Is Barbecue Sauce Vegan?

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Barbecue sauce is, dare I say it, a vital accompaniment to vegan barbecue food. After all, the clue is in the name.

But as we sometimes find with certain condiments, they don’t always consist of a vegan-diet friendly recipe. It’s always best to double check any sauce that you’re buying or planning to consume, just to 100% make sure that it does agree with your dietary choices.

To make things a little bit easier for you though, today we’re going to take a closer look at one of the world’s most popular condiments and confirm if BBQ sauce is vegan or not.

Vegan Barbecue Sauce – The Run Down

Okay, so I’m sure you’re desperate to know by now if, as a vegan, you can enjoy this wonderful condiment. Is Barbecue Sauce Vegan? The answer is – Sometimes.

Not all barbecue sauce is made the same. If they were, then they’d all taste like copies of each other and that wouldn’t be particularly fun.

Some barbecue sauce brands contain certain ingredients that others choose to omit from their recipe. This isn’t necessarily in an effort to maintain a vegan balance but it’s always good when manufacturers do allow for this. It’s mutually beneficial when more people get to enjoy a product regardless of their dietary choices.

When is Barbecue Sauce Not Vegan?

There are various foods to look out for that can be used in certain varieties of barbecue sauce which end up making them not suitable for vegans. When you’re checking the list of ingredients of a BBQ sauce that you’re interested in, be sure to look out for whether it contains any of the following:


Due to the role that bees play in creating honey, it usually isn’t considered a vegan friendly product. Maple syrup, on the other hand, is considered vegan. That is, providing it’s 100% pure maple syrup and doesn’t contain any extra non-vegan-friendly products.

Worcestershire Sauce

We’ve covered vegan Worcestershire sauce in a previous post, but know that traditional Worcester sauce contains anchovies. This means it’s also not suitable for vegetarians. You’ll often find Worcestershire sauce listed as an ingredient in many homemade barbecue sauce recipes. If you find a recipe that does list this as an ingredient, make sure you source a suitable vegan alternative. Check out our previous vegan Worcestershire sauce post for some suggestions.

Some Food Colourings

Not all, but certain food colourings are derived from animal products. For example, carmine, which is considered a natural red food colouring, is made of crushed bugs (cochineal to be exact). That wouldn’t be considered vegan or vegetarian, so look out for that in any foods you may be buying.

When artificially coloured, barbecue sauce often uses a synthetic substance named Allura Red AC (Red Dye 40). Whilst this in itself doesn’t contain non-vegan products, it has been linked to animal testing.

Some Processed White Sugars

This one can be difficult to ascertain if you’re buying an off-the-shelf brand of barbecue sauce. It’ll be difficult to know what sugar a manufacturer is using in their product. On occasion, plain white sugar can be classified as non-vegan when it is filtered and whitened through bone char (vigorously heated cattle bones that have turned to carbon). This isn’t always the case and practices will vary between manufacturers. A large amount of processed sugar doesn’t use this method but it’s good to be aware that this is a thing. If you’re making your own vegan barbecue sauce, try opting for a vegan-friendly sweetener such as pure maple syrup or molasses.

Some Natural Flavours

You may sometimes see the words “natural flavours” listed amongst product ingredients. This very ambiguous term can extend to animal products which some natural flavours can derive from. Natural flavourings can be extracted from eggs, meat, poultry, seafood and various dairy products. So, when a product lists “Natural Flavours” as an ingredient, it’s hard to tell whether any of these non-vegan ingredients have been used.

What Barbecue Sauce Brands are Vegan?

We haven’t always got time to go around making our own sauces (but if you do be sure to check out our recipe). Sometimes we just need a vegan barbecue sauce that we can pick up and squeeze (or bang repeatedly on the glass bottle base).

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Next time you’re out shopping in the supermarket, look out for these vegan friendly barbecue sauce brands.

Is Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce Vegan?

The original Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce could be a vegan friendly product. The only ingredients that may be up for debate are the use of “Flavourings”, which as we’ve discussed could have been derived from animal products.

Here is the list of ingredients for Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce:

High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Smoke Flavouring, Spices (Mustard, Celery), Colour: E150D, Preservative: E211, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Dried Garlic, Sugar, Tamarind, Flavouring.

Is Stubbs Barbecue Sauce Vegan?

Most varieties of Stubb’s Bar-B-Q sauce are considered a vegan product (including the original version). The only ones to avoid if you’re keeping to a vegan diet are the Sweet Honey & Spice Bar-B-Q Sauce & the Smokey Mesquite Bar-B-Q Sauce. Again though, the use of “Flavouring” is debatable.

Here is a list of ingredients for Stubb’s (Original) Barbecue Sauce:

Water, Tomato Paste (17%), Sugar, Spirit Vinegar, Molasses, Salt, Spices [Onion, Black Pepper, Paprika, Chilli Pepper, Clove, Allspice, Cumin), Maize Starch, Dark Brown Sugar (0.5%), Mustard Seed, Garlic, Smoke Flavouring, Stabilisers [Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum], Oregano, Flavouring