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Apr 2, 2011 02:11 PM

BBQ sauce - no sugar, no tomatoes

Oh, and not too spicy either. In-laws with dietary restrictions are coming for dinner tomorrow night, want to do some ribs on the grill. I usually use a jar of BBQ sauce from a local upscale market which is mostly tomatoes and sugar as a finishing sauce. Any ideas? Thinking of pureed roasted red pepper, onions, garlic, but not sure how to get it to stick. No need for authenticity!

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  1. Maybe a mixture of cider vinegar and mustard? Could they deal with a bit of honey?

    Or dry rub the ribs (salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, thyme) and baste with a mixture of diced mango, finely chopped jalapeno and garlic, fresh oj, olive oil and a dash of honey.

    1. BBQ sauces from North Carolina usually are vinegar based (no tomato ) and some don't use sugar...check the web, and you will find a number of recipes.

      1. If you are cooking chicken you could try Alabama white sauce:

        Meets your criteria and is strangely addictive. It is a staple at Big Bob Gibson's.

        3 Replies
        1. re: CDouglas

          I love the white sauce! Used to live in the FL panhandle and it was popular there.

          1. re: CDouglas

            This might work.. It will be ribs, maybe if I started with a rub, and finished with this...

            1. re: CDouglas

              That right there veers into realm of dirty talkin', CDouglas. It's auditory foodporn. I LOVE that sauce on anything.

            2. Hi all,

              A possibility in the getting-it-to-stick-department is apple juice concentrate. It the concentrate isn't as sticky as you like you could reduce it by gently simmering.


              5 Replies
              1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                Apple juice concentrate is too much sugar I think. Maybe flour or cornstarch thickener?

                1. re: firecooked

                  I tend to agree with srsone. Maybe you don't need a sauce at all.

                  Flour or cornstarch would work as a thickener but would likely burn on the grill. Could be used as a dipping sauce, though.

                  As Penthouse Pup says, some North Carolina BBQ sauces don't have sugar or tomatoes. I think I'd head in that direction if it were me...


                  1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                    are the NC BBQ sauces used on the grill, or just after? (It's not like I'm doing "real" BBQ)

                    1. re: firecooked


                      I Googled "eastern north carolina bbq sauce" and found the ingredients are generally cider vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and hot pepper sauce. Some recipes include brown sugar. Here is where you could use apple juice concentrate to cut the vinegar tartness and lend a touch of sweetness.

                      My guess is this is a sauce that goes on pulled pork barbecue after cooking as opposed to a basting sauce for ribs.

                      Hopefully penthouse pup will check in and help out.


                      1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                        Eastern NC style sauce works well as a basting sauce, because there is nothing in it that will caramelize and burn during cooking, and the vinegar helps to tenderize and moisten the meat. It is common as a finishing sauce for barbecue, but it's common here to eat it with chicken as well. I am unsure about how it would work with ribs; ribs aren't really part of the barbecue culture here.

              2. do u need a sauce?
                what about just a good dry rub?

                1 Reply
                1. re: srsone

                  I think I'd go for a dry rub in this case, maybe after marinating the meat. Or go for a separately prepared sauce. If apple juice is too much sugar, you can't used pureed fruit as a thickener, and something like pureed red pepper will taste nice as a sauce, but won't give you a BBQ feel.

                  Sugar free sauces will give a difference consistency, as it's the sugar content that gives the nice carmelization.