This assertive molasses barbecue sauce is sure to please fans of the bold-flavored sweetener. It’s excellent for grilled, roasted, or stovetop preparations of vegan proteins.
Make tofu, tempeh, seitan, or any plant-based meat alternative shine with this sauce. I prefer using it in a nonstick stir-fry pan or for oven roasting, as it can get your grill or grill pan pretty sticky.
Use any kind of molasses — organic, sorghum, or even pomegranate molasses — though it could be argued that the latter is actually a syrup. Some traditional recipes call for blackstrap molasses, but true blackstrap is something else entirely and should be avoided in general recipes such as this one.
This barbecue sauce takes about a half hour to cook and gets a wonderfully deep flavor not only from the molasses, but also a sauté of onion and garlic and the addition of some fresh tomato. You can keep it chunky or make it super smooth, your choice.
This is a delicious BBQ sauce for plant proteins — tempeh (above), tofu, or seitan. Use it lavishly!
You can also use this sauce for grilled vegetables — in this case, use sparingly, as you don’t want to drown out the delicate flavors of most veggies.
Bottles of molasses often languish in the pantry (they keep almost forever), so this recipe is a good way to use at least a bit of it.
- 1 tablespoon safflower or other neutral oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup diced fresh tomato
- 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup molasses, to taste (or 2 tablespoons molasses + 2 tablespoons maple syrup for a less strong flavor)
- 2 to 3 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh or squeeze-bottle ginger
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika or barbecue seasoning blend (see Note)
- 2 teaspoons good-quality chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard, optional
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until golden.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently with the cover ajar for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes longer.
- Taste to see if you’d like to adjust any of the flavors.
- If you’d like a smooth sauce, transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Or, simply insert an immersion blender into the saucepan and process until smooth. Feel free to skip this step if you’d enjoy leaving the sauce chunky.
- Use at once or allow to cool and refrigerate right in the saucepan for later use.
Look for barbecue seasoning in the spice section of most supermarkets. The most widely available brand is McCormick, which offers Smoky Maple and lots of other flavor variations.
If you’re in a hurry and want an instant BBQ sauce …
Here are more easy vegan sauces & dressings.