The 9 Best Substitutes For Barbeque Sauce

What can I use instead of barbeque sauce? The best substitutes for barbeque sauce are homemade barbeque sauce, BBQ spice rub, steak sauce, and ketchup. For flavor alternatives, try hoisin, mustard, plum, teriyaki, or white barbeque sauce.

Barbeque, barbecue, or BBQ sauce is a thick, syrupy American condiment for marinating, basting, or topping meat when barbequing. Most barbeque sauce contains tomato paste, vinegar, molasses or brown sugar, spices (mustard, pepper, onion, garlic), and liquid smoke. Typically, barbeque sauce has a sweet and tangy flavor. Let’s look at the nine best substitutes for barbeque sauce.

The Best Barbeque Sauce Substitutes

Homemade Barbeque Sauce

The best substitute for store-bought barbeque sauce is homemade barbeque sauce.

Making a tasty and zesty sauce at home is as simple as combining ¾ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons paprika, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Vary this basic recipe as desired, for instance, by adding mustard, tomato paste, or tomato sauce instead of ketchup, honey or molasses instead of brown sugar, and additional spices.

Many cooks like to add liquid smoke, while chili powder is also popular.

Substitute homemade barbeque sauce for the store-bought sauce in equal volumes.

BBQ Spice Rub

Another excellent substitute for barbeque sauce is BBQ spice rub.

A dry spice rub adds intense flavor to barbeque, functioning like a marinade or barbeque sauce.

Typically, spice rubs contain paprika, black pepper, salt, and sugar, but they can be highly inventive.

 Spice rubs can include almost any dried spice, from celery seeds and chili powder to cumin and garlic flakes.

Apply your dry rub to the meat a couple of hours before grilling or barbequing. You can combine the rub with a mopping sauce.

Some pitmasters argue that dry rub is better than barbeque sauce, so feel free to use this alternative. Your meat won’t have a luscious glazed appearance but will be tender and flavorful.

Steak Sauce

A handy substitute for barbeque sauce is steak sauce.

Steak sauce is a thick, sweet condiment traditionally served with steak in the US. It is also delicious with fried eggs, sausages, sandwiches, and fries.

Originally an Anglo-Indian sauce, steak sauce is known as a brown sauce or, by the brand name, HP sauce in the UK.

With common ingredients to barbeque sauce, A1 is the most common brand of steak sauce in the US.

Steak sauce has a sweetened tomato and vinegar base with spices like garlic and onions. However, steak sauce also includes fruit, usually raisins and oranges, making it sweet and tangy.

Use steak sauce instead of barbeque sauce for marinades, glazes, gravy, and topping.

Replace barbeque sauce with the same amount of steak sauce.


The most convenient substitute for barbeque sauce is ketchup.

This common pantry item is often an ingredient in barbeque sauce, giving it a typical sweet and fruity flavor and a similar thick consistency.

Most ketchup contains not only tomatoes but also vinegar and spices.

Use ketchup as a marinade or basting sauce for barbeque in equal quantities, but with the proviso that it doesn’t have the same smoky flavor profile.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a delicious substitute for barbeque sauce.

Used in Asian cuisine as a glaze, hoisin sauce is a thick, dark, spicy condiment. Most hoisin sauce contains soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sesame paste, and chili.

Hoisin sauce has a very similar consistency and zest to barbeque sauce. It can be used as a marinade, glaze, or basting sauce.

Substitute barbeque sauce with hoisin sauce in equal quantities, especially if you like a savory, spicy flavor.

Mustard Sauce

Another convenient sauce you can use instead of barbeque sauce is the mustard sauce.

Mustard sauce may seem an unlikely barbeque condiment. However, a type of mustard-based barbeque sauce is found in South Carolina.

This golden barbeque sauce is yellow or orange and much thinner, richer, and spicier than tomato-based barbeque sauce.

Traditional South Carolina barbeque sauce contains hot yellow mustard, brown sugar, honey, apple cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper.

Some variations also include ketchup, white vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce.

If you don’t have traditional or golden barbeque sauce, use regular mustard sauce to add tang to your barbeque. This sauce is an ingredient in a marinade or a topping for pulled pork and chicken.

Replace barbeque sauce measure for measure with mustard sauce for an additional tangy flavor.

Plum Sauce

For a fruity flavor, use the plum sauce as an alternative to barbeque sauce.

Plum sauce is a sweet and spicy Asian condiment, often used as a dip for spring rolls or topping for roast duck. The plum sauce is thick and fruity and contains plums, vinegar, and spices like ginger.

Because of the vinegar’s overlap in ingredients and the astringency, the plum sauce can substitute for barbeque sauce, especially as a marinade, topping, or glaze for ribs and chicken.

Replace barbeque sauce with plum sauce in a 1:1 ratio.

Teriyaki Sauce

Another Asian sauce to use instead of barbeque sauce is teriyaki sauce.

This thick, brown sauce is fundamental to Japanese cuisine, with its characteristically zesty taste.

Teriyaki sauce contains soy sauce, garlic, honey or brown sugar, and rice vinegar (mirin), giving it a sweet-sour flavor profile.

Use teriyaki sauce instead of barbeque sauce in marinades, glazes, pan sauce, or dips for grilled and smoked meats. It also works well with grilled vegetables.

Substitute teriyaki sauce for barbeque sauce in equal quantities.

White Barbeque Sauce

For a flavor adventure, replace traditional barbeque sauce with white barbeque sauce.

Although white barbeque sauce is used for barbeque, its flavor profile differs entirely from the sweet, spicy sauce you know and love.

This Alabama specialty contains mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and seasonings.

White barbeque sauce can only be added to the meat at the end of grilling or smoking, as it can break down.

Use white barbeque sauce as a 1:1 substitute if you need a topping for chicken wings, pulled pork sandwiches, and coleslaw.