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Jan 5, 2010 03:02 PM

ISO a no-sugar added barbecue sauce, please.

I need a barbecue sauce for a diabetic family member. I can use catsup, although it has corn syrup, and Splenda, but don't want to use sugar or molasses.

If I had a good recipe in my repertoire, I would just adapt it, but I don't.

Can anyone make a suggestion, please?

Thanks so much.

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  1. I wouldn't hesitate to sub out most of the bbq recipes that include either white or brown sugar. I prefer vinegar based, with a tomato sauce and one that has a healthy kick to it. First find your flavor, then go from there, or post it and I'm sure we can help you adjust the recipe. I like to start with a lot of white onions, carmalized them and then puree the batch. The onions cooked that way in itself is sweet.

    1. I cook for people with special needs, including diabetics, and my barbecue sauce consists of tomato sauce (check the ingredients to get one that has no added sugar) Splenda, Altern or similar product as a sweetener, splash of white vinegar, soy sauce, Worchestershire sauce, a drop or two of liquid smoke (it goes a long way), pureed green and red peppers (if the special dietary needs person(s) can handle them) and sometimes a few flakes of red pepper. I can't provide you with how much of what goes into this, I just make it to taste as I proceed. But the tomato sauce is, of course, the primary ingredient. I don't usually salt the mixture as the soy sauce and tomato sauce carries enough salt to cover that requirement.
      If it's for a gluten free diet, check the tomato sauce to make sure it is gluten free and leave the soy sauce and worchestershire sauce out of the mix.

      1. Easiest option:

        Just about every supermarket has a diabetic section. Grab a jar of diabetic sauce or buy one online

        It won't be the end all be all of sauces, but it should be comparable with something like Kraft or Bullseye. Most of these are fat free sauces. You can improve them tremendously by adding some onions (as mentioned previously) caramelized in a liberal amount of good tasting fat such as bacon grease.

        Next simplest:

        Just about every supermarket these days sells sugar free/low carb Heinz ketchup. Use that as the base and combine it with spices and splenda. For the brown sugar note, use a tiny amount of blackstrap molasses (1/2 t. to 1 cup splenda equivalent). Blackstrap has a very powerful taste- using that much will give you a negligible amount of sugar.

        Hardest/Best tasting:

        I have a recipe floating around that uses specialty sugar replacers (found at drug stores) and balsamic vinegar. It goes the blackstrap route, though, but like the recommendation above, the carb impact is super small- the tomato is contributing way more carbs than the blackstrap. The nice thing about the recipe is that, with the specialty ingredients, you'd be hard pressed to tell it was low carb. The balsamic makes it a little sophisticated, though.

        1. Bellycheer Gourmet Zesty Grilling Sauces are sugar free and can be ordered online; read about it here:

          Nature' s Hollow BBQ sauce is sugar free:

          Also, don't know where you live and what stores are available but many well stocked grocers carry a organic/low carb/sugar free etc. section and you may find something there as well.

          On another note, I've cooked for diabetics as well and I would not even think about adding molasses, balsamic vinegar, or onions to something sugar free. Onions are full of sugar, balsamic vinegar concentrates it's sugars when cooked and you already know molasses is as well. If worse comes to worse, you can make a acceptable BBQ sauce with tomato paste or sauce (NO SUGAR ADDED), splenda, no sugar apple juice, cider vinegar and some seasonings.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Cherylptw

            "On another note, I've cooked for diabetics as well and I would not even think about adding molasses, balsamic vinegar, or onions to something sugar free. Onions are full of sugar, balsamic vinegar concentrates it's sugars when cooked and you already know molasses is as well."

            Carbs are carbs. There's absolutely no difference between the glycemic impact of tomato or starch carbs and the glycemic impact of sugar. Most diabetics are aware of these and eat low carb, not sugar free.

            Raw onions are very low carb/very low glycemic index. When you cook them, yes, the sugar does get concentrated, but, even after caramelization, they're still fairly low carb/low GI, especially in the context of one ingredient in a many ingredient sauce.

            Balsamic vinegar has a good quantity of sugar, but it also has acid that lowers GI. Also, like the onions, it's a very small quantity per serving.

            The molasses is pure sugar/extremely high GI, but if you read my post, it's used in a ratio of 1/2 t. to 1 cup splenda. My recipe yields in the range of 2 cups sauce and it uses 1/4 t. molasses. That's 1/32th of a t. per quarter cup serving. The tomato paste in the sauce will have 10 times that many carbs.

            Diabetics can and do eat judicious amounts of balsamic vinegar, onions and infinitesimally small amounts of molasses. It's not really that cut and dry.

            1. re: scott123

              Because I do cook special diets, I know what diabetics can eat and what's in the food.. As I said I wouldn't do it, I didn't say anyone else couldn't do it. You are entitled to serve what you want and to your opinion so knock yourself out and thanks but I don't need a lesson on carbs or diabetics....

              1. re: Cherylptw

                I've been diabetic for many years, and have it very tightly controlled without meds, using just diet to reverse kidney damage and peripheral neuropathies.

                Anyone with a glucose meter knows that GI and not even GL (glycemic load of mixed meals) is not predictive of post meal glycemia, and that even a little bit of tomato or tomato sauce shoots blood glucose up like a rocket in most diabetics out of all proportion to the number of carb grams. Adding any other source of carbs to it is not a good idea, in my experience.

                1. re: Cherylptw

                  Cherylptw, you may not need a lesson on carbs or diabetics--or as i prefer to call myself, PWD (person with diabetes). having had type 1 diabetes for 25 + years, I can tell you categorically that I can and do eat onions, balsamic and molasses. a type 1 or a type 2 on insulin should be able to adjust the amount of insulin taken per meal to account for the carbs in the meal--and it is absolutely right that a carb is a carb is a carb. If you can eat bread, you can eat barbecue sauce (not made specially for diabetics). for type 2s who are not on insulin, it is true that they may actually have much more restricted diets than someone on insulin. but still, it's not that they cannot have onion, et al. rather, each person has to understand carbs so they know how many carbs are in a meal--including from sauce.

                  ps. I have had several glucose meters over the year and have not noticed that tomato based products defy scientific principles such that one carb of a tomato product causes more of a spike then one carb of another similar product. So I am at least one "anyone with a glucose meter" with a different point of view.

                  1. re: cocktailhour

                    Yes, but as a type 1, your results don't apply to 95% of diabetics. It's extremely common for type 2 diabetics to notice high glycemic responses to tomatoes and wheat, as two that really stand out, even in very small amounts. Type 1 and type 2 are very different diseases. We don't inject prior to eating, so we see the 1 and 2 hour post prandial spikes.

                    For 95% of diabetics, different carbs are not equal in impact. I've been using many meters and testing foods for over a decade myself.

            2. Diabetes really varies from person to person, do you know how sensitive they are? For me, I can handle blackstrap molasses in small amounts, caramelized onion and reduced balsamic no problem, and some fruit puree as well. If they can handle diabetic fruit preserves, fresh, or dried fruit, those can all replace sweeteners directly.

              Todao's suggestions are great, I do a similar thing, but prefer tomato paste to tomato sauce. I'd also add to the list of suggestions for additions roasted bell pepper, dijon mustard, ginger, roasted garlic, cocoa powder, diet cola if you're okay with diet sodas in general, fruit preserves or juice, cinnamon, cloves, mace, allspice, coriander, cardamom, smoked paprika, horseradish, espresso, vanilla, thyme, oregano...

              Here are some places to begin:

              1 Reply
              1. re: gwendolynmarie

                These are wonderful ideas. I have really learned so much. Will be very helpful beyond the barbecue sauce.

                I am so grateful to everyone for your time and knowledge. Thank you!