By Laura Mack
April 15, 2016
A terrific low carb barbeque sauce with a bit of sass, this essential condiment hits the perfect flavor notes — a little sweet, a little tangy, and a little spicy. It takes less than 5 minutes to put together, and after a 30-minute simmer, it’s ready to liven up smoked meats, grilled chicken, hamburgers, or just about anything else you can think of.
I am a big fan of good barbecue. I seriously admire those who practice the art of barbecue, but it takes a level of commitment that I’m not quite ready for. Give me a good seasoning rub, a great cut of meat, and a grill or oven, and tasty things happen. Sometimes I don’t even need barbecue sauce, but it’s rare that I don’t have it in the fridge. After all, many things are simply better with a little barbecue sauce. Traditional barbecue sauces are about as far from low carb as one can get. They range from about 11 to 17 carbs per 2 tablespoon serving, and that’s nearly all from sugar! And that’s in addition to the sugar that is usually in barbecue seasoning rubs. Fortunately, with some of the good options available for low carb natural sweeteners, it’s simple to make delicious low carb barbecue sauce (and rub) once you have the right recipe.
There are a fair number of low carb barbecue sauce recipes online, but many of them start with prepared sugar-free ketchup. I wanted to avoid this as an ingredient because I don’t even use ketchup. It seemed silly to have to buy a specialty condiment to make another condiment, or to have to make low carb ketchup so that I could turn it into low carb barbecue sauce.
After some trial and error, I found a good recipe from Linda Genaw that I slightly adapted to suit my taste. It uses mostly standard items from a low carb pantry.
One of the ingredients is xanthan gum, which is a useful item to have in any low carb pantry. Xanthan gum is a plant-based thickening and stabilizing agent. In this recipe, it works as a thickener, as well as an emulsifier (encouraging liquids that normally separate to stay together). It is also very useful in low carb baking by playing the role of gluten. A little goes a long way; I’m still working off the 8-ounce bag I purchased more than two years ago! You could certainly leave it out of this recipe, but the consistency won’t be quite as good and it may separate slightly.
This recipe does include a little molasses, which is an added sugar. However, there’s just enough to add that flavor that seems so quintessential to barbecue sauce without adding much in the way of carbs. I use 2 teaspoons for the 2-cup batch, which adds about 0.5 carbs per 2-tablespoon serving. Of course, you can leave it out if you prefer.
One of the bonuses of this sauce is that it lasts just about forever in the refrigerator, between the acid from the tomato paste and vinegar, plus the xylitol (which is naturally anti-bacterial). I usually make it in double batches, and it’s been perfectly fine even after several months in my refrigerator.
A delicious, quick, and easy main dish is to take Kirkland brand smoked pulled pork, mix it with some barbecue sauce, and heat. Your family and friends will think you’ve become a barbecue pitmaster! You can tell them it’s low carb if you want to, but if you don’t, they won’t know the difference.
This low carb barbecue sauce is also a great addition to my Crispy Baked Chicken Wings with BBQ Dry Rub, or combined with chicken or pork to make a fun Thin-Crust Personal Pizza.
Get ready for my recipe for Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs, coming next week. In the meantime, make some of your new favorite low carb barbecue sauce!
Our Favorite Low Carb Barbecue Sauce
Author: Laura Mack
Recipe type: Condiment
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 35 mins
A terrific low carb barbeque sauce with a bit of sass, this essential condiment hits the perfect flavor notes -- a little sweet, a little tangy, and a little spicy. It takes less than 5 minutes to put together, and after a 30-minute simmer, it's ready to liven up smoked meats, grilled chicken, hamburgers, or just about anything else you can think of.
12 ounces / 1½ cups water
2 ounces / ¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon / 18 grams worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon / 18 grams tamari
2 teaspoons / 14 grams molasses
1 teaspoon / 8 grams liquid smoke
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon papkrika (I use smoked, sweet Spanish paprika)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper (for mildly spicy; use less if you prefer)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon avocado oil
6 ounces tomato paste
2.4 ounces / ⅓ cup xylitol, or equivalent sweetener
½ teaspoon liquid stevia, more or less to taste
- Combine liquid ingredients (water through liquid smoke) in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Whisk dry ingredients (chili powder through garlic powder) together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Place a medium saucepan over low heat and add avocado oil. When the oil is shimmering, whisk in reserved dry ingredient mixture and stir for one minute to bloom spices (bring out the flavors).
- Add reserved liquid ingredients to the saucepan and stir to blend. Whisk in tomato paste and xylitol. Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat back to low, partially cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, taste for sweetness, and add liquid stevia if needed.
- Cool completely before transferring to a mason jar or air-tight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for several months.
Nutritional info* per 2-tablespoon (1 oz) serving: 27 cal, 0.8 g total fat (38%), 2.8 g total carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 2.3 g net carbs, and 0.5 g protein. Please note that I do not count the sugar alcohols from xylitol in the total carbs or net carbs.
*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.