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Grilling Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce

Getting creative with your grill doesn’t always mean sticking to the classic barbecue sauce.

Sure, it’s a crowd-pleaser, yet sometimes the pantry runs dry or you’re just in the mood to shake things up.

Enter these five fantastic substitutes that will keep your grilling game strong and your meals bursting with flavor.

It’s all about making the most of what you already have and maybe even discovering a new favorite in the process.

Ready to turn up the heat and add some excitement to your grilling? Here’s how you can do exactly that, without reaching for the barbecue sauce.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce

If you’re looking for an alternative to the classic barbecue sauce, there are plenty of options.

Whether you’re out of ingredients or just looking to mix up your flavors, here are five excellent substitutes that will give your dish an extra kick:

1 – Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce can be a great alternative to barbecue sauce.

This Japanese-style marinade, made from soy sauce, sake, sugar, and ginger, is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and savory.

This vibrant condiment adds a tangy complexity to all types of dishes.

The soy and sugar combination creates an amber-colored glaze with a thick consistency.

The flavor has notes of garlic or onion but only slightly, really allowing the sake, ginger, and sugar flavors to shine through.

It can also be used as a direct substitute for any dish that calls for barbecue sauce – adding a bit more exotic flair without overwhelming.

2 – Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is an intriguing condiment made from fermented soybeans, garlic, vinegar, and chilies.

It has a sweet, salty, umami flavor that works best in coating or marinating foods.

This thick brown sauce provides a slightly sour undertone with hints of molasses and spices like five-spice powder.

The texture is syrupy and sticky, making it great for incorporating into glazes or brushing onto grilled dishes.

For a barbecue-like experience, try replacing your usual barbecue sauce with hoisin.

It can be used to baste pork spare ribs, chicken wings, or roasted vegetables.

Hoisin is an easy way to impart glazed flavor while keeping things more interesting in the kitchen.

3 – Chili-garlic Sauce

Chili-garlic sauce is an essential ingredient in many Chinese and Thai dishes.

Made with a special blend of ground chilies, garlic, sugar, and vinegar, it provides a spicy, tangy kick to dishes that you can’t achieve with any other type of sauce.

The texture is relatively thick, and the flavor of pungent garlic blends perfectly with the hotness of chili peppers for an intense burst of flavor.

If you don’t have chili-garlic sauce on hand for a recipe, you can substitute it with barbecue sauce mixed with sriracha.

This combination produces a similar sweet/spicy balance that adds zing to all kinds of meals.

4 – Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce has been a staple British condiment since the early 19th century and is now used around the world.

The sauce is a perfect pairing for beef, pork, and fish dishes, bringing out deep, savory, umami flavors.

It typically contains anchovies, tamarind extract, molasses, garlic, onion, soy sauce, vinegar, and seasonings such as chili peppers.

The consistency is slightly on the runny side with a sweet-tangy taste that mellows out once cooked.

Worcestershire sauce creates an easy substitution for barbecue sauce in many recipes; just add it to marinades or mixes to enhance smokiness and reduce acidity.

With its unique richness and versatility, Worcestershire sauce adds flavor to all kinds of meals.

5 – Mustard Sauce

Mustard sauce is a tangy condiment that has been part of French and German food cultures for centuries.

With its signature yellow hue, it’s made with mustard seeds, vinegar, and more subtle spices like allspice, nutmeg, and clove.

The taste is bold yet slightly sweet on the palate, with a distinctive kick from the mustard seed.

When it comes to its texture, it’s slightly creamy and thick but easy to spread onto sandwiches or burgers.

In fact, many people substitute this sauce for barbecue sauce for an unexpected change in flavor when grilling up meats.

However you want to use it – as a dip or spread – mustard sauce adds an unmistakable flair to your tastebuds.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce

Out of barbecue sauce? Explore five fantastic substitutes that will add smoky, tangy, and sweet flavors to your dishes, perfect for grilling, dipping, and marinating.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Chili-garlic Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Mustard Sauce


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Barbecue Sauce
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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