Three little letters make up an entire cuisine, and it’s all based around a signature sauce: BBQ. Sweet and spicy barbecue sauce
You may reach for it to liven up chicken wings, shredded pork, sandwiches, and even French fries. Dozens of regional recipe varieties make up a panoply of options.
It’s only natural that our taste buds crave this tangy sauce—after all, it’s typically made with plenty of added sugar and a hefty dose of sodium. So, as with anything else that you consume. when dipping, baking, or grilling with barbecue sauce, be cognizant of how it fits into your dietary pattern.
Barbecue Sauce Nutrition Facts
Barbecue sauce nutrition can vary widely, depending on ingredients and preparation. The following information is for one brand of barbecue sauce. This nutrition information for two tablespoons (37g) of barbecue sauce is provided by the USDA.1
- Calories: 26.92
- Fat: 0.04g
- Sodium: 0.53g
- Sugars: 5.41g
Barbecue sauce is a significant source of carbohydrates. The carbs in barbecue sauce come primarily from added sugar, with tomato sauce accounting for the rest. Many brands list high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners as their first ingredient.
In general, you find a little fat in barbecue sauce, as its plant-based ingredients generally don’t contain this macronutrient.
Protein is also minimal in barbecue sauce, with two tablespoons providing up to one gram.
Vitamins and Minerals
Barbecue sauce does contain small amounts of some vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A. However, you’re not likely to reap major health benefits from these micronutrients unless you’re drinking sauce by the cup (which may be tempting, but isn’t advisable).
May Fight Some Cancers
Though barbecue sauce has a flavor all its own, it is made primarily from tomato sauce, which harbors a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. This carotenoid compound gives tomato products that signature red color.
Research has associated lycopene intake with reduced risk of certain cancers, especially prostate cancer.2 It’s debatable, though, how much lycopene you’ll actually get in a single two-tablespoon serving of barbecue sauce.
May Reduce Blood Pressure
Lycopene’s benefits may not stop with cancer prevention. A small 2014 study found that this antioxidant improved vascular function in people with cardiovascular disease. However, it’s worth noting that this did not appear to be the case in healthy volunteers.3
Antioxidants May Protect Skin
In addition to lycopene, barbecue sauce’s tomato base contains antioxidants like vitamin A and vitamin C, which help “clean” the cells of damaging free radicals. This process can protect the skin from sun damage and may have anti-aging properties.
Adds Flavor Without Fat
If you need to be on a reduced-fat diet, barbecue sauce is one way to add flavor to meals without racking up fat.
Compatible With a Vegan Diet
Many barbecue sauce recipes (even store-bought ones) are naturally vegan, since the basic ingredients of tomatoes, vinegar, sweeteners, and spices are all plant-based. If you follow a vegan diet, check barbecue sauce labels for animal products just in case.
It’s possible, though unlikely, to be allergic to any of the ingredients typically used in barbecue sauce. The most likely culprit of an allergic reaction is tomatoes. Many people with a tomato allergy will experience oral allergy syndrome, which can feel like a tingling sensation in the mouth or throat. A more serious allergic reaction may include vomiting, nausea, hives, rash, coughing, or runny nose.
If you have a tomato allergy, you’ll need to stay away from tomato-based barbecue sauces—but feel free to enjoy South Carolina-style mustard-based versions.
People with allergies to soy and wheat should also check barbecue sauce labels carefully, as sometimes these ingredients can sneak into a recipe.
When It’s Best
When choosing the right sauce for your ribs or chicken, BBQ is the best.
Storage and Food Safety
Before opening, barbecue sauce can be stored in a cool, dry area. Once opened, refrigerate unused sauce within a couple of hours. Most commercially prepared barbecue sauce brands stay good in the refrigerator for four to six months.