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Is BBQ Sauce Vegetarian?

Are you a vegetarian wondering whether the sweet, smoky condiment that is BBQ sauce is an option for you? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here is what you will want to know.

So, is BBQ sauce vegetarian? Most brands and recipes of BBQ sauce are suitable for vegetarians. However, some are unsuitable due to the presence of the small fish anchovies, or Worcestershire sauce (which includes anchovies), gelatin or food colorings tested or derived from animals.

So uunfortunately there’s not a definitive answer here.

It does mean you are going to need to check with brands and product packaging first and foremost.

But it’s also good news because it’s not entirely off limits.

Which may come as a surprise, especially for a sauce is commonly eaten with meat, namely BBQ ribs.

With this all in mind, let us now look at what this sauce is typically made up of before turning to some recommended brands that are certified vegetarian friendly!

What Is BBQ Sauce Made Of?

BBQ sauce is typically made of a tomato base (such as tomato paste), vinegar, spices (usually onion powder, mustard, pepper) and a sweetener (sugsr, molasses or artificial sweeteners).

Some brands and recipes like to include other spices and flavorings too, such as liquid smoke and garlic powder.

You may also find the other following ingredients: anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, gelatin all of which are derived from animals.

From there guar gum, xanthan gum or caregeenen (thickeners) are sometimes used.

I’ve also seen caramel, high fructose corn syrup, pineapple, tamarind and celery used.

If we take a look at some of the most popular brands of BBQ sauce, we can soon see these ingredients used:

Stubbs Original Barbecue Sauce

Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Distilled Vinegar, Sugar, Molasses, Salt, Spices (Including Black Pepper, Paprika, Chili Pepper), Corn Starch, Brown Sugar, Contains Less than 0.5% of: Onion, Garlic, Guar Gum (Thickener), Xanthan Gum (Thickener), Natural Flavor (Including Hickory Smoke).

Sweet Baby Rays BBarbecue Sauce Ingredients

High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Modified Corn Starch, Contains Less Than 2% Of Salt, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Natural Smoke Flavor, Spice, Caramel Color, Molasses, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Garlic,* Mustard Flour, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Tamarind, Natural Flavor, Celery Seed. *Dried.

Heinz Classic Barbecue Sauce

Tomato Puree, Spirit Vinegar, Sugar, Molasses, Water, Modified Cornflour, Salt, Spices, Garlic, Thickener (Xanthan Gum), Smoke Flavouring, Flavourings

Why BBQ Sauce Is Usually Vegetarian

BBQ sauce is usually vegetarian as it is often made from a tomato and vinegar base. From there its usually just flavourings and spices that gives this sauce it’s sweet and smoky flavor

When Is BBQ Sauce Not Vegetarian?

BBQ sauce is not vegetarian if it contains ingredients derived from animals or animals are adversely impacted during the manufacturing or production process.

The ingredients to look out for in BBQ sauce include anchovies (small salty fish), Worcestershire sauce, certain food colorings (such as Carmine) and flavourings. All of which can make this sauce non-vegetarian.

In fact, some ingredients that may not include animals (or animal derived ingredients directly) may actually be tested on them instead, and may not be cruelty free.

So the best thing to do is check for the vegetarian suitable label on the bottle directly, online or by containing the manufacturer specifically.

Youve got to look closely too. They may be listed toward the end of what can be long and extended ingredient lists!

Vegetarian-Friendly Brands of BBQ Sauce

The following brands of BBQ sauce are certified vegetarian friendly:

  • Annie’s BBQ Sauce (Original, Maple and Spicy)
  • Primal Kitchen BBQ Sauce (All variations)
  • Organicville BBQ sauce (Original and Tangy)
  • Tessemae’s Matty’s Organic BBQ Sauce
  • Kraft (Original Slow-Simmered, Hot & Spicy, Hickory Smoke Slow-Simmered, Sweet and Spicy)
  • Bull’s-Eye (Original, Smoky Chipotle, Roadted Onion, Smoky Bacon)
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s (Original and Sweet ‘n Spicy)
  • Heinz Carolina (Mustard Style, Vinegar Style)
  • Heinz Original Sweet & Thick Barbecue Sauce
  • Heinz Kansas City Style Sweet & Smoky BBQ Sauce
  • Heinz Texas Style Bold & Spicy BBQ Sauce
  • Stubb’s (Original, Dr. Pepper Legendary, Hickory Bourbon, Simply Sweet Reduced Sugar, Smokey Brown Sugar, Spicy, Sticky Sweet, Sweet Heat)

Vegetarian BBQ Sauce Recipe

If in doubt, you have the time(or ingredients) and enjoy cooking from scratch, make your own vegetarian BBQ sauce!

This simple recipe takes under 10 minutes:


  • 15 ounce of canned tomato sauce
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce – or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • optional: hot sauce or cayenne pepper for more spice


Step One: Add all ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together. You could also add them to a blender.

Step Two: Add to a saucepan and simmer over a low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, being sure to occasionally stir to prevent burning.

Step Three: Remove from heat and let sit to cool. Serve and enjoy, or refrigerate for a few hours. You can even store in bottles for up to 10 days.


BBQ sauce is usually suitable for vegetarians. But not always.

And here’s the thing. Recipes change all the time.

And there are even differences in the recipes of the same products in different countries too.

And do not falsely assume that variations of the same brand are always suitable – even if their original products are.

So, it’s always essential to double-check the product packaging when browsing and certainly, before consuming!


Is a McDonald’s BBQ sauce vegetarian?

Mcdonalds BBQ sauce is suitable for vegetarians.

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