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Cherry barbecue sauce

Savory, sweet and oh-so-delicious on meat, this cherry barbecue sauce livens up summer grilled meals. In addition to the convenience of using frozen cherries (you don’t have to pit them!), making this sauce is an easy affair.

Have a short cherry season in your area? No problem! The star of our barbecue sauce is frozen cherries. By all means, if you can get fresh cherries, use them. You can even buy an abundance and freeze them yourself. Either way, once you taste this sauce, you’ll never want to be without cherries in your freezer again.

Start by cooking the shallot and rosemary in butter over medium-low heat. When the shallot is translucent, add maple balsamic vinegar, orange juice, cherry preserves, salt, ancho chili seasoning, cocoa powder, brown sugar, maple syrup, Worchestershire and dried cherry cranberries.

Did you notice the cocoa powder in the ingredients list? It adds an intriguing complexity to savory sauces and, in this recipe, complements the smokiness of ancho chili seasoning. Both of these flavors boost the distinct sweetness of the cherries.

Time to add the frozen cherries to the pan. Cook until they’re softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Take the saucepan off of the heat and allow the mixture to cool down a little. At this point, you’ll be tempted to eat this sauce with a big spoon, but be careful — the sugar can get very hot! Transfer the mixture to a blender, and place a towel over the lid of the blender before you turn it on so you don’t get scalded if there’s spatter. Blend until it’s smooth.

Now you’ve got yourself a boldly-flavored, richly-colored barbecue sauce that you can use immediately, or cool it completely and store in the refrigerator. Slather it on ribs and chicken, add it to pulled pork for sandwiches, or brush it on grilled salmon. We’re sure you’ll find plenty of mouthwatering ways to enjoy this amazing must-eat barbecue condiment.

TRY IT ON THIS RECIPE: Grilled baby back ribs

With that in mind, make extra! Why stop at one batch when you can make lots to enjoy all summer? Double, triple or even quadruple the ingredients. Keep a generous batch of cherry barbecue sauce in your refrigerator to use right away, and can the rest for long-term storage. Our cherry barbecue sauce also makes a great gourmet gift for your foodie friends.

(Voted “First Place Recipe” by the Grateful Team)

>> Click here to jump straight to the recipe

Melt butter in saucepan, then add shallots and rosemary

Add shallots and rosemary

Add cherry preserves and additional seasonings

Add cherry preserves and additional seasonings

Add dried cherries

Add dried cherries

Stir in the frozen cherries

Add frozen cherries

Stir and heat the seasoned cherry mixture

Stir and heat the seasoned cherry mixture

Pour cooled mixture into blender for cherry bbq sauce

Pour cooled mixture into blender for cherry bbq sauce

Blend thoroughly

Blend thoroughly

Thick and rich cherry barbecue sauce

Thick and rich Cherry bbq sauce

This homemade BBQ sauce is so delicious



This BBQ sauce has a beautiful color!

Beautiful color!

Cherry barbecue sauce

Yield 3 cups


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons maple balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cherry preserves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup dried cherry cranberries, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 24 ounces frozen cherries


  1. In medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter.
  2. Add shallots and rosemary. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes or until shallot is translucent.
  3. Add maple balsamic vinegar, orange juice, cherry preserves, salt, ancho chili seasoning, cocoa powder, brown sugar, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce and dried cherry cranberries. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high. Add frozen cherries and cook until cherries are soft, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Remove saucepan from heat.
  6. Allow mixture to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Place cherry mixture in blender or food processor, and puree until well blended and smooth. (Note: If mixture is still warm, be careful when blending; place towel over lid and use your hand to secure it to prevent hot liquid from spewing out of top.)
  8. The sauce will continue to thicken during cooling. If it's too thick, thin with water until it reaches desired consistency.
  9. Use immediately or allow sauce to cool completely and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Use sauce on steak, hamburgers, barbecue ribs, pork chops, seafood and chicken.

Courses Sauce

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