Low Sodium BBQ Sauce

Looking for a delicious low sodium BBQ sauce recipe? Look no further! This sauce is delicious on nearly anything you want to throw on the grill!

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Benefits of a Low Sodium Diet

Why should you use low sodium BBQ sauce anyway? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that everyone limit how much salt they eat to 2,300mg per day. Most of us are eating closer to 3,200mg of sodium per day!

A low sodium diet can help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and even some cancers.

It is especially important for some people to follow a low sodium diet. A sodium diet restriction is often recommended to people with these health conditions:

  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney Stones

BBQ Sauce on a Low Sodium Diet

If you are a BBQ sauce lover like me, finding a good low sodium BBQ sauce is key. Nearly 80% of the salt in our diet is already our food. Only 20% of the sodium we eat comes from salt we add to food.

So, to really reduce your salt, it is important to know how much salt is in your food. Here are some of the most common sources of salt:

  • Condiments (BBQ sauce, ketchup, salad dressing, soy sauce, etc.)
  • Salty snacks (salted nuts, chips, pretzels, etc.)
  • Deli and other processed meats (bacon, sausage, salami, pepperoni, etc.)
  • Restaurant foods
  • Frozen or canned prepared foods

How Much Sodium In BBQ Sauce?

The amount of sodium in BBQ sauce depends on the brand.

Here is the sodium in some popular BBQ sauce brands. All sodium amounts are given in 2 tablespoon portion sizes.

  • Sweet Baby Ray’s Original Barbecue Sauce (290mg sodium)
  • Heinz Original Sweet & Thick BBQ Sauce (300mg sodium)
  • Kraft Slow Simmered Original BBQ Sauce (350mg sodium)
  • Yo Mama’s Foods Keto Barbecue Sauce (150mg sodium)
  • Famous Dave’s Rich & Sassy BBQ Sauce (360mg sodium)
  • Annie’s Organic Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce (260mg sodium)

As you can see, the amount of sodium in BBQ sauce varies quite a bit! Most of these BBQ sauces are very high in sodium. For comparison, this low sodium BBQ sauce recipe only has 7mg of sodium.

Comparison of store bought BBQ sauce with up to 350mg of sodium, with homemade BBQ sauce with 7mg of sodium per 2 tablespoons.

Always remember to check the nutrition facts label on whatever BBQ sauce you buy!

Can’t I Just Buy Low Sodium BBQ Sauce?

It certainly makes sense to try to find low sodium BBQ sauce at the grocery store. Store bought options save time!

Whereas low sugar BBQ sauces are common, it is surprisingly hard to find a BBQ sauce that is low sodium. The definition of a low sodium food is less than 140mg of sodium per serving.

The only two BBQ sauces I found with less than 140mg of sodium per 2 tablespoon serving are:

Let me know in the comments below if you have a low sodium BBQ sauce you love!

Low Sodium BBQ Rubs

You could also add that delicious BBQ flavor with a rub instead of a sauce! Be careful, most rubs have quite a bit of salt. Check out these salt-free BBQ rubs*.

Or, you can make your own rub at home!

Low Sodium BBQ Sauce Recipe Ingredients

Because it is so hard to find a good low sodium BBQ sauce, I recommend making your own at home! It really is very easy. I promise! The whole process only takes about 30 minutes!

Plus, this BBQ sauce only has 7mg of sodium per serving! This is about 98% less sodium than most store bought BBQ sauces.

Here are the key ingredients in my (delicious!) low sodium BBQ sauce recipe.

Low Sodium Ketchup

We need a nice tomato base for our BBQ sauce. Low sodium ketchup is perfect! I usually use Heinz No Salt Added Ketchup*.

If you can’t find low sodium ketchup, you can use the regular stuff. Regular ketchup will increase the sodium to about 135mg of sodium per 2 tablespoons. This is still less than half the salt in most store bought barbecue sauces.

A possible benefit of using regular ketchup is that low sodium ketchup usually has potassium chloride in it. If you have kidney disease and need to limit how much potassium you eat, potassium food additives should be avoided.

No Salt Added Tomato Sauce

For an extra tomato boost, I added a small can of no salt added tomato sauce. You can usually find this ingredient near the canned tomatoes at the grocery store.

Brown Sugar

A sweet flavor is key to any BBQ sauce. I like brown sugar because it gives the sauce that caramel, warm flavor.

You could use granulated sugar or honey if you prefer.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I love vinegary BBQ sauces. This recipe has apple cider vinegar in it for that vinegar kick, and a little extra sweet flavor.


Mmm! Molasses. It is for more than cookies! The molasses is key in this low sodium BBQ sauce for texture and flavor.


Without salt, we need lots of spices in our BBQ sauce to add lots of flavor! This recipes uses paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cinnamon and chili powder. If you love spicy BBQ sauce, try adding a dash of cayenne as well!

How To Use Low Sodium BBQ Sauce

You can use this low sodium BBQ sauce however you use your favorite BBQ sauce!

Slather it on some chicken or salmon and throw it on the grill. For a more plant based meal, coat some portabella mushrooms in the BBQ sauce. Or, drizzle it over a salad!

You can always use this sauce in recipes that call for BBQ sauce too. This will help keep the sodium down in that recipe too! This sauce freezes well. So, it is easy to make in big batches and freeze to have on hand.

Happy Eating!


Picture of low sodium BBQ sauce on silicone brush out of a white crock
Print Recipe
4.72 from 7 votes

Low Sodium BBQ Sauce

Sweet, vinegary low sodium BBQ sauce with a kick! Plus, 98% less sodium than most commercial BBQ sauce!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: low sodium bbq sauce
Servings: 22 2 tablespoons
Calories: 40kcal


  • 1 cup low sodium ketchup
  • 1 cup no salt added tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Once mixture is boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. The sauce will get thicker and darker in color as it cooks.
  • Refrigerate sauce until use.


Nutrition Facts (per 2 tablespoons): 40 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 10mg carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 8g added sugar, 0g protein, 7mg sodium, 15mg calcium, 133mg potassium, 8mg phosphorus, 3mg oxalate

34 thoughts on “Low Sodium BBQ Sauce”

  1. 5 stars
    I have a housemate who has to have an extremely low salt diet. He’s in love with this sauce. He hadn’t been able to eat barbeque for years because of the sodium in boughten sauces . He puts it in everything LOL

  2. Hi Melanie,
    FYI there is a salt free no sugar added BBQ sauce called “Doc’s Salt-Free Barbecue Sauce”. It’s available on Amazon for $9.99 for a 12 oz bottle (July 2023 price). I’ve used it a couple of times in a tofu bbq recipe and really like it. I’m a survivor of a triple bypass a couple of years ago and am always on the lookout for low sodium and no sugar added packaged food. My goal is less that 1500 mg of sodium / day. These products can be tough to find, as I’m sure you know. Anyhow, I enjoyed reading your recipe on low sodium BBQ sauce and thought I’d pass along the info on Doc’s BBQ sauce.

    1. Since it seems you’re in the know… I’d welcome any other sauce/dressing products you’re aware of. We are also trying to keep sodium at 1500 mg daily max. Also avoiding added sugar and oils.
      Thanks in advance. 🙂

  3. I am planning on trying this recipe and noticed someone said vinegar is a preservative. If that is true, would you be able to keep in the fridge for a few weeks?

  4. 5 stars
    I froze my sauce in 2 TBS tin cups lined with saran wrap. once frozen, I placed them in a freezer bag ,so now I just pop out thr number of cups I need and the rest is good for a later date

  5. 5 stars
    I gave this a bit of a twist. First, I sautéed onion and then added garlic. Then I added a can of tomato paste, sautéed that for a few min. Then added 2 (8 oz.)cans no salt tomato sauce. Then I only added 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar. I did that because I’m not a big fan of the powerful taste. Then added all the brown sugar, molasses. Then added a few dashes of Worcestershire and then 1 tsp. ground mustard and 1/2 tsp. cumin.
    The base sauce is great! I just changed a few things to the way we like it. It’s amazing!! Thank you!

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      I love all of these ideas! Great work. I’m ALL about changing things to make them fit your taste!

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      I LOVE vinegar, so this comment makes sense! I hope you can find some modifications to make it more in line with your preferences!

  6. I was looking at the ingredients on the Heinz No sodium ketchup, and they replaced the sodium chloride with potassium chloride. So that trade off needs to be considered in your daily intake…

      1. 5 stars
        Most people are usually way under the RDA for potassium. I use NoSalt to decrease my sodium and increase my potassium. Of course there is a little tradeoff with taste.

        1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

          This is true – but many people on this site need to limit potassium intake due to Chronic Kidney Disease. We also know that potassium supplements aren’t associated with the same benefits as getting in enough potassium via food. Everyone has different needs!

  7. This is an old post but I’m confused. The lowest low sodium ketchup I can find is 55mg sodium per 2 tbsp. So how can this be only 7 mg sodium?

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      This recipe makes 22 servings – so that cup of ketchup is split up quite a bit! Exact nutrition amounts will, of course, always vary based on what products you use. I use generic, averaged info from the USDA to calculate nutrition info for all of my recipes. Either way, even with that 55mg sodium ketchup, this BBQ sauce is going to be MUCH lower than commercial sauces!

    2. Jeff, Heinz makes a ‘No Salt Added’ ketchup that is 5 mg of sodium per 1 tablespoon. Potassium 4% of daily value. I have only found it in the smaller 14 oz bottle.

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      Great question! Because there aren’t as many preservatives in it (like normal BBQ sauce), I’d probably keep it for no more than about a week!

    2. 5 stars
      I’m giving it 5 stars even before trying, since I have made barbecue sauce in the past and I’m confiident in this one. I’ll add my own seasonings and personal touches, because I can’t leave a recipe alone!

      The apple cider vinegar is a natural preservative. It’s why you can preserve pickles, barbecue sauces, etc. Some of the better brand sauces don’t use artificial preservatives; and the vinegar is enough to keep the sauces for a good long time in the fridge.

  8. Mary Jane Plemons

    5 stars
    This sounds like another winner recipe! I will be trying it, for sure. Thank you! I am rating it five stars, based on your previous recipes.

    I have wondered if it helps to increase your intake of water after eating too much sodium. Last night, we unexpectedly ate out and ate far too much salt, and I’m wondering if drinking more water today would help “flush” the excess on out of the body.

    Thank you for the way you share things like this article. It is so helpful.

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      Thank you Mary Jane! Obviously let us know what you think about the BBQ sauce after you try it. I have some in my refrigerator right now!

      Drinking more water doesn’t “flush” the extra salt out of your body or really negate the effects of it at all. Remember that one salty meal isn’t the end of the world. What you eat MOST of the time is what really matters for health!

    2. Melanie –
      I have both Diabetes and CHF, Its been almost impossible for me to follow a diet that is both low in sodium and low in carbs. Do you have any suggestions?
      – Steve

      1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

        Hi Steve! The recommendations for diabetes and CHF is actually a lot more similar than you might think! I can’t say what is best for YOU without knowing more about your medical history and current eating habits. I’d highly recommend working with a dietitian at your medical facility to learn more!

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