Copycat Paula Deen Sugar Free BBQ Sauce

bbq018What I have come to realize over the last year is that we are only limited by what we think is possible.  In the case of BBQ sauce it has so many ingredients in the list and a lot of them are things we can’t have.  It’s probably natural to think the molasses or brown sugar are the key ingredients that give BBQ sauce its unique flavor profile.  For a long time I assumed making a BBQ sauce would just be impossible.  That’s where Paula Deen comes into the picture.  I opened up her bottle of sugar free sauce and was astonished.  We quickly ran out to Big Lots and bought all the bottles we could find.  I haven’t been able to find it since. It’s so expensive on Amazon  It’s cruelly expensive.   So I was left to the task of trying to create my own recipe.  


 I spent weeks eating her BBQ sauce exclaiming, “How does she do it?? How does she make it taste like dinner and dessert?? What did she do???”  So much so that I was near offending my husband who would reply back to me, “You know the wings are good too, I’m the one who cooked them on the grill.”  My first recipe tasted nothing like BBQ sauce.  I was very disappointed but happy with it as a steak sauce.  


IMG_20140126_172010The fact that it had been done before kept me hopeful.  I had a fantastic sauce to reference with Paula Deen’s sugar free BBQ sauce and I had Google.  So for a few weeks I’ve read every single sugar free BBQ sauce out there and what I have found is a decisive lack of liquid smoke.  Not just any liquid smoke…it has to be mesquite liquid smoke.  I know it says hickory smoke on her ingredients list but trust me the mesquite liquid smoke is what works. How does Paula make her BBQ sauce taste savory, sweet, and almost like a dessert but perfectly balanced for slathering on grilled meats?  It’s the spices.  In particular we will need cinnamon.   Are you tired of getting by with BBQ sauces that taste like A1 or salsa? Me too!  Those days are over.   This recipe will probably evolve as I have more time to develop it.  I’d like to create a variety of sauce recipes.  I can’t wait to see what else we can do while staying low carb.  


I feel like a fresh BBQ sauce has more explosive flavor then any bottled sauce could have.  I actually have 1/2 bottle of the Paula Deen sauce in the fridge and it has gone untouched since pulling this recipe together.  My husband is planning on bringing a bottle of my BBQ sauce to work and I’m pretty sure even though I just made some more this morning that I’ll have to make another batch within a few days! Try it.  You’ll love it!

Copycat Paula Deen Sugar Free BBQ sauce
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856 calories
212 g
0 g
3 g
6 g
0 g
702 g
4912 g
195 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 856
Calories from Fat 23
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 4912mg
Total Carbohydrates 212g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 195g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 3/4 cup Heinz reduced sugar ketchup (192 grams)
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  4. 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  5. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  6. 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  7. 1 1/2 tablespoons Colgin mesquite liquid smoke
  8. 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (to thicken)
  9. 2 teaspoons paprika
  10. 1 tsp onion powder
  11. 1 teaspoon salt
  12. 1 teaspoon pepper
  13. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  14. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  15. 3/4 cup sugar equivalent. I used 4 1/2 tsp truvia and 1/4 tsp ezsweet. (technically that means it's 1/2 cup sugar equivalent plus 3.5 tablespoons, so it's just shy of 3/4 cup however you can sweeten this to taste as well.) **Update I tried this with all Truvia last week and was very unhappy with the results. I recommend the measurements I have here for the two sweeteners or else using ALL liquid sweetener for this recipe.**
  1. Combine ketchup, water, vinegar, worcestershire, lemon juice, mustard, and liquid smoke in a sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Once the sauce starts to heat up add xanthan gum and whisk very quickly until all of the gum is incorporated.
  3. Add in spices and sweetener.
  4. Let cool and store in a squeeze bottle or jar.
  1. This makes 2 cups of BBQ sauce.
  2. Serving size is 2 tbsp.
  3. 10 Calories; trace Fat; trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2 net carbs
Adapted from
Adapted from
Up Late Anyway | Low Carb Recipes



  1. pinkcrickets says:

    I made this yesterday and I thank you so much for developing and sharing your recipe. I have shared it with my Weight Watcher friends. It is SO good! My mom and husband liked it too! A million thanks

    • Elizabeth Nimphius says:

      I use sugar free ketchup which has carbs naturally, yes, but no sugar. The carbs in the Worcestershire is minimal given the amount in the recipe. It should not effect blood sugar. Hope that helps. I was afraid to try much of the stuff I’ve posted on this blog but the only problem ingredients I’ve come across, for me, is erythritol (Truvia, swerve) and sugar free honey. Try it. I think you’ll be surprised!

  2. Mike Morgan says:

    Tried this over the weekend. It is a great recipe, much better I think than the original which was published on food dot com with the use of brown sugar and prepared mustard. I did make a couple of substitutions which worked out well. First, I used chipotle pepper instead of cayenne. I love the chipotle flavor. Second, I used corn starch instead of xanthan gum, it works well and at 1/2 to 1 tsp per batch I think the carbs are negligible when considering the relatively small serving size. Also, the xanthan is very expensive at about $17.00 for a small bag at Publix. Finally, I used 7 packets of Splenda and it was borderline too sweet. It was ok for Georgia BBQ, which tends to be sweet, but probably too sweet for Texas or other drier styles. I think next time I will use 4 packets.
    – As a side note, the 3/4 cup sugar equivalent item in the recipe does not jive. If you look it up on the Splenda equivalent chart that would be about 17 packets which would be way too sweet.
    Everyone loved the results. I think this is going to become my signature sauce. Does anyone have thoughts on a compatible rub recipe? Maybe leave out the liquids (ketchip, water, vinegar, lemon juice, worcestershire, yellow mustard, liquid smoke, thickener and rub with just the solids?

    • Elizabeth Nimphius says:

      I love that idea for the rub. I like a sweet rub though so maybe add sweetened coconut oil or butter to the meat first and then add the spices. I’d have to look into the whole packet thing. I never used them because of the added carbs from the fillers. So glad you liked this recipe! I absolutely love this sauce.

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