One of my very favorite things my dad makes is barbecue ribs. I am not kidding when I say they are THE BEST.
The meat is fall-off-the-bone juicy, and every bite is full of sticky, sweet, saucy barbecue flavor. I have been a barbecue fan for my whole life, but ever since I started reading about nutrition and then doing my first Whole30, I learned that my beloved barbecue sauce gets all that flavor from sugar in various forms.
I looked through countless recipes calling for brown sugar or dates, but as I didn’t want to use sugar or non-nutritive sweeteners, and we do not have dates in the pantry, I was out of luck!
Finally, I stumbled upon HappyWifeStyle and her recipe for Whole30 barbecue using only applesauce as a sweetener. BRILLIANT.
I did not have all the right ingredients, and since we’re trying to clean out the apartment for the big move, I needed to improvise on my own.
This whole30 and paleo barbecue sauce turned out to be a fantastically thick and smooth, perfect for smothering on wings or dipped into with your own homemade fries. It had just the right amount of tang, smoke and sweetness, all without added sugar and/or non-nutritive chemical sweeteners.
Unsweetened applesauce is not easily found here in Pretoria so I made it myself. Peeled, sliced and boiled apples, pureed with my stick blender. Do yourself a favor and get some store-bought applesauce if you choose to try this out. Homemade applesauce is no joke.
Simmering sliced onion and balsamic beforehand lended itself perfectly to that sweet and tangy depth that many homemade barbecue sauces are lacking. I really enjoyed this added flavor and though it requires an extra step, it is totally worth it!
Lastly, cocoa powder might seem odd but I use it regularly in my dishes that need a dark smokey flavor. Check out my Taco Chili.
You may need to play with the ratios of this sauce to fit your tastebuds, but who doesn’t love a good taste test or 5?
This sauce can be made and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week. It tasted perfect on sandwiches and in my stuffed sweet potatoes (recipe to come).
So if you’re looking for a slightly sweet, tangy, smokey barbecue sauce sans all the sugar, look no further.
Whole30 Barbecue Sauce
What You’ll Need:
- 3/4 cup apple sauce
- 1 can tomato paste 200 ml
- 1.5 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 2 TBSP mustard
- 1.5 tsp chipotle paste
- 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (you can use regular vinegar or a little more balsamic if you don’t have ACV)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 extra TBSP balsamic vinegar
- Half of a white onion roughly sliced
- 1/2 TBSP olive oil
- In a medium pot, add the sliced onion and olive oil. Let it cook on medium for 3 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and simmer for about 10 minutes stirring frequently. Turn heat to medium low once you see the balsamic begin to reduce and thicken.
- Remove from heat.
- Add applesauce, tomato paste, mustard, chipotle paste, spices and extra vinegar to pot.
- Stir well.
- If using an immersion blender, blend directly in the pot. If using a food processor, transfer mixture from the pot and blend until smooth.
- Adjust to taste (adding more vinegar or a touch more mustard fixed it for me!) and use immediately or transfer to an airtight jar.
You can use this sauce immediately in my recipe for stuffed sweet potatoes (coming soon!), or whatever recipe calls for a hearty barbecue sauce.
Hope you enjoy! How do you naturally adapt recipes that call for lots of sugar?