Condiments, Sauces, and Spices/ Whole30

The Best Sweet and Smoky Whole30 Barbecue Sauce – Paleo, No Sugar Added

July 15, 2019 (Last Updated: July 19, 2019)
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Sweet and Smoky Barbecue Sauce: Ever wonder how to make barbecue sauce from scratch? My homemade barbecue sauce is the perfect blend of sweet and smoky flavor with a little bit of heat. Once you make your own barbecue sauce, you won’t buy another bottle.

A jar of barbecue sauce with a ribbon around the top on a gray wooden background.

At our house, we like to grill, smoke meats, and dip our chicken. I am no stranger to cooking and baking with sugar, but I love having the option to make a sauce that is both flavorful AND healthy.

Does anyone else’s dog go belly up for scratches when you are trying to get things done?

A black and white dog getting belly scratches on the floor.

How Do You Make a Sweet Sauce without Sugar?

The trick to adding sweetness to a sauce without sugar is by using dates. You want a little sweetness in your sauce to balance out the smoke and heat, but sometimes, you just want to eat real food and avoid the extra sugar!

What is the Best Way to Add Dates to a Barbecue Sauce?

The best way to get the most sweetness out of your dates AND the best way to make them easier to cook with is to heat them up in water! Dice them up into pieces – about 4 or five slices per date. (You want each piece to be about the size of a marble.)

Cover your dates with some water (a few tablespoons is plenty) and microwave for 1:30 seconds to 2 minutes. Break it up into 30-second intervals and make sure that there is still water in the bowl for the dates to absorb. They should start getting sticky and soft.

A small white bowl of chopped dates that have been heated in water to soften.

How Do You Make Paleo Barbecue Sauce?

Ingredients for Paleo barbecue sauce sitting on a black stove.

To make the sauce, you now just add all of your ingredients, including the leftover water in your date mixture, to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir a few times to make sure that the bottom is not burning, and then reduce your heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

A white pot with tomatoes, dates, spices, and a sauce simmering to make barbecue sauce.

Why is the Sauce Smoky?

The smoke flavor is achieved by adding Smoked Paprika instead of regular Paprika. If you do not like a smoky flavor, you can use regular paprika.

A white pot with tomatoes and a sauce simmering to make barbecue sauce.

How to Blend Your Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Once your 20-25 minutes are up, remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender. If you do not have an immersion blender, let your sauce cool and add to a regular blender to puree. If you are using a regular blender, be sure to let the sauce cool before adding to your blender and hold onto the lid – blending hot liquids is very dangerous!

A white pot with reddish brown barbecue sauce simmering in it and an immersion blender pureeing it.

If using an immersion blender, tilt your pot to the side and make sure that the openings in the sides of your immersion blender are fully under the sauce. If your sauce is shallow when you try to blend it, the sauce will spray everywhere!

I like to leave the sauce a little chunky, but ideally, puree until the date and tomato chunks are well blended.

Your sauce is now ready, but should you want to intensify the flavors – you can simmer over low heat for a little while longer.

A white pot with reddish brown barbecue sauce simmering in it.

Use immediately or store in the refridgerator once cooled.

What is the Shelf Life of Homemade Barbecue Sauce?

Your homemade barbecue sauce will last a week in the refridgerator or it can be frozen and defrosted as needed.

A jar of barbecue sauce with a ribbon around the top on a gray wooden background.

A jar of barbecue sauce with a ribbon around the top on a gray wooden background.

Sweet and Smoky Whole30 Barbecue Sauce

Sweet and Smoky Barbecue Sauce: Ever wonder how to make barbecue sauce from scratch? My homemade barbecue sauce is the perfect blend of sweet and smoky flavor with a little bit of heat. Once you make your own barbecue sauce, you won't buy another bottle.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiments, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bbq, paleo, whole30
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 35kcal
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Small Saucepan
  • Immersion Blender

Ingredients

Date Mixture

  • 5 small dates
  • 5 tbsp water

Barbecue Sauce

Instructions

Date Mixture

  • Chop your dates into bite-size pieces (around the size of a marble) and mix with water.
  • Heat for 30 seconds and check to make sure that there is still water. Repeat 3-4 times so that dates are soft and water is sweet. (1:30 - 2 minutes total.)

Barbecue Sauce

  • Combine all ingredients to your saucepan, including the date and water mixture.
  • Mix well and bring to a boil.
  • Once the sauce is boiling, decrease the heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  • Blend with an immersion blender* (making sure that the blender is fully submerged.) *If you do not have an immersion blender, let the sauce cool and add to a regular blender. Be sure that it is cooled before blending as it is dangerous to blend hot liquids.
    A white pot with reddish brown barbecue sauce simmering in it and an immersion blender pureeing it.
  • Return to heat and simmer for 10-15 more minutes if you would like a deeper flavor or use right away.
  • Serve with meats - ribs, chicken, pork - whatever your heart desires!

Notes

Store your homemade barbecue sauce in the refridgerator once it has cooled off. The shelf life of homemade barbecue sauce is about one week. If you think that you will not use all of your sauce, you can freeze half of it - it freezes and defrosts really well! (You can also do a double batch and freeze half so that you don't have to do the work twice 😉 )

Nutrition

Serving: 2tbsp | Calories: 35kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 697mg | Potassium: 165mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 555IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Erika
    July 17, 2019 at 1:23 pm


    I love homemade sauces and this BBQ sauce looks delicious!

  • Reply
    Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef
    July 18, 2019 at 5:31 am


    I love making my own sauces too, they’re SO much better than store-bought, great flavor combo here smoked paprika makes everything better! lol

  • Reply
    Beth
    July 19, 2019 at 6:16 pm


    I’m always looking for tasty sauces, especially paleo for my daughter-in-law. Coconut aminos are the best! We are really cutting down on sugars, though, and wonder how few dates you could use? They have a pretty distinctive flavor and I overdid it with them not long ago trying to make a GF date bar. Could I use two or three?

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