This Mango BBQ Sauce gets a spicy kick from jalapeño and is naturally sweetened with mango and caramelized onions. There are no added sugars in this recipe, making it a great one for anyone on a low sugar, keto, or paleo diet!
Every January my family does a 10-day sugar detox. I know I know, these darn fad diets and challenges! But for us it’s a great way for us to start the year feeling fresh and the commitment is doable. But we also don’t want to have a flavorless food experience. So we made this mango BBQ sauce with natural sweetness and free of added sugars. You can also visit our full list of our favorite styles of BBQ sauce.
We combine savory, heat, sweet, and seasoning to balance the flavors. You can modify however you want, for example to avoid heat.
- Unsalted Butter and Olive Oil for sautéing.
- Savory Flavors: Caramelized yellow onion, garlic, tomato sauce, tomato paste
- Heat: Jalapeño (stems and seeds removed), cayenne pepper
- Acid: Apple cider vinegar, lime juice
- Sweet: Frozen mango cubes (or you can cut up a fresh mango)
- Seasoning: smoked paprika, dry mustard, kosher salt, black pepper
We are using frozen mangos because they are available all year. You can also use fresh mango if they are ripe.
Optional: If you want to add some sugar to it then consider using honey, molasses, or even maple syrup.
Our Definition of No Sugar Added
Many who participate in detoxes or various diets have different definitions of sugars. To some, any sweetener is a no-no (even natural sweeteners like honey). To others, things like honey and maple syrup are okay, but they say no to refined sugar, like granulated sugar or molasses, or other things like that.
We’re in the former group. For us, natural sweetness found in real food, dried fruit, honey, maple syrup, are all okay. But processed or refined sugars (like brown sugar, cane syrup, white sugar, etc.) are all no-no.
Please consider your own restrictions when using this recipe.
- This recipe contains no “added sugar”. Meaning every ingredient in it has no sugar added to it that is not natural (like fruit).
- The sweetness in this comes naturally from: a) the caramelized onions, which add great natural sweetness, and b) the mango.
Adding Natural Sweetness to BBQ Sauce
For most people, BBQ sauces are best when they are balanced. To add some natural sweet flavors and avoid the sauce from tasting flat we are using both caramelized onions as well as ripe mangos.
How to Make No Sugar Added BBQ Sauce
- Caramelize onions: In a large pot set to medium heat cook onions until soft, starting to caramelize, and sweet to the taste.
- Add garlic and jalapeño and stir together for 2 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the mango cubes have softened.
- Blend: Using a hand immersion blender, or countertop blender, blend your sauce until smooth and there are no chunks.
- Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. If too thick add water or more apple cider vinegar.
See recipe for details.
Variations on Mango BBQ Sauce
If you’re flexible with this Mango BBQ Sauce, and able to add some additional sweeteners, we recommend 2-3 tablespoons of either honey, maple syrup, or molasses. Whatever you feel comfortable with.
You can also add Worcestershire sauce for some kick (which we do), but note that most Worcestershire sauces may contain sugar as an ingredient. It’s super minimal in the grand scheme of the recipe, but feel free to leave it out if you’re going hard core!!!
Either way, whatever you may or may not add, I applaud you for trying something new and taking care of your body!
*Please not that I am nooooooo nutritionist! So take my advice and recipes with a grain of salt. If you are on a specific diet please use your own discretion or consult your own nutritionist.
Recipes for your Mango BBQ Sauce
- Smoked Ribs with Spicy Mango BBQ Sauce
- Grilled Chicken Breasts
- Smoked Pork Butt (Pulled Pork Sandwiches)
Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.
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Janelle M Davies says
Can this be canned
Sean Martin says
There is enough apple cider vinegar that if you can properly, it should be fine.
Trying this this weekend with a pork shoulder I’m making. I’m wondering if adding a bit of tequila would make for an interesting twist on this…
Sean Martin says
Oh that sounds fun, I think tequila would be a nice addition.
I make a similar sauce already, but wanted to try this one out as well- I made this 2 times- the first time was exactly as above, and it was OK, but i like a lot more kick to my food. The second time, i made it exactly as above, but then added 2 diced up habanero peppers to it. PHENOMENAL!
I am making a spicy pasta salad for a company potluck/pitch-in tomorrow and will be using this sauce with the habaneros!
I love mango with a kick sauces. I can’t wait to try it!
Erin @ Platings and Pairings says
This sounds SO yummy and the color on that BBQ sauce is fantastic! Yum!!!
Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife says
I bet this is delicious with grilled chicken! I prefer to make out own BBQ sauce as well to limit sugar content.
This sounds great! I am a huge spice wimp and scared of jalapenos- do you think this would still have great flavor without jalapenos?
Yes I think it will. But if you remove the ribs and most of the seeds (which come in contact with the ribs) it makes for a much less spicy and more mellow jalapeño. But if you don’t want them at all feel free to leave them out. 🙂
Amber Ogle says
Made a double batch and it’s super good! We are wanting to can some. How long do you think it could last being canned?
That’s awesome to hear! We’ve had them stay good in the fridge for at least 2 weeks. Did you can them and properly seal them for long-term storage? I can’t say for sure, but the amount of vinegar in them would help them last for several months if you went that route. But if you just placed them in a jar and sealed by hand, I would keep them in the fridge, then stir before use, for up to at least 2 weeks (if not more. That’s just as long as it has lasted in our house.)
I don’t use sugar in my cooking usually but don’t know if I could pull off a no sugar since who knows what is in food when I dine out. But, I appreciate that you got your kiddos to learn the importance of reading labels from it last year that’s a great life lesson to have! And yay for homemade sourdough bread!
Melissa Chee says
What a unique sauce. I admit I don’t do much spicy, but the mango sounds good!
What a great idea for making a BBQ sauce without sugar, I would have thought it was impossible. I have used alternative sweeteners in the past like maple syrup, honey and coconut palm sugar but sweetness from fruit sounds like the healthiest alternative.
Catherine @ Ten Thousand Hour Mama says
I’m super picky about BBQ sauce—95% of the time I don’t end up liking it, usually because it’s too sweet. I bet I’d love this recipe, though – thanks for sharing!