aerial shot of BBQ sauce with spices on plate


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Sumac BBQ Sauce is a total game-changer! It’s tangy, sweet, spicy, and smoky, super easy, and much quicker to make than regular bbq sauce. Skipping the vinegar and using sumac instead cuts the cooking time down in half while keeping the amazing flavor we all love. Paleo + vegan + low carb + keto-friendly.

aerial shot of BBQ sauce with spices on plate

I do generally love a good homemade BBQ sauce but I’m REALLY excited about this Sumac BBQ Sauce. It’s what Bob Ross would refer to as a happy little accident.

How did you come up with it?

I hear you! I know, why would I even need to use sumac, when vinegar works so well…

…well, we had run out of vinegar. And I wanted to make BBQ sauce. I was avoiding the store as much as possible because of, well, the pandemic, so I checked my pantry for something puckeringly tangy. We had lemons…but I didn’t want lemon BBQ sauce (might be worth a try though!). 

Hello, sumac! 🤩

Spoonful of bbq sauce coming out of jar

What is sumac?

It sounds fancy, I know. Sumac is a flowering shrub or small tree that grows in East Asia, Africa, and North America. It is technically in the cashew family (Anacardiaceae) but when it comes to the spice, we are using the fruit of the sumac plant. The fruit is dried and then ground into the powder we’re using today. You can use sumac in so many ways – on meat, roast vegetables, in rice, as a garnish for hummus and salads, or even as a tea. Studies have shown it also helps decrease blood pressure.

Where do you buy it? Most UK supermarkets now stock it (I bought mine at a mini Tesco initially), and it can be easily found online worldwide.

Side view of sumac bbq sauce surrounded by spices

You will love this Sumac BBQ Sauce because:

  • It’s really easy! Throw it all in a pot, let it simmer for 10 minutes, boom! You have BBQ sauce!
  • It’s healthy! Much healthier than the sugar-loaded stuff you can buy. I used stevia for this, feel free to substitute coconut sugar if that’s what you have on hand.
  • It’s much faster than other bbq sauce recipes! Because we’re cutting out the liquid from the vinegar, you can simmer it for half the time and it will be nice and thick.
  • It tastes amazing! It’s smoky, sweet, spicy, and tangy (thanks to the sumac), AND you can adjust all of these flavors to suit your own tastes.

How do I make this easy BBQ sauce?

I said it’s easy, I really meant it! Here are the 2 easy steps:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a pot and pop it on the stove over medium heat.
  2. Stir occasionally until it’s thick.

That’s all, folks!

Jar of sauce with spoon.

I don’t have any passata or tomato sauce – what can I use instead?

I’ve used cans of diced tomatoes instead and it works really well! Just blend it before adding it into the pot, or use a hand blender and blend everything in the pot together before cooking (<< that’s what I did – hand blender!). It will take a little longer to simmer as there is more liquid in the canned diced tomatoes, but it will be equally as delicious in the end!

How do I store this Sumac BBQ Sauce?

Fridge: Store in an airtight container (a glass jar would be best) in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

aerial shot of BBQ sauce with spices on plate

More paleo recipes to get your tastebuds flyin’:

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Sumac BBQ Sauce

Sumac BBQ Sauce – It’s tangy, sweet, spicy, and smoky, and much quicker to make than regular bbq sauce. Skipping the vinegar and using sumac instead cuts the cooking time down in half while keeping the amazing flavor we all love. Paleo + vegan + low carb + keto friendly.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: allergy free, barbecue sauce, bbq sauce, condiment, dairy free, gluten free, keto, low carb, paleo, sauce, side dish, sugar free, sumac, sumac bbq sauce
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Bethany


  • pot
  • wooden spoon
  • measuring spoons


  • 690 g Passata (or canned tomato sauce) 2 1/2 cups
  • 3 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup stevia
  • 2 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1/2-1 tsp hot paprika adjust to your taste – I like it spicy so I add 1 tsp
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tsp salt to taste


  • Place pot on the stove over a medium heat.
  • Add all of the ingredients.
  • Stir occasionally until it’s thick, about 10 minutes.


Nutrition: 8 cals per tbsp, 1.2g net carbs.

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