Keto as a Way of Life
Keto Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce
Good BBQ sauce can be challenging to find on Keto.
Most BBQ sauce is full of carbs; sugar, corn syrup, molasses, or some combination of all three.
Most regular BBQ sauces on the market have 16-20 grams of carbohydrates PER TABLESPOON!
If you DO manage to find a Keto or low carb BBQ sauce, it’s light on flavor.
Those who read much of the stuff I post, or follow Keto Ginger on Instagram, know that I love my smoker.
I smoke a LOT of meat. Heck, I’ve tried to smoke just about everything I can think of on my Traeger.
That being said, when we went Keto, we tried every low carb BBQ sauce we could get our hands on. I shouldn’t say they all sucked, but….
They all sucked.
They tasted watered-down, and without any real flavor.
Since we couldn’t find a good BBQ sauce to buy, we decided to try some recipes we found on Pinterest and around the web.
There were some decent BBQ sauces there, but none of them lived up to my picky taste buds.
So, Rebecca and I decided to make our own.
I used to make a Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce before we went Keto, so I went through my notes and found that recipe. Of course, it not only had brown sugar and molasses in it, but it also contained Soy Sauce, which is a Keto No-No.
Additionally, one of the primary ingredients in it was Ketchup, which brought even more sugar to the party.
Obviously, I couldn’t use that recipe as a 1:1 conversion, but it served as a good framework to start putting together some flavors.
I had to get pretty creative with my ingredient substitutions, so take a look at the Ingredient Notes on this page to see why I used certain items.
I like to use Jack Daniels because the flavor works in this sauce and I almost always have a bottle on hand. Honestly, though, I’ve used different bourbons to great effect in this recipe, and spicier Irish whiskeys make a good sauce as well. The key is to use a darker, blended whiskey. The clear stuff won’t give you good flavor, single malt whiskeys are just too expensive to cook with, and rum tends to be a bit too sweet in this particular recipe.
Note: I cook with whiskey kind of a lot.
You can use any low carb ketchup in this recipe, but since it’s so easy to make a good Keto Ketchup yourself, you may as well start there.
Check out the easy-to-make Keto Ketchup recipe we posted on Keto Ginger.
We prefer red wine vinegar (affiliate link) in this recipe because of its milder acidity and flavor compliments the sweetness of the sauce.
I have used Apple Cider Vinegar (affiliate link) for this recipe before, and it adds a bit more of an acidic punch. If you like that, there’s nothing wrong with using Apple Cider Vinegar.
If you follow our links, you’ll find the brands we use. And you can order these vinegars from Amazon, but they’re both inexpensive and easy to get at most grocery stores.
Golden Monk Fruit:
This is the closest sweetener we’ve found to the flavor of brown sugar.
Rebecca and I are fans of Monk fruit because it’s a Zero Carb sweetener, it stands up to heat pretty well, it dissolves in the sauce without getting grainy, and it doesn’t seem to have the tinny aftertaste that sugar alcohols tend to have.
If you don’t have Golden Monk Fruit on hand, you can use granulated Monk Fruit. However, Golden Monk Fruit just adds a subtle caramel note to the sauce that helps make up for the lack of molasses.
That brings us to the biggest challenge this recipe presented. How do you replace an ingredient with such a unique flavor profile as molasses? Well, the Golden Monkfruit helps, but there’s a depth of flavor that is just missing without molasses.
On a whim, as I was tinkering with this recipe, I turned to an ingredient that offers a nice, savory note to the sauce, and lends a richness to the flavor that was a little surprising.
Also known as brewer’s yeast, this is an inactive yeast that is normally used to add a slightly toasted, mildly cheesy flavor to a dish.
A lot of people use this in salads.
Used in this sauce, however, it rounds out the flavor, giving it depth and character while picking up some of the slack left by the absence of molasses.
While the nutritional yeast got us pretty close, there was still something missing. There’s an almost bitter, or burnt flavor, to molasses; similar in nature to a strong cup of coffee…. Or…. to chocolate!
Using cocoa powder was less of a whim and more of a stroke of genius (if I do say so myself…. and I do!)
In truth, the idea was inspired by a Mexican mole sauce.
It doesn’t take much, but adding a touch of cocoa powder fills in the rest of the flavor gap and gives us a well-rounded, rich sauce that can stand up to the bold flavor of smoked meat.
I use Franks Red Hot (affiliate link) because I like the flavor. Again, this is preference.
I’ve used Tabasco sauce before and we liked it just the same. Don’t feel like you need to go buy a special bottle of hot sauce to add here. Use whatever you have on hand if you like the flavor.
This is an accent flavor that really just adds a bit of character to your BBQ sauce.
The rest of the ingredients are pretty straight forward.
Don’t forget one of the most important ingredients to any good BBQ…
We use a couple different meat delivery services for grass fed beef and hormone free meat products, but for our briskets and pork butts, the best place we’ve found is Porter Road right here in Nashville!
I like supporting a local business, AND these guys know their stuff! We have loved everything we’ve ordered from there, and they’ve been a real pleasure to do business with; so much so that I reached out to them to become an affiliate. They graciously accepted my application, and I’m proud to recommend them.
Do yourself a favor and buy your next brisket or pork should/butt from Porter Road. You can thank me for the suggestion later.
Notes on the Method
This is an easy recipe to make. There may be a lot of ingredients, but putting them together is simple. There’s really only a couple things to keep in mind.
Grind the Nutritional Yeast:
Use a coffee/spice grinder to grind up the yeast. It typically comes in flakes that kind of remind me of fish food. The nutritional yeast will work better in your sauce if you grind it to powder form
I use the Braun KSM2 Aromatic Coffee Grinder for my spices. I would link to a picture on Amazon, but the picture they have for the thing is pretty terrible.
This grinder must not be the latest and greatest in kitchen gadgetry because it’s not front and center when you search for grinders on Amazon. But it’s been a fantastic device for us for several years and it’s still going strong!
Also, the current seller says there’s only 1 left in stock – order soon. Maybe it’s not the most marketing savvy idea to link to a product like this, but I like this grinder, and so I recommend it.
Mix all the dry ingredients together:
Do this before adding them to the sauce. Make sure to mix all the dry ingredients and seasonings together well. This prevents the cocoa from clumping when you add the dry ingredients to the sauce.
Add the dry ingredients last:
And don’t cook the sauce for too long after you add the dry ingredients. Monk Fruit isn’t like sugar. Sugar needs heat and time to dissolve in liquid. Monk Fruit doesn’t really need that. While it will stand up to heat pretty well, if you cook it took long, it will eventually start forming crystals and you’ll get a slightly grainy sauce.
As long as you pay special attention to those steps, this recipe will come together easily for you.
Thanks for Reading
We hope you enjoy our Keto Jack Daniel’s BBQ Sauce. If you give this recipe a try, please let us know how it works out for you. Please drop us a line in the comments below, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or join us on our Facebook Page where we share and discuss Keto recipes all the time.
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Keto Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- Jack Daniel’s: about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, or to taste
- 1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot suace (or Tobasco)
- 1 tbsp Coconut Aminos
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- 3/4 cup Golden Monkfruit
- 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1 tbsp UnSweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
- In large, heavy sauce pan, sweat chopped onions in 1-2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat just until onions start to become transluscent.
- Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes longer.
- Add all wet ingredients to the pan and stir thouroughly.
- Cover, increase heat to medium-high, and bring sauce to a low boil, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to medium, and simmer sauce at a low boil for 10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes.
- While sauce is simmering, grind nutritional yeast in a spice grinder.
- In a seperate bowl, thouroughly mix together all dry ingredients with the freshly ground yeast.
- After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to the sauce and slowly stir in the dry ingredients by stiring in 1-2 tablespoons at a time until it’s all incorporated and mixed well.
- Taste for salt and spice before removing from heat.
Keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks (if it lasts that long)
Serve with pulled pork, brisket or any other dish you’d serve with BBQ sauce.
Servings: Makes a little over 4 cups
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Net Carbs: 2.2
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