While spare ribs themselves are low carb proteins, they are often slathered with a high carb BBQ sauce. One way to avoid the sugary BBQ sauces found in the grocery stores is to make your own. Options could include fruit-based BBQ sauces, or a really low carb vinegar-based sauce (video included).
Read the labels of the pre-made BBQ sauces in the store. Most of them are loaded with sugar, whether that sugar is in the form of molasses, honey, demerara, or other forms of sugar. So does that mean low carbers have to give up the beloved BBQ sauce? Absolutely not, but you might have to make your own.
Tips & Substitutions for Making a Low Carb BBQ Sauce
BBQ sauce in general is pretty simple to make on your own. Basically you toss all the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer, stirring only occasionally.
Alternatively toss all the ingredients in a food processor, pout it over the ribs or whatever protein you’re making and let it cook in the oven with the ribs.
The main problem with making your own sauce is that most recipes call for ketchup as the base, and ketchup is full of sugar. To make matters worse many brands go on to add more sugar to the ketchup base.
It’s easy however, to get creative with ingredients when you make your own BBQ sauce. The beauty of a BBQ sauce is that it is difficult to ruin it.
To cut the sugar use diced tomatoes or tomato sauce or tomato paste and start adding vinegar and spices.
If you want a smoky sauce add some liquid smoke.
Spice? I like chipotles with their added smokiness, but use cayenne or red pepper flakes for a brighter spice.
If you want a grocery store variety, I did find one brand in our local grocery with only 2 carbs per 2 Tbsp serving. It is called Classic 2 Carb BBQ Sauce by Ken Davis. It is “OK” in a pinch, but it’s not nearly as robust and tasty as your own sauce can be.
Adding Berries to Low Carb BBQ Sauces:
Since we grow blueberries at HeathGlen Farm, I have made and sold a Blueberry Bourbon BBQ sauce that was very popular in past years. This year I bought 240 pounds of cranberries from a Wisconsin cranberry farmer that I know from the St. Paul Farmers’ market and used some of them in a cranberry BBQ sauce (pictured on the ribs below).
Berries are one of the lower carb fruits that is often allowed on low carb diets, and they can add tremendous flavor to your sauce.
For another low carb recipe using short ribs, check out: Low Carb Mexican Braised Short Ribs
Oven-Baked Spare Ribs with Low Carb BBQ Sauce
- baking sheet pan
- 2-3 lbs pork ribs spare ribs or country style
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup spice rub I like harissa or jerk rubs, but pick your favorite
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp mustard
- 3/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 Tbsp paprika
- 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper or any hot pepper spice
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar substitute optional, can use regular brown sugar
- optional spices cinnamon, celery seed
- Heat oven to 325 degrees
- Wash ribs and pat dry. Line a large baking dish or roasting pan with foil for easy clean up. Arrange the ribs in the baking dish and use your hands to coat the ribs with the rub.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours
- While the ribs are baking, make the BBQ sauce by adding all remaining ingredients to a food processor and pulsed until ingredients are finely minced.
- After ribs have cooked 1 1/2 hours, remove foil and spoon sauce over the baked ribs. Return to the oven, uncovered, and cook for about 15-20 minutes longer
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