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A good, quality BBQ sauce can propel even the blandest of foods into the stratosphere. But if you’re vegan, there are some limitations on the brands you can buy. If you’re not sure which ingredients in BBQ sauces are animal-based, you’re right where you need to be.
Today, we’re covering what BBQ sauce is vegan, which ingredients are non-vegan, and more. So let’s jump right in with a little bit of history on this American favorite.
What Is BBQ Sauce?
The “BBQ” in BBQ sauce is the shortened form of barbecue sauce. This wildly popular and versatile sauce is used far and wide to marinade dishes and as a seasoning. It can also be used as a condiment for dipping, and of course, for barbequing various meats.
BBQ sauce consists of several ingredients to achieve its famous flavor. In fact, the ingredients can vary depending on who is making it. As its core, however, BBQ sauce includes the following:
- Spices (i.e., black pepper and mustard)
- Sweeteners (i.e., molasses or sugar)
- Onion powder
- Tomato paste
- Liquid smoke
Some manufacturers add their own twist to the classic list of ingredients, but all attempt to capture the sweet, tangy taste that makes BBQ sauce so beloved.
It’s interesting to note that BBQ sauce used to consist of even fewer ingredients. There’s a large consensus that its origins began sometime in the 17th century as America was forming its first colonies. And in its infancy, BBQ sauce was made solely of vinegar, pepper, and salt.
It wasn’t until a couple of centuries later that it started being made with ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Over the years, BBQ sauce maintained its vegan-friendly ingredients. It’s only until fairly recently that manufacturers started introducing animal products into their BBQ sauces.
Fortunately, many brands continue the vegan approach, so it is easier to differentiate between the two. To aid you in your quest to find vegan BBQ sauce, we’ve compiled a handy list for your consideration. Keep reading to learn which brands you can confidently buy as part of your vegan diet.
Vegan BBQ Sauce Brands
When it comes to tasty sauces, Kraft really delivers. It’s one of the most recognizable brands, and its BBQ sauces are largely vegan. Kraft’s original flavor lineup uses vegan ingredients only and doesn’t try to sneak in things like natural flavor (which just so happens to contain animal products).
What’s more, you can find Kraft sauces just about anywhere. As such, you should have no trouble getting your hands on vegan-friendly Kraft BBQ sauces.
So, which selections are vegan? Let’s have a look.
Kraft Vegan BBQ Sauces
- Hickory Smoke Slow-Simmered Barbecue Sauce & Dip
- Original Slow-Simmered Barbecue Sauce & Dip
- Sweet Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce & Dip
- Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce
Kraft Non-Vegan BBQ Sauces
- Sweet Honey Slow-Simmered Barbecue Sauce & Dip
- Spicy Honey Slow-Simmered Barbecue Sauce & Dip
- Mesquite Smoke Barbecue Sauce
A good rule of thumb with Kraft BBQ sauces is to avoid selections made with honey. If you see honey in the ingredients, opt for something else.
Sweet Baby Ray’s
Another incredibly popular brand of BBQ sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s. Like Kraft, you can find Sweet Baby Ray’s at many supermarkets. There’s a reason why this brand is so popular, and that is the fact that it tastes so delicious. So much so that it became the second best-selling BBQ sauce in the U.S. in 2008.
Where Sweet Baby Ray’s differs from Kraft is in the former’s use of the dreaded “natural flavor.” Oftentimes, that’s a dead giveaway for the presence of animal products. However, Ken’s Foods, the owner of Sweet Baby Ray’s, put our fears to rest by addressing these concerns.
In the Original Barbecue Sauce, there are no animal products used. Keep in mind, though, that Sweet Baby Ray’s has other flavors that include honey, so it’s probably best that you stick to the original.
Sweet Baby Ray’s Vegan BBQ Sauces
- Hickory and Brown Sugar Barbecue sauce
- Sweet Golden Mustard Barbecue sauce
- Kickin’ Bourbon Wing Barbecue sauce
- Sweet Vidalia Onion Barbecue sauce
- Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Barbecue sauce
- Sweet Teriyaki Marinade
- Original Barbecue sauce
- Steakhouse Marinade
- Hawaiian BBQ sauce
- Buffalo Wing sauce
Sweet Baby Ray’s Non-Vegan BBQ Sauces
- Creamy Buffalo Wing Dipping Sauce
- Honey Hot Sauce and Marinade
- Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
- Honey Barbecue Wing Sauce
- Sweet Red Chili Wing Sauce
- Maple Barbecue Sauce
- Ray’s Secret Sauce
Sweet Baby Ray’s non-vegan entries are made with one or more of the following three ingredients: honey, milk, and egg.
Other BBQ Sauce Brands
Thankfully, you have more options to consider besides Kraft and Sweet Baby Ray’s. It’s always nice to have a selection of brands to choose from, although the two we highlighted are some of the consistently best on the planet.
Still, they aren’t the only show in town. Below are just a few brands that offer vegan sauces.
- Annie’s Naturals
- Primal Kitchen
If you’re ever unsure, remember to check the label for ingredients like honey, eggs, and milk. Such additions to the ingredients list will immediately tell you that the BBQ sauce is non-vegan. Natural flavor is a bit harder to nail down.
Your best option is to contact the manufacturer and ask them directly if their natural flavor contains animal products.
Is BBQ Sauce a Good Choice for Vegans?
Absolutely. Since its origins, BBQ sauce has been a vegan-friendly product. But over the years, companies began adding their own ingredients, some of which are animal-based. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to tell which brands are vegan and which are non-vegan.
And if you’re ever in doubt, most manufacturers are easy to contact so that you can submit questions to them. If you would like to learn about other popular products and whether they are vegan, we invite you to head over to our info page.
There, we have a huge resource of various brands — from restaurants to ingredients — that we discuss to bring you the facts on which ones are safe for vegan diets.