Homemade Smoky Apple Barbecue Sauce

Homemade Smoky Apple Barbecue Sauce

Ok, folks, here it is. The bbq sauce to put on everything. If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that my 2 favorite flavors are BBQ and Mexican. I cannot get enough of either, but #1 for me is always BBQ flavored dishes and the sauce is where it is at. I already have 2 BBQ sauces on the blog, a spicy molasses one and my super popular 5 Minute Barbecue Sauce. Now, those are both delicious, but this one is absolutely my favorite. It has everything I love in a bbq sauce...it has a perfect sweetness, acidity, smokiness, good touch of spiciness and a wonderful texture.

To create my very favorite homemade barbecue sauce, I added 2 ingredients you probably haven't seen in a barbecue sauce recipe....apple juice and salsa. Well, I'm here to tell you, they both take the average barbecue sauce up a big notch. The salsa gives a nice kick of heat and depth of flavor and the apple juice gives a different kind of sweetness and tang and well, nice hint of apple flavor. The apple juice is subtle, not overpowering, but it's a lovely hint of apple flavor that you'll notice. That combined with liquid smoke and you've got yourself one addicting barbecue sauce.

It only takes about 5 mins to get the ingredients together and then you just let it simmer 10-20 minutes and that's it. So good and so easy. Also, a bonus? It's totally oil-free and fat-free!

I hope you all really love this Homemade Smoky Apple Barbecue Sauce as much as I do! I can't wait to hear what you think!

Yields 1

Homemade Smoky Apple Barbecue Sauce

5 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

20 minTotal Time

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  • 1/2 cup tomato puree/sauce
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 1/2 cup medium heat smooth/runny salsa (I used Trader Joe's Tomatillo Yellow Chili Salsa, a medium heat is best here. Keep in mind whatever salsa and heat level you use is going to have that reflected in the bbq sauce)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce (I buy this vegan brand from Whole Foods or online)
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (I strongly recommend Colgin brand , I find it gives the best flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
  • optional: 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (this gives a nice flavor, but is optional if you don't care for molasses, which many people don't)


  1. Add all of the ingredients to a small pot and whisk really well until smooth. If your salsa is chunky, then I would suggest blending all of the ingredients first, or your bbq sauce will be chunky and not smooth.
  2. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
  3. Whisk, reduce the heat to low and put on a lid.
  4. Let it simmer for 10-20 minutes or so, until desired thickness is achieved. Stir a couple of times during the cooking process.
  5. I cooked mine for about 15 minutes and then let it cool half an hour. Keep in mind it will thicken some as it cools.
  6. After it has cooled for about half an hour, whisk again to break up any skin forming and then add to a jar and store in the fridge. It will thicken a lot in the fridge overnight, but reheating it gently over the stove will thin it back out some. Will keep for a couple of weeks.


Serving size: 1/4 cup Calories: 69.4 Fat: .1 g Carbohydrates: 16.9 g Sugar: 10.7 g Sodium: 254.1 mg Fiber: .6 g Protein: .5 g

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  1. Wow this looks so flavorful and so good! Hmmmm I just want to put it on everything. Love that use salsa and apple juice here, I mean this is a perfect flavor contract between spicy and sweet. Such inviting and great step by step pictures, Brandi!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Florian!
  2. Looks delicious! Barbecue sauce is one of my most favorite condiments, too. Our favorite store-bought salsa has vinegar in it. Should I find one without, or does the Trader Joe's one have vinegar?
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hi Crystal! The one I used from Trader Joe's is their tomatillo yellow chili salsa and it does not have vinegar in it. If you love the flavor of yours at home, then I would try that. If it has a strong vinegar taste, it will just make it a bit tangier, which I think should be fine. If it is too tangy, then you can try a next time one without vinegar. Let me know how it turns out! This is the one I use from Trader Joe's, it's also sold on Amazon. http://amzn.to/29C1pWb
  3. Yum! This looks so good! Mexican and BBQ are two of my favorites as well so I think this sauce would be right up my ally. Also love how quickly it all comes together. www.sprinklesandsaturdays.com
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you Julia! I cannot get enough of this BBQ sauce and funny enough, I actually have been putting it on my Mexican food too, haha!
  4. Homemade bbq sauce is THE bomb! So fresh and scary additive free <3 I love being able to control the flavors!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Totally agree girl!
  5. Now I'm all set. I will be making your meatballs ahead and then taking them to a party. I will be using a crock pot to keep them warm at the party. All I needed was a sauce to cover them. This BBQ sauce should be perfect! Thank you
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay!! I can't wait to hear what you think of it, thank you so much Linda!
  6. The ingredients on commercial BBQ sauce make me shudder - SO loaded with sugar! I'm thinking this would be wonderful on "pulled" jackfruit :-).
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Right?! Thank you Annie!
  7. Not surprisingly, I love barbecue sauce! It's one of the sweetest sauces around, but I haven't had it in forever because I just can't bring myself to buy the supposedly healthy ones with all that sugar. But the sweetness, the smokiness, and especially the fruity element of this recipe sounds amazing! Who even cares what sorts of veggies or grains are underneath, I'd devour anything doused in this :) And yes to the molasses addition for me!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yes, I know, the ones at the store are loaded with sugar! Honestly, they don't taste as good as homemade either! The apple sauce and salsa really gives this one a wonderful addition to traditional tasting barbecue sauce, I can't get enough!
  8. So funny story, a long time ago I had this BBQ sauce that had chunks of apple in it. Almost like a cross between BBQ and apple chutney of sorts. It was SO SO good and I have always wanted to recreate it at home. This totally reminds me of that! Obviously not the chunks, but the flavor idea. It sounds amazing!! I'll totally have to give it a try!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Chunks of apple, really?! I don't know if I would like chunks, lol! But I know I sure do like the apple flavor. I love a really smooth sauce, but I imagine the chunky version would be awesome maybe on sandwiches, yum!
  9. I looooooooove BBQ sauce and the thought of adding apple juice AND salsa is kind of blowing my mind right now! So much better for you than the sugary store-bought bottles and I have no doubt that the flavor of yours is insane! Mmmmm, I bet this would be SO good paired with some roasted potato wedges :) I hate to even ask this, but do you think I could make this without the worcesterchire sauce? I can't find a vegan brand that doesn't use soy. This sounds amazing, my friend!! xo
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you Mandy! Oh gosh, that's a tough one because it's a big part of the flavor result. My only thought is to use a dark balsamic (not light!) vinegar to get some of that tang and similar flavor, however, I wouldn't use 3 tablespoons or it might be overkill. I'd try 1 1/2 Tablespoons to start with and taste and add more if needed and you may need to add some salt since worcestershire sauce is pretty salty, but it's definitely not going to have the same flavor and I'm not sure how amazing it will still taste, lol! I think it should still be good though. I will be curious to hear though if you try it!
      • I'm too scared to mess with it! Ha! Thank you for the suggestion though...I figured that the worcestershire sauce provided a specific flavor, especially since it calls for three tablespoons! We do have dark balsamic sitting around, so I might still give it a try! I'll let you know! xoxo
  10. I made this last night and served it over carrot/potato mash. I love love the slightly spicy, yet sweet with a subtle apple flavor. I now know what to cook the meatballs in just like days past. ..so many possibilities.. baked beans, oh my!! You might want to blend if you use a chunky salsa (like we do) and like a smooth sauce.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay! So very happy to hear this was such a hit, thank you for the feedback!
  11. Ohh myyy...! I can see it on so many different things! With the BBQ season in full swing that will do very nicely!!! :) xxx
  12. This sauce looks super fabulous :)!!! I have never tried any recipe with molasses but now ... definitely going to make this sauce...
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      It's so good, I hope you love it!
  13. Do you think this would work with all purpose or whole wheat flour? I don't have any brown rice flour on hand. Thanks.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hi Angie, I have only tried this with rice flour, so I can't say exactly how the results would be, but I imagine all purpose flour would work. Let me know!
  14. This BBQ sauce sounds incredible! I never would have thought to use salsa. Genius! So awesome because, the Trader Joe's Tomatillo Yellow Chili Salsa is my favorite. I must go pick some up tomorrow. Great recipe, Brandi :)
  15. How do you think this would be in your barbecue potato salad?
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      I think it would be fabulous Crystal!

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