Meet your new favorite bbq sauce recipe- Blueberry BBQ Sauce! Made with delicious fresh blueberries, brown sugar, spices, and other pantry staples, you’ll see that making your own BBQ sauce is super easy and much better than anything you get from the grocery store!
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Now, I know what you’re thinking, blueberries in BBQ sauce?! Trust me, this fun and fruity twist is a total game-changer.
Ok so the story behind the sauce goes like this: there’s a BBQ joint up in Freeport, Maine that I LOVE called “Bucks” and they make their own blueberry BBQ sauce. My hubs and I were on our first date at the time and he showed me the sauce. When I saw it, I was definitely skeptical, but after one taste, I was hooked and haven’t looked back.
After all these years (15 actually) I’m still obsessed, and it’s about time I recreate it at home!
Let me tell you, this is one of my all-time favorite BBQ sauce recipes, and it’s SO EASY to make.
Don’t worry, this delicious sauce won’t taste like blueberry jam. The blueberries will add a nice layer of sweetness and unique flavor, complimenting all the other bold and tangy ingredients in the mix.
So next time you’re thinking of firing up the grill or the smoker this grilling season, consider whipping up a batch of homemade BBQ sauce and sprinkling in some blueberries. It’s the perfect addition to any grilled dish!
How To Make Blueberry BBQ Sauce
Step-by-step instructions and exact amounts can be found on the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Medium saucepan (2 quart capacity or larger) with a heavy bottom
- Rubber spatula
- Blender, immersion blender, or food processor
Ingredients You’ll Need
Olive oil: Prevents the onions and garlic from sticking during cooking.
Red onion: Fresh onion will add a bright fresh flavor, and I personally like the sweetness of the red onion to compliment the blueberries. Feel free to use white or yellow onions instead.
Fresh garlic: For added flavor and brightness.
Chili powder: The chili powder adds an additional layer of spicy flavor and smokiness.
Smoked paprika: I love using smoked paprika for color and for giving the BBQ sauce an extra smokey flavor.
Blueberries: I recommend fresh when they’re in season and frozen berries during the colder months. The blueberries add a lovely sweetness, brightness, flavor, and consistency to the BBQ sauce. The sauce won’t taste overwhelmingly like blueberries, but will compliment the other ingredients perfectly.
Ketchup: For consistency and tang. The ketchup is the glue that holds this sauce together.
Apple cider vinegar: The vinegar has a tartness and fruitiness that helps cut through all the sugar and richness coming from the berries, brown sugar, and ketchup. Apple cider vinegar has a milder bite compared to white vinegar and adds more flavor.
Light brown sugar: Adds a deeper and smokier sweetness.
Molasses: I use “fancy” grade unsulphured or dark molasses. This will add a layer of bitterness and smokey flavor to this blueberry barbecue sauce recipe. Don’t worry, the sauce won’t be bitter. The molasses will give the sauce a deep “simmered all day” taste.
Worcestershire sauce: The Worcestershire sauce adds extra salt, flavor, and a little bit of tanginess.
Black pepper: For extra seasoning and bite.
In a medium sized saucepan, with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft (about 5-7 minutes), stirring often to prevent burning.
Once the onions have softened, add the minced garlic, chili powder, and paprika. Cook for 30-60 seconds until fragrant, stirring constantly.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and stir. Turn up the heat to medium high or high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once bubbling, give the sauce a stir and reduce the heat to medium. Continue simmering for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The BBQ sauce should be bubbling the whole time. Turn down the heat if the mixture is splattering too much or bubbling too furiously.
The BBQ sauce is done when the berries are very soft, the sauce is a thick and syrupy consistency, and the mixture has reduced to about 3 1/2- 3 1/3 cups.
At this point, the sauce can be served as is, or you can blend it to a smooth consistency using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor. Allow the BBQ sauce to cool slightly before blending so the hot liquid doesn’t burn you.
Serve immediately or store in a jar for later use!
Variations and Substitutions
- You can use frozen blueberries in place of fresh ones. When using frozen berries, I like to use wild blueberries. Use the same 2 cup measurement listed on the recipe card, no need to thaw!
- Distilled white vinegar or rice wine vinegar (unseasoned) can be used in place of apple cider vinegar.
- Dark brown sugar can be substituted in place of light brown sugar. You can cut the amount of molasses in half if you’re using dark brown sugar, or you can keep the recipe as written for a smokier sauce.
- Make the sauce spicier by adding cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, or diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Add a tiny amount at first and add more to taste.
Serving a side of fruity BBQ sauce is a fun (and delicious) way to shake up your summer barbecue! This sweet and tangy homemade BBQ sauce makes the perfect addition to any grilled protein! Here are few serving suggestions that I know you’ll love:
- Brush onto pork tenderloin.
- Add to any chicken dish like chicken wings, chicken breast, or chicken thighs. The chicken can either be marinated in the blueberry BBQ sauce or basted during the grilling process. It the sauce holds up super nicely!
- Serve alongside baby back ribs. This is my personal favorite! I like to dip my smoked ribs into a side of blueberry BBQ sauce for extra flavor.
- Toss with pulled pork to make super easy BBQ pulled pork sliders. This works with pulled chicken and beef too!
If you love condiments with fruit as the star, try my Cranberry Mustard Dipping Sauce!
- When using fresh blueberries, make sure to select berries that are in season for your area. This will ensure that the berries and the BBQ sauce are nice and flavorful. If you want to make this sauce out of season–like during the winter months–opt for frozen berries. They work just as well and make an amazing BBQ sauce.
- If you prefer a thicker sauce, increase the cook time by 5-10 minutes until the BBQ sauce reaches your desired consistency. Keep in mind, the sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Blend until smooth. This is optional, but if you prefer a smoother texture, use an immersion blender or a countertop blender to puree the sauce. If you prefer a chunkier blueberry sauce with bursts of blueberries, leave it as is.
Allow your BBQ sauce to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or mason jar. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 cups (11-12 oz) fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsulphured or dark molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- In a medium sized saucepan, with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook until soft (about 5-7 minutes), stirring often to prevent burning.
- Add the minced garlic, chili powder, and paprika. Cook for 30-60 seconds until fragrant, stirring constantly.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and stir. Turn up the heat to medium high or high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once bubbling, give the sauce a stir and reduce the heat to medium. Continue simmering for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. The BBQ sauce should be bubbling the whole time. Turn down the heat if the mixture is splattering too much or bubbling too furiously.
- The BBQ sauce is done when the berries are very soft, the sauce is thick and syrupy, and the mixture has reduced to about 3 1/3-3 1/2 cups.
- For a chunky BBQ Sauce, serve as is. For a smooth BBQ sauce, cool slightly and using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor, blend until smooth.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 53 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 23Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 71mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g