurants, but it is also available to be bought online. It is mainly made by Levi Roots, who brought the recipe to light.

3. Peri Peri Sauce

Peri Peri is another interesting sauce that is perfect with the kind of things you might use barbeque sauce for. It’s a hot pepper sauce that is similar to other hot pepper sauces you will find in the US and further afield.

Typically, the sauce is made with a specific pepper known as ‘peri peri’ pepper or can also be called African Bird’s Eye chili.

They are a chili pepper that is popular in Africa. It is mixed with other flavors, typically lemon, garlic, and vinegar. It is quite spicy and can be compared to a more robust tabasco sauce, with a little more sweetness.

The sauce is popularized in the food chain Nandos that is common in Europe and is starting to pop up in America.

This said its popular sauce has already made it to the US and some grocery stores will already stock peri peri sauce, perhaps even under the Nandos brand, although many have recreated the sauce in America under different brand names.

4. Sweet Chilli Sauce

Sweet Chili sauce is generally something we have with Asian food, and is a meat sauce that is used widely in Asian cooking.

Sweet Chili Chicken is an Americanized version of a Thai dish that many Americans and Europeans may already know. Americans may recognize it from the Asian fast food chain Panda Express.

Sweet Chilli sauce is a pretty simple combination of sugar, chillies, vinegar, garlic and cornstarch, which makes this into a glossy dipping sauce so satisfying – it’s flavorful, sweet, a little tangy, but also spicy.

It pairs well with meat and is quite similar to barbeque sauce as it’s deep in flavor.

5. Sriracha

Sriracha is a spicy sauce that originates from Thailand and has become extremely popular all over the world. Sriracha consists of chili peppers, garlic, salt, vinegar, and sugar, and is 100% vegan.

Sriracha is popular when eating seafood, but people use Sriracha on anything as it is extremely versatile – even BBQ food.

Sriracha has that vinegary but pungent flavor that is akin to barbeque sauce and can really hit home with the right person.

If you have never tried it before it’s really great and is something people love to put on many things. It’s also really widely available in the US so you can be sure to find some in basically any grocery store.

Final Thoughts

We hope that you have found your new favorite condiment today. All these sauces are really great for fries, cooking, or just for whatever condiment usage you want.

Barbeque sauce is strong and sweet, so we need something with pungency that matches. All these sauces fit that bill for us, some are easy to get and some might require a little preparation or research but they are all super substitutes for your generic barbeque sauce.

Yet, barbeque sauce is so simple and easy to make at home, so that can also be a great idea if you have the ingredients lying around the house.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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