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The best blueberry BBQ sauce recipe

This bourbon blueberry BBQ sauce will soon be your go-to recipe. The sweetness of the blueberries, the smokiness of the bourbon and the heat from the peppers come together to make this barbecue sauce out of this world. Bourbon BBQ sauce with the sweetness of blueberries pairs well with any kind of pork, especially ribs. It also goes really well with chicken thighs. 

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my apple bourbon BBQ sauce recipe and my pineapple mango BBQ sauce recipes. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my BBQ sauce recipes in one place.

Blueberry BBQ sauce in glass jar with brush.

Blueberries and bourbon, like my blueberry bourbon jam recipe, are a match made in heaven.

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Why you should make this recipe

  • Quick & Easy – Ready from start to finish in about 45 minutes.
  • Versatile – Any kind of pork is a perfect match, but I’ve also paired chicken thighs with it and it is delicious.
  • Make ahead – You can make this homemade blueberry BBQ sauce a day or two ahead of time.

Blueberry BBQ sauce recipe

Making blueberry barbeque sauce from scratch is not at all difficult. The most difficult part of the entire operation is waiting for it to cook down so it can be blended and consumed.

Blueberry BBQ sauce in glass jar with fresh blueberries scattered around.

This easy homemade BBQ sauce, just like my bourbon BBQ sauce, is unlike anything you’ll find in the aisles of the grocery store. For that reason, I like to give this to friends and neighbors as a hostess gift. Homemade gifts are always special and this sauce definitely qualifies.

I have made this recipe 4 times already. SO GOOD!

– Will


This blueberry bourbon barbecue sauce uses common ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

  • Blueberries – I used fresh blueberries, but you can use frozen if they are out of season.
  • Ketchup – Gives it the familiar BBQ sauce taste.
  • Brown sugar – A little sweetness balances the flavors.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Acidity helps to give it a little tang.
  • Bourbon – The alcohol will mostly cook off, leaving a smoky sweetness behind.
  • Onion and garlic – These aromatics give the blueberry BBQ sauce great flavor.
  • Jalapeño pepper – I used a whole pepper, but you can adjust to your preferences.
  • Salt and pepper – Everything needs to be seasoned, so these ingredients are a freebie.
  • Crushed red pepper – A little extra spice, it is optional if you prefer less heat.
  • Neutral oil – I use grapeseed, but canola is also a good option.
  • Bay leaf – Adds a subtle flavor in the background, it won’t be overwhelming.
Pook's Pick
Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender

This is the immersion blender that I own and LOVE. It works great on everything I've thrown at it and the design keeps it from sticking to the bottom of the container. It comes apart easily for cleanup and storage.

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03/17/2024 09:36 am GMT

How to make blueberry BBQ sauce

This recipe is incredibly easy. It’s the wait that is not.  

First, heat a bit of canola or grapeseed oil in a medium pot, then add the onions and garlic. Let them sweat a few minutes until fragrant and starting to turn translucent.

Next, add in the remainder of the ingredients and let the BBQ sauce cook down for roughly 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, it should start looking thick and syrupy.

Remove the bay leaves and using an immersion blender (or regular blender), carefully blend until smooth.

BBQ sauce recipe in glass jar with meat in background.

I have a couple of friends who are not experienced cooks, by their own admission, and they’ve made this blueberry BBQ sauce at least 4 times.

It is something different than the usual store-bought sauce and it barely requires more than an occasional stir. If you are a beginner cook or you just want something delicious and unique that will not take the entire afternoon, this is the recipe for you.

A slab of ribs on white platter with sauce on them.

I love this homemade blueberry barbecue sauce for ribs, but I’ve also put it on chicken thighs and a pork tenderloin and it was delicious.

Fattier meats tend to pair well with it, but a chicken breast or even chicken wings would be a fantastic pairing for this sauce.

Blueberry BBQ sauce FAQ’s

Can I use frozen blueberries to make this BBQ sauce?

Yes! Frozen blueberries need to be thawed and drained before adding to the sauce.
They will make your sauce watery if they aren’t drained. Not the end of the world, but the sauce will require more time to cook down until it reaches that thick and syrupy stage before blending.

How long does it last in the fridge?

If properly stored, in an airtight container in the fridge, this blueberry bourbon barbecue sauce will last up to 2 weeks.

Can I freeze homemade BBQ sauce?

Yep! Store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Variations and substitutions

  • If you prefer less heat, omit the jalapeño pepper, or use half instead of a whole pepper.
  • Need an alcohol-free version? Substitute bourbon with apple juice.
Blueberry bourbon BBQ sauce in glass jar on marble countertop.

For a berry-flavored variation, swap half of the blueberries with blackberries, strawberries or raspberries.

You can also swap out ketchup for canned tomatoes, but you’ll need to adjust the vinegar and sugar to your tastes, because ketchup is already seasoned and tinned tomatoes are not.

How to safely blend hot liquids

Working in restaurant kitchens for many years, I have plenty of experience with this. When steam is created from hot foods, it creates pressure. That pressure can build inside the blender, causing the lid to pop off and hot liquid to spill.

When blending hot liquids in a blender, do not fill the blender all the way up. The liquid needs room to expand.

The other helpful tip is to remove the clear blender cap in the middle of the lid, then place a clean, folded, thick kitchen towel over the hole before blending (I recommend using a dark towel for this in case it gets stained and folding a few times so you have several layers protecting your hand).

The towel covers the hole, but it allows the steam to escape, so you don’t get splashed and burned. Place your hand on top of the towel to hold in place, then turn the blender on low to get it started. When the blueberry bourbon BBQ sauce has started moving, increase the speed. Decrease the speed when the sauce is blended to your liking before shutting off to avoid splashes.

Homemade BBQ sauce with blueberry and bourbon.

Serving suggestions

Here are a few options that will pair well with grilled meat and this sauce. This would make an easy and tasty summer menu!

Helpful tools and equipment

  • Vitamix blender – This is the same one I own. It isn’t inexpensive, but it’s worth every penny. It is the blender I used to make this sauce.
  • Dutch Oven – A heavy-bottomed pot works perfectly for so many things, including making BBQ sauce.

Please share

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BBQ sauce image for Pinterest.

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Blueberry Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Cheryl Bennett
A delicious homemade blueberry BBQ sauce perfect for all of your summer cookouts!
4.62 from 80 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Condiments
Cuisine American
Servings 2 1/2 cups
Calories 74 kcal


  • 1 lb. fresh blueberries any bad/moldy fruit discarded // 450g
  • 1 cup ketchup // 235g
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar // 100g
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar // 120 – 180mL
  • 1/2 cup bourbon // 120mL
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeño diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt I use Diamond Crystal, see note
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil such as grapeseed or canola
  • 2 small or 1 large bay leaf


  • Heat oil over medium / medium low heat and sauté onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients to a large, heavy-bottomed pot (like a Dutch oven) and cook down for approximately 30 minutes, until thickened and syrupy.
  • Remove bay leaves and let cool slightly.
  • Carefully transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. (Or use an immersion blender) *See note
  • Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up two weeks.



  • I happen to love vinegar, so I used 3/4 cup. If you are not a fan of the strong flavor, use 1/2 cup.
  • If you use Morton's kosher salt, cut the amount by almost half. For fine sea salt or table salt, cut the amount by half.
  • When blending hot liquids in a blender – The way I do this is to remove the clear blender cap in the middle of the lid, then place a clean, folded kitchen towel over the hole (I recommend using a dark towel for this in case it gets stained). The towel covers the hole so you won't get splashed, but it also allows steam to escape. Place your hand on top of the towel to hold in place, then turn the blender on low to get it started. When the sauce has started moving, increase the speed. Decrease the speed when the sauce is blended to your liking before shutting off to avoid splashes.


Serving: 2tbsps.Calories: 74kcalCarbohydrates: 13gFat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 172mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂

Questions? Send me an email, I’m happy to help. I’d love to send you weekly tips and recipes, so you can get updates about what’s happening in the kitchen!

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my photos or recipe (other than for personal use) without prior written permission. Thank you!

Originally published 6/12/17.


  1. can you use this to marinade steak overnight? And if you can’t use this to marinade when is it a good time to put it on the steak you are grilling?

    1. I’ve never used it as a marinade. I would brush it on during the last few minutes of grilling. Because of the sugar, it can burn. So, just keep an eye on it. Hope that helps, Matthew!

      1. Hi it says I need written permission to use your blueberry bourbon BQ sauce. I would like to try it for the ribs I am cooking today.

        1. Hi Bill!
          You don’t need permission if it’s for personal use 🙂 That’s more for people (companies, other bloggers, etc.) who want to use my recipes for commercial (for profit) uses. So, make those ribs and slather them with this sauce. I hope you love it.

          1. This is a great sauce. I used it for back ribs, but it would complement any pork or chicken dish. I will make this again as well as share it with friends and family.

    1. I haven’t processed it for canning, so I can’t say for sure… but, I’d certainly be willing to try! I would think it should be fine. If you are an experienced canner, give it a go and please let me know how it worked out 🙂

      1. Made this yesterday. We picked 3#. Blueberries, so tripled the recipe. After getting everything in the stockpot, let it start simmering then used an immersion blender to smooth it all out. Didn’t have to let it cool & process afterwards. Ladled into 24 4oz jelly jars. Put in canner, 5# pressure for 8 min, npr.. seems to have gone well!
        Hope this helps.

          1. Hi Becky, I’ve never canned it, I keep it in the fridge. But, a handful of readers have water bath canned the sauce and they reported success. So, I’d say maybe try it with some of the sauce and keep some in the fridge. I hope that helps 🙂

    2. This is hands down my favorite BBQ sauce. Easy to make, I used my own bourbon to make the sauce. Made this for a hog roast that I cooked for a party and it was a big hit! Thanks for the great recipe!!

  2. My favorite BBQ Sauce EVER!!!! When Jeremy made it with a pig he roasted it was by far one of my favorite meals. Once you have this BBQ sauce it will ruin all others!!!

    1. Thanks, Jenny!!! I’m so happy that you liked it! I’m thrilled that it’s one of your favorites 🙂 xx

  3. We have been blessed with lots of blueberries this year and I was looking for different recipes when I came across this one… I’m eager to try it and of course was wondering if this could be processed in a hot water bath. As I’m reading the reviews I noticed somebody else already tried it… Perfect! We love giving homemade food gifts…

    1. Ilona, I love homemade food gifts too! This will be great! I have never processed it in a hot water bath, but if if others have and it worked for them , that’s good news 🙂
      It rarely lasts long enough to bother canning it! Please do let me know how it turned out for you, as I am curious. A few people have asked this question, so I’d love more feedback! Thanks 🙂

  4. So I have 45# of blueberries …decided to try out this recipe…OMG amazing! I don’t give out compliments easily, but you nailed it! The only thing I have to say is hubby doesn’t like too much heat, so I left out the jalapeño and only put in 1/4 tsp ground red pepper…..perfect, just enough heat! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much, Jan! I appreciate the compliment 🙂 I’m glad that you were able to adjust the recipe to the perfect heat level for your personal taste! And, I’m jealous of your 45# of blueberries!!!

    1. Hi Jonah! I’m partial to Bulleit or Woodford, but use whatever you have 🙂 I hope you love the BBQ sauce!

  5. My husband made this to go with a smoked pork butt. Oh my goodness, I told him it was the best barbecue sauce I have ever had! I printed out the recipe to keep in my favorite cookbook so we don’t lose it. Thanks for Such a great recipe.

    1. Thank you so much, Patti!!! You absolutely made my night! I really appreciate you taking the time to leave such a lovely comment. Thank you!!! 🙂

  6. I made two slabs of pork ribs for supper. Instead of my usual doctored bbq sauce, I made it from scratch starting with the tomatoes, no ketchup here. I made several swaps. Replaced bourbon with scotch, swapped out the jalapeno and crushed red peppers with other tasty heat items that add depth. Then used roasted tomatoes and paste and built the flavors from there. So ono! Mahalo

  7. Have you tried canning this recipe? I am excited to give it a try, as an serious canner I am always looking to put up items for later use. The ingredients lend me to believe that it would do well. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Joanne, I have not canned it, but I know a few readers have. They’ve been successful, but as I have not done it myself, I can’t give you any tips or advice. Since you are a serious canner, I’m sure you already know what to look out for 🙂 If you do decide to can it, I’d love to hear the results – maybe I can update the recipe to include this option?

    2. I canned this last summer in a hot water bath. I have a lot of experience canning jams. The issue is whether this is acidic enough. My blueberry jam recipe needs 1/4 Cup lemon juice (equivalent acidity to vinegar) for 4 cups of mashed blueberries making about 5 cups of jam. This recipe uses triple the vinegar for much less blueberries so I think it is safe for hot water bath canning. But I have not measured it specifically myself only done the above analysis.

    1. Hi Jenn! I haven’t tried that, but *in theory*, it should work. I would suggest adjusting the SUGAR, because otherwise, I think it would be too sweet. Let me know how it turns out, I’d be interested to know what you thought.

  8. Made this sauce, with a few adjustments as ingredients I had on-hand.
    Changes made: Used homegrown Italian plums; omitted crushed red pepper and substituted chipotle in adobo sauce for more smoky flavour, used shallots, and strained tomatoes as I prefer to control the sugar, and finally ended with balsamic vinegar, for depth. Turned out excellent. Thank you for the recipe-fantastic!

  9. I made this today for ribs. Delicious!! My husband and I absolutely loved it. I used half the amount of red pepper flakes and omitted the jalapeño. I’m a wimp. The heat was perfect, added flavor, but wasn’t overpowering. Plan on using the sauce for wings next week. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much, Tracy! I’m so glad you were able to make a couple of changes to find the right amount of heat for yourself. I love this sauce on wings too 🙂 Thank you so much for the lovely comment!

  10. Hi Pook!

    I’m wondering if I might sub out the ketchup and use Chili sauce? I’m guessing then there would be adjustments on heat. Any reason to stick with the ketchup?

    1. Hi Sheila, you certainly can try that. I would taste it before adding extra heat, especially if you don’t like things EXTRA spicy.

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