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Cherry Bourbon Barbecue Sauce - no refined sugar! |
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Author: Lisa Lin

Cherry Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

This cherry bourbon barbecue sauce is rich in flavor without the sugar. It will make anything finger-lickin' good! Makes about 2 cups.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time55 mins


  • 12 oz (340g) pitted red cherries (about 2 cups)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger, I used a microplane grater
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder, or any chili powder you have
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 1/3 cups (3325g) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups (360ml) pear juice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 TBS bourbon


  • Rinse and chop the cherries into quarters. Set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and let it cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for one minute. Add the chili powder and cayenne pepper and stir for 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato paste, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, pear juice, salt, and cherries. Stir until everything is incorporated.
  • Cook uncovered until the sauce thickens, about 13 to 15 minutes. The sauce should be bubbling wildly. Reduce the heat a little, add the bourbon and stir. Cook for another minute or two, and turn off the heat.
  • Let the sauce cool for about 10 minutes before putting it in a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Enjoy it at your next barbecue! Refrigerate leftovers in a jar for several weeks.


1. Loosely adapted from Serious Eats.[br][br]2. You can make this sauce with frozen cherries as well. Just make sure to defrost the cherries first. I usually submerge the frozen cherries in a warm water bath for 10 minutes, then drain the water and squeeze the cherries for any excess. Roughly chop the cherries before cooking them. Frozen cherries will create a purplish barbecue sauce while fresh cherries create a red barbecue sauce.
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