Is BBQ Sauce Vegan? It Depends on The Brand.

is BBQ sauce vegan?

BBQ sauce is the perfect condiment to spice up your beans and rice. It can put life into your simplest salted salad. BBQ sauce is well known as an integral condiment in every US household. A day doesn’t pass without taking the BBQ sauce out of the fridge. Whether for spicing up toasts or for turning every flavourless preparation into something you’d been waiting to eat, in simple words, BBQ sauce is a magician.

But is it vegan? Will it help you maintain your promise of sustainability to the earth? Or does it have undercover non-vegan ingredients to challenge your trust? 

Can Vegans eat BBQ sauce?

Yes, vegans can eat BBQ sauce. Most BBQ sauces are made with a ketchup base and are supplemented with spices and smokey flavors. However, there are a few key ingredients to look for when shopping for your sauce. Make sure to check the label for any animal-derived products, such as honey or Worcestershire sauce.

Is BBQ Sauce Vegan? Analyzing the ingredients

BBQ sauce is mostly vegan. The commonly found animal derived ingredient in some brands of BBQ sauce is honey. There are other ingredients which may also be present in some specific brands that you’ll need to avoid. 

The original flavour of brands like Heinz, Kraft, Stubb’s, Bulls-Eye, Sweet Baby Ray’s are all vegan. 

There are four typical problematic ingredients you need to be on a lookout for while incorporating BBQ sauce in your meals: honey, anchovies, natural flavours, and processed sugars.

BBQ sauce

Honey is considered as the most controversial vegan ingredient

While a large number of vegans believe that honey, because it is derived from honey bees, is an animal product and shouldn’t be consumed, others are of the opinion that it is okay for vegans to consume honey because bees aren’t hurt in the process.

Those against honey consumption state that honey, like dairy, is an animal product and bees are animals. By that logic, honey should be avoided at all cost. They also mention that bees work really hard to make their honey so us taking it becomes a sort of theft. Bees create honey for their own use, not for us, similar to the logic used in avoiding dairy. Cows make milk for their calves, not for us. Bees make honey for use by their bee population, not for humans. 

It is also true that a lot of bees get killed in the process of collecting honey. Since vegans are against animal cruelty, honey doesn’t stand a chance to be considered vegan.

It is more of a personal choice to avoid or include honey in your diet. Many vegans avoid it and many don’t. If you are a vegan and you avoid honey, your choices in BBQ sauce become more limited.

Anchovies are definitely not vegan

Anchovies are only found in two major BBQ sauce brands which include some specific flavours of Heinz. 

Anchovies refer to small sized fishes and killing and eating of fishes cannot be considered vegan at all. It is cruel and not essential. 

Some people identify as ostrovegan and insist that they are vegans who consume oysters. Such people may also be comfortable with consuming anchovies.

Processed Sugar may or may not be vegan

This is another controversial ingredient found in BBQ sauce. Plain white sugar is sometimes classified as non-vegan because it is passed through bone char for whitening and bleaching in the filtration process.

Bone char is the substance used in the filtering and bleaching process of cane sugar to render it a pristine white coloration. Bone char itself is made by heating the bones of cattle at very high temperatures until they turn into carbon. 

It is really important to note that every cane sugar may not necessarily be bleached by bone char. Likewise, every sugar does not necessarily come from sugar cane for that matter. Many sugar companies use granular activated carbon for the same purpose. Some companies even use sugar extracted from beet instead so that neither bone char nor granular activated charcoal is required for filtration purposes.

The challenge with consuming sugar is, you never know how it is produced because it isn’t mentioned on the product label.

It is important to keep in mind that if the sugar in your product is labelled organic, that means it wasn’t filtered with bone char.

The sugar derived from coconut or beet doesn’t require filtration and so does not use bone char in production.

If you want to be confident about the sugar used in your pack of BBQ sauce, buy an organic variety. 

Natural flavours 

It is very well known that all artificial colors are not vegan. While some of them may be derived from plants, many are derived from animal sources. The US FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations has made a list of the animal and plant sources from which natural flavours may be extracted.

  • Fruit or fruit juice
  • Vegetables or vegetable juice
  • Spices
  • Edible yeast, bark, herbs, buds, root leaves, or plant material
  • Meat, poultry or seafood
  • Dairy products, including fermented products
  • Eggs 

The process of obtaining natural flavours involves heating the plant or animal source. If the presence of natural flavours makes you uncomfortable, you can ask the company to be specific about the source. Some clues about the original source may also be found in the label if carefully looked for.

Many people believe that plants are the predominant source of natural flavours but it is possible to come across some specific flavours like Castoreum which is often considered a vegan substance but is extracted from the anal secretions of beavers. 

Many vegans still choose to consume foods containing natural flavours because avoiding these substances does not really have as much impact as avoiding meat, eggs, dairy products, and honey.

The smoke flavour used in BBQ sauce is produced by a vegan method.

What barbeque sauce is vegan?

There are many brands of barbeque sauce that are vegan. Some popular brands that have vegan options include Heinz, Sweet Baby Ray’s, and Stubb’s. Not every variant of these brands is vegan, so when choosing a barbeque sauce, check the ingredients to confirm that it is vegan.

We have made a list of ingredients and the vegan and non-vegan varieties of some popular brands of BBQ sauce.

Heinz BBQ sauce

The original Heinz BBQ sauce and most other flavours by Heinz are vegan. But even the classic flavour of Heinz may contain sugar processed with bone char. The Kansas City Style, Memphis Style, and Texas Style BBQ sauces from Heinz contain anchovies as an ingredient and are hence not vegan. 

The following varieties of Heinz BBQ sauce are still considerably vegan:

  • Heinz Carolina Mustard Style BBQ sauce
  • Heinz Carolina Vinegar Style Sweet and Tangy BBQ sauce
  • Heinz Original Sweet and Thick BBQ sauce
  • Heinz Hawaii Style Sweet and Fruity BBQ sauce
  • Heinz Kentucky Bourbon Style Rich and Savory BBQ sauce

Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce

The original flavour and most other flavours of Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce are vegan. The non-vegan varieties of Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce include Smokey Bacon BBQ sauce because it contains bacon as a constituent, and Tennessee Style Sweet Whiskey Glaze has honey.

The vegan varieties of Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce are: 

  • Original BBQ sauce
  • Hickory Brown Sugar BBQ sauce
  • Dark Beer BBQ sauce
  • New York SteakHouse BBQ sauce
  • Red Hot Chilli Hot sauce
  • Roasted Onion BBQ sauce
  • Memphis Style Sweet and Spicy Hot Sauce
  • Smoky Chipotle Hot sauce

Kraft BBQ sauce

Almost all Kraft BBQ sauces are considered to be vegan except the Honey, Sweet Honey, Spicy Honey, and Mesquite Smoke varieties. These non-vegan varieties contain honey. Apart from that, no other animal derived ingredients are used in Kraft BBQ sauce.

The following flavours of this brand are known to be essentially vegan:

  • Original Barbecue Sauce and Dip
  • Hot and Spicy Barbecue Sauce and Dip
  • Thick and Spicy Barbecue Sauce and Dip
  • Sweet Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce and Dip

Stubb’s BBQ sauce

Most varieties of the brand Stubb’s BBQ sauce are considered vegan. The Smokey Mesquite and Sweet Honey and Spice flavours contain honey which is not considered vegan by many consumers.

These flavours of Stubb’s BBQ sauce are chiefly considered vegan:

  • Dr. Pepper Bar-B-Q sauce
  • Hickory Bourbon Bar-B-Q sauce
  • Original Bar-B-Q sauce
  • Spicy Bar-B-Q sauce
  • Sticky Sweet Bar-B-Q sauce
  • Sweet Heart Bar-B-Q sauce

Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce

The original barbecue sauce of this brand is vegan. Most ingredients of BBQ sauce except the natural flavours are completely vegan. Though natural flavours may be derived from unwanted sources, they are most likely to be vegan in this brand.

The Maple Barbecue sauce and others with honey are considered non-vegan. 

The following is a list of the vegan flavours of •Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce:

  • Original Barbecue sauce
  • Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Barbecue sauce
  • Hawaiian BBQ sauce
  • Sweet Golden Mustard Barbecue sauce
  • Hickory and Brown Sugar Barbecue sauce
  • Sweet Vidalia Onion Barbecue sauce
  • Buffalo Wing sauce
  • Kickin’ Bourbon Wing Barbecue sauce
  • Sweet Teriyaki Marinade
  • Steakhouse Marinade 

Choosing the right vegan BBQ sauce:

Before you head out to your nearest grocery store, it is important to be aware of what needs to be kept in mind and what can be ignored.

Remember that being a vegan is about making your lifestyle as sustainable as possible. It doesn’t have to mean you go too hard on yourself and stop eating everything altogether. Some essential foods and nutrients might not even be available to your body if you start ignoring the non-mainstream non-vegan food products. 

To be sure, always check the ingredients thoroughly before you buy a product. Turn every bottle on its back side and read the label to spot the heads of non-vegan food constituents you cannot ignore. If you spot anchovies in the list of ingredients, you preferably cannot use this item. If you are against honey consumption, you’ll need to skip this food item as well.

Don’t be too focussed on eliminating sugar. Not all sugar production uses the filtration process with bone char. A large amount of cane sugar is not processed in this way and is instead filtered using granular activated charcoal. There is unfiltered sugar in the market which is brown in colour. Also, the sugar obtained from beet and coconut is essentially vegan. 

Remember that sugar is an important constituent of a balanced diet. Don’t be very critical about sugars if you require a food product.

Find the perfect flavour for yourself.

Everybody has a different personal favourite brand and flavour. Others might like a more spicy version of BBQ sauce than you. Even completely vegan varieties of BBQ sauce are large in number so there is less need to worry about your favourite condiment.

We suggest you make your own BBQ sauce at home. 

If you are not comfortable with the little fallouts and even minute amounts of non-vegan constituents in your diet, it is safest to make your own BBQ sauce and never depend on someone else’s promises or opinions.

We have found you one perfect vegan BBQ sauce recipe you can easily use at home. Get together these ingredients:

  • Half cup Organic Ketchup
  • Three Teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • One Tablespoon White Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • One Tablespoon Coconut Sugar or Organic Brown Sugar
  • One Tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire
  • One Tablespoon Mustard (don’t use dry mustard)
  • Pepper, Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Chilli Powder 
  • Thirteen Cups of Water

This recipe is a sure way to ascertain that your homemade BBQ sauce is strictly vegan.

It is important to follow some special tips while preparing BBQ sauce with this recipe:

  • It is important to use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika while making BBQ sauce with this recipe. Smoked paprika is not necessarily more expensive.
  • Remember that it is essential to store your prepared and sealed vegan barbecue sauce in a freezer for a week’s duration before you start using it.
  • Simmer the BBQ sauce at low heat on the stove. Excess temperature might make it splatter out of the pan.
  • You can use a vegan hot sauce to add a touch of extra spice.


Keep in mind, you don’t have to compromise your own health while making strict vegan choices We hope this information and our recommendations prove helpful to your kind heart. We recommend you buy the considerably vegan options available in the popular BBQ sauce brands like Heinz, Bull’s Eye, Kraft’s, Sweet Baby Ray’s, and Stubb’s.

You always have the option to make your own BBQ sauce at home if you don’t want to trust any of the capitalist brands. So is BBQ sauce vegan? More than you expect!

Joe became a vegan after watching Cowspiracy. He always knew something was off with the way we consume animal products, but watching the documentary made him realized how bad it actually is. Joe is now making sure that every product he buys is 100% vegan!