For over 20 years, I’ve engaged in endurance sports. One of my favorite ways to fuel (and recover) is using Medjool dates. Those suckers are loaded with carbs, potassium and a good amount of vitamins. Because they have so much fiber, there isn’t a sugar crash. It’s just a steady energy, and they taste great.
I originally put this recipe out a few years ago, but decided it needed to be revised. This is still a naturally sweetened barbecue sauce, but now, there are slightly fewer ingredients. In the past, I used vegan worcestershire sauce. I realized that it is hard to find in some places. After a few tweaks, this sauce doesn’t need it. It tastes amazing and delicious without it.
In fact, it’s awesome mixed with jackfruit on sandwiches. It tastes incredible on fries. If you’re into barbecue pizza, it makes a nice pizza sauce. It’s sweet, slightly spicy, and deliciously smoky. If you love sweet barbecue sauce, you can’t lose with this stuff.
This recipe makes 4 ½-5 cups of thick, rich barbecue sauce. If you like it a little thinner, add more water, and then, adjust the seasonings, if needed. I used ancho chili powder in this recipe, but I have also used chili powder in the past with success. Either works, but the ancho chili powder has such an awesome flavor!
Smoky Medjool Date Barbecue Sauce
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
A dash + ½ tsp salt
2 cups (or ~18) Medjool dates, cut into thirds
2 ¾ cups water
⅓ cup (or 6 ounce can) no salt tomato paste
¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce (OR gluten free tamari)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp liquid smoke
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ancho chili powder (see note above)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1. In a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, add the onions, olive oil and a dash of salt over high heat. When it starts to sizzle, constantly stir it for 2 minutes or until the onions get soft and look the photo above. Then, immediately turn the heat down to low.
2. Allow the onions to cook over low for 5 minutes. Then, give them a good stir for about 30 seconds. Let them sit for another 5 minutes over low heat. Then, given another good stir for 30 seconds. Let them sit for another 5 minutes, and then, stir for 30 seconds. At this point, they should be golden, maybe a little browned, and look similar to the photo above.
3. While the onions are caramelizing, add the medjool dates, water, tomato paste, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke and ½ tsp salt to a high speed blender. Set aside.
4. In the pot, add the garlic cloves, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, mustard powder, garlic powder and ground cloves. Stir around for 60 seconds. Then, spoon the entire contents of the pot into the high speed blender. Reserve the pot, because you will use it again.
5. Blend everything in the high speed blender until completely smooth. Taste, and make adjustments, if needed (soy sauce? apple cider vinegar? salt?). Pour the contents of the blender back into the pot. Stir around.
6. Cover the pot with a lid, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, and taste. Make adjustments to the flavor, if needed. Use in whatever and however you like!