Sour Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce (Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo-Friendly)


cherry barbecue via will frolic for food

cherry barbecue sauce recipe by will frolic for food Sauces transform. As in, turn your lame hot dog into a sassy frankfurter. As in, elevate your tempeh dish from mushroomy cubes to cubes of POWER. As in, take pretty ears of tortellini and make them a meal.

One of my favorite memories of the power of a good barbecue sauce comes from a lunch time stop-in at Lamplighter in Richmond. Logan and I used to go there when he lived in the city, and we were always on the look out for good veg options. They had this dish called the TLT n A -- Tempeh, lettuce, tomato, and avocado smooshed between two thick, mountain style slices of bread. The tempeh had been cooked until crispy in a sweet, tangy, rich plum bbq sauce. I still think about that meal sometimes and wonder at why I don't concoct more badass sandwiches for myself.

The sauce on that tempeh made me realize all of the awesome potential for stone fruits in barbecue. I never did get that plum barbecue quite right -- it has yet eluded my attempts at copying (it usually ends up too oniony, too tomatoey, or too sweet). But this cherry barbecue turned out pretty dandy.

cherry barbecue sauce recipe via will frolic for food

This recipe was originally featured over on the Relay Foods blog! Thanks to Relay Foods for sponsoring this post!

Fun fact, if you're in DC, Charlottesville, Richmond, or Raleigh, NC area Relay has the lock on sour cherries (in the Summer). And you can click here to get $30 worth of free groceries! Feel free to share the link with your friends.

Also, Amina of Paper/Plates interviewed me for her At The Table With series today. Check it (and her awesome literary food blog) out here.

Sour Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce (Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo-Friendly)
Author: Renee Shuman (Will Frolic for Food)
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1/2-3/4 cups sauce
A tangy-sweet barbecue sauce made with fresh sour cherries. I love cooking tempeh in this sauce for vegan tempeh BLT's!
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cherry juice
  • 10 ounces fresh sour cherries, pitted and minced
  • 1 tsp chipotle flakes
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  1. Place a medium sauce pot on medium high heat.
  2. Once the pan is good and hot, add ghee and onion.
  3. Cook 15 minutes, until the onions begin to caramelize.
  4. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  5. Add tomato sauce, tamari, balsamic, cherry juice. cherries, chipotle, and honey.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Once at a full, rolling boil, reduce to simmer.
  8. Simmer 20 minutes, until the mixture has reduce by 1/4.
  9. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  10. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend sauce until uniform.
  11. Slather it on EVERYTHING (maybe not cake, but you get the idea).