Chipotle Barbecue Sauce – Oil-Free, Vegan Recipe

Chipotle Barbecue Sauce – Healthy, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Plant-Based Vegan Summer Picnic Recipe

Medium |  Servings: 32  |  Ready In: 30 minutes |  Yield: about 4 cups

Smoky, sweet, this barbecue sauce is a must-have for the foodies in the house. Dates, apple, and sweet onion provide healthy, plant-based sweetness in place of refined sugar or syrup. Use this as a base for Chipotle Baked Beans or slather it over Southwestern Black Bean Burgers for the ultimate summer dinner.


  • 1 sweet apple, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 8 pitted deglet noor dates
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

How It’s Done:

To make the Chipotle Barbecue Sauce: Place the apple and onion in a dry sauté pan over high heat. Cover and cook until they turn brown, about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes
Add the chipotle powder and paprika and cook until aromatic, about 2 more minutes.
Once the onions and apples are caramelized (they should be the brown color of caramel),  add the tomato paste and “singe” (let it brown) as well, a couple of minutes.  The tomato paste will turn a dark, brick-red color when it “singes” (aka “caramelizes”).
Add the cider vinegar to the pan.  Use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits from the bottom.  Cook for 2 minutes, until vinegar has mostly evaporated.
Add the dates, garlic, mustard, and 2 cups of water to the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 7 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about half. 

After 7 minutes, turn off the heat and transfer the sauce mixture to a blender.  Sir in the molasses and salt.  Puree until smooth. Taste to check seasoning and add more salt, if needed.

Enjoy right away or chill and refrigerate for up to 7 days.  Freeze for longer.

Chef Katie’s Tips:

No Refined Sugar or Syrup: I’m on a mission to get rid of empty calories. This recipe uses the natural sweetness from caramelizing the apple and sweet onion. The molasses adds dark color and extra smoky flavor.  Molasses is refined, though. If you prefer, you can omit it in this recipe.

Spice to Taste: For more heat, add more chipotle. For less heat, substitute the chipotle with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. You’ll get the smoky flavor without the heat.

Make Extra Sauce: You can make a big batch of the Chipotle Barbecue sauce and freeze it in smaller containers.  Use it for this recipe or slather it over Roasted Sweet Potatoes, grilled Portabellas, or Black Bean Burgers.


Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 1/32 of recipe (about 2 tablespoons)

Nutrition Facts
Servings 32.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 39
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0 g 0 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 33 mg 1 %
Potassium 246 mg 7 %
Total Carbohydrate 7 g 2 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g 7 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 2 g 3 %
Vitamin A 7 %
Vitamin C 7 %
Calcium 1 %
Iron 4 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Shopping and Gear List

  • Frontier Ground Bottle, Chipotle, 2.15 Ounce
  • Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 16 Ounce (1 pack)
  • Golden Barrel Unsulphured Supreme Baking/Barbados molasses, 16 Ounce


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