What Can I Use Instead of Ketchup for BBQ Sauce?

If you’re out of ketchup or simply looking for an alternative to the traditional BBQ sauce, don’t worry! There are plenty of delicious substitutes that can add a unique flavor twist to your grilled dishes.

In this article, we’ll explore some creative options that you can use instead of ketchup for BBQ sauce.

1. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomatoes that offers a rich and intense flavor. It provides a thick and robust base for your homemade BBQ sauce.

To use tomato paste as a replacement for ketchup, mix it with vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and spices like paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Adjust the quantities according to your taste preferences, and simmer the mixture until it thickens.

2. Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a popular condiment used in Asian cuisine. It has a sweet and savory taste with hints of garlic and soy sauce.

When used as an ingredient in homemade BBQ sauce, hoisin sauce can bring an exciting fusion of flavors to your grilled meats. Combine hoisin sauce with honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, and chili flakes for a delicious Asian-inspired BBQ sauce alternative.

3. Mustard

Mustard is not only great as a condiment on its own but also serves as an excellent base for tangy BBQ sauces. Its slightly acidic and pungent flavor pairs well with grilled meats.

Mix mustard with apple cider vinegar, honey or brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to create a flavorful mustard-based BBQ sauce.

4. Soy Sauce

While soy sauce is typically associated with Asian cooking, it can be a surprising substitute for ketchup in BBQ sauce recipes. Its umami-rich flavor adds depth to your marinades and glazes.

Combine soy sauce with brown sugar or honey, garlic, ginger, lime juice, and optional spices like chili powder or Sriracha for an Asian-inspired twist on your BBQ dishes.

5. Fruit Preserves or Jam

Fruit preserves or jam can provide a naturally sweet and fruity base for your homemade BBQ sauce. Choose flavors that complement the type of meat you’re grilling.

For example, apricot preserves work well with pork, while raspberry jam pairs nicely with chicken. Mix the fruit preserves with vinegar (apple cider or white), Worcestershire sauce, mustard (Dijon or whole grain), and spices such as cinnamon or cayenne pepper for a unique and flavorful BBQ sauce alternative.


As you can see, there are numerous alternatives to ketchup when it comes to making BBQ sauce. Whether you prefer a tangy tomato paste base, an Asian-inspired twist with hoisin sauce or soy sauce, a pungent mustard-based flavor profile, or a fruity twist using fruit preserves or jam – the possibilities are endless!

Experiment with different ingredients and ratios to customize your homemade BBQ sauce according to your taste preferences. Enjoy exploring these delicious substitutes and take your grilled dishes to the next level!