Is BBQ Sauce Vegan?

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BBQ sauce is a staple in many households, and some meals just aren’t complete without it! Whether the BBQ sauce is enjoyed with some fries, or to marinade a delicious protein, it is something that almost every family uses.

However, if you are following a vegan diet, BBQ sauce might not be the best condiment to keep at home.

Is BBQ sauce vegan? Honey, a common ingredient in BBQ sauce, is animal-derived and is not considered vegan-friendly. However, there is no straight answer as to whether or not BBQ sauce is vegan, as it does largely depend upon what specific ingredients each brand uses.

Different brands of BBQ sauce contain different ingredients, and you can even make your own BBQ sauce at home, but knowing which ingredients to look for and avoid will help you choose a BBQ sauce that is right for you.

We have rounded up all the ingredients that you need to look for when choosing a BBQ sauce, which might not be right for a vegan diet, and some specific brands that are vegan friendly, and some that aren’t.

Why BBQ Sauce Isn’t Always Vegan

There are a few ingredients that BBQ sauce might contain that could mean that the sauce is not vegan. While BBQ is made up of mostly vegan ingredients, one or two additional animal products can change that.

One of the most common non-vegan ingredients found in BBQ sauce is honey. Honey is a problematic ingredient in a vegan diet, as it comes from bees.

However, not all brand-name BBQ sauces contain honey, and many of your favorites might actually be vegan.

It’s really important, then, to check the bottle of each BBQ sauce to have a better understanding of the ingredients the condiment contains, and deciding from there.

Some are outright not vegan-friendly, while others can be a little more complicated.

The inclusion of honey and anchovies in a BBQ sauce is obviously going to make it not vegan, but there are other ingredients, such as natural flavors and processed sugars, which are more grey areas.

Not all processed sugars are vegan, and not all-natural flavors are vegan either, but they can be.

You most likely won’t be able to determine this from the label itself, so you will either have to trust that they are vegan, or find out more from the company themselves.

In saying all of this, it is definitely safer to choose a BBQ sauce that is certified vegan, so that there aren’t any hidden animal byproducts anywhere in the sauce! 

Ingredients To Look Out For

Understanding the ingredients to look for in BBQ sauce which might not make it vegan is the best way to determine whether not it is a good option for you and your needs.

There are four ingredients that BBQ might contain which are worth looking out for, some clearly more non-vegan than others. They are honey, anchovies, processed sugars, and natural flavors.

Some of these are easy to identify, such as honey and anchovies, while the processed sugars and natural flavors can be a little more complicated. 

Here is a bit about each, and how you could determine their vegan-friendliness or not.


Honey can be controversial when it comes to its vegan-friendliness. Many believe that because honey is derived from bees, it is an animal product and therefore should not be included in a vegan diet, the same as milk and eggs.

However, there are others who believe that because the bees aren’t harmed in the making of honey, and they do so naturally and at their own will, there is no problem with consuming honey on a vegan diet.

This is a completely personal choice and one you have to make for yourself.

If you consider honey to be non-vegan, then it is an ingredient you should look out for in BBQ sauce. Bees make honey for their own use, and not for human consumption, so it is easy to understand why it is considered non-vegan.

There are also reports that quite a few bees are killed in the process of collecting honey, and this is very much in line with animal cruelty.

Whether you believe this or not is up to you, and if you do choose to avoid honey in BBQ sauce, you will find your choices are not too limited.


So it is fairly easy to understand why anchovies are not considered vegan. Anchovies are a small type of fish, and to many people’s surprise, are a big part of flavoring BBQ sauce.

There are some big BBQ name brands that still use anchovies in their sauce, and it is something you definitely need to look out for.

There is no way you can enjoy BBQ sauce flavored with anchovies and still be on a vegan diet.

There are also many BBQ sauces that do not include anchovies, even though it is a fairly classic ingredient to make BBQ sauce, and there is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to find a decent BBQ sauce without anchovies.

It is a clear ingredient on the ingredient list and should be easy to pick out.

Natural Flavors

Natural flavors sound great on paper, but the truth is that quite a few natural flavors cannot be considered vegan. While most natural flavors are plant-derived, some do come from animal sources.

When one thinks of natural flavors, fruit, fruit juice, vegetables, and vegetable juice come to mind first. You also get vegan-friendly natural flavors from spices, bark, root leaves, and other plant material.

However, there are also non-vegan natural flavors that are derived from meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs.

You might get lucky and find the ingredients or source of the natural flavor in the list of ingredients, but if you are not sure, it is worth contacting the company to try and find out more about where the natural flavorings come from.

Most of the time these natural flavors are derived from plants, but there is also a chance that the flavors might have been made from animal products.

Some vegans think that eating products that contain natural flavors derived from animals is okay, as it is less damaging than actually eating meat, but once again this will be completely up to you and where you draw the line.

Processed Sugar

At surface level, processed sugar seems straightforward vegan. Unfortunately, it isn’t as straightforward as this at all.

Processed white sugar is often considered as being non-vegan, as bone char is used to bleach, whiten, and filtrate the sugar. This bone char is made from cattle bones, which are heated at high temperatures and turned into carbon.

It is easy to see why this might be considered non-vegan, but it is also important to remember that not all processed sugar is filtered and bleached with bone char, and not all sugar comes from sugar cane.

There are sugar companies that use vegan-friendly alternatives to process their sugar, and some even source sugar from other materials such as beets.

It can be really difficult to track the type of sugar used in BBQ sauce, or anything really, as it isn’t usually specified.

To be safe, you could opt to consume items that are made from organic sugar only, as this isn’t usually made with bone char.

BBQ Sauce Brands

There are a few BBQ sauces that are not vegan, but luckily there are some that are, so you really don’t have to miss out on the sweet and smoky flavors that BBQ sauce has to offer!

We have taken a look at some of the most popular BBQ sauces around and listed whether or not they are vegan, or which of their products are and aren’t!

Heinz BBQ Sauce

Heinz BBQ sauce is one of the most popular on the market, and you would be happy to hear that the original Heinz BBQ Sauce, as well as many of the other flavors, would be classified as vegan!

It is made with processed sugar, so you’ll have to decide on that aspect for yourself.

Non-vegan Heinz BBQ Sauces

These BBQ sauces from Heinz contain anchovies, and are therefore not vegan:

  • Memphis Style BBQ Sauce
  • Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce
  • Texas Style BBQ Sauce

Vegan Heinz BBQ Sauces

The below BBQ sauces from Heinz are considered vegan, but do contain processed sugar:

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

Kraft BBQ Sauce

Kraft BBQ sauces have been a staple in many households for a long time, and you can rest assured that most of the Kraft BBQ sauces are in fact vegan, with the exception of a few.

The reason some of the sauces are not considered vegan is that they contain honey, but not all do.

Non-Vegan Kraft BBQ Sauces

The below contain honey and are therefore not vegan:

  • Honey BBQ Sauce
  • Spicy Honey BBQ Sauce
  • Mesquite Smoke BBQ Sauce
  • Sweet Honey BBQ Sauce

Vegan Kraft BBQ Sauces

The below are all vegan and safe to include in your diet:

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

Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce

Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce is a favorite among many for its sweet, authentic, smoky taste and how well it goes with so many different meals and ingredients!

The one problem with the Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce is that the natural flavors are unknown, and while there is a chance that they are derived from animals, it is likely that they are plant-derived.

Other than this, most of the BBQ sauces are vegan-friendly.

Non-Vegan Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauces:

These BBQ sauces contain honey, which means that they are not vegan:

  • Maple Barbecue Sauce
  • Honey-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
  • Honey Barbecue Sauce

Vegan Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauces:

Other than the unknown natural flavors, these sauces can be considered vegan:

  • Original Barbecue Sauce
  • Hawaiian Barbecue Sauce
  • Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Barbecue Sauce
  • Sweet Golden Mustard Barbecue Sauce
  • Sweet Vidalia Onion Barbecue Sauce
  • Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • Steakhouse Marinade
  • Sweet Teriyaki Marinade
  • Kickin’ Bourbon Wing Barbecue Sauce

Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauce

Most of the Bull’s Eye BBQ sauces are vegan, but some do contain either bacon or honey, which would make them not vegan.

Non-Vegan Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauces

Only two of the Bull’s Eye BBQ sauces are not vegan, as they contain either bacon flavoring or honey:

  • Smoky Bacon BBQ Sauce
  • Tennessee Style Sweet Whiskey Glaze

Vegan Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauces

Most of the Bull’s Eye BBQ sauces are vegan, so you have quite a range of options:

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

Making Sure BBQ Sauce Is Vegan

The best way to ensure that the BBQ sauce you get to enjoy is vegan is to make it yourself!

This way you have complete control of the ingredients used, you get to make and enjoy the sauce fresh, and you can tweak it to suit your tastes exactly!

Here are some vegan ingredients you can use to make BBQ sauce at home, and you also get to choose vegan-friendly options for each just to be sure!

  • Ketchup
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Organic brown sugar
  • Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
  • Mustard 
  • Spices (such as pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder, chili powder, and garlic powder)

These are all either vegan or have vegan alternatives, and you can make up a large batch of BBQ sauce at home that you can keep to enjoy with different meals, without having to worry about any hidden ingredients!

So, Is BBQ Sauce Vegan?

Some BBQ sauces are vegan, and others are not. Whether it is the inclusion of honey, anchovies, natural flavors, or processed sugars, the vegan-friendliness of BBQ sauce does vary.

Using the above list of vegan-friendly BBQ sauces, or by making your own, you should not have to skip out on the delicious flavors that a good BBQ sauce offers!

Just be sure to read through ingredient lists carefully, and do your research to find a BBQ sauce that suits you best.

Related Questions

Wow! Hopefully, we should have answered your questions on all things BBQ sauce and whether or not it is vegan. We thought you might still have a few additional questions, so read on below to get some more answers!

Is BBQ sauce vegetarian?

Most BBQ sauces, while not always vegan, are vegetarian. You do just have to be wary of BBQ sauces that contain anchovies, or even bacon, as these would make the sauce not vegetarian.

These are usually clearly stated on the ingredients list, so they should be easy to find. Pescatarians are able to enjoy BBQ sauce made with anchovies, as long as it does not contain any bacon.

Is BBQ sauce gluten-free?

Some BBQ sauces may be gluten-free, while others might not. There are some BBQ sauces that are made using thickeners or colorings that may contain gluten.

You will have to read through the ingredients list carefully, or choose a BBQ sauce that is sold as gluten-free, and certified so.

The alternative is to make your own BBQ sauce at home, as this is the best way to know exactly which ingredients are being used in your foods!

Is BBQ sauce kosher?

You should look for BBQ sauces that are certified as kosher, as not all BBQ sauces are. This information can also be found on the BBQ sauce brand website, or you could reach out to customer care to ask the question.

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