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Homemade BBQ Sauce (corn-free)

Photo Credit (I forgot to take a picture last week, but will update with my own photo soon)

Growing up, I loved the summer time, and not for the reason you may be thinking (no school!).  I loved the hot and humid Ohio summer months for the beautiful green grass and booming maple trees that would turn a fiery red come October.  I loved going down to the local farm where we could pick okra and gather a bounty of fresh picked strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans,  and corn on the cob.

I remember sitting in my parents’ garage, with the door up, watching as the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in, bringing a much appreciated warm breeze to cool my sticky skin…sipping an ice cold limeade while shucking bushels of corn, either to eat fresh on the cob or cream it so my mom could freeze it for the upcoming year.

Have you ever creamed corn?  I’m not talking about making creamed corn that is laden with heavy cream and butter.  I’m talking about using a corn creamer (such as the Norpro Stainless Steel Corn Cutter and Creamer), where you push the cob down the shoot and over a blade which ruptures the juicy kernel?  You do this over and over and over again, until you have filled a giant bowl and your knuckles have been worn down to nubs!  Funny that I bought a corn creamer last summer…just a few short months before I found out that I’m allergic to it!  To learn more about corn allergies, visit and I also recommend reading Genetically Engineered Corn May Cause Allergies, Infertility and Disease over at Against The Grain Nutrition.

My mom didn’t cook much during the summer months, it was much too hot for that.  Instead, we typically barbecued chicken or pork chops or grilled hamburgers or brats.  Alongside, we would enjoy fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers (sprinkled with corn-filled salt and black pepper), fresh buttered corn on the cob, pan-fried okra (in cornmeal), green beans or blackeye peas with fresh baked cornbread to sop up all the juices.  Strawberry shortcake (from Bisquick) topped with Cool Whip for dessert.  Oh, how I loved those garden fresh summer meals.

Aside from the fried okra, corn on the cob and cornbread, I can still enjoy all those childhood memories…including the strawberry shortcake.  Heck, I can even make Strawberry Shortcake with gluten free Bisquick (if I felt so inclined).

The following recipe for barbecue sauce comes from my late grandmother, who bequeathed me her recipe box.  I LOVED this BBQ sauce so much as a kid, that I would always volunteer to be the “taste tester,” just to make sure it was exactly right…after tasting no less than 1/4 cup of it, I would finally give it my seal of approval.  You know a BBQ sauce is good when you want to drink it straight from the pan it’s simmering in, LOL!

This is a thin BBQ sauce, but it’s full of flavor.  I will share my grandma’s original recipe with my corn-free and dairy-free substitutes in purple, so you can see how I go about modifying a recipe to fit my family’s dietary needs (my mom has even given her seal of approval for my modified recipe!)…and encourage you to so the same.  Don’t throw out your favorite family recipes, just reinvent them! 😀

BBQ Sauce (gluten free, corn free, dairy/casein free, soy free, cane sugar free)

printable recipe

1/2 cup Ketchup (I use my corn-free Ketchup)

3 Tbs. Butter (I have used Earth Balance in the past to make this dairy-free, but it contains corn, so now I use either olive oil, Spectrum Butter Flavored Shortening or Ghee and they all work great).

1 Tbs. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

1 Tbs. Chili Powder

1 tsp. Salt (I use sea salt since iodized salt contains corn in the form of dextrose)

1 tsp. Dry Mustard

1 tsp Paprika

1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

2 Tbs. gluten free Worcestershire Sauce (I use my corn-free Worcestershire Sauce since Lea & Perrins, which is gluten free, contains high fructose corn syrup)

4 Tbs. Distilled Vinegar (I use Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar since distilled vinegar is derived from corn)

4 Tbs. Water

3 Tbs. Brown Sugar (I use Agave or Coconut Nectar)

  • Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes (or longer).

Photo Credit

Last fall when I was diagnosed with a level-2 IgE corn allergy, I nearly fell over in astonishment.  Was I seriously reacting to yet another food with no known noticeable symptom(s)??  Man, I sure did draw the short stick in that department!

Had I not already been aggressively trying to learn all I could about Luke’s level-2 egg white protein allergy, as well as both of my son’s off the chart IgG reaction to casein, I would have simply ignored those test results and continued on the path I was on.  After reading Dr. James Braly’s book, Hidden Food Allergies: The Essential Guide to Uncovering Hidden Food Allergies–And Achieving Permanent Relief, I recognized an allergic reaction that I never in a million years would have connected to a food allergy…chronic sinusitis.  I have suffered from chronic sinusitis for as long as I can remember and I finally had sinus surgery back in February.

Since my surgery, I have intentionally consumed corn-full gluten free products a handful of times and after each occurrence, guess what happened?  Severe sinus congestion, to the point that I felt as bad as I had before my surgery!

Do you have a corn allergy?  If so, what is your reaction?



  1. What a terrific adaptation of your grandmother's recipe, Heidi! It's so wonderful that you have her recipe box and those lovely memories, too. Even though you can't eat corn now, the memories are still sweet, of course. I'm all stuffed up today with a sore throat and now sitting here wondering how much hidden corn I had yesterday. Hmmm. Not great for being on vacation. I also wonder how much of "our" corn issues have to do with the fact that almost all corn is GMO and corn is in everything. Anyway, thanks once again for sharing part of your journey and creating even better recipes for us as a result. 🙂



    • Thank you Shirley and you're right, I have lots of great memories that will be always in my heart, regardless of the food I put in my mouth. 😀

      I 100% believe that my corn allergy is the result of GMO corn! That, and the fact that corn literally is in everything, especially gluten free foods (thus, I began eating so much more of it after my celiac diagnosis).

      I was talking with my dad about this (and my ridiculously high grocery bill because I buy almost all organic/non-GMO foods). It angers me to no end that I feel I HAVE to shop this way in order to protect my family, when, 30 years ago, most food was "safe" (non-GMO) to eat, whether it was labeled organic or not. Food was just food (granted, pesticides were abundant then too).

      I also believe GMO wheat (and our increased consumption of it) is contributing the the increased prevalence of celiac and non-celiac GS. While I have memories of eating "real" food as a kid, as I grew older, my diet consisted more and more of cheap processed food, filled to the hilt with wheat and corn!

      What really infuriates me, is that our government doesn't have to tell us what's really in our food. Then, after we develop food related diseases, they want to jack our insurance premiums or not give us any insurance whatsoever.

      To quote Mike Huckabee, "People with pre-existing conditions, are like houses that have already burned down."

      "It sounds so good, and it's such a warm message to say we're not gonna deny anyone from a preexisting condition. Look, I think that sounds terrific, but I want to ask you something from a common sense perspective. Suppose we applied that principle [to] our property insurance. And you can call your insurance agent and say, "I'd like to buy some insurance for my house." He'd say, "Tell me about your house." "Well sir, it burned down yesterday, but I'd like to insure it today." And he'll say "I'm sorry, but we can't insure it after it's already burned." Well, no preexisting conditions." (

      Well, if I'm a "burned down house," then government officials like Huckabee are the pyromaniacs who lit the damn fire!

      Okay, stepping off my box now, LOL! 😀



      • Love this! Love the recipe too! You are spot on Heidi. Big problems in our country. The government is ‘in bed’ with big pharma, big ag, and insurance companies. We need to band together and force change!

  2. Heidi, I love your recipes…because they taste good, and they are so thought-provoking! So here I am wondering now about my chronic sinusitis, which woke me up again this morning. Having a corn allergy sounds even harder to deal with than gluten in our culture — but not having sinusitis is worth checking into! And, even without the allergy considerations, your grandmother's barbecue sauce looks delicious. What a precious gift to have her recipe box!

    • Thank you Pat! I feel you on the sinus congestion, I loved with it for decades until my sense of smell and taste became so distorted that I couldn't take it anymore!

      I really recommend reading Dr. James Braly's book on hidden food allergies…it really opened my eyes to the different types of food allergies and the array of symptoms that one can experience (it doesn't just have to be the hives, wheezing, anaphylaxis, etc. that we commonly think of when it comes to immediate onset food allergies).

      He covers both the "true" food allergies (IgE) and the delayed food allergies (IgA and IgG) and it made a lot of sense considering that celiac disease is not just an autoimmune disease, is is also (technically speaking), a delayed food allergy to gluten.

      And you're right, having a corn allergy is 1000% harder to deal with than gluten! BUT, breathing well and feeling great is worth all the frustration and then some. 😀

  3. Kay Guest says

    Hello to Heidi!

    LOVED the write-up that Shirley did on her blog about you! Thanks for the wonderful work that you do on YOUR blog. I had to laugh when you wrote that you know something is good when you want to eat the whole thing when sampling, I just told Shirley that about her version of your Peanut Butter Power Bars! My husband has been on a gluten free diet since he was 2 years old (he is 55 now!) and I can honestly say that it is MUCH easier now than we first married in 1983! (To eat gluten free, that is!)

    Hey, I can't type without exclamation points! Sorry!

    Thanks again for the Power Bars recipe and this BBQ recipe looks great too!

    Kay (!!) Oh, and I found the link to the GM corn very interesting.

    My husband is from England and I can tell you that when I have visited there, many of the products will have labels on them in very bold lettering – GM FREE. I was surprised the first time I saw this, when in this country, hardly anyone knows or cares.

    • Kay,

      I can't type without exclamation points either! LOL!!

      It seems as though the rest of the world is more aware of GMO foods than we are…I had not idea what non-GMO even meant until just a couple of years ago and I suspect a huge percentage of the American population is still unaware. Sad.

  4. I kind of want to kiss you right now. I've been looking for a homemade BBQ recipe that doesn't suck and I know yours wont!!

  5. Heidi, I am SO saving this for future use! I changed my mind on the way to the grocery store yesterday and decided to make Pulled Pork BBQ sandwiches for tonight rather than hamburgers. But, I don't know how to make BBQ sauce. So I wound up buying Annie's GF BBQ sauces – figured I'd give them a try (even had the lady in front of me at the check lane eyeing them in my cart). You bet I'm making this the next time I want BBQ!

  6. Brittany says


    I am always so excited when you post a corn free recipe, it makes me so happy! I have known and dealt with my corn allergy for about two years now and it is still incredibly hard for me to deal with. Finding foods to make is probably the hardest thing for me to do. I can never think of new meals to make and I stick to the same foods over and over again which gets really bland and boring at times. Your corn free recipes inspire me to try new things and create new meals. So thank you!! 🙂 My corn allergy reactions are severe rashes, sinus congestion, migraines, pains on my sides and back, bleeding in my mouth, extreme fatigue, and sometimes unable to stand for long periods. Having a corn allergy has changed my life forever. Thank you for making it a little easier by posting corn free recipes! 🙂


  7. Thanks for this one! My girls were just complaining that we had no BBQ sauce.

    Question though, I went to make myself a salad dressing with olive oil, lemon juice and dry mustard powder the other day. I dumped the mustard into my dressing before double checking the can – wheat flour?! Ugh. What kind of dry mustard do you use?

  8. Victoria says

    I'm going to use honey instead of agave or coconut nectar. Has anyone else tried it this way? I imagine it would be just as delicious!

    • Hi Victoria!

      I haven’t tried the recipe with honey, but I think it would add an amazing depth of flavor, please let me know how it turns out for you!


  9. Jessica Hansen says

    Thank you for this recipe – I made a version based on this today and put it over chicken breasts in the crockpot. I was recently diagnosed with a corn allergy (I am also Gluten-free and Soy-free), and this is by far the hardest ingredient to avoid!

  10. We just found out our 4 year old son is allergic to corn, rye, peanuts, & sesame. It has been a challenge finding things for him to eat. Sites like this really help!!


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