Avoid extra sugar when you use this recipe for homemade barbecue sauce without ketchup! Made with naturally sweetened fruit, it has no added sugar. This cherry BBQ sauce recipe is made with either fresh or frozen cherries. It's easy to adapt the spice level to your family's tastes.
If you've been wondering if barbecue sauce can be made without ketchup, here's your answer!
And this homemade cherry BBQ sauce recipe is made without ketchup, without sugar and without liquid smoke, too!
If you've ever searched grocery store shelves, looking for a bottle of BBQ sauce that doesn't contain sugar, you know how frustrating it can be. Some brands list sugar (as glucose-fructose) as the second ingredient, after water.
Homemade barbecue sauce to the rescue! Many recipes online, however, simply use ketchup as a main ingredient. And ketchup contains sugar--a lot!
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- This recipe for homemade Cherry Barbecue Sauce has no added granulated sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup or honey! It's naturally sweet and mildly spicy with fruit and spices.
- Making your own homemade barbecue sauce is easy and you can customize it to suit your family's tastes.
- This recipe uses molasses to get that deep rich flavour of tangy Kansas City-style BBQ sauce!
- Making homemade sauces and seasonings can be so satisfying! If you're inspired to try more, you'll find lots of ideas in my seasonings and sauces category.
If you've been following along with me for a while, you'll know my love for both fresh and frozen cherries. Once I discovered I could buy organic cherries that were already pitted, I started creating cherry recipes!
If you love cherries, too, check out these 8 Fabulous Recipes for Fresh or Frozen Cherries.
🛒 Ingredients and substitutions
You'll find a complete list of ingredients with amounts in the recipe card below. But before we get to the full recipe, here are a few notes about some of the key ingredients.
- onion: you'll need a medium white onion.
- garlic: fresh cloves. Remember to remove the little green sprout if it's visible as it can be very bitter.
- chili powder: Add as little or as much as you like, depending on how spicy you like your BBQ sauce.
- tomato paste: helps to thicken the sauce and adds a deep, rich tomato flavour.
- tomato sauce: a simple sauce made with puréed tomatoes with no added seasonings or spices.
- vinegar: I use apple cider vinegar in this recipe, but you can substitute white wine vinegar or even rice vinegar.
- molasses: regular cooking molasses. This recipe is a Kansas City-style BBQ sauce, so molasses is a must!
- cherries: dark sweet cherries, fresh or frozen. Frozen cherries come pitted and are so easy to use.
Here are step-by-step instructions to make this recipe perfectly.
Start by browning onions and garlic in a saucepan, then stir in chili powder.
Next, add tomato paste and stir until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then simmer until thickened. Purée in a blender or use an immersion blender until it's smooth, or leave it chunky. It's ready to use!
🔁 Possible Variations
Chunky or smooth! Leave this sauce chunky with enticing bits of cherry in it, or purée it until it is perfectly smooth. Your choice!
Try different fruits! In late summer, ripe plums would be a delicious choice.
Vary the flavour with different spices. Want it spicier? Replace a little of the chili powder with chipotle powder to make cherry chipotle barbecue sauce.
Try adding a pinch or two of smoked paprika!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Once you make this cherry bbq sauce, you'll discover so many ways to use it!
- Slather this cherry barbecue sauce on your favourite grilled meats, like ribs, burgers or chicken.
- Use it as a dipping sauce for chicken tenders.
- Add it to your favourite recipe for baked beans.
- Combine it with pulled pork for pulled pork sandwiches.
- Use it as a pizza sauce for BBQ chicken pizza.
- Make pulled chicken sandwiches.
- Follow this recipe for air fryer Honey Garlic Chicken Wings, replacing the honey-garlic sauce with this ketchup-free barbecue sauce.
⏰ Storage Instructions
To store: Cool first, then store in a glass jar with a lid in the fridge for up to a week. Since homemade barbecue sauce does not contain any preservatives, it won't last as long as store-bought barbecue sauce.
To freeze: Cool, store in a jar with a lid and freeze for 3 months.
🗒 More recipes for seasoning and sauces
When you make this cherry barbecue sauce recipe, please leave a comment and a rating below. I love hearing from you! Thanks in advance. Subscribe to my newsletter and receive new recipes delivered straight to your inbox.
Homemade Cherry Barbecue Sauce without Ketchup
- 1 med onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder, or less for milder flavour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen and thawed
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup cooking molasses
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Add the olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it starts to soften. Add the garlic.
- Stir in the chili powder.
- Add the tomato paste and stir until well combined.
- Add all remaining ingredients (except the salt and pepper).
- Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Cool before tasting, then season with salt and pepper.
- If you like chunky barbecue sauce, it will be ready to serve now. If you prefer it smoother, transfer the sauce to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth.
- Cool completely before transferring to a jar with a lid and refrigerate. It will last for a week. Freeze for up to 3 months.
This recipe for homemade cherry barbecue sauce without ketchup was adapted from Fruit Barbecue Sauce at ricardocuisine.com