Is BBQ Sauce Vegan?

Is BBQ Sauce Vegan?


Lorraine Pinnix
March 23, 2022

Nothing beats a good serving of BBQ sauce on your favorite foods, but if you’re a vegan, condiments like this might now be concerning.

While you learn quickly how to read ingredients lists and to find brands that make tasty vegan products, BBQ sauce can be a tricky one.

Is BBQ sauce vegan? There are some popular BBQ sauce products available that are vegan, whether accidentally or on purpose, so you can enjoy them without guilt.

However, you should scan the ingredient list for ingredients like gelatin, beef stock, and honey, as they can all be used to make this popular sauce.

There’s no need to throw away your favorite bottle of BBQ sauce when you become a vegan, as long as you know what you’re eating.

We’ll uncover the truth about how vegan-friendly BBQ sauce is and what ingredients you need to be mindful of to ensure your condiments meet your needs.

Can Vegans Eat BBQ Sauce?

Can Vegans Eat BBQ Sauce?

BBQ sauce is one of the most versatile condiments and something that both vegans and non-vegans can enjoy. Whether you want to marinate your tofu in it or put it onto a grilled nondairy cheese sandwich, the rich, smoky taste of BBQ sauce can’t be beaten.

For vegans though, they need to be more careful when choosing a BBQ sauce. If you head to your local supermarket and look at the options for this condiment, there’s a good chance at least two of them will be vegan-friendly.

Learning how to read the ingredients and look for potentially hidden ingredients that have been sourced from animals is the smartest thing you can do as a vegan.

The good news is, there are lots of popular brands that make BBQ sauce that’s suitable for vegans. Heinz, Bulls-Eye, Stubbs, Kraft, and Sweet Baby Ray all produce BBQ sauce in an original flavor that is fine to eat, but you need to be cautious of the other flavors that some of these brands offer.

The Non-Vegan Ingredients to Be Wary Of

The Non-Vegan Ingredients to Be Wary Of

Not all barbecue sauce is created equally, and while one brand might use a recipe that’s suitable for vegans, another won’t.

If you see any of these ingredients listed on the packaging of your favorite BBQ sauce, you’ll need to give them a second thought.

  • Honey: Honey is used in products to act as a sweetener, and although healthier than refined sugar, it’s not vegan-friendly. If you see honey listed on your BBQ sauce packaging, put it away and search for one that’s made with a vegan suitable ingredient like maple syrup instead.
  • Dairy products: Dairy is a big no-no for vegans but you might be surprised to learn that it’s sometimes used in BBQ sauce. This won’t always be listed as milk on the label, but names like curd, ghee, casein, hydrolysates, or lactose.
  • Gelatin: The inclusion of gelatin in products like BBQ sauce is there for consistency, as it gives it a chewier, thicker texture. However, gelatin is made using various animals parts like bones and it’s not suitable for either vegans or vegetarians to consume.
  • Animal stock: The use of products like chicken or beef stock is common in sauces, so take note if it’s on the ingredient list. These days, companies have started leaning towards vegetable stock as a vegetarian alternative, but you’ll need to check to be sure.
  • Sardines/anchovies: Most people would be surprised to learn how often sardines or anchovies are used to add flavor to various sauces and condiments, and BBQ sauce is one of them. If you see this on the ingredients list, it means it’s not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
  • Worcestershire: This popular British sauce is a common ingredient in BBQ sauce, and it’s sometimes made using animal products. The ingredients list for most Worcestershire sauces include things like anchovies, but sometimes it gets its flavor without and only uses molasses, vinegar, garlic, and other natural ingredients.
  • Sugar: Not all sugar is bad for vegans, so you’ll need to do some research on the individual brand and see what their commitment is to sourcing vegan-friendly sugar. The biggest concern with this ingredient is that it’s been refined and given its white color by using bone char which comes from animals, so technically it’s not vegan.

Vegan-Friendly Condiment Alternatives

Going vegan means making sacrifices for the greater good, but thankfully, most of your favorite condiments can stay. Here are just a few of the options available for condiment-loving vegans, and why they’re suitable for plant-based diets.

Soy sauce

Soy sauce

The popular Asian condiment is good with everything from sushi to stir-fries. Made with fermented soya beans, it’s totally safe for vegans to enjoy and has a delicious salty flavor that can’t be beaten.

Take note though, soy sauce is not gluten-free, but tamari is a suitable alternative.

Vegan mayo

Although regular mayo and aioli aren’t suitable for vegans because of their egg content, there are now loads of vegan alternatives available.

On their first try, most people are surprised to learn that it tastes just as good as the real thing, and without any of the guilt from eating animal products.


The basic pantry staple and condiment that goes with just about any food is also suitable for vegans. Most of the leading brands of ketchup make theirs without animal products and always have.

Before choosing ketchup though, make sure you do a quick scan of the ingredients list.



Tahini is a sauce that all vegans come to love as they use it as a substitute for so many things.

The best use of tahini is in making sauces and salad dressings as it has a surprisingly creamy texture that seems as though it’s made out of milk, but there’s no trace of anything bad in it at all.

Hoisin sauce

Hoisin sauce is made with soy sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, peanut butter, and more, without a trace of any animal products. The traditional Asian sauce is versatile and tastes lovely in stir-fries, glazing tofu, or as a simple dipping sauce.


Whether it’s a homemade relish or something you get in a café, you can feel pretty safe knowing that there’s nothing bad in there.

The most popular relishes are made with ingredients like tomato, onion, brown sugar, and malt vinegar, but you can get creative and make your own if you like.

Sweet chili sauce

Sweet chili sauce

If you’re a fan of dipping just about anything in sweet chili sauce, you don’t have to give it up just because you’ve gone vegan.

The most common ingredients in this condiment are red chili peppers, garlic, and rice wine vinegar, and it’s a staple in many Asian countries.

Miso paste

This traditional Japanese flavoring has a deep, salty flavoring that makes anything it touches taste amazing. It’s made with fermented soybeans and a few other things, none of which include animal products.

Better yet, you’ll also get a healthy dose of probiotics any time you chow down on miso.

A BBQ Hit Without Any of the Meat

Even when you follow a vegan lifestyle, you might still crave your favorite condiments occasionally.

The good news is, you can enjoy most of the beloved brands of BBQ sauce without having to worry about any animal byproducts, as long as you learn how to read the labels.

Related Questions

The vegan way of life is a rewarding one but it takes some time to get a handle of, especially when it comes to finding foods that you can still enjoy.

Check out these FAQs about popular vegan-friendly foods so you can find it easier to shop for the foods you love.

What Does Accidentally Vegan Mean?

Accidentally vegan food is one that was created without the purpose of being suitable for vegans but ended up being so because of the ingredients.

These so-called ‘happy accidents’ allow vegans to enjoy a greater range of foods because of their suitability, including some they used to eat.

Is Ketchup Vegan?

Is Ketchup Vegan?

Most popular ketchup brands are vegan friendly, so they’re suitable for someone following a plant-based diet.

One of the biggest ketchup brands, Heinz, has confirmed that the sugar used in their famous ketchup recipe isn’t made with bone char, which means there’s nothing hidden in there either.

Why Is Honey Not Suitable For Vegans?

As bees create honey and can be harmed or exploited when humans harvest this honey, most vegans won’t be comfortable eating it.

The best vegan alternative is maple syrup that’s made from maple trees, and it can be used as a natural sweetener that’s just as delicious for cooking and baking.


Lorraine Pinnix

Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.