Does BBQ Sauce Have Dairy? (+ 5 Sauces To Avoid)
December 10, 2020 / Comments
You know what they say, the dairy is in the details. Or at least they should, because dairy products are often hiding in foods that seem like they should have been DF (dairy-free).
Avoiding dairy can be difficult, but for some, accidentally consuming milk products can have severe consequences. That’s definitely not what you’re hoping for at your next cookout. We’ll guide you through everything you need to know to ensure your next barbecue is ready for everyone.
Let’s take a look at:
- Why some BBQ sauces have dairy
- Which dairy-laden sauces to avoid
- Where you can get a reliable, delicious dairy-free BBQ sauce
So let’s turn your BBQ into a DF-BBQ! This article will show you where dairy might be hiding and which sauces you can slather on instead.
Why Would BBQ Sauce Have Dairy?
As we know (and love), barbecue sauces vary by region. The most common sauce is the tangy, tomato-based sauce that became popular after the second World War. This type of sauce seems like it would be dairy-free, but you’ve got to be careful buying it pre-made.
Dairy sneaks in as a filler and preservative in lots of processed food. If you’re buying a pre-made barbecue sauce at a regular grocery store, we recommend reading the label closely.
Or you can buy a BBQ sauce that’s 100% dairy-free without having to look through dozens of sauces at the store like a crazy person.
Ingredients To Watch For
The real list of sneaky dairy is long and hard to pronounce. Here, we’re just sticking to things that could potentially show up in a barbecue sauce.
- Milk proteins or solids (casein, whey): These guys give some structure and thickness to a sauce. You’re unlikely to find them in a tomato-based sauce, but anytime you see the word “creamy” it’s probably going to contain some milk proteins.
- Artificial sweeteners: We would basically never recommend a “diet” or “sugar free” barbecue sauce, but especially because some artificial sweeteners are derived from dairy. Go for a natural “no sugar added” option instead.
Hint: if you’re looking for less sugar but still want big flavor, try using our seasoning for a spice rub!
- Spice mixes / “Natural flavors”: unless a product says it’s vegan/plant-based, this is where animal products sneak into otherwise vegan-seeming foods. By law, food manufacturers have to list milk as an allergen. But milk-derived products don’t have to be labeled this same way. If you’re fully vegan, beware these vague ingredients unless you’re shopping with a trusted source!
- Butter: butter makes everything taste rich and delicious, and also helps sauces stick to food. But it’s dairy!
- Ghee: ghee is clarified butter, used instead of oil as an emulsifier. It does not contain lactose but still comes from milk and is dairy.
- Sour Cream: not typically found in barbecue sauces, but if you see it, it’s dairy.
- Mayonnaise: the basis of the Alabama style white-sauce, mayo is made of eggs. Not vegan, but could be okay with a milk allergy. Chances are if a sauce has mayo, dairy’s going to be in there somewhere too.
5 BBQ Sauces With Dairy To Avoid
To avoid unwanted dairy, stay away from these sauces:
- White/Alabama style BBQ sauce: the color of this sauce should give a clue as to the presence of milk in this world-famous bbq sauce! It’s possible to do a plant-based, dairy-free option, but most sauces off the shelf are going to contain some milk.
- Carolina Gold/Mustard sauce: supposedly a product of German immigrants to the area, this barbecue sauce recipe does not require dairy to create. However, some versions may contain butter.
- Buffalo Sauce: buffalo sauce gets that creamy, tasty, stick-to-the-bones texture from butter! Buffalo sauce is basically hot sauce mixed with butter.
- Ranch Sauce: okay, not exactly a barbecue sauce, but a sauce that is often found at barbecues. If the white color didn’t give it away, regular ranch sauce contains buttermilk. “Healthier” ranch options like ‘low fat’ will still contain some form of milk.
Anything with unspecified “natural flavors”: we just don’t like secrets when it comes to what we’re putting in our bodies!
Easy Changes For A Dairy-Free BBQ
There’s plenty of reasons why someone might be avoiding dairy. The important thing is that you still get to share a meal with loved ones, and that meal can be just as tasty.
Whether you’re new to dairy-free life or just being a thoughtful host, we’ve got a few ideas to make your meal so good you won’t even miss the dairy:
- Fresh, good quality hot dogs or burgers, free of additives and preservatives
- Plant-based burgers/hot dogs/sausages
- Fresh bakery buns (dairy acts as a preservative in many store-bought buns0
- Fresh avocado to sub for cheese, or plant-based cheese
- Veganaise, a plant-based mayo which many believe to be better than the real stuff
- Creative dairy-free side dishes like bean salads and vinegary coleslaw
- Plant-based butter, for biscuits or corn on the cob! Available in most major grocery stores (Earth Balance brand)
- Vegan mac and cheese, which is available boxed at most stores these days
- Alternative-milk ice cream. Our favorite is the kind made with coconut milk. Use organic chocolate syrup and plant-based whipped cream to make sundaes!
A Reliable Dairy-Free BBQ Sauce
Not only is our barbecue sauce delicious on just about anything you can grill, it’s vegan! With a sauce completely free of animal products, you can be confident in what you’re offering to guests of all diets. So gather round and see how delicious life without dairy can be.