Surprise! Peanuts in Asian Vegetarian BBQ Sauce!

Collage of Asian vegetarian BBQ sauce ingredient labels

Surprise! Peanuts in Asian Vegetarian BBQ Sauce!

I launched Nut Free Wok with the intention to share Allergy Aware Asian Fare, to help my sons and readers to be informed and educated about how they can decode Asian foods and ingredients so that they can safely enjoy and eat wonderful nut free meals to their hearts’ content. There are plenty of safe, delicious, nut free ingredients to mention and enjoy without expressing any negativity toward Asian foods in general or nut containing ingredients.

Usually the presence of nuts are obvious because I can either see the nuts or because it’s an obvious nut containing ingredient, such as satay sauce or peanut sauce. Even when the presence of nuts is not obvious, I have some cultural context to know how foods are made and which kinds of dishes will have hidden allergens. However, I was so surprised to find two different Asian Vegetarian BBQ Sauces which contain peanuts and my mind keeps gravitating back to it as something important to share.

Surprise! Asian Vegetarian BBQ Sauce Contains

I admit that I can’t put the peanut containing BBQ sauce into context because I’ve never used it and am unfamiliar with a vegetarian Asian diet. So without any negativity on my part and out of sheer curiosity, let’s talk about Asian vegetarian BBQ sauce with the intention of preventing unexpected consumption of nuts.

Printed on the packaging of one of the cans of “Vegetarian Barbecue Sauce” is the following description: “To make fried hot pot food tasty, specially [sic] for vegetarian restaurants.” The ingredient label indicates that the sauce contains soy bean oil, soy sauce (water, soy bean, wheat, salt), sesame powder, seasoning, vegetarian spice, malt flour, peanut powder, coconut powder. The label includes an allergen advisory for soy, wheat, and peanut.

Generally BBQ sauces do not contain meat products nor peanuts and are usually used to flavor BBQ meats. I’m not sure if all Asian Vegetarian BBQ sauces contain peanuts but these Asian vegetarian BBQ sauces contain peanuts and therefore warrant extra consideration. I’m guessing it might be used for meatless meals as a marinade, glaze, or dip. The ingredient lists of the Asian vegetarian BBQ sauces I found include soy, wheat, sesame, coconut, and peanuts, and unspecified spices. Be careful if you are avoiding any of those allergens. And be sure to ask questions about ingredients and be aware of potential cross contact when there is mention of an Asian BBQ sauce or a vegetarian BBQ sauce.

If any readers are familiar with Taiwanese cuisine or “fried hot pots” or Asian vegetarian meals, please help all of us understand more about this type of ingredient. What other ingredients have you found unexpected allergens (including but not limited to nuts)?

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No material connection to the products mentioned or pictured. My opinions are based purely on reading the ingredient labels. Since my family cannot consume this product, I have no opinions regarding the taste, quality, or value of the products. Please consult your medical care team if you have any health related questions.


About Sharon Wong 275 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.


  1. We recently went to a taiwanese hotpot place in Fremont, where they told us there’s peanut products in the bbq sauce that is used for dipping. I think it’s usually called “Barbecue Sauce” or “Satay Sauce”

  2. I was at Whole foods and saw Mother In laws Kimchi Gochujang and it had peanuts in there too. I was like what? It’s scary how they are adding it to unsuspected things. My daughter had a anaphylactic reaction when she was 3 from miso soup that had peanut butter in it? Being Korean, I find more and more Korean dishes with peanuts in them like curry sauce cubes, black bean noodles and hot pancakes.

    • I totally agree, there’s no rhyme or reason about which products will have unexpected peanuts. I went back to look at all the Asian BBQ sauce and it seems that most of the ones marked “vegetarian” BBQ sauce contained peanuts. I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling that the foods I’ve grown up with are not the way I expect them to be anymore. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Candice!

  3. are peanuts being used to thicken sauces/gravies? We had a scare at a Mexican restaurant once that put peanut butter in their enchilada sauce!

    • Hi Sharon, sorry for my late reply! I think they use peanuts in the vegetarian BBQ sauce to boost the protein as Asian BBQ sauce that’s not marketed to vegetarian do not seem to use peanuts. I agree about being careful in Mexican restaurants, they do use peanut butter to thicken their sauces, such as mole. I know of a Japanese curry restaurant that uses peanuts as their “secret” ingredient. Eeeek, peanut hazards everywhere!

  4. Since it’s been a while since you wrote this, have you found any peanut safe ones? I have contacted a few companies but haven’t heard back. Thanks

    • There aren’t many Asian bbq sauces options available at my local store so I haven’t contacted other brands. Whenever we have hot pot we usually make our own dipping sauces from simple ingredients. If you are grilling or enjoying hot pot at home, you can experiment with soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, green onions, finely minced garlic, etc.. use whatever flavors you like to make your own dipping sauce. I personally like Japanese sesame dipping sauces or a green onion and ginger dipping sauce.

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