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Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Cherry Barbecue Sauce

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Makes about 1 1/3 cups Servings


  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Generous pinch of cayenne pepper

Recipe Preparation

  • Combine chicken broth, cherry preserves, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon peel, cinnamon, and cloves in heavy medium saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat until broth mixture is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 6 minutes.

  • Whisk Port and cornstarch in small bowl to blend. Whisk Port-cornstarch mixture, orange marmalade, and ketchup into reduced broth mixture. Bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly. Simmer until flavors blend and sauce thickens slightly, whisking frequently, about 5 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Serve warm or at room temperature. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature or rewarm over low heat before using.

Recipe by Steven RaichlenReviews Section

Roasted Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Actually, that&rsquos exactly what they wanted to do.

For the challenge, OXO partnered up with Northwest Cherry Growers to see just how creative some of us food bloggers could get with a boatload of cherries.

Luckily, we were also sent a couple of cherry pitters, a nesting bowl and colander set, and a food scale to help make quick(er) work of dealing with 10 pounds of cherries.

So what does one do when one receives 10 pounds of fruit in the mail? You sit your butt down in front of The Bachelorette season finale (what a drama-fest, by the way) and get to pitting. You also cover everything you own in old towels because, in spite of the nice little splatter guard on your cherry pitter, you&rsquore still likely to get cherry juice all over the dang place. And then the next day, you get to cookin&rsquo.

The first thing I thought of when I knew I would need to get creative in the kitchen was cherry barbecue sauce. (I blame grill-master Boyfriend for this. He&rsquos got broad shoulders, he can take it.) To take it just one step further, I roasted the cherries before adding them to the sauce. Remember those Roasted Strawberry Muffins? We&rsquore going for the same effect here with our roasted cherries &ndash bringing out some more of their sweet flavor, and adding a bit of a caramelized edge to them before marrying them with tomato sauce, sautéed onion, brown sugar, molasses, and a whole host of other flavorful ingredients. The result is a sauce that is tangy with a rich sweetness from the roasted cherries and just a little touch of heat &ndash and since you&rsquore making this yourself, you can boost the heat as much as you like here.

This recipe makes about 4 cups of sauce, which is plenty for packaging up in small jars and giving away&hellipor store it in one large jar and hoard it all for yourself. Put it on chicken, pork&hellipor be like me and eat it straight from the pot with a spoon. Heaven knows I&rsquom not going to tell on you.

PS: Those of you good at math will notice this only used 1 lb of cherries, which still left me with 9 lbs remaining. Stay tuned to see what else I did with those suckers!


Servings Makes 3 1/2 cups

Amount Per Serving Calories 70 Calories from Fat 14 % Daily Value * Total Fat 1.1g 2 % Saturated Fat 0.1g 1 % Cholesterol 0.0mg 0 % Sodium 294mg 13 % Total Carbohydrate 15g 5 % Dietary Fiber 0.5g 2 % Protein 0.8g 2 %

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Smoked Cherry BBQ Sauce

I know you’re looking for something to do with that bag of cherries in your fridge before they go bad. May I suggest you smoke them and make an incredible smoked cherry BBQ sauce? Nothing beats the infusion of sweet cherrywood laced all through meat, veggies, and in this case…cherries. Smoked cherries take about 2 hours on a very low 225-250 degrees, and they go from bright deep red to dull unsaturated version of themselves, color-wise. But trust me, the taste is amazing. The finished product comes together beautifully, and tastes amazing on your grilled chicken, baby back ribs, corn, lamb, jumbo shrimp, steaks — you name it. This sauce is that versatile. Sweet, spicy, smoky, it’s the perfect combination.

Not everyone has access to an outdoor smoker. Let me introduce you to a solution that could change your life — an indoor stovetop smoker. I own one, and I love it. Using it in conjuction with my oven allows me to have that great slow-smoky flavor without smoking up the house. Letting the chips smoke over an open flame for about 10-minutes, or until super smoky (whichever comes first) is all I need. Of course, nothing really beats an actual smoker, but the stovetop version is pretty stellar considering your possible limitations. You should absolutely check it out if you live in an apartment or condo, or some place you simply cannot lug around one of the big joints.

Let’s get into the good stuff…

Wash wash wash your cherries!

I’m using a cherry pitter here, it make’s the job easier.

see all those pits? we don’t want those in our sauce.

I’m using an electric outdoor smoker, set to 250 degrees. Cherrywood is my wood of choice here.

If you’re a fan of making your own sauces, this smoked cherry BBQ Sauce is a clear winner. This recipe is very adaptable to your own personal tastes. Not everyone likes their bbq sauce the same way. You may want more or less smoke, more or less sweet, more or less heat, etc. Use my measurements as “starting-off-points”, and continue to taste through the cooking process to adjust as you see fit.

here’s what they look like after 2 hours. they smell amazing!

so let’s get started on the sauce. pour some olive oil into a heavy bottom pot, add the onion and crushed red pepper.

add some salt (i’m using kosher)

Cook that down until the onions are softened, about 4 minutes. add additional oil if you need to.

throw in the onion powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, hatch chile powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and cumin.

mix mix mix, if the spices are sticking or burning, add a lil more oil.

after about 2 minutes, add the garlic, and stir it around for about 30 seconds.

stir it up until it’s thoroughly combined. let it cook for about a minute.

throw in some brown sugar, honey, and a little molasses.

don’t forget the mustard, and maybe a little more cayenne if needed.

allow all of this to simmer for 30-45 minutes, tasting often and adjusting seasoning as needed. if you need more heat, add it. if you need more sweet, add it.

once it’s perfect, take a hand-blender and get to work! or, use a regular blender in batches. safely though, you don’t want this super hot stuff splashing you in the face. you can blend it until it’s the consistency you prefer.

this is how i wanted mine. smooth but somewhat textured. you can go smoother or chunkier, it’s up to you.

jar it up. it’ll stay yummy for up to a month in your fridge.

Make sure you also check out my Peach Bourbon BBQ Sauce, that one is amazing as well. Happy smoking!

The Meatwave

If you've been following along at home, you already know what feels like an endless onslaught of rain here in Durham has drastically reduced my grilling efforts as of late, and as a result of that, I'm pulling recipes from a collection of items from the past that were left to be forgotten for one reason or another. This recipe for cherry-sauced ribs was taken from there, originally cooked in 2011 and let sit since then not for any flaw in the recipe&mdashin fact, these were among some of the tastiest of ribs I've made&mdashbut because I thought the sauce recipe was so good that I was going to hold onto it as one of my "secrets." Well, last summer I decided to hell with it and released my cherry-chipotle barbecue sauce recipe out into the wild, so there really was no reason to hold the resulting rib recipe any longer, and it just so happens the right rainy day to do so finally arrived.

I personally haven't done a ton of fruit experimentation with my sauces, but from now having reviewed over 200 barbecue sauces, I know that cherry is one of my favorite compliments to the sweet, tart, and spicy barbecue profile. I think the fact that cherries themselves have that sweet and tart balance makes them a good fit from the get go, but their unique fruitiness also pairs really well with a tomato base the way other fruits don't always do.

While I've already let go of the recipe for the sauce, that's really only half the equation with these ribs&mdashI also developed a new rub meant specifically to pair with the cherry-chipotle sauce. It's not that big of a deviation from a standard barbecue rub, but some of the spices were chosen for how they would meld with the sauce, like substituting the usual chili powder for earthy and fruity ancho chili powder in particular, and opting for the harsher bite of white pepper to really stand out against the already spicy chipotle.

With resurrecting this recipe, I've realized it's been many, many years since I've smoked baby backs instead of spares. I like the meatiness, fattiness, and forgiving qualities of spare ribs, so they're always my go to, but I do think baby backs were an apt choice for this particular recipe because their slightly lighter flavor would later allow both the rub and sauce to play and even larger starring role, and it's well deserved.

The thing to remember with baby backs though is that they take less time to cook, and if you over cook them, you're more likely to end up with a drier end product than with the more fat-rich spare ribs. So it's important to keep a close eye on the cooking, and luckily my usual method allows me to do that easily.

I like to let my ribs smoke undisturbed until the exterior reaches a beautiful mahogany color. This clocks in between two to three hours, at which time I begin spraying the ribs with apple juice about every 45 minutes to help preserve that color and not allow the bark to turn into and overly chewy, blackened crust. So if I'm already opening the lid on a regular basis, I can easily check on the doneness, which I test by lifting the ribs from one end and seeing if they have a slight bend to them.

When they seem almost done&mdashbaby backs will usually take between four to five hours total when smoked at 225°F&mdashI brush on the barbecue sauce. In the 30 minutes or so of cooking left, the sauce will bake down into a glistening glaze. If I have a grill going at the same time I'm smoking, I actually prefer to sauce the ribs once completely smoked and then toss them over the hotter heat on the grill, which creates a deeper, and more flavorful, caramelization.

Once these racks were done, they were truly beautiful with a dark maroon crust that shined in the strong afternoon light. All that was left was to slice and serve, and one plus for baby backs is it's usually easier to see the bones, making slicing more straightforward&mdashI'm notoriously bad at cutting my spare ribs right between two bones, but don't usually have any issues with baby backs.

Now you put together one great rub, an even grater sauce, add tender, smoky pork, and I don't have to tell you that you're in for one outstanding barbecue experience. The sauce and rub meld to be a crowd-pleasing mixture of sweet, spicy, earthy, and fruity that packs more of a punch than with your everyday ribs. There's also that nice smokiness of chipotles that is further enhanced by the smoke that becomes embedded in the meat. I'm glad I finally had an excuse to share these ribs with you, and if you're anything like me, this post is leaving you with a strong desire to leave your computer, fire up the smoked, and cook up a few racks of these beauties as soon as possible!

Cherry Habanero BBQ Sauce

The rich flavor of cherries is a perfect foil for the more extreme end of the pepper scale. Here it&rsquos the habanero pepper that drops the spice hammer in this fiery barbecue sauce recipe. Cherry habanero BBQ sauce is bold &ndash sweet, tangy (from apple cider vinegar), earthy, lightly smoky (thank you chipotle powder) and of course spicy. Plenty spicy. Depending on how you choose to make it (see below), you&rsquoll want to give your guest a little warning prior to eating.

Of course, you can remove the habanero from the sauce before using (since it&rsquos roughly chopped), or if you&rsquore like us, pull out that hand blender and incorporate that delicious sweet fire that habaneros are so well known for into the sauce. This option certainly is not for everyone, but it&rsquos not exactly a family-friendly with option one either. While it&rsquos not ghost pepper hot, this is a bbq sauce for more extreme eaters however you cut it.

Cherry habanero BBQ sauce is delicious with grilled pork and grilled chicken as a marinade or wet rub. Or try it as an fiery dipping sauce for chicken tenders. Really most fried foods can enjoy some extra zing from this hot sauce.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 ½ cups dry red Zinfandel
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ⅔ cup dried tart cherries
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 3 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • About 3 tbsp. lemon juice

Pour olive oil into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until limp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add Zinfandel, ketchup, cherries, vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar, mustard, ginger, black pepper, anise seeds, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid begins to thicken slightly, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Pour mixture into a blender and add 2 tbsp. lemon juice whirl until very smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. Use warm or at room temperature.

Apricot-Habanero Barbecue Sauce

Many of the best barbecue sauces work on a combination of sweet and heat. This great sauce puts apricots up against habanero chilies to accomplish this. It sounds simple, but this barbecue sauce is actually layered in flavors that make it rich and fantastic.

What Kind of Cherries Can I Use?

This recipe calls for a quantity of pitted cherries, it doesn’t matter if they are fresh or frozen. I’ve tried both while recipe testing to make sure either one would work and both turn out absolutely amazing. The cherries are a vital component to the final flavor of the sauce though, so make sure you stick with a really sweet cherry, like a bing or other dark sweet cherry.

Pie cherries may not be the best option here, just because they are a little more sour. If that’s all you can get your hands on, go for it! Just be aware that you may need to add a little more honey or introduce some brown sugar to the sauce to balance it all out.

Sweet Cherry Barbecue Sauce

A couple weeks ago, just before I headed out of town to teach my Omega workshop and then go to my cousin’s wedding, I did a bunch of canning. I made roasted peach jam. I made a tiny batch of gooseberry jam. And I made a batch of sweet cherry barbecue sauce, using three pounds of cherries from my Canbassador booty.

I have mixed feelings about barbecue sauce. I think this is, in part, because of my parents’ position on the stuff. My dad loves it (and once invested in a friend’s sauce making venture) and my mom can’t stand it. What’s more, I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life without any grilling space. So my ability to make things appropriate for barbecue is limited at best.

However, in recent years, I’ve discovered just how good these homemade sauces are when poured into slow cookers and used as a tasty braising medium for things like pork shoulders and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. And so, I’ve gradually expanding the number I make each year.

Whether you’re a huge fan of barbecue sauce or you’re lukewarm on the topic, I highly encourage you to explore this one!

Oh, and a quick tip about pitting cherries for things you’re going to cook down. Instead of working each one through the cherry pitter, remove the stems and heap them into the pan you’re going to use to cook the sauce. Add half a cup of water, cover the pot, and simmer the cherries for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool. Then, reach in and use your fingers to pop the pits out of the cherries. Wear gloves if you’re concerned about staining your fingers. It takes no more than 10 minutes to pop the pits out of the cherries when prepped this way. Easy.