Non-Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce

Hello, everyone!  I’m Sugarbear’s husband and you met me a while ago when we made pizza.  She’s asked me to post today so I’m going to share something very close to my heart…my BBQ sauce.  I know both Worcestershire and ketchup have vinegar but the point of this sauce is that it doesn’t taste like vinegar. It is difficult to find non-vinegar based BBQ sauce recipes on the internet so I offer this up for your consumption.Publishing my recipe is a huge deal for me.  I’m not sure why I didn’t want to share sooner, nervousness I guess, but it’s time I got past that and revealed the most amazing BBQ sauce recipe ever to be…eh, revealed.  It’s taken about four years to get it right – that’s not an exaggeration. Sugarbear wanted a non-vinegar (and celery seed – she hates celery seed) based sauce so, of course, I obliged.  I started with an apple vinegar recipe and began swapping out out the stuff she didn’t like.  What we ended up with was this:


 It doesn’t matter how you combine the ingredients, throw them in a pot and simmer at least an hour.  I use a whisk to stir it from beginning to end.  Feel free to use it immediately but it will taste much better the day after.  We refrigerate ours in an old ketchup bottle.  I’m not sure how long this stuff stays good, we’ve never had it more than three weeks, so use it in less than three weeks!  On your next trip to the store pick up some 5 1/2 ounce cans of tomato juice, molasses, and liquid smoke.  I use the individual cans of juice since we don’t drink it at home and one can makes one batch.  Alton Brown teaches how to make liquid smoke (part 1 starts at about 9:00 mins. and part 2 completes the tutorial), if your so inclined.  I went with the gallon jug of molasses because it keeps forever and Sugarbear uses it for some baking, too.

We’ve fluctuated back and forth with the Cayenne, leaving it out sometimes and adding it back others.  Remember to start with 1/8 teaspoon as it intensifies over-time.  The Tellicherry Indian black pepper we use from Penzy’s adds heat, too.  If you decide to order pepper from Penzy’s don’t start out with the Extra Bold as it’s larger than normal peppercorns and doesn’t grind in standard pepper mills – we learned that the hard way.  Penzy’s sells a mill that grinds the Extra Bold if you feel like spending the money but we didn’t think they tasted any better than the Tellicherry.  Oh yeah, we didn’t like the flavor of white pepper in our sauce, so I would advise waiting to substitute that until you’ve made it normal once.
After the first time, experiment, replace the brown sugar with honey, double the garlic powder, whatever!  I would advise against using whiskey at any time, though!!!  I tried once…once, mind you, to make a Bourbon BBQ sauce and didn’t tell Sugarbear about it; you know, a little blind taste test.  Fail!  The first time we had it she looked quizzically at me and asked if I had done something different?  No, never!  Gulp!  It tasted spoiled, or sour, or something – whatever I did was wrong.  So, if you figure out how to add whiskey to this, let me know!

Enough talk, here you go…

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1 cup molasses
5 1/2 ounces tomato juice
2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire (omit for vegan)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne


Recipe by The Hubster

Leave a comment


  1. Pixxx says

    You may want to check the ingredients on those condiments… Your “No Vinegar” recipes has vinegar… For instance, Worcester’s Sauce, I do believe vinegar is the first ingredient.

    • says

      Hello, The point is that it doesn’t have vinegar as a main ingredient, hence the title “Non-Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce.” If you read the post, you’ll notice that the reference to “non-vinegar” is more about the vinegar taste that many BBQ sauces have, therefore, this recipe doesn’t have any large quantities of vinegar in it. Furthermore, it’s stated in the third sentence, “I know both Worcestershire and ketchup have vinegar but the point of this sauce is that it doesn’t taste like vinegar.” Thank you for the advice, however, I think it would be beneficial to read the post before attempting to correct errors that don’t exist.

  2. Mishasmom says

    EXACTLY what I was looking for! Thanks Hubster!
    I love the sweet/tang/smoky… a bit of vinegar IS needed, but NOT a vinegar base that smacks you when you take a bite of ribs, inhale, and it closes off your wind-pipe!!!!
    I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for doing the experimenting for me!!!!!

    • says

      If you just made it, then it will be on the runnier side. It will thicken slightly overnight (and as it sits). If it’s still too runny for you, then bring the sauce to a low boil and thicken it with a small amount of corn starch.

  3. says

    Sounds good! I have been looking for a bbq sauce that doesn’t taste overly vinegarish! Can i ask what’s liquid smoke? Over here in Malaysia, we’ve never heard of such thing.

  4. Marc M says

    Thank you for the post. I’ve been looking for a non-vinegar tasting bbq sauce. Can tomato paste be substituted for the ketchup?

  5. says

    I might have to try this. I am allergic to vinegar and so cannot eat most barbecue sauces except in very, very small amounts without getting very ill, and even small amounts of traditional sauces cause stomach upset. This sounds like it has much less, though, and might be worth trying.