Is barbecue sauce OK for keto?

The Quick Answer

Barbecue sauce can be keto-friendly in moderation depending on the ingredients. Many store-bought barbecue sauces contain high amounts of sugar and other carbs that can quickly add up when tracking macros on keto. The best options are homemade barbecue sauces made with low-carb ingredients like tomatoes, vinegar, spices, and artificial sweeteners. When buying pre-made barbecue sauce, read labels carefully and look for low-carb options with 2-3g net carbs per serving or less. Barbecue sauce is usually not suitable for strict keto diets under 20g daily carbs but can fit into more flexible 50g net carb keto diets if consumed in small amounts.

Examining the Carb Counts of Popular Barbecue Sauces

The carb content in barbecue sauce can vary widely depending on the brand and ingredients. Here’s a look at the carb counts in some popular supermarket barbecue sauce options:

Barbecue Sauce Total Carbs per 2 Tbsp Net Carbs per 2 Tbsp
Sweet Baby Ray’s Original 16g 13g
KC Masterpiece Original 18g 16g
Stubbs Original 19g 12g
Stubb’s “Lower Carb” 6g 3g
G Hughes Sugar Free Hickory Flavored 2g 2g

As you can see, traditional barbecue sauces contain around 13-16g net carbs per serving – too high for strict keto. However, some “lower carb” options like Stubb’s Lower Carb and G Hughes keep net carbs under 5g per serving by using sugar-free sweeteners.

Counting Carbs and Calories in Barbecue Sauce

A typical 2 tablespoon serving of barbecue sauce contains around 80 calories and 12-16g of carbs, with 10-14g net carbs on average after fiber is subtracted.

If eating a keto diet with 50g of net carbs per day, 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce would use up 20-28% of your daily allotment. On stricter keto plans allowing just 20g of net carbs daily, 2 tbsp barbecue sauce could account for 50-70% of your total carbs!

So while an occasional small serving of higher-carb barbecue sauce can fit into a flexible keto diet, it’s easy to go overboard and quickly knock yourself out of ketosis if you’re not careful. Measuring servings accurately and tracking your macros is important.

Best Low-Carb Barbecue Sauce Brands

When shopping for keto-friendly barbecue sauce, read nutrition labels closely and look for these features:

– 2-5g net carbs per serving
– Low sugar varieties using keto-approved sweeteners like erythritol, stevia, monk fruit, and sucralose
– No high fructose corn syrup
– Higher fat and lower carb ratio

Some of the top low-carb barbecue sauce picks include:

G Hughes Sugar Free Sauces

With only 1-2g net carbs and 25 calories per 2 tablespoon serving, G Hughes sauce is one of the lowest carb options. It’s sweetened with sucralose and available in flavors like hickory, honey, and maple.

Guy’s Award Winning Sugar Free Sauces

These sauces by celebrity chef Guy Fieri contain just 1g net carb and 15 calories per serving. The sweet taste comes from allulose and stevia.

Stubbs “Lower Carb” Barbecue Sauce

At 3g net carbs and 15 calories per serving, Stubbs’ lower carb variety saves you over 10g carbs compared to their original sauce. It’s sweetened with sugar alcohols and stevia.

Primal Kitchen Organic Keto Carolina Style

With 4g net carbs and 25 calories per serving, this tomato-based sauce fits into keto diets. It uses allulose and vinegar for tangy sweetness.

Chompies Low Carb BBQ Sauce

Chompies keeps carbs down to 2g net per serving by using tomato paste as the first ingredient along with natural flavorings like garlic and spices.

Making Homemade Low-Carb Barbecue Sauce

Making your own keto barbecue sauce at home gives you full control over the ingredients. Here are some tips for keeping carbs low:

– Use a sugar-free liquid sweetener like stevia, erythritol or monk fruit instead of sugar.

– Tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce provide richer flavor for fewer carbs than ketchup.

– Apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce add tanginess and depth without carbs.

– For thickness, use a little xanthan gum or dilute with broth instead of cornstarch.

– Boost flavor with spices and seasonings like garlic, onion, paprika, chili powder, cumin, mustard, pepper.

– Get smoky flavor from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead of molasses.

– Consider adding keto-friendly ingredients like avocado oil mayo, heavy cream, or cream cheese.

Here is a basic recipe for keto-friendly homemade barbecue sauce:

Homemade Low-Carb Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients Amount
Diced tomatoes 1 cup
Tomato paste 3 tbsp
Apple cider vinegar 1⁄4 cup
Worcestershire sauce 2 tbsp
Erythritol or Swerve ½ cup
Garlic powder 1 tsp
Onion powder 1 tsp
Paprika 1 tsp
Salt ½ tsp
Black pepper ½ tsp

This makes about 1 cup or 16 servings of sauce with just 1g net carb each. Adjust spices to your taste – add chili powder for heat or cumin for smokiness.

Is Store-Bought Keto Barbecue Sauce Healthy?

Some store-bought low-carb barbecue sauces use natural sweeteners, but many contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives like:

– Sucralose – Splenda artificial sweetener, 0 net carbs but questionable health impact

– Potassium sorbate – preservative that may cause allergic reactions

– Xanthan gum – thickener made from bacteria that can cause digestive issues

– “Natural flavors” – broad term that can hide sources like MSG

– Caramel color – artificial coloring made from ammonia, linked to cancer

So while artificial sweeteners technically allow for lower carb counts, some of the other additives found in bottled keto sauces may not be ideal for health.

Homemade sauce lets you avoid mystery ingredients and stick to whole foods. But for a quick keto-friendly condiment, look for brands with the fewest additives and whole food ingredients when possible.

Using Barbecue Sauce on Keto

To incorporate barbecue sauce into a keto lifestyle:

– Use sparingly as a condiment or finishing sauce – Limit to 1-2 tbsp per serving

– Avoid dipping meats and sauces – dripping can double servings fast

– Mix with mayo or sour cream to make thinner, lower-carb dressings

– Use strong flavors like a smoky chipotle sauce to give a bigger taste in smaller amounts

– Sweeten other sauces and glazes with just a spoonful – a little goes a long way for flavor

– Mix with plain Greek yogurt for a creamy, tangy chipotle chicken dip

– Whisk into meat loaf, burgers, meatballs or chili as a flavor boost

– Brush onto proteins the last 5 minutes of grilling instead of basting the entire time

Keto-Friendly Barbecue Sauce Uses

– Pulled pork or shredded chicken
– Chicken wings or drumsticks
– Pork chops or ribs
– Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers
– Veggie or mushroom skewers
– Cauliflower burnt ends
– Zucchini planks “fries”
– Mix into coleslaw dressing
– Top keto pizza crust
– Pork rind nachos

Does Barbecue Sauce Kick You Out of Ketosis?

Barbecue sauce can technically kick you out of ketosis if you consume too many total carbs or excess calories. However, when used properly in moderation, barbecue sauce can be part of a successful low-carb keto diet for most people.

Keto flu symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and brain fog indicate you have been kicked out of ketosis. This happens when carbs are increased to over 50g per day, which causes the body to burn carbs instead of fats for fuel.

Some people can stay in ketosis with more carbs, while others require stricter carb control under 30g daily. Barbecue sauce becomes more risky for maintaining ketosis at lower carb intakes closer to 20g net carbs per day.

An occasional small serving of 2 tbsp barbecue sauce should not disrupt ketosis for most people following a standard 50g net carb keto diet. But consistently overdoing servings at meals can quickly add up when combined with other carb sources.

Eating too many calories from any source can also kick you out of ketosis by slowing fat burn. One study found excess calories can impact ketone levels as much as extra carbs. So overdoing calorie-dense barbecue sauce may counteract the benefits of keto.

Best Keto Barbecue Sauce Recipes

Here are some delicious keto barbecue sauce recipes to try:

Chipotle Lime Keto Barbecue Sauce

– 1⁄2 cup tomato paste
– 1⁄4 cup lime juice
– 2 tbsp Swerve
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp onion powder
– 1 tbsp chopped chipotle peppers in adobo
– 1⁄4 tsp salt
– 1⁄4 tsp black pepper

Spicy Sriracha Keto Barbecue Sauce

– 1⁄2 cup sriracha hot chili sauce
– 1⁄4 cup avocado oil mayo
– 3 tbsp Swerve confectioners
– 2 tsp yellow mustard
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1⁄2 tsp red pepper flakes

Tangy Apple Cider Keto Barbecue Sauce

– 1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar
– 1⁄4 cup tomato paste
– 2 tbsp avocado oil
– 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
– 1 tbsp erythritol
– 1 tsp liquid smoke
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1⁄2 tsp salt

Easy Keto Barbecue Sauce

– 1 cup sugar-free ketchup
– 2 tbsp coconut aminos
– 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 tbsp erythritol
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp onion powder
– 1⁄2 tsp liquid smoke

Buying Keto Barbecue Sauce from Restaurants

When dining out and ordering meat with barbecue sauce, ask for sauce on the side and use sparingly. Request nutrition info so you know carb counts. Low-carb options under 5g carbs per serving are ideal.

Many restaurants now offer some keto-friendly barbecue sauce choices:

– Red Robin – Cabernet Steak Sauce 3g net carbs
– McDonald’s – Tangy Barbecue Sauce 4g net carbs
– Blaze Pizza – Spicy BBQ Sauce 3g net carbs
– Wings Over – Hot BBQ Sauce 2g net carbs
– Guy Fieri chain restaurants – Sugar-free sauces

Barbecue joints may be willing to make special low-carb sauce for you. Some tips when ordering:

– Ask for dry rubs and no sauce or sauce on the side
– Get thinner, vinegar-based sauces instead of thick, sweet ones
– Look for tomato-based sauces without added sugars
– Avoid molasses-sweetened Kansas City and Memphis styles

With the right style of sauce and portion control, you can still enjoy tasty barbecue flavors on a keto diet!


Many standard barbecue sauces are too high in sugar and carbs to fit into a keto diet. But there are still ways to enjoy the barbecue flavor you love – in moderation. Low-carb store-bought sauces with 2-5g net carbs per serving work when used sparingly. Or make your own healthy keto barbecue sauce at home with ingredients like tomatoes, vinegar, spices and sugar substitutes. Look for thin, tangy tomato-based sauces and use as a finishing drizzle. Pair with proteins and veggies to fit barbecue into your keto meal plan. With smart planning and tracking carbs, you can still enjoy delicious barbecue sauce flavors and stay in ketosis.

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