Date-Sweetened BBQ Sauce

When you’re ready for your next sandwich or heading to the grill, consider this all natural Date-Sweetened BBQ Sauce as an alternative to the store-bought variety.

A small jar is full of a tomato mixture. The text on the page reads, "Date-sweetened BBQ sauce."

I first read about the concept of removing all processed sugar from your diet in Marilu Henner’s book, Total Health Makeover. Have you heard of it?

I have to confess to being more than a little surprised when I learned there were people who made their own ketchup. Seriously? Isn’t that just a little over the top?

But when you turn the bottle over and scan the ingredients list, ketchup and BBQ sauce do contain a lot of sugar, and most of it’s the highly processed, highly controversial high fructose corn syrup.

Isn’t it interesting that so many things are labeled sort of ambiguously. But with high fructose corn syrup, they come right out with it. High fructose. It’s right there in the name!

But I have an alternative to highly processed sugar. It’s 100% natural, sweet, delicious, and pretty easy to work with too.

Aren’t you curious?

Several ingredients on a white counter, including tomato sauce, liquid smoke, dates, and more.
Looking down on a food processor full of tomato sauce, tomato paste, dates, and more.
The pureed ingredients in a food processor bowl.

Dates. Who knew that dates were more than just the thing your mother put in the annual fruit cake! Oh wait. I don’t think my mom ever made a fruit cake. OK. Let me try that again. Who knew dates were more than the thing that you always picked out of the annual, store-bought fruit cake?

You can actually use dates to sweeten a lot of foods, from cookies, to cakes, to, you guessed it, BBQ sauce.

I bought these dates from Costco and they were nice and soft and ready to be tossed in the food processor. However, some dates are a little more firm. If you find yourself with the firm variety, just soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes before starting this recipe.

Here’s another reason you might want to consider this recipe over the store-bought variety, dates actually have an impressive list of health benefits!

A mason jar is full of date-sweetened BBQ sauce and a spoon is full the sauce is sitting next to it.

What You’ll Love About This Date-Sweetened BBQ Sauce

There’s no processed, refined sugar. Isn’t that great? But that doesn’t mean this BBQ sauce isn’t packing some flavor. It’s loaded with a lightly sweet, smokey tomato-infused flavor. I love spreading this over my veggie burgers, because it adds a thick, concentrated saucy layer. I find in life that it’s good to be a little saucy!

Let’s talk about the health benefits of this recipe. The two main ingredients are dates and tomatoes, so we’ll focus on those:

  • Dates provide a healthy dose of fiber, which most Americans don’t get enough of.
  • Dates have tannins, otherwise known as flavanoid polyphenolic antioxidants. Say that three times fast! Or, maybe not. Tannins provide a nice, anti-inflammatory boost. Did I have you at anti-inflammatory? I thought so. I’ve been more than a little obsessed about antioxidants since watching Dr. Gregor’s host of videos on the benefits, including this one on the link between Antioxidants and Reduced Stroke and Heart Disease.
  • Dates also are rich in things like Vitamin A, Iron, Potassium, and even Calcium. The list goes on so this is just the highlights.
  • Now let’s talk about tomatoes, which provide a rich source of lycopene, a carotenoid pigment that’s been linked to improved bone health. All these years we’ve been saying “drink your milk” we should have been saying, “eat your tomatoes”! Hmm. do you think a tomato mustache campaign is forthcoming any time soon?
  • Tomato consumption has been linked to lower cholesterol and tryglycerides.
  • Tomatoes are also loaded with things like Vitamin C, Biotin, Potassium and so much more.

That’s the thing about natural, whole foods, not only are they cholesterol-free, but their total list of nutrients is long…and growing with every research study.

I love feeling committed to my health and wellness.

Health is not just about weight or appearance, but rather about a much bigger picture. I really believe that you can’t be a healthy person unless everything is working together. Your body, your mind, your living space. —Marilu Henner

Looking down on a mason jar full of date sweetened BBQ sauce.
A veggie burger is topped with lots of BBQ sauce and greens. A mason jar of BBQ sauce is behind it.

I hope you love this Date-Sweetened BBQ Sauce as much as we do. I’m eating it on my veggie burgers, baked beans, and even enjoying it with my baked french fries! Crazy, I know! If you give this recipe a try, snap a photo and share it with #namelymarly on Instagram or Twitter. I love seeing your photos!

Date Sweetened BBQ Sauce for your Veggie Burgers

Date-Sweetened BBQ Sauce

Avoid processed sugar by making your own Date-Sweetened BBQ Sauce and make your summer grilling even healthier than before!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ Sauce, Date Sweetened BBQ Sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 39kcal
Author: Namely Marly


  • 15 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup Pitted Dates approximately 8 Mejdool
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 2 tablespoons Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dehydrated onions


  • Make sure your pitted dates are soft. If not, soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes, drain and pat dry.
  • Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Use a spatula to press down any ingredients that may have moved to the top of the container and pulse again, until you received the desired saucy consistency.
  • Transfer to a lidded, glass container (like a mason jar), cover and refrigerate


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Updated by Marly · Permalink