A sweet, smoky and spicy BBQ Sauce you won’t believe doesn’t have a lick of sugar in it. Perfect for Paleo and Whole30!!
After a little downward spiral of being plain ol’ lazy about food and cooking, a lot of junk food and eating out, I decided to turn things around kick-starting with the Whole30 Program (Read about why I’m doing the Whole30 and my experiences here). With the Whole30 program came a whole new bunch of challenges to try and bring familiar old flavors we were used to, into the foods we were eating while keeping them Whole30 compliant. I’m not talking about bending the rules or recreating junk food that they so strongly advise against doing. Just figuring out whole30 compliant sauces, marinades and ways to make dishes more like the comfort food you were used to.
When I told my husband I was planning on making ribs for him and friend on his movie night, he said “no barbecue sauce though right?”. That got me thinking why not? After all, half the joy of ribs is that sauce caramelizing and it’s solely responsible for making the ribs sticky, sweet and a mess to eat (messier the better, right? 😉 ). So after a little research from the ingredient list on the back of regular bbq sauces and a glimpse at some online Paleo and Whole30 recipes, I decided to devise my own simple whole30 bbq sauce.
I kinda nailed it on my first attempt. No big deal! I tried not over complicating it and kept the ingredients very simple and minimal enough to where I wouldn’t mind making the sauce at the drop of the hat. I also didn’t simmer the sauce for too long like a lot of recipes suggested, mostly cause I’m not a very patient cook. Plus, it tasted great without the hour long simmer…so there. If you are more patient than I, by all means simmer away. My husband absolutely loved it, as did his non whole30 friend. I have since made the sauce 3 more times adjusting a few things to perfect the recipe to post here.
When I first tasted my recipe where I used 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, I thought it was quite spicy (know that I love spice and have a very high tolerance to it). It had me a little worried, as my husband’s friend wasn’t such a fan of spicy foods. But, after brushing it on the meat it didn’t have a noticeable kick to it just a pleasant hint of spice. So if you plan on using the sauce more for dipping and aren’t a fan of spice I’d reduce the amount of cayenne you add. For me it was the perfect taste of initial sweetness, followed by slightly tangy with the right amount of kick from the spice and finished with a smokiness that made it what BBQ Sauce should be. It’s the liquid smoke that really makes it a barbecue sauce. You just want to be careful with the ingredients in the liquid smoke you pick if you are doing the Whole30, as some have molasses and other non-compliant ingredients. As always I feel like you can adjust the quantities of ingredients in my recipe to better suit your own palate.
I’ll stop blabbing about the sauce for now and let you try it yourself (do share what you think of it if you do in the comments below) –
- 5 Medjhool Dates (Pitted and Soaked in warm water)
- 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
- 1/2 cup Organic (unsweetened) Apple Juice or Pineapple Juice
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika (smoked would be better)
- 1/4- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper Powder (depending on your spice level)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- - Pit and soak 5 dates in warm water for about 15 minutes or so.
- - In a medium sauce pan, mix together all the above remaining ingredients except the liquid smoke (i.e- tomato paste, apple juice, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper powder, salt, apple cider vinegar) and heat them through gently on medium to low heat. Bring to a low simmer.
- - In the meantime blend the dates into a smooth puree, using some of the water they were soaking in.
- - You can now simply add the date puree to the simmering sauce and mix it well...OR (Optional step) I add the sauce to the date puree in the blender (as my blender doesn't do a great job pureeing small quantities) pulse it all together a few times until it's a smooth sauce.
- - If you blended the sauce with the date puree, return the sauce to the sauce pan on low heat and add a tsp of liquid smoke to the sauce. You can rinse out the blender with a little water and add it to the sauce.
- - Let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionaly until it thickens and reaches the consistency you'd like.
- - Let the sauce cool and there you have it Smoky Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce ready to use on meats or veggies and even as a dipping sauce!
- While it may seem too spicy if you put 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper when you taste the sauce as is, It really isn't the case once it cools down as well as when you brush it on whatever meat you're cooking. I taste tested it on chicken and ribs and didn't get any complaints from family memebers you have pretty low tolerances to spice. If used as a dipping sauce you can note more of the zip from the Cayenne.