Can Diabetics Eat BBQ Sauce? (Regular, Sugar Free?)


can diabetics eat bbq sauce

There is nothing better than a good BBQ feast and all the different sauces that go along with it. Unfortunately, many of us feel like we have to limit ourselves or avoid certain foods all together. For people with diabetes, the question is often asked, “Can diabetics eat BBQ sauce?” 

People with diabetes can eat barbecue sauce, provided they count the carbohydrates from the sauce as a part of their meal plan. A 2-tablespoon serving of regular barbecue sauce has 15 to 22 g of carbohydrate, whereas a 2 tablespoon serving of sugar-free barbecue sauce has 2 to 4 g carb.

If you have diabetes and you are concerned about whether you can eat barbecue sauce or not, or if you are just a health-conscious person concerned about the sugar or calorie content of your barbecue sauce, this article is for you. 

In this article, you will find:

  • How many grams of carbohydrate and calories in regular vs sugar-free barbecue sauce 
  • Low-carb and sugar-free barbeque sauce options
  • Recipe for diabetes-friendly barbeque sauce
  • Ideas for use of diabetes-friendly barbeque sauce
  • BBQ Sauce Poll: Favorites taken from people with diabetes 

How Much Sugar (Carbohydrate) is in Regular BBQ Sauce?

Most regular barbecue sauce contains about 4-6 grams of sugar, or 16-24 grams carbohydrate per 2 Tbsp serving. This is 1 to 1.5 carb choices if you are on a carb counting meal plan. 

Pure Cane Sugar vs High Fructose Corn Syrup

The first ingredient in most regular barbecue sauces is high fructose corn syrup, a concentrated form of sugar that is made through a process that turns corn starch into glucose. 

High fructose corn syrup is worse for diabetics to consume than regular sugar, because high fructose corn syrup contains a mixture of fructose and glucose, and is absorbed into the body quickly. Regular corn syrup is not better, containing straight glucose that raises your blood sugar faster than regular sugar.

If you are living with diabetes and are looking for a barbecue sauce, try to find one that contains pure sugar, as opposed to high fructose corn syrup. This may seem counterintuitive, but you will likely notice a difference in your blood sugars later on.

To find a barbecue sauce that contains pure sugar, you might try looking for the words “natural,” “no corn syrup,” or “high fructose corn syrup free.”

BBQ Sauce Brands Without High Fructose Corn Syrup

Some brands of barbecue sauce that contain no high fructose corn syrup include, but are not limited to:

  • Kraft BBQ Sauce
  • Stubbs BBQ Sauce
  • Bone Suckin Sauce
  • No Naked Meat BBQ Sauce
  • Two Fat Guys Gourmet Sauces
  • Gayle’s Sweet N Sassy Apple Cider Smoke
  • Three Little Pigs KC Sweet BBQ Sauce
  • Outta The Park BBQ Sauce
  • Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue KC Original Sauce
  • Country Chef Mustard BBQ Sauce
  • Country Chef Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce
  • Country Chef Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce
  • Daddy Sams
  • Mr Spice Honey BBQ Sauce
  • Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue KC Original Sauce
  • Black Horse Sauces
  • Robbie’s Natural Sauces
  • Scott’s Food Products Texas Chuckwagon BBQ
  • Russ and Franks Sauces
  • Heinz
  • Organicville
  • Wild n Mild
  • Cattle Boyz Sauce
  • Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ

What BBQ Sauce Brands Are Sugar-Free?

Some people with diabetes may be in search of a barbecue sauce that does not contain sugar at all. In this case, you will need to look for a sugar-free barbecue sauce. According to the FDA, a food is considered “sugar free” if it contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving.

Sugar-free sauces often contain some kind of fruit or tomato puree, both of which are sources of natural sugar and can still raise blood sugar temporarily. However, these are more healthful options than barbecue sauces that contain white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. 

Many sauces that are marketed as “sugar-free” actually contain other sugars like honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup. While these are more natural options, they can still raise your blood sugar.

When you are selecting a sugar-free barbecue sauce, make sure not to just look at the labels on the front. They will often boast about the health benefits, taste, etc. but you will want to look at the back of the bottle on the ingredient list to find out what is actually in the sauce.

More importantly, look at how many grams of carbohydrate each serving contains, and make sure to be aware of your portion size. Two tablespoons is one serving of barbeque sauce.

Sugar-Free Barbecue Sauces For Diabetes:

  • Traeger Apricot BBQ Sauce
  • Traeger ‘Que BBQ Sauce
  • Primal Kitchen Organic and Unsweetened Classic BBQ Sauce
  • G Hughes Sauce Barbecue Original Sugar Free
  • FODY Foods BBQ Sauce 
  • Ray’s No Sugar Added Original BBQ Sauce
  • Date Lady Organic BBQ Sauce 
  • Halo and Cleaver Keto BBQ Sauce
  • Lillie’s Q Zero Sugar Carolina Barbecue Sauce

BBQ Sauces That Are Okay For Diabetics

If you are looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and alternatives, you might want to look for sauces that are vinegar-based, oil-based, or tomato-based. These will be more healthful than something that contains corn syrup or other sugars listed on the top of the ingredient list.

If you don’t like the sugar-free store-bought varieties, then the best option might be to make your own barbecue sauce (or tomato, honey mustard, relish, etc.). That way, you can know just how much sugar and other ingredients are going into the sauce, and better monitor your carb intake. See here for a great homemade barbecue recipe that is sugar-free.

Sugar Substitutes For Homemade BBQ Sauce

If you are following a traditional recipe for barbecue sauce but are wary of the sugar, there are ways to avoid adding sugar while still maintaining sweetness. Some great sugar alternatives have come out in recent years, and I am not just talking about Splenda. 

Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant. It contains no sugar and is thus suitable for people with diabetes. If you’ve heard of Truvia, that sweetener is made from Stevia.

Another sugar-free sweetener is monk fruit extract. This sweetener comes from the luohan guo fruit, a type of gourd whose fruit is cultivated for its natural sweetness, which is reportedly 250 times stronger than sugar. There is no sugar, carbohydrates, or calories in monk fruit, making it an excellent option for people living with diabetes.

Be aware that artificial sweeteners, including natural “sugar-free” sweeteners, are good in small amounts, but some research suggests that, like regular sugar, they can be harmful when consumed in large amounts. Some people are intolerant to artificial sweeteners, as well.

Results of BBQ Sauce Poll Question 

The results of an online poll conducted amongst people with diabetes reveal favored brands of diabetes-friendly barbecue sauce. This group of people with diabetes has 32.8k members, and greater than 35 people participated when the question was asked, “What diabetic barbecue sauce do you prefer or recommend?”

There are two top preferences when it comes to diabetic barbecue sauce. Ray’s No Sugar Added had the most votes at 47%. Participants also had favorable comments about G. Hughes Sugar-Free with 41% of the votes.  

Comments on Ray’s No Sugar:

“It’s sugar free, and you wouldn’t even know anything was missing!”

“I like this, and so did my family!”

“I also love the honey mustard.”

Comments about G. Hughes Sugar Free BBQ Sauce:

“I love the sweet and spicy. I also love their raspberry salad dressing, as well as the catsup!”

“It’s a little runny, so I chop red onion into the sauce and cook it with chicken.”

“I mix mine with a little bit of sweetener – stevia, monk, or Truvia.”

g hughes sugar free bbq sauce
G Hughes Sugar Free Sauces

Other BBQ Sauce Recommendations Included:

head country sugar free bbq sauce front
Head Country Sugar Free BBQ Sauce
head country sugar free bbq sauce back
Head Country sugar free bbq sauce nutrition label

Head Country Sugar Free barbecue sauce is available at Walmart. It contains only 1 g of carbohydrate and 5 calories per 2 tablespoon serving. 

Famous Dave’s Sugar Free Barbeque Sauce is also gluten-free. This contains 7 g carbohydrate and 10 calories per 2 tablespoon serving.

Suggestions For Use of Diabetic Barbeque Sauce

  • Use as a dip or stir into your dip
  • Flavor your different BBQ meats
  • Use on tacos 
  • Make bbq pizza sauce (replace marinara)
  • Use on potatoes or roasted carrots
  • Topping for hot dogs
  • Add to potato salad
  • Top your veggie burger

Dietitian BBQ Sauce Tips:

  1. Keep in mind that all sugars are carbohydrates, but not all carbohydrates are sugars. This is why I recommend that you focus on the total carbohydrate and not the total sugar. Any given product might be sugar-free, but not carbohydrate-free.
  2. Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients in foods. They are broken down to glucose (sugar) to supply energy to your body. Carbohydrates have a greater impact on blood sugar vs protein or fat.

Final Thoughts

People with diabetes can eat barbeque sauce. While the low carb, low calorie barbeque sauce might help with postprandial (post meal) blood sugars, people with diabetes can have the regular sauce, as long as they are aware of the total intake of carbohydrates, and work it into their meal plan.

Regular barbeque sauce has about 15-24 g carbohydrate and approximately 70-100 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, while diabetic sauces have up to 2 g carbohydrate and 5-15 calories.

If you are interested in the development of your own personal meal plan, ask your medical provider to refer you to a registered dietitian. We would love to help you.

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