This recipe for low acid barbecue sauce uses a combination of low acid spices and sweetness with no tomato and no ketchup. The sauce is ready in less than ten minutes and can be used on chicken, beef, fish, pork and ribs.
Is Barbecue Sauce Acidic?
Yes, barbecue sauce is usually made with a base of tomato paste or ketchup. Vinegar, sugar and spices make it a sweet and tangy sauce. Barbecue sauce is quite acidic because of the tomatoes with a pH of 4.3-4.9 and vinegar with a pH of 2-3.
In order to make a BBQ sauce that is low acid, tomatoes, ketchup and vinegar need to be omitted or kept to a minimum.
Pumpkin puree – I know it may sound crazy, but it really works. Tomato paste or ketchup is the traditional base for barbecue sauce, creating that thick body. But both are quite acidic and not an option for a low acid sauce.
Pumpkin puree provides a perfect background and thick base for this BBQ sauce. And don’t worry, with all the spices and flavors added, the pumpkin flavor will fade into the background.
Spices – This sauce contains a mix of several spices (no hot or acidic spices). The spices include mild paprika, ground ginger, ground coriander and cumin. If you like a more smoky flavor in your barbecue sauce, you can use smoked paprika in place of regular paprika. The spice section of your grocery store usually has smoked paprika.
Smoked salt adds another layer of smokiness to the sauce. It can be a little more difficult to find, but also adds a nice depth of flavor to this sauce. If you don’t like smoky flavor, it is ok to leave it out. If you do omit smoked salt, you may need to add a little extra regular salt.
Barbecue sauce also needs a sweet element. Maple syrup, brown sugar or agave provide some flavor along with the sweet.
Apple cider vinegar in just a small amount provides a little bit of tang that you want in a barbecue sauce. The amount is small enough that it keeps the acid level pretty low in this sauce.
I know that there is some evidence that apple cider vinegar is processed as an alkali in your system. I also know that some people on low acid diets completely avoid it. So I wanted to keep the amount low so that it has some effect on the flavor but a small effect on the pH of the final product.
Black strap molasses adds a wonderful bittersweet flavor to this barbecue sauce. This was the final ingredient that I added to the sauce. Creating this sauce was a bit of a process. I started with the pumpkin puree base and added ingredients a few at a time, tasting after each addition. The molasses added that final indescribable oomph to the sauce.
The sauce will be simmered with fresh green onion for another layer of zingy savory flavor.
How to Use BBQ Sauce
This barbecue sauce can be used on any protein. It is perfect on grilled chicken, fish such as salmon or swordfish, baby back ribs, pork chops, chicken or beef kabobs, shrimp or even tofu.
Barbecue sauce works best when it is brushed on near the end of the cooking process. Because it contains a good amount of maple syrup and molasses, it can burn easily. So, after one side is cooked and is facing up, brush on some barbecue sauce for the last five to 15 minutes of cook time. This way it will add some flavor without burning.
No Tomato, Low Acid BBQ Sauce
- 1 c pumpkin puree
- ⅔-¾ c water
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup or agave
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp coriander (ground)
- ⅛ tsp smoked salt (optional)
- ½ stalk green onion cut into 3 large pieces (do not chop)
- Place ⅔ cup of water and the rest of the ingredients, except the green onion, in a medium sized pot (about 2 qt size) and place on the stovetop over low-medium heat.
- Whisk thoroughly to combine.
- Stir in the green onion.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, turn the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring 2 or three times.
- Remove the pieces of green onion. If the sauce seems too thick (it will thicken as it cools), stir in 1 Tbsp water. Add another tablespoon if needed.
- Taste. If it seems a little blah, you can add a couple of pinches of salt and another teaspoon or two of molasses.
- Cool and pour into a jar. Keep refrigerated
- Use on chicken, fish, beef, pork, ribs and tofu.
- This sauce will stay fresh in the refrigerator for at least 1 week. Shake well before using.