Top 7 BBQ Sauce Alternatives for Ribs


Are you missing BBQ sauce or just want to try something different on your BBQ ribs? Here are 7 of the best alternatives to BBQ sauce for ribs.

The 7 best BBQ sauce alternatives for ribs

Barbecue sauce is as ingrained in grilling culture as salt and pepper. And we love things. More than 8 million American homes consumed more than four bottles a month. Right, every month.

But many sauces can be too sweet, thick, or sugary. It’s not for everyone. Fortunately, there are many delicious and easy alternatives that can still offer beautiful flavors and textures.

Whether YOU are looking for a sauce-free ingredient to replace that nice smoky flavor or YOU are looking for a sauce that gives you something completely different, these are the best rib BBQ sauce replacement parts.

Alternative to BBQ rub sauce



While not a similar substitute, the easiest alternative to BBQ sauce for ribs is to simply use nothing at all. Instead, let a good barbecue rib marinade do all the work.

The rubs give it a rich flavor and nice texture. Rub it in well and it will be enough to bring out that sweet, smoky flavor we all love in ribs.

Pork pairs best with sweet flavors, so look for a dressing with a little sugar. Also look out for fruity ingredients such as apples or pears. I also love a little mustard seasoning on the rubs.

You can check out my guide to the best store-bought rib seasoning here, or just get my favorite: Dave’s Famous Rib Seasoning .

If you want to make your own, try the dressing I use on my Texas Style Baby Back Ribs.



Hoisin has its roots in seafood (its Chinese name literally means “seafood sauce”), but don’t be fooled. This goes perfectly with ribs.

It’s a thick sauce with a salty-sweet flavor that we don’t have a perfect equivalent for in the West. On offer, it consists of black beans, vinegar, chilli and five spice powder.

The combination of cute and salty makes hoisin is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is is extreme and versatile for pork ribs. It can be a marinade or a glaze, depending on how intense you want the flavor to be.

It doesn’t work as a direct substitute for BBQ sauce, so don’t pile buckets of stuff on top of your pork. Try it as a glaze to dress up your ribs in your smoker and prepare to be blown away by the distinct flavor it imparts.




Continuing the Asian theme, one of my all-time favorite sauces is teriyaki.

This is usually associated with fish, but we can tweak it to make a great BBQ sauce substitute as well.

Teriyaki sauce is usually made without combining soy sauce, mirin, and sugar over a fire. It is then reduced to leave a thick, sweet sauce. If you make it yourself, you can even add a little garlic or ginger powder for a little extra flavor.

You can also buy yours here.

Try this Glazed Teriyaki Pork Ribs recipe to see why it’s a great alternative to BBQ sauce.

BBQ plum sauce

Plum Sauce


A left field inning, but the plum sauce is worth including here. It’s a thick, heavy sauce quite similar in appearance to molasses. It has a sweet and sour taste, which is why it is widely used in Chinese cuisine.

Plus sauce is made from plums, garlic, vinegar, ginger, Chinese five spices and star anise. It’s a strong blend of flavors, so its taste is definitely not for everyone.

In Chinese cuisine, it’s usually used as a dipping sauce, so don’t freak out. I recommend trying it as a thin glaze for ribs. If you want to use the 3-2-1 ribs method, brush in the plum sauce for the last hour of cooking.




When it comes to meat, Argentina knows what it’s doing.

Chimichurri is a herb sauce that has a certain flavor with quite a spicy note. It’s a nice blend of parsley, cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar. It’s usually served with Argentinian steak, but I find it goes really well with grilled pork ribs as well.

It’s best served with meat, so don’t marinate or glaze the pork with it. Plentiful She is instead of as a dipping sauce.

Chimichurri is all about its herbs, so for best results I recommend making it fresh and from scratch. Luckily, it’s not difficult and can be done with just a handful of ingredients. Try this recipe here.

Satay sauce for roast beef

Satay Sauce


Peanuts may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to pork, but trust me on this one.

Often referred to simply as “peanut sauce,” satay is made by grinding roasted peanuts before mixing them with ginger, lemongrass, and garlic. It’s usually served with chicken skewers or fried tofu, but I’m happy to have some of that on my ribs too.

There are many store-bought satay sauces available online, but for one with a little kick, I like Jade Sichuan Peanut Sauce .

Sugar-Free Keto BBQ Sauce

This might be a little misleading, but if the reason you’re trying to avoid BBQ sauce is simply because of the sugar content, then you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of sugar-free versions.

The best still have the sweet and tangy notes we all want in a good sauce, but without the sugar content. Good looking.

For more keto BBQ ideas, check out my complete guide to the best store-bought sugar-free BBQ sauces or you can try making your own with my homemade keto BBQ sauce recipe.

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