Sneak Even More Veggies Into Dinner with This Easy Homemade Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce

Is BBQ sauce a staple on your dinner table?  It is in our house, almost as much as ketchup.  But when I started really analyzing labels, and seeing what was really in my food, I was mortified.  Conventional store bought BBQ sauce is terrible for you.  Take a look at the ingredients in a popular store-bought BBQ sauce:

High Fructose Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Natural Smoke Flavor, Spices, Caramel, Sodium Benzoate As A Preservative, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Garlic, Sugar, Tamarind, Natural Flavor.

This made my cringe a little, and I knew that I had to do figure out a way to make my own healthier BBQ sauce that the family will love.  It took a few tries, and a lot of chicken nuggets, but I have finally figured out a way to get a condiment on the table that my family loves and best of all, is filled with veggies!

I use this BBQ sauce for everything.  As a dipping sauce for nuggets, for BBQ pulled pork, BBQ chicken quesadillas, ribs… the list goes on and on and kids absolutely love it.  Homemade BBQ sauce was a MUST HAVE when I worked at the preschool – it came to the point where my kiddos wouldn’t eat the conventional BBQ sauce anymore, and parents were asking me for the recipe.

I have bell peppers and onions in my BBQ sauce, but there is so much room to add other veggies like zucchini, fresh tomatoes, or even carrots for sweetness.  Since you’re cooking everything down and simmering it all day, the vegetables basically melt into the sauce, and when you puree it, you won’t even know they are there.


1, 16 oz bottle ketchup
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 zucchini, optional
2 carrots, peeled and diced, optional
1/4 cup water or chicken stock
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp chile powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper


Prepare vegetables, and sautee in 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

brown sugar bbq sauce recipe

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Reduce heat and let simmer 30-40 minutes.

brown sugar bbq sauce recipe

Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.  Working in batches, puree bbq sauce in a food processor until smooth.

brown sugar bbq sauce recipe

Transfer to a squirt bottle or a tupperware container and use within two weeks.

brown sugar bbq sauce recipe

What are your favorite things to put BBQ sauce on?

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