Barbecue Sauce and Ketchup

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Home-made barbecue sauce recipe

There’s a reason that all my recipes start from scratch, despite many other health cheerleaders offering simpler recipe options that include shortcuts using pre-made sauces and such.

I want to make sure  you’re not innocently being misled by food marketers to think you’re buying something whole or natural when it’s really the same sugar laden, processed sauce in a more homey looking bottle. It is for this reason you will never see ingredients like yellow mustard, ketchup or mayonnaise (vegan or otherwise) in any of my recipes, unless I offer you a recipe for that ingredient. Then it is up to you what you want to do.

Call me a control freak but I want to know what I’m eating and if you’re following my guidance, I also want to know that you’re eating the best too. When packaged food just gets too complicated, well, that’s when I stop with packaged food and just do it from scratch.

The typical Heinz ketchup you buy in stores is made from tomato concentrate, white vinegar and not one but two kinds of corn sweetener- the high fructose variety and the regular corn syrup variety. They do also have an organic variety but as we know, organic doesn’t always mean healthy and in this version, they simply swap the GMO corn sweeteners for organic sugar.

Heinz also has a reduced sugar option, that throws the sugar right out the door and replaces it with artificial sweetener in the form of sucralose. Yep. Or my personal favourite, the no salt ketchup that instead contains something they call “ALSOSALT®” which is a salt substitue made of stuff you are better off scrubbing your floor with- potassium chloride and L-lysine monohydrochloride.

Our favourite organic brands from the health food store are typically not that much better- often replacing the sugar with agave.

The point is- it is so easy to make yourself, which invites you to put as much, or as little sweetener, salt and vinegar in as you like.

If you are ready to make your own, here is my world famous ketchup recipe.

Tomato Ketchup
10 cups tomatoes (Roma preferred), chopped and seeded
2  large onions, chopped
3 large tart apples, cored and chopped
5 whole cloves
5 whole black peppercorns
5  pieces of whole or pinches of ground all spice
1 Tbs  sea salt
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 Tbs Sucanat (raw unprocessed sugar- if you don’t have any, I suppose you could use regular sugar)
2 sprigs fresh sage (or 1 Tbs dry)
1 sprig  fresh rosemary (or 1/2 Tbs dry)
1 tsp   cayenne pepper (optional)

  • Measure out all the spices (accept sage and rosemary) and tie them up in a little square of gauze, cheesecloth, or light cotton fabric (good use for an old but clean t-shirt) with a thread to form a little bag.
  • Process tomatoes, onions and apples in a food processor or blender. As this is a large recipe, you have to do this in batches.
  • Pour processed ingredients along with the spice bag into a pot. Simmer until volume is reduced into one half
  • Chop the sage and rosemary and to the pot.
  • Add salt, vinegar, sucanat and cayenne powder and bring to a boil again.
  • Turn off the heat and pour hot ketchup into jars. If using sterilized jars, seal immediately. Otherwise let cool and then cover and store in fridge or freezer.

Yes, this ketchup is great and all, but recently I took my love for things made with tomatoes to the next level, and also wanted to woo my husband at the same time. I took on the discerning challenge of barbecue sauce. It was to be slathered across the top of a beautiful veggie loaf and so I got mixing, matching, simmering and sizzling.

Simmering BBQ sauce in Le Cruset pot

And wowza is this what making love in the kitchen is truly all about.

The final product was amazing. Just enough zip, though you could always add more, and this made up two 250ml jars full. The first one vanished in the first weekend.

Homemade BBQ barbecue sauce recipe

Veg and Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauce

3 tsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 500ml jar tomato sauce
1 tbsp or more sambal olek or organic hot sauce  (I use this one occasionally)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup organic dijon or honey mustard
1/4 cup  maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
½ tsp sea salt or more to taste


  • Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pot over medium heat and then add the onions. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another two minutes.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and let it gurgle with love for 25-30 minutes, stirring often.
  • Taste test your sauce and decide if you want more heat or sweetness to it.
  • Remove from the heat and let sit to cool.
  • Run the whole mix through your food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Transfer to jars, allow to cool completely, seal and store in fridge or freezer.

If left unopened, it will last a few months. Once opened, consume within 3-4 weeks.

If you are into making your condiments, then you should probably try out this cashew ketchup, this balsamic maple glaze, my favourite red pepper pesto, salsa, and my horseradish.

Question- have you tried making your own condiments or sauces? Which ones? Share below!

9 Responses to “Barbecue Sauce and Ketchup”

  1. Sarah Garstka


    The new layout is BEAUTIFUL!

  2. franceslea


    How long will this keep in the fridge and can you freeze it? How much does it make???

    • Meghan Telpner


      We’ve kept ours for over a month now and all good. The trick is that you can fill and clean jar, seal it and keep it in the fridge almost indefinitely. Once you open it though, best to use in a couple weeks- or until you see fur on top :)

  3. Kanika


    So happy to have come across this site! Over the past couple of years I’ve become more conscience about what I’m putting into my body. I know DIY is the best way. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Anastasia


    You got me with the ketchup and bbq sauce recipe! I can’t wait to try it! I so appreciate your fresh and up beat approach to how to enjoy the full spectrum of cooking and eating…without giving up the need for healthy, quality food that nourishes us. Thanks! Looking forward to more!

  5. Homemade Curry Powder & Sweet + Spicy BBQ Sauce Recipe | Pickles & Honey


    […] or two on instagram already, but I realized a similar variation of the BBQ Sauce is available on Meghan’s blog (the curry powder does not appear to be posted there), and so I thought I might turn this into a […]

  6. Naomi


    Hi, Meghan – I’m excited to try the ketchup recipe! What’s the yield?

  7. Vaishali


    Hi Meghan – I am going to try the ketchup recipe? Do you remember approximately how many pounds i 10 cups of tomatoes?

  8. Sarah Bester


    I was just looking up this recipe for about the millionth time so I thought I would post a comment and let you know how much my husband and I LOVE it! I’t so nice to have a sauce that I feel good about slathering on my food all summer. We’ve made it for many guests and plan on making it for a big group up at the cottage this summer. So amazingly tasty. Thanks for the amazing recipe :)


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