Cherry Barbecue Sauce Recipe

A mason jar filled with homemade cherry barbecue sauce, and a silicone pastry brush dipped in sauce is laying across the rim of the jar.

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 you're feeding.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 16 servings
Makes: 2 cups

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  • 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 chile powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  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. 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. 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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
85 Calories
2g Fat
17g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 85
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 319mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 6mg 29%
Calcium 30mg 2%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 259mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)