How to Make Cherry Barbecue Sauce Perfect for Pork or Chicken

The unique blend of black cherry soda, cherry preserves, and a touch of barbecue sauce creates a delicious cherry barbecue sauce perfect for ribs or chicken. Make sure you whisk the slurry thoroughly into the sauce and keep stirring as it simmers to achieve that perfect thickness. Once you try this sweet and delicious recipe, you’ll never want to go back to plain old store-bought barbecue sauce.

A close-up of a spoon dipping into a jar of cherry barbecue sauce, showcasing the thick and glossy texture of the sauce.

Cherry Barbecue Sauce

A tangy and sweet sauce that's perfect for brushing on ribs or using as a flavorful dip for your favorite grilled dishes.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Serving Size 2 cups

Ingredients 

Base

  • 6 ounces black cherry soda ¾ cup (you will need an additional tablespoon for the slurry so don’t drink the rest of it just yet!)
  • ½ cup cherry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • pinch of salt

Slurry for Thickening

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cherry soda

Instructions 

  • Combine base ingredients in a saucepan. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the 6 ounces of black cherry soda, cherry preserves, red wine vinegar, barbecue sauce, dijon mustard, soy sauce, ground ginger, garlic powder, pepper, and salt.
  • Make slurry. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the remaining tablespoon of black cherry soda and the cornstarch to make a slurry.
  • Heat to thicken. Whisk into sauce and bring to a simmer, whisking often until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and refrigerate for later use or brush on ribs.
    A saucepan filled with cherry barbecue sauce next to a whisk on a marble countertop, illustrating the cooking process.

Notes

I used Bonne Maman preserves and IBC brand black cherry soda. I also used Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.   The brand of either one is not a big deal.
Homemade barbecue sauce can last 1-2 weeks in the fridge and can easily be made in advance.
Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 582mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 36IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

There’s something about the combination of cherry preserves and barbecue sauce that hits the spot every time. It’s a staple in our kitchen in the early summer when we’re all still excited to grill.

Grilled ribs brushed with cherry barbecue sauce, served alongside a small bowl of the sauce and a brush covered in sauce.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Cherry Barbecue Sauce Tips

  • Use Quality Ingredients: The black cherry soda gives great flavor but any other cherry soda or cherry cola could substitute for it. Maybe even Dr. Pepper which is a little similar or a cola, but you would want more cherry preserves for the cherry flavor.
  • Simmer Gently: Avoid boiling the sauce; a gentle simmer helps develop the flavors without burning.
  • Whisk Constantly: When adding the slurry to the sauce, keep whisking to prevent lumps and ensure a smooth texture.
  • Adjust Sweetness: Taste the sauce as it cooks and adjust the sweetness with a bit more cherry preserves or a touch of honey if needed.

Key Ingredients and Tools

When making this recipe, a few ingredients and tools can make a big difference. Here are some key items to keep in mind:

  • Cherry preserves. Found in the jam and jelly section, this ingredient adds depth and sweetness to the sauce.
  • Red wine vinegar. This provides a tangy contrast to the sweetness of the cherries and can usually be found with other vinegars.
  • Dijon mustard. It adds a slight kick and complexity to the sauce; regular yellow mustard won’t give the same result.
  • Cornstarch. Essential for thickening the sauce, it helps achieve the perfect consistency.
  • Whisk. Using a whisk is crucial for incorporating the slurry smoothly into the sauce without lumps.

These items are key to ensuring your cherry barbecue sauce turns out perfectly.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with homemade ribs, chicken (bone-in or boneless), pork chops, or really any meat at all! Simply brush on the last few minutes of grilling.

Troubleshooting and Help

Can I use fresh cherries instead of cherry preserves?

I wouldn’t! You’ll basically have to to cook them down with sugar first to make a jam.

What if I don’t have black cherry soda?

No problem! You can use regular cherry soda or even a cola if you’re in a pinch. The flavor will be a bit different, but still tasty.

How long does this sauce last in the fridge?

The sauce will keep well for up to a week in an airtight container. It’s perfect for making ahead of time.

Can I freeze the sauce?

Yes, you can freeze the sauce in a sealed container for up to three months. Just thaw it in the fridge overnight before using it.

Is there a substitute for red wine vinegar?

If you don’t have red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or even white wine vinegar can work. The flavor might change slightly, but it will still be delicious.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need more tips on making this recipe right!

Storing Leftovers

To store your cherry barbecue sauce, let it cool completely first. Then, transfer it to an airtight container.

  • Refrigerator: Store the sauce in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Freezer: You can freeze the sauce for up to three months. Use a freezer-safe container and leave some space at the top for expansion. When you’re ready to use it, thaw the sauce in the fridge overnight and give it a good stir before serving.

This way, you can enjoy your homemade cherry barbecue sauce anytime!

I hope you enjoy making and savoring this sauce as much as I do. It’s perfect for grilling season or any time you want to add something special to your dishes. Give it a try, and let me know how it turns out for you.

How to Make Cherry Barbecue Sauce Perfect for Pork or Chicken
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