Skip to Content

The 10 Best Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is a pantry staple that adds flavor to all kinds of dishes—from marinades, to dips, to sauces for grilled and roasted meats.

It’s hard to imagine a dish without this delicious condiment!

So what can you use as a substitute for barbecue sauce? The best substitutes for barbecue sauce include Worcestershire sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, and more. You can also make your own homemade barbecue sauce with ingredients like brown sugar, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, and chili powder.

When it comes time to whip up the perfect barbecue dish but you’re missing the signature ingredient—what do you do?

We have the answers!

Let’s take a look at 10 of the best substitutes for barbecue sauce that will make your dish just as tasty!

What Is Barbecue Sauce?

Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is a condiment used to flavor and enhance the taste of grilled or barbecued meat.

It is typically a thick, sweet, and tangy sauce that is applied to the meat during cooking or served as a dipping sauce.

The ingredients of barbecue sauce can vary depending on the region and the recipe, but some common ingredients include tomato paste or ketchup, vinegar, sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and various spices such as garlic, onion, and paprika.

Barbecue sauce can be used on a variety of meats, including beef, pork, chicken, and even fish.

It can also be used as a marinade or a glaze for meats.

Here is a table of some popular types of barbecue sauce and their characteristics:

Type of Barbecue SauceCharacteristics
Kansas City-styleThick and sweet with tomato, molasses, and brown sugar
Memphis-styleThin and tangy with vinegar and mustard
Texas-styleSpicy with chili powder and cumin
Carolina-styleVinegar-based with mustard and spices
Alabama-styleWhite barbecue sauce made with mayonnaise and vinegar
Korean-styleSweet and spicy with gochujang (Korean chili paste)
Jamaican-styleSweet and spicy with allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers
Hawaiian-styleSweet and tangy with pineapple juice and soy sauce
Japanese-styleSweet and savory with soy sauce, mirin, and sake
Indian-styleSpicy and aromatic with curry powder and garam masala

The 10 Best Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to traditional barbecue sauce, here are ten great substitutes that can offer delicious flavors while still allowing you to enjoy your favorite dishes:

1 – Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds

A popular Japanese condiment, teriyaki sauce is made from soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.

This sweet-and-salty combination creates an invitingly aromatic flavor, perfect for marinating meats or brushing onto vegetables during grilling.

As an alternative to barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce provides a unique umami flavor with a touch of sweetness.

By using it as a glaze for your grilled proteins and veggies, you’ll be able to reap the health benefits of this flavorful condiment without all of the unhealthy additives present in traditional store-bought barbecue sauces.

2 – Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin Sauce

A Chinese staple, hoisin sauce is a savory blend of fermented bean paste, garlic, and sugar—a combination that renders an unmistakable aroma and adds complexity and depth to any dish.

It has a thick consistency which makes it perfect for marinating proteins or brushing onto grilled foods during cooking.

Its rich umami flavor allows it to stand out as an exceptional substitute for barbecue sauce.

Not only does it provide restaurant-quality taste but also offers various health benefits due to its high nutritional value.

3 – Chili-Garlic Sauce

Chili-Garlic Sauce

Also known as sambal oelek, chili-garlic sauce is a popular Southeast Asian condiment that packs a fiery punch along with tangy notes of garlic and vinegar.

This earthy concoction works well when used as a marinade or brush-on glaze for barbecued meats and vegetables.

The intense spiciness creates layers of flavor while helping break down proteins during cooking—an essential task usually performed by traditional barbecue sauces.

Plus, its rich vitamin C content helps support immunity while providing robust flavor in any dish.

4 – Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce

Originally crafted in England centuries ago, Worcestershire sauce continues to be popular among chefs and home cooks alike thanks to its rich umami taste and deep color.

This underrated gem is often used as an ingredient in classic dishes like steak tartare or Caesar salad dressing—but can also serve as an effective replacement for barbecue sauces when brushed onto grilled items before serving.

You’ll enjoy the same smoky flavor without the added fat or sodium found in most store-bought options.

5 – Mustard Sauce

Mustard Sauce

Not only does mustard add zesty pungency to sandwiches but also serves as an excellent replacement for barbecue sauces when making grilled dishes at home.

Traditional Dijon mustard contains minimal ingredients compared to store-bought varieties filled with added sugars and preservatives; plus its active enzymes stimulate digestion while reducing fat absorption after meals.

By utilizing mustard instead of traditional sauces on your meats or veggies prior to grilling—you’ll achieve the desired results while preserving the integrity of your ingredients’ nutrition profiles.

6 – Honey Mustard Sauce

This sweet and tangy condiment combines the boldness of mustard with the sweetness of honey.

Its creamy texture adds richness to various dishes, providing a unique taste experience that is sure to delight your palate.

It can be used as a dip or spread on burgers or sandwiches for an extra zing of flavor.

To make a healthier version of traditional honey mustard sauce, use low-sodium mustard and organic honey.

7 – Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is essential in Asian cuisine due to its complex flavor profile — salty, umami, sweet, and sour — which makes it ideal for numerous recipes.

Its dark color adds vibrancy while its briny taste offers another layer of dimension.

Replace barbecue sauce with soy sauce when marinating or basting grilled meats and fish for deep, lasting flavors without any added sugar or salt.

8 – Hot Sauce

Hot Sauce

For those who enjoy spicy meals, hot sauce is an excellent option as a barbecue sauce substitute.

It contains cayenne peppers that provide intense heat as well as other nutrients like Vitamin A and calcium.

As an added bonus, hot sauce adds vibrant colors to food that create eye-catching plates perfect for entertaining guests.

Best of all, there are many different varieties available so you can customize your dish depending on how much spice you prefer!

9 – Tomato Sauce/Ketchup

Tomato Sauce

When the crave for barbecue sauce strikes but you don’t have any on hand, tomato-based sauces like tomato sauce or ketchup can come in handy.

Simply combine them with spices like garlic powder or smoked paprika until you achieve the desired flavor then use it just like regular barbecue sauce!

You can even add some diced onions or bell peppers to amp up the flavor even more!

10 – Balsamic Glaze or Reduction

Balsamic glaze or reduction offers an aromatic sweetness along with natural antioxidants which helps cut back on unhealthy additives often found in store-bought barbecue sauces.

It pairs well with fruits such as peaches as well as meats like chicken breasts or pork chops for entrees that are both flavorful and healthy!

To make balsamic glaze at home simply reduce 1 cup of balsamic vinegar over low heat until it reaches a syrupy consistency then pour over whatever dish you’d like!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to make your own barbecue sauce?

To make your own barbecue sauce, you can start with a base of ketchup, tomato paste or puree, vinegar, and sugar. From there, you can add other ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce, mustard, molasses, honey, garlic, onion, and various spices to customize the flavor to your liking. There are many recipes available online that you can use as a starting point.

Can you use ketchup as a barbecue sauce?

While ketchup is a common ingredient in many barbecue sauce recipes, it is not a substitute for barbecue sauce on its own. Ketchup can be used as a base for making barbecue sauce, but it typically needs other ingredients such as vinegar, sugar, and spices to create the sweet and tangy flavor profile of barbecue sauce.

Is BBQ sauce just ketchup and brown sauce?

No, barbecue sauce is not just ketchup and brown sauce. While some barbecue sauce recipes may include ketchup and brown sauce (which is a British condiment made from vinegar, molasses, and spices), there are many other ingredients that can be used to create a wide variety of barbecue sauce flavors.

Is BBQ sauce ketchup and mustard?

No, barbecue sauce is not just ketchup and mustard. While some barbecue sauce recipes may include ketchup and mustard, there are many other ingredients that can be used to create a wide variety of barbecue sauce flavors.


In conclusion, while barbecue sauce is a popular condiment for grilled or barbecued meat, there are several alternatives that can be used as a substitute.

From teriyaki sauce and hoisin sauce to chili-garlic sauce and Worcestershire sauce, there are many options available that can provide a similar sweet and tangy flavor profile to barbecue sauce.

Additionally, making your own barbecue sauce is also an option, as it allows you to customize the flavor to your liking and can be a fun and creative cooking project.

So, whether you’re looking for a new flavor or simply don’t have barbecue sauce on hand, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

The 10 Best Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce

The 10 Best Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce

Looking for alternatives to barbecue sauce? Check out our list of 10 substitutes, including teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, and chili-garlic sauce. We also provide details on what barbecue sauce is, its ingredients, and popular types. Whether you're looking for a new flavor or simply don't have barbecue sauce on hand, there are plenty of options available.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Chili-Garlic Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Mustard Sauce
  • Honey Mustard Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Tomato Sauce/Ketchup
  • Balsamic Glaze or Reduction


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.