Sauced: Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Having already tread the barbecue sauce trail from Kansas City to North Carolina, it's time to break out of regional conventions and start having fun with just how diverse barbecue sauce can be—which is exactly what makes it such an exciting sauce to work with.

This cherry sauce has been a project of mine for a while. After tinkering with ingredients here and there, I've finally arrived at a pretty stellar sauce.

While all the main barbecue sauce characteristics are there—tomato base, vinegar tang, sweet molasses—the cherries add a deep fruitiness that gets well embedded. It's noticeable, yet a little hard to discern at the same time. The cherries are paired with ancho chili powder, which gives an earthy spice, along with the very distinctive white pepper.

Complex and full-bodied, this sauce is ready to take on just about anything you have on the grill or smoker. Slather it on chicken, ribs, or burgers, I think it's bound do them all justice and impress the hungry hoards your feeding on this grilling holiday weekend.

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

Sauced: Cherry Barbecue Sauce

About This Recipe

Yield:Makes about 2 cups
Active time:20 minutes
Total time:45 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped frozen, pitted cherries
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. 1

    Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  2. 2

    Add tomato sauce, cherries, brown sugar, orange juice, molasses, cider vinegar, ancho chili powder, mustard, salt, white pepper, and cayenne and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. 3

    Transfer sauce to the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator for up to a month.


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