Smoked Cherry Barbecue Sauce


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If you’ve been around the AIP blogosphere a while now, you’re probably familiar with a certain cherry-based BBQ sauce. Mickey shares both her wealth of knowledge and her arsenal of delicious recipes with her readers at Autoimmune Paleo. Her blog’s focus is “an allergen-free, whole foods approach to managing chronic illness”. She has an e-cookbook already out and worked tirelessly on the print version of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook.

I’ve tried several recipes on her blog and in her cookbook and love so many of them. But by far, my favorite is the Nightshade-Free Cherry BBQ Sauce. YES! Even those of us who follow autoimmune protocol can enjoy a sumptuous, smoky, sweet barbecue sauce. I followed her recipe *almost* to a T.

I experimented slightly {because that’s what I do!} and actually smoked. the. cherries.

Smoked Cherry Barbecue Sauce | Enjoying this Journey...

The first time I smoked cherries for this sauce, my mom was joining us for dinner. She was skeptical about my experimental shenanigans, but she was surprised with the sauce and enjoyed it. I’ve been making it this way ever since. Heck, even sister #3 {who generally hates barbecue sauce} loved it and actually asked that I make her a jar {I did and have a couple times since then}.

As far as smoking the cherries, I put all the cherries in a wire colander and load them into the smoker. I’ve let them smoke anywhere from two to four hours and check the chips every 30 minutes or so {depending on if I remember to set the timer and what the kids are doing – ha!}.

You can use either fresh cherries or frozen/thawed/drained/patted dry cherries. During summer, I used fresh organic Rainier cherries that I’d bring home in my farmer’s market hauls. If/when cherries are not in season, I use frozen organic dark, tart cherries. Also, I’ve used several types of wood chips for smoking with great results, but out of respect for the cherries I recommend using cherrywood.

We use a “vintage” version of the Little Chief Top Load Electric Smoker.

Smoked Cherry Barbecue Sauce | Enjoying this Journey...

As I mentioned above, this recipe is inspired by an original recipe by Mickey Trescott. I am sharing with her permission. See the original Nightshade-Free Cherry BBQ Sauce recipe, especially those of you without a smoker. πŸ˜‰

4.8 from 4 reviews
Smoked Cherry Barbecue Sauce
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Paleo, Primal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 large organic yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves organic garlic, pressed or grated
  • 3 cups pitted organic cherries, smoked
  • ¼ cup organic maple syrup
  • ¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  1. Heat the coconut oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Once it is heated cook the chopped onion for 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook just about two minutes.
  3. Add the smoked cherries, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar Himalayan sea salt.
  4. Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. You will want the mixture to thicken a bit.
  5. Transfer everything to a blender or food processor and blitz until mixed.
  6. Serve immediately or pour into Mason jar{s} and let cool before storing in the fridge.

Smoked Cherry Barbecue Sauce | Enjoying this Journey...

A few extra notes:
  • You can easily make a double batch of sauce, just use a Dutch oven instead of a skillet.
  • This sauce freezes well.
  • I’ve also been known to freeze a stash of cherries after smoking so I could make the sauce whenever I wanted. πŸ™‚

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  17 comments for “Smoked Cherry Barbecue Sauce

  1. November 29, 2013 at 5:41pm

    My mouth is watering now! This looks so incredibly tasty, and I cannot wait to try it!

  2. donna
    May 14, 2014 at 1:36pm

    what if I don’t have a smoker then what ? can I just use frozen or fresh cherries ?

  3. October 3, 2014 at 1:14pm

    Hey I love this recipe but didn’t I didn’t have smoked sea salt or access to a smoker soo I used bacon fat instead of coconut oil. . Whooo hooo!

    • October 3, 2014 at 5:24pm

      That’s a great idea! I loooove using rendered bacon fat {especially now that I can’t have coconut oil, ha!}. So glad it worked out for you πŸ™‚

  4. Nicole Ledoux
    June 16, 2015 at 2:49pm

    How long does it last in the fridge?

    • June 16, 2015 at 9:45pm

      Hi Nicole, I always end up using mine pretty quickly when I make it. Since this sauce has vinegar in it and since it is cooked it should keep for months. But always check and make sure before using if it has been unused for a while. You could also portion out and freeze this sauce to thaw as you need it. Hope that helps!

  5. Valerie
    June 21, 2015 at 1:37pm

    Great recipe! Making it tonight to go with ribs on the grill. However, I like my BBQ sauce with a bit of a kick and less sweet so I added 2 Tsp of fresh minced ginger and reduced the maple syrup.

  6. July 17, 2015 at 8:08am

    Erin, I can’t wait to try this! Big BBQ potluck tomorrow… I’m gonna wow them with AIP sauce!

    • July 19, 2015 at 1:38pm

      I hope they enjoy it, Susan!! πŸ™‚

      • July 19, 2015 at 8:28pm

        Oh my word. It was so so good, and gone in minutes! Making more now, and we’re going to smoke a bunch of local WA cherries tomorrow to freeze and use for future batches. WIN!
        Susan recently posted…Homemade Bouillon CubesMy Profile

        • July 20, 2015 at 11:24pm

          I’m so glad to hear it! I’ve already made three batches of this sauce. Sadly, not a fourth before the cherries {we pick them from our friend’s tree} were gone. I might have to buy some cherries if I see some at the fruit stand though. πŸ™‚

          • July 10, 2016 at 10:05am

            Hi Erin! Sue (from Backcountry Paleo) here again! It’s cherry season, woot! Got the smoker loaded, and a whole bunch of cherries ready to go. Can’t wait! I hope all’s well over on the dry side. Send us some summer! Juneuary has become Julyuary!

          • July 14, 2016 at 1:15pm

            What’s funny is our late-spring was hotter than summer so far! I’m thankful for the milder temperatures, don’t get me wrong but this is the “brace yourself” heat I expected. It’s still early I suppose… (hope I’m not jinxing myself) I’ll definitely send the moss side some summer vibes. πŸ˜‰

            And I’m still impressed that you made such a HUGE batch, Sue. πŸ˜€

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