We’re back on the cherry train and it’s going to your barbecue.  You know all those cherries my family got a few weeks ago? The ones that ended up in pretty much everything from cherry pie to cherry scones, even cherry chutney?  The same cherries are now in my cherry bbq sauce.   Yup, cherries galore made for some great cooking and fun experimentation.  If ever there were a sauce you would want to make homemade, it’d be cherry barbecue sauce.

If we were to discuss condiments and you asked me what is my favorite condiment, I would without hesitation tell you barbecue sauce.  The smoky, rich flavor that can be put on virtually any type of meat is so simple and satisfying and for me, super fun to make.  I tend to enjoy a spicy barbecue sauce that has a tomato base but a nice vinegar zing with some kick, which is what you will find in this recipe.  It is a medium-spicy sauce, so feel free to tone down or amp up the heat according to your tastes.  Put it on your burgers, chicken, use it for dipping. I’ve been meaning to figure out a way of making salad dressing out of this sauce. It’s true – I love it so much I want my veggies to bathe in it!


  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh ripe cherries, pitted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1-3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (1 large orange)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)

Makes 4.5 to 5 cups bbq sauce

To Make:

In a saucepan, add 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil and the chopped onion. Sauté until onion is translucent and turning brown, about 12-15 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cherries, mix into the garlic and onion and cover, allowing cherry juice to begin to leech out, about 3 minutes.  Uncover and add the crushed tomatoes, orange juice, ketchup, honey, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, ground red pepper, paprika and liquid smoke. Bring to a full boil and allow to bubble 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to an emulsion blender. Emulsify until very smooth.

Optional for a thicker sauce: Transfer the sauce back to the saucepan and simmer on medium-low for 30 to 40 minutes in order to thicken. The sauce should be barely bubbling and be sure to stir periodically. Allow sauce to cool before transferring it to a container. If need be, allow it to cool more in the container before refrigerating it.

Keep refrigerated for use for up to 1 week.

Julia Mueller
Meet the Author

Julia Mueller

Julia Mueller is a recipe developer, cookbook author, and founder of The Roasted Root. She has authored three bestselling cookbooks, – Paleo Power Powers, Delicious Probiotic Drinks, and The Quintessential Kale Cookbook. Her recipes have been featured in several national publications such as BuzzFeed, Self, Tasty, Country Living, Brit.co, etc.

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