Savory Barbecue Sauce



I must be in the minority when it comes to my dislike of sweet barbecue sauces. Every time I try a different bottled version from “tried and true” favorite brands at the store, I’m severely disappointed. I don’t want sweet meat. *ahem*


In recent years, I’ve been making my own sauce, though it doesn’t happen often as the fellow is in the same boat I am, and well, the combination of tomato + vinegar already lends natural sweetness that is too much for him. If I don’t want sweet meat, we’ll say he hates sweet meat. His detestation for it is right up there with Brussels sprouts. It’s hard to combat that natural sweetness, and adding a little blackstrap molasses for its wonderfully distinct robust and slightly bitter flavor doesn’t help since molasses is sugar. Blackstrap molasses, luckily for us, is the third boiling of sugar syrup and a good percentage of the sucrose has been removed.

So in my tinkering, I’ve come up with this savory barbecue sauce that I will happily slather over food and know that sweet meat is not something I’ll have to deal with in this household ever again. This is a great sauce to put over vegetables, rice, tofu, and more, to make this already vegan a great accompaniment to your protein of choice. Want it to be gluten free? Substitute in gluten free soy sauce and BAM – done. Easy peasy.

Savory Barbecue Sauce

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder or minced garlic
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt (dependent on taste)
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder

  1. In a small sauce pot, combine the blackstrap molasses, tomato paste, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic), 1 teaspoons of salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and onion powder.
  2. Combine together over low-medium heat. Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste it and add more salt, if necessary.
  3. Add the water and stir well. Let the liquid continue to reduce over low-medium heat until desired thickness*. Give it a little stir now and again so it doesn’t start to chunk up as it cooks.

*If it thickens too much, just add a little more water, about 1/8 cup at a time. A little goes a long way.

The longer you let this cook, the better the flavors will meld. A quick spin on the stove top still yields a great taste, but like with most things, low and slow makes for perfection.



3 Comments Add yours

  1. DerekL says:

    You might want to look into Lexington-style sauces… About as unsweet as you can get.


    1. Kasey K says:

      I just did a quick search for some Lexington style recipes to see what they did to combat the low sweetness, and most of them are touting brown sugar, white sugar, AND ketchup as ingredients. Thinking that will not be my way to go, either. :\


      1. DerekL says:

        The vinegar in them, as well as the chil heat (though it’s not that hot), considerably offsets the sweetness (almost completely in many cases). If we get a chance, I’ll give you a tot of mine and you can see for yourself.


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