Low-Carb / Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce Recipe

Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce
Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce. Bill Boch/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Total Time 40 min
Prep 10 min, Cook 30 min
Yield 2 1/2 cups Low-Carb BBQ Sauce

What's a barbecue without barbecue sauce? But when you're on a low-carb or sugar-free diet, things can get a little tricky.

Almost all commercial barbecue sauces are loaded with sugar. Most I've seen have 16 to 30 grams per 1/4 cup, and I've even seen them as high as 44 grams!

It doesn't have to be that way. This barbecue sauce recipe has a secret ingredient—diet cola. It's best to use one sweetened with Splenda, but any will do (colas sweetened with aspartame, as do all foods sweetened with this substitute, tend to lose their sweetness when heated for long periods).


  • 2 strips of thick bacon, chopped fine (or see Note 1, below)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 small (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (12-ounce) can diet (sugar-free) cola sweetened with Splenda is preferred
  • 1/4 cup low-carb (sugar-free) catsup (or see Note 2, below)
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • Hot sauce to taste


Before You Begin

Note 1: If you prefer to leave the bacon out, add 1 to 3 teaspoons of liquid smoke, or to taste, near the end of the cooking. Alternatively, add some smoky flavor using 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, or chipotle powder to taste.

Note 2: If you can't find low-carb (sugar-free) catsup, leave it out, but add about a tablespoon of vinegar and some sweetener, to taste.

Make the Sauce

  1. Fry 2 strips finely chopped bacon (if using)  in a saucepan -- a 2-quart pan works well.
  1. Add 1 small minced onion and cook over medium heat until soft -- 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 minced garlic clove or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powdered and stir it for half a minute or so.
  2. Add 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste, 1 (12-ounce) can diet cola sweetened with Splenda, 1/4 cup low-carb / sugar-free catsup, the rest of the ingredients, 3 tablespoons mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 pinch of ground cloves, hot sauce to taste, and about 1/2 cup of water. Stir well.
  3. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. It will cook down a bit and flavors will combine.
  4. Adjust the seasonings so you have the balance you want -- you can add vinegar, artificial sweetener (liquid preferred), or hot sauce. (If it's too hot, adding more sweetener will tone it down.)

The recipe makes approximately 10 (1/4-cup) servings

Nutritional information per each 1/4-cup serving: 3.5 grams of carbohydrate plus 1 gram of fiber (4.5 grams total carbohydrate).

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