Cherry chipotle bbq sauce is slightly smoky, sweet and the perfect homemade bbq sauce recipe. This chipotle cherry sauce is easy to make and perfect for grilling or pouring over your favorite shredded chicken, salmon, tofu or for dipping your fries in!
Why you will love this recipe
- This chipotle cherry bbq sauce is unlike any store bought bbq sauce on the market. The unique flavor from the cherries and chipotle is so delicious, you are never going to want to buy store bought sauce again!
Whether you are grilling out or just need bbq sauce to dip your chicken tenders or fries in, this will soon become your go-to recipe!
- No added sugar – this chipotle bbq sauce is sweetened naturally with dark sweet cherries! That makes this recipe Whole30 and paleo friendly!
- Making your own bbq sauce at home is so easy! I love this recipe because there is no cooking required. It’s only slightly more difficult than buying a bottle from the store. All you have to do is defrost the cherries and blend everything together! So simple!
- Make this chipotle cherry sauce your own! If you love spicy bbq sauce, add 1-2 more chipotle peppers! If you prefer a slightly sweeter sauce, add honey, maple syrup or a few pitted dates for sweetness! This is really a great base recipe that you can play around with!
- Fire roasted tomatoes – This recipe doesn’t start with ketchup, instead I use canned fire roasted tomatoes. The subtle smoky flavor pair great with the chipotle peppers and using canned tomatoes instead of ketchup helps to avoid any added sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
- Tomato Paste – this helps add a rich flavor base to build on and also adds depth to the sauce.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – vinegar helps to cut through the canned tomato taste and also helps to mellow out the heat from the peppers.
- Frozen dark sweet cherries, defrosted – you could use fresh or frozen sweet cherries (dark sweet cherries or bing cherries are best for this). I prefer frozen because they are less expensive, already pitted and the stems have been removed. They also have a consistent flavor which is helpful if you are making this outside of cherry season.
- Chipotle in adobo – Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers that are then canned in a vinegary adobo sauce. I always have a few cans in the pantry, they are great to make your own chipotle mayo too! You can find chipotle in adobo in most grocery stores or online. You could also use ground chipotle powder in place of the chipotle in adobo.
- Spices: Salt, Garlic Powder, Cumin – These spices help to balance the flavors, add umami and a little bit of a smoky undertone to the sauce.
- Water (optional) – the pectin from the cherries will thicken the sauce as it sits in the fridge overnight. If you are going to be storing this in the fridge, you may want to add a few tablespoons of water before sealing up the container.
How to make cherry bbq sauce
Start by defrosting the cherries. You can do this in the microwave or by leaving the cherries out on the counter for a bit. You could blend up frozen cherries but you likely would need to warm your bbq sauce up if you are using it immediately.
Add all the ingredients (except the water) to a blender and blend until everything is broken down and smooth (30 seconds or so).
If you plan on using the sauce immediately, you won’t need to add any water. However, if you are storing it for later, add 2 tbsp. – ¼ cup of water and mix well before storing.
Pour the chipotle cherry bbq sauce into a airtight container (I love to use a mason jar for this) and store in the fridge for up to a week.
- When using this bbq sauce, you may want to warm up it up first by heating it on the stove for a few minutes over low heat.
- This chipotle cherry bbq sauce is naturally sweetened with cherries. Depending on your preferences, you may want to add more sweetener. You can use honey, maple syrup or medjool dates to sweeten to your liking.
- I love a good kick from chipotle but Dave doesn’t love super spicy food. He agreed this was a good balance. You may prefer more or less spice. If you do not love spicy food, you may want to start with one chipotle (and take the time to remove the seeds before adding to the sauce).
- If you touch the chipotle peppers with your fingers, be sure to wash them off well. Touching your eyes or your face after touching peppers can cause some serious pain.
How to use smoky cherry bbq sauce
This chipotle cherry sauce is perfect for dipping, brushing on protein or slathering at the end of cooking! I love using it:
- Over air fryer chicken drumsticks at the last few minutes of cooking
- Pour on salmon before and after cooking for a chipotle cherry salmon dish
- Use it over shredded chicken or grilled chicken
- Add to beans (red kidney beans, lentils, white beans) to make a vegan/vegetarian bbq dish.
- Marinate tofu (and slather it after cooking) with this chipotle cherry bbq sauce
- Use over shredded pork or pork tenderloin (in the oven or on the grill)
- As a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets or fries
What kind of cherries to use
This recipe is best with a sweet cherry – dark sweet cherries or bing cherries are best. If you use a sour cherry, you will likely need to add a sweetener (maple syrup, honey, dates), as the cherries provide the sweetness to balance out this recipe.
You can use fresh or frozen cherries. I prefer frozen cherries just for the ease of use and the consistent flavor. If you are using fresh cherries, be sure to remove the stem and the pit.
Note: if you don’t have any cherries on hand, you could also use blackberries or blueberries in place of the cherries. For blackberries, you will want to run them through a fine mesh strainer first to remove any of the seeds. Simply press them through the mesh strainer with the back of a spoon before adding them to the blender.
What are chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
When jalapeno peppers are dried and smoked, they are called chipotle peppers. When canned, they are stored in a tangy vinegar based sauce called adobo sauce. These peppers add quite a bit of heat to any dish. If you are adverse to spice, you may want to take the time to cut the pepper open and scrape out the seeds.
You will typically have quite a few chipotle leftover from any recipe (since they come in cans of 10 or more and most recipes call for 2-3 at a time. You can freeze leftover chipotle peppers 1-2 per serving to save for later use.
The easiest way to do this is to drop the peppers in a silicone ice cube tray and allow them to freeze (you can add some adobo sauce to each as well if you want). Once frozen, pop them out of the ice tray and store in a freezer safe bag.
How to make this chipotle bbq sauce spicier
I like a little heat, so I would advise you make the recipe as written first, then add 1-2 peppers at a time to the blender. This way you can control the heat without overpowering the rest of the flavors.
If you find that you add too many peppers for your liking, add more dark sweet cherries to help balance out the heat. You could also add some honey or maple syrup as well.
Can you make this chipotle cherry bbq sauce sweeter
I love how the cherries sweeten the sauce and don’t have the need for any additional sweeteners. You could easily add more dark sweet cherries, maple syrup or honey (1-2 tbsp to start with) or a few pitted medjool dates (Whole30). The same as the peppers, add a tablespoon or so at a time so you can control how sweet it gets.
How to store no added sugar bbq sauce
- Fridge: Store leftover cherry chipotle sauce in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Freezer: This sauce freezes beautifully. I would store this in ½ cup portions (I love souper cubes for this). Once frozen solid, move to a freezer safe bag or container for up to 2 months. Tip: If you love using bbq sauce for dipping fries or chicken tenders, you can freeze it in 2 tablespoon servings instead so you can just pop out what you need each time from the freezer.
- Canning: I do not recommend canning this recipe. Be sure to use a recipe that was specifically made for canning. Typically canning sauces requires the proper Ph levels and usually that requires adding sugar. I recommend freezing it for longer term storage. If you have a ton of cherries you are trying to use, I would recommend freezing the cherries for later use or finding a recipe that is made for canning.
- Canned fire roasted tomatoes: you can also use just regular canned tomatoes in place of the fire roasted tomatoes. To get that extra layer of smokiness, you can add 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika to the bbq sauce if you cannot find fire roasted tomatoes.
- Tomato paste: Tomato paste adds a richness to the bbq sauce that you can’t get from canned tomatoes. You could try substituting ketchup here but you won’t get the exact same flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar: This helps to cut the “canned” taste from the tomatoes and helps cut through some of the heat from the chipotle peppers. You could also use lime juice, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar.
- Dark sweet cherries (fresh or frozen): You can also use bing cherries. You want a sweet cherry for this recipe. You could also use blackberries, raspberries or blueberries in place of cherries. You will want to run the blackberries through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds first. With raspberries or blackberries you may need a touch of sweetener (honey, maple, medjool date) depending on how sweet or tart those berries are.
- Chipotle in adobo: I use mostly the chipotle peppers (not so much of the adobo sauce). These peppers are hot and add smokiness and heat to the cherry bbq sauce. You can start with just 1 and work your way up if needed. You could also use dried chipotle powder in place of the canned chipotle in adobo. You will want to use 1/2 -1 tsp. (or more) depending on the level of heat you like.
- Salt: Sea salt helps balance the flavors and brings forth more of the sweetness from the cherries. If you are sensitive to salt, you could use less but I cannot recommend leaving it out completely.
- Garlic powder: I use garlic powder because this recipe is not being cooked, so raw garlic would quickly overpower the rest of the flavors. If you want to use fresh garlic, I would recommend sautéing it first.
- Ground cumin: Cumin adds a smokiness and helps round out the flavors. You could also use smoked paprika in place of the cumin or in addition to the cumin.
Easy Chipotle Cherry Barbecue Sauce$2.90 Recipe/$0.48 Serving
- Defrost the cherries in the microwave or on the counter until no longer frozen.
- Add all the ingredients (except the water) to the blender and blend on high until everything is well combined and smooth.
- Store in mason jar with tight fitting lid for up to a week.
- Note: If you will be storing in the fridge, you