Gluten-Free is Me: Homemade Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce

honey bbq sauce recipe - easy homemade version with chipotle | Gluten-Free, Low Sugar Since it’s almost grilling season, I thought it was probably due time that I came up with my own homemade honey BBQ sauce recipe. It’s not necessarily the first dish that comes to mind that’s in need of a healthy or gluten-free spin. But there’s a whole lot of room for improvement when it comes to the ingredients that go into it. Mainly, because over half of them contain sugar.

A lot of the pop science conversation has transitioned from gluten to sugar as the villain du jour. I’ve gone off sugar twice: once a few years ago during my first elimination diet, prior to my blood work revealing a gluten allergy, and then again this past March during my detox. Having seen the changes in my body, I am definitely a believer that we would probably all be better off eating less sugar. The withdrawals were unlike anything I had experienced with caffeine. The cravings never really subsided. And avoiding falling off the wagon was all but impossible if I didn’t cook at home.

gluten free bbq sauce with chipotle peppers chipotle bbq sauce with dried peppers - gluten-free and spicy! gluten-free chipotle bbq sauce recipe - Easy Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce - Gluten-Free, Low Sugar As a healthy chef, I’ve known intellectually that refined sugar and of course high fructose corn syrup were naughty. But I didn’t realize that our sugar consumption on a whole was so problematic until I saw Fed Up, Katie Couric and Laurie David’s new documentary that takes on the evils of big food in America and our government’s role in sanctioning the country’s obesity epidemic. The film made me much more conscious of not just the white sugar in my diet, but all of the more natural things I use to feed my sweet tooth—which totaled throughout the day, probably still add up to too much.

I use mainly honey as a sweetener when I cook, and I’ve definitely needed less of it to get the job done since March. Honey has long been used for natural medicinal purposes. So when you eat it in it’s unpasteurized form, you get to benefit from all those vitamins and minerals, which have a host of efficacies, including anti-viral, antioxidant, and anti-fungal properties.

Easy Homemade Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce Recipe | Gluten-Free, Low Sugar honey bbq sauce recipe | Easy Homemade with Chipotle | Gluten-Free, Low Sugar Easy Homemade honey chipotle bbq sauce recipe | Gluten-Free, Low Sugar Easy Honey BBQ Sauce Recipe with Chipotle | Gluten-Free, Low Sugar Though I cook most things from scratch, one area where I fail is condiments. And all of my favorite primary condiments—ketchup, mustard, and mayo—have added sugar in the ingredient list. But it’s my favorite secondary condiment that is by far the worst offender. And that, my friends, is BBQ sauce.

My friend Tom is the one who made the distinction between primary and secondary condiments. I laughed at him at the time, but he does have a point. BBQ sauce is made up of many other products like ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard—all of which have their own sugar line items. Usually, added to them is a host of other sweet things: brown sugar, molasses, and honey.

Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce Recipe with Honey and Chipotle Peppers | Healthy, Homemade, Low Sugar For my healthy-ish take on homemade BBQ sauce I focused solely on honey, using tomato paste instead of ketchup and just a smidge of Worcestershire sauce. It’s a rich tomato-based recipe like they do it down in Texas, so I decided to go even more Tex-Mex and kick it up with some dried Chipotle chiles. You can substitute canned chipotle in adobo if you can’t find the dried. But guess what…there’s sugar in there too.

The resulting sauce is smoky, tangy, fiery, and just sweet enough to balance out the other flavors. It’s perfect as a glaze for brisket, ribs, or as a secondary side condiment for chicken fingers (recipe to come this week!).

Oh – and you may have noticed the beautiful blue Le Creuset French Oven in the photographs! It’s a new signature color on loan from Williams Sonoma as part of their Pass It On Potluck. To see what some of the other bloggers have made so far, follow the #LapisPotluck hashtag.

Happy cooking!


Easy Homemade Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce Recipe | Gluten-Free, Low Sugar

Homemade Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Homemade Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce

This chipotle-honey BBQ sauce recipe is the best healthy homemade version of a classic tomato-based Texas BBQ sauce. It uses raw honey only with no other added sugar. It's a simple from-scratch recipe.


  • 1-2 dried chipotle chile peppers (depending on how spicy you want your sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon canola or coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Bring a kettle of water to boil. Place the peppers in a shallow bowl and submerge in hot water. Cover the bowl with a plate to lock in the steam. Allow the peppers to sit until supple and rehydrated, 20 minutes. Remove the peppers and reserve the soaking liquid.
  2. Cut the stems off the peppers and remove the seeds and ribs with your fingers; discard. Roughly chop the pepper and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in medium saucepan. Saute the onion over medium-high heat until soft and just beginning to brown, 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomato paste, diced peppers, and ½ cup of the soaking liquid. Cook over medium heat until thickened, 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the sauce is the texture of ketchup, 5 minutes more.
  4. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as necessary. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for use on pulled pork, chicken fingers, or ribs.


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13 Responses to Gluten-Free is Me: Homemade Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce

  1. Frankie says:

    I’m trying to give up sugar too! I have found mustard and mayo without any sugar or even honey, guess what they taste better without. This sauce looks fantastic. I might add cilantro when I try it. P.S. Funny, I have an old Le Creuset casserole that’s the same color, so I’m surprised they’re calling it a new one. Too bad the pot’s only on loan, right?

  2. One of my goals this summer is to try to make a lot of the condiments I buy regularly – BBQ sauce being one of them (I’m from Texas, after all!). Going to give this one a try first – love the use of raw honey!

  3. Tomas Weaver says:

    This sounds great. I made a couple of substitutions/additions. I added a head of roasted garlic and used organic Blue Agave instead of the honey. It turned out great. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Phoebe, great site and great recipe. Thank you for making it available through Healthy Apertures’ posts for syndication. I featured it on my here.

    • Thank you for the wonderful write up Brett! So thrilled you’re going to try the BBQ Sauce. Thanks for taking the time to check out my site. Hope you’ll come back for seconds :)

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  8. L. says:

    Having first started avoiding sugar 30 years ago and having been gluten-free for nearly 10 years now, I have a wee bit of advice.

    First, don’t waste your money on raw honey if you are just going to cook it! Especially since you are then going to cook whatever you put it on. Raw honey is only medicinal if it sTAYS raw when it goes into your body.

    Second, if you really want to avoid sugar, remember that honey is mostly sugar with a few minerals and vitamins that white sugar doesn’t have. You aren’t really getting any less sugar.

    Third, stevia is the only real sweetener that is NOT full of sugar, and which is actually GOOD for diabetics. You can substitute almost all of the sweetening in most recipes with TINY bits of PURE stevia (none of the stuff bulked up with garbage so you can substitute it one for one for sugar!). Alternative sweeteners include coconut sugar whose glycemic index is around 35, basically as low as you can get with a carb. Dried fruit (dates for example) can also be used as a sweetener with more nutrition than cooked honey. Going from sugar to honey (or maple syrup) is just fooling yourself that you are avoiding the problem. When I first tried to beat my sugar cravings, I used to eat vast amounts of fresh fruit — half a watermelon in 2 days, etc. It is not easy, and in our culture, it never really gets easy avoiding sugars as they are everywhere and so seductive! You are totally right though — the only way to really avoid sugar is to cook everything yourself! SO much healthier in every way!

    Lastly, if you are truly serious about no sugar, then you need to educate your tastebuds by not eating anything sweet (not even stevia! : ( ) I have not fully done that — just drastically reduced my sugar consumption by using stevia, if I am going to use any sweetener. Lots of times you don’t need a sweetener at all.

    Also it is EASY to get mustard without sugar. you can even buy the commercial little box of Keene’s Mustard which is just mustard powder. You can add it dry to your recipe. If you want to spread it on something, mix with a little water (my Dad used to use cream) and you have wet mustard — the real stuff with a sharp tang and no garbage added. Alternatively you can buy real mustard seeds and grind them, then add a bit of liquid if you are spreading it, or use the ground real seeds in your recipe.

    Good luck! You are definitely starting down the healthy path!

    • Thanks for all the amazing info L! I definitely hear you on the raw honey – rookie mistake! I know better now and stock some regular for cooking and the raw for, er, eating in the raw.

      I went off sugar for 30 days earlier this year and it definitely helped my taste buds. I need to do it again as I’ve regressed.

      Thank you for sharing your story with us! xo

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