Sugar-Free BBQ?

Brian Johnson

TVWBB Super Fan
My wife and I are trying to make healthier choices in our lifestyle. This extends to what we eat, and by extension, to what/how we cook. One of our goals, if you can call it that, is to reduce (ideally eliminate) sugar from our diet. I'll be honest I'm struggling with this one because of how many of BBQ favorites include sugar in either the rubs or the sauces. The sauce bit doesn't bother me so much, because typically I can just skip the sauce. But that only works if the meat is seasoned and cooked properly. Unfortunately, most of my favorite recipes include sugar (sometimes seemingly copious amounts) in the rub. True, there are times when I can just omit the sugar and the food turns out well (for instance with Jim's All-Night Brisket Rub featured on this Virtual Weber Bullet Cook), but there are others where there is so much sugar that I fear skipping it will completely change the flavor profile and potentially the texture (The Renowned Mr. Brown for instance).

Anyway, I figured I'd take a shot in the dark and see if anybody here has a favorite low-/no-sugar rub or sauce recipe that they'd be willing to share with me. Because if I can't find a good solution, I fear I'll have to hang up my BBQ tongs or settle for bland food.... and really what's the fun in that?

So... can you help a tvbb-brother out?
 

Joan

TVWBB All-Star
Don't hang up your tongs just yet. I have quite a few BBQ sauce recipes in my collection. Before I start typing up a storm, are there any no no's other than sugar I should know about? Like the first recipe I came across is called Tandoori-Style Barbeque Sauce, but it does call for 1/4 cup of plain yogurt. Is that ok? I will keep looking. I also have quite a few recipes for rubs. Checking them out.
 
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Joan

TVWBB All-Star
Brian, how is this for starters?

"This rub is a little sweet, a little hot, with just a hint of clove. It can be used on just about anything that you plan to barbecue, that is, to cook over low, indirect heat for a long period of time. For large red-meat roasts, such as leg of lamb or standing rib, increase the cayenne pepper from one teaspoon to one tablespoon and substitute one teaspoon cinnamon for the ground cloves. Rub keeps for up to 6 weeks if tightly covered and stored in a cool, dark place."

All-Purpose Barbecue Rub
makes 1 cup

1/2 cup paprika
2 TB. ground cumin
2 TB. chili powder
2 TB. ground black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Mix all ingredients in small bowl.
 

Joan

TVWBB All-Star
I found one from Jamie Purviance

New Orleans Barbecue Rub
makes about 3 TB.

1 TB. smoked paprika
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. granulated onion
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

In a small bowl mix the ingredients

Source: Weber's Time to Grill - Jamie Purviance
 

Brian Johnson

TVWBB Super Fan
I'm not the biggest fan of yogurt, so you can save that recipe (or you can share it for someone else to enjoy). So aside from my personal tastes, there isn't anything else that needs to be avoided.
 

Joan

TVWBB All-Star
I'm not the biggest fan of yogurt, so you can save that recipe (or you can share it for someone else to enjoy). So aside from my personal tastes, there isn't anything else that needs to be avoided.
You didn't say anything about the rubs. I am going to assume that they are not to your liking also.
 

Brian Johnson

TVWBB Super Fan
You didn't say anything about the rubs. I am going to assume that they are not to your liking also.
Sorry, I got distracted. Kids melting down at bedtime etc. Anyway, both of the rubs you posted sound good. Think I'll try one on some ribs this weekend!
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
There's Sugarless Texas Sprinkle in this spareribs article.

Sugarless Texas Sprinkle Barbecue Rub

1/3 cup table salt
1/4 cup paprika
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic powder
1 Tablespoon cayenne

Makes about 1 cup of rub.

from Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces

It should also be mentioned that you can use a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and coarse black pepper on any meat and call it Texas barbecue.
 

BillSmith

TVWBB Pro
Like the first recipe I came across is called Tandoori-Style Barbeque Sauce, but it does call for 1/4 cup of plain yogurt. Is that ok?
Sure, why not? I have a Cooks Illustrated recipe for Tikka Masala. The chicken is coated with yogurt/oil/garlic/ginger and broiled. It’s excellent. There is really no yogurt left but it makes the chicken moist and tasty.

I'm not the biggest fan of yogurt,
You should try it on chicken as a marinade once. It really does wonders for the chicken as a coating that you don’t taste when it’s done.
 

Joan

TVWBB All-Star
Brian, how about this idea? Have you tried this?

"If you’re still missing that sweet tang of BBQ sauce, Weintraub suggests swapping out the lemons for a sweeter fruit. “Other fruits that can really help add sweetness without the added sugar of BBQ sauce would be pineapple juice or orange juice, to really add that sweet kick without the added sugar,” she says."
 

Brian Johnson

TVWBB Super Fan
No I haven't tried that yet. This journey is kind of still new (especially for me). We moved cross-country in January and with the stress leading up to, during, and immediately following the move (and the new job) we haven't exactly been following "the plan". So now that things are starting to settle down, and I've finally started getting my WSM out for actual cooking, I'm trying to wrap my head around the whole no sugar thing.

Full disclosure, I had a couple of less than stellar meals (either a bad rub, or not enough rub, or too much rub, and/or not enough smoke) off of a pellet smoker which got me thinking about how my go-to rubs and sauces have a good bit of sugar and won't be "on plan." All that to say, there hasn't been much experimenting going on. I decided I'd pose the question here and if I got a few replies, I'd at least have a place to start!

It's working so far, and is getting me excited to try some of these rubs.
 

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