Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

My younger daughter is married to a British man, and in anticipation of their mid-summer visit, I planned an involved Texas-style barbecue meal. He’s never been to Texas or enjoyed real barbecue.

So in July, I pulled out the big guns – the charcoal grill, electric smoker, briner, the sous vide, and the stove-top smoker were all ready to go. I prepared, along with help from my husband, brisket, venison, chicken quarters, Polska Kielbasa, ribs, plus salmon for the pescatarian at the table. And sides, of course.

I have a favorite brand of barbecue sauce, Head Country, which is actually made in Oklahoma. It’s such a good brand, and the various flavors are all good, that it’s more of a rare occasion these days that I make my own sauces. But, this was a special occasion.

On this blog is my favorite barbecue sauce, which is why I called it that, and it’s especially good with brisket. But I wanted to also make a fruit-based sauce, so I chose blueberries. I thought a blueberry barbecue sauce would be good with both the venison and salmon.

This sauce was really good, and paired beautifully with the venison, pictured below.

I decided to make the barbecue sauce again for the blog, following the recipe I’d jotted down, and this time served it with grilled salmon on top of potato mash. Delicious.

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 4 cups

Blueberry purée:
2 pints blueberries, rinsed
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
Juice of 1 lemon

Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups ketchup, preferably unsweetened
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine the blueberries, pomegranate molasses and lemon juice in a pot. Bring up the heat and simmer for about 10-12 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, give the berries a stir, and let cool.

Pass the blueberries through a food mill with the largest holes. If you don’t mind the blueberry peels, don’t bother with this step, just mush up the blueberries. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté gently for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir a couple of times, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar. Cook over low heat, thickening slightly, about 10 minutes, then stir in the spices.

Pour the blueberry purée into the onion-ketchup mixture and stir well.

Cook until the mixture thickens somewhat, over low heat. This will take about 10 – 12 minutes. When you’re satisfied with the thickness, remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool completely before storing in a jar or bottle.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

I was told once at a trade show by a man selling barbecue sauce, that you have to use vinegar to make it. However, if at the last minute you stir in lemon juice, after the heat is off, the vinegar flavor goes away. And that’s what I’ve always done when creating my own sauces. It really works!

My ultimate compliment was when I shared a jar of this sauce with my daughter, and she told me that one evening see searched for something just to have with the sauce! It is, really that good.

By Published On: August 22nd, 202262 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

62 Comments

  1. David @ Spiced August 22, 2022 at 6:39 AM - Reply

    Wow – you pulled out all of the stops for that summer meal, Mimi! It sounds like a great introduction to barbecue if you ask me! This post is perfect as I was just thinking the other day that I want to try my hand at making some different bbq sauces here at home. I like the blueberry twist here! I need to put this one on the menu as we always have smoked meats around our house, so a good bbq sauce is always in demand!

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 7:10 AM - Reply

      Thanks, David! As it turned out, My S-i-l got covid so only my daughter came to visit. Can you believe it?!!! I still made the venison, thus the little iphone pic, but the meal was hugely scaled down. We’ll just have to do it again! I’ve since made this sauce a second time, though. It’s amazing!

  2. Bernadette August 22, 2022 at 6:45 AM - Reply

    I can tell from the ingredient list that this sauce is so good that I would probably lick the spoon.

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 7:08 AM - Reply

      thank you. I was so excited about the results!

  3. Anonymous August 22, 2022 at 6:54 AM - Reply

    Your son in law is a lucky man! I too am free for your BBQ’s, especially one like your description! Ha ha! What a lovely BBQ sauce. So full of flavour.

    • Chef Mimi August 25, 2022 at 8:36 AM - Reply

      Thank you. It really turned out well!

  4. angiesrecipes August 22, 2022 at 6:57 AM - Reply

    I love blueberry sauce and both venison and salmon look so GOOD! What do you do with the remaining Worcestershire sauce? I bough a bottle and it lasted for more than 3 years…

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 7:06 AM - Reply

      My husband uses W sauce on hamburgers but you’re right, not much gets used here! Some people love it more than others. Sometimes I see it in a marinade ingredient list, as well as a barbecue sauce, but otherwise it’s just in the fridge!

  5. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen August 22, 2022 at 7:02 AM - Reply

    That must have been some spread! What fun. I’m sure the blueberry sauce was especially good with the venison. My mom used to make a sweet/tart grape sauce for the venison my dad brought home (on lucky hunting years) and it worked really well.

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 7:05 AM - Reply

      Honestly, this stuff was so so good! And it’s great with salmon. A grape sauce sound good, too!

  6. fatsochef August 22, 2022 at 7:09 AM - Reply

    Wow! Sounds like a scrumptious meal!! I bet the blueberry sauce will vanish in seconds!!

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 9:08 AM - Reply

      It really was wonderful. And I’m not just saying that cause I made up the recipe!

  7. Travel Gourmet August 22, 2022 at 7:11 AM - Reply

    I love blueberries and this sauce sounds fabulous. Brilliant to see it working with the venison and the salmon.

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 7:21 AM - Reply

      Thank you Kay! This would be great with just about anything – but especially pork and duck. It was really good!

  8. Gerlinde August 22, 2022 at 8:38 AM - Reply

    Looking at the ingredients makes we want to make this sauce right away. I am sorry your son-in-law wasn’t able to join you.

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 9:06 AM - Reply

      Isn’t that sad? He was really disappointed. Do make this – you’ll love it!

  9. Gabriella Wilson August 22, 2022 at 9:11 AM - Reply

    I served this sauce over grilled chicken kabobs to 12 ladies at a gathering and everyone agreed: best sauce ever! So unique and different, yet still has that classic BBQ flavor. The fruit enhances everything I put it on. Can’t wait to make this sauce for my next BBQ, maybe even over Thanksgiving Turkey.

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 9:21 AM - Reply

      Thanks! That is the ultimate compliment. It would be good with turkey!

  10. David Scott Allen August 22, 2022 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    I am just getting into BBQ — have my favorite ribs but never thought of a sauce with blueberries. How fantastic. I really like the use of the pomegranate molasses to give it some nice zing. I will definitely be trying this soon. Oh, and so sorry to hear about your son-in-law — what a bummer. I agree with David — that was quite a spread… sorry it didn’t come to fruition… yet!

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 11:47 AM - Reply

      We actually might do it at thanksgiving! It depends how nazi my kids will be about their Thanksgiving favorites! But, the NYC two just moved into a connecticut house in the country, so maybe for once they can host Thanksgiving?!! We’ll see…. My son-in-law became quite enamored with thanksgiving after visiting us the first time! So he might resist as well!

  11. Ellen August 22, 2022 at 11:33 AM - Reply

    Love this post! Pomegranate molasses is so delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 11:48 AM - Reply

      I didn’t want to use honey or maple syrup, so pomegranate, being slightly fruity, came to mind!

  12. cookingwithshy August 22, 2022 at 12:03 PM - Reply

    How flavourful and delicious is this meal:))

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 12:08 PM - Reply

      Thank you! I was very happy with it!

  13. Anonymous August 22, 2022 at 12:57 PM - Reply

    What a tasty barbecue sauce! Delicious.

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 2:33 PM - Reply

      Thank you! It really was good!

  14. Ronit August 22, 2022 at 8:03 PM - Reply

    I’m all for fruity sauces, and this one is really outstanding. Such a wonderful mix of flavors and spices, and the color is so deep – another benefit of adding lemon.
    I still have some blueberries left, so will give it a try soon. :)

    • Chef Mimi August 22, 2022 at 9:21 PM - Reply

      Thank you Ronit! An ultimate compliment!! Can’t wait to see what you think.

  15. Pauline August 22, 2022 at 9:57 PM - Reply

    I’ve never had a blueberry based BBQ sauce, yours looks so delicious Mimi. It’s very strange, but over here in Queensland during the Summer season we have a lot of BBQs, but generally just use premade tomato sauce or BBQ sauce to accompany the meat these days. This Summer that will change in our home. Wow you certainly pulled out the big guns, what a shame it needed to be scaled down due to covid. The salmon and venison looked delicious.

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 6:55 AM - Reply

      I know. It was really sad, and my son in law was the saddest of all! We have some good bbq sauces here, mostly all tomato based, and they’re good. There’s a white sauce called Alabama bbq sauce that is mayonnaise-based! It’s good!

  16. Tandy | Lavender and Lime August 22, 2022 at 10:59 PM - Reply

    Love the use of pomegranate molasses here. And a great tip about the lemon juice. I will try that for sure.

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 6:53 AM - Reply

      It’s a great trick that really works. I wanted something that wasn’t just honey. I contemplated date syrup. but I love the pomegranate molasses in here!

  17. Sherry August 23, 2022 at 1:00 AM - Reply

    that’s a good tip about the lemon juice mimi. I love blueberries. this sounds delish!

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 6:52 AM - Reply

      I’ve always used that trick and it always works!

  18. homecookexplorer August 23, 2022 at 3:18 AM - Reply

    Can’t wait to try this. I’ve never heard of pomegranate molasses and wondering if mixing pureed pomegranate seeds into molasses would be a reasonable diy workaround. What does the ingredient list say?

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 6:57 AM - Reply

      I have always loved making everything from scratch, but pomegranate molasses is not expensive and easy to find these days. There’s no molasses – not sure why it’s called that. It’s basically sweetened pomegranate juice that’s reduced to a syrup. And no seeds present.

  19. terrie gura August 23, 2022 at 1:54 PM - Reply

    Hmm, I’m thinking now that maybe I haven’t had real BBQ…and I have definitely never been to Texas. Would it be much trouble for you to re-create that spread and have me over?? Hahaha
    The addition of blueberry in BBQ sauce sounds sooo good, and it’s very impressive to have a sauce that complements both salmon and venison. Nicely done, Mimi! :)

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 4:59 PM - Reply

      Hey, if you want to come to Oklahoma, it’s a deal!!! The Texans would definitely say that you haven’t had real barbeque. To be honest, it’s all a bit too much meat for me. But the sauces are fun!

      • terrie gura August 24, 2022 at 12:51 PM

        I love bbq in every form, and the sauce is the best part for sure! If you ever make your way toward NC, I’d love to introduce you to our varieties. In these parts, there’s a never-ending feud over which style sauce is the best. In Eastern NC, it’s thin, vinegar-based sauce; in the western side of the state, a sweeter, tomato-based “Lexington” style sauce reigns supreme. Thankfully, I’m right about in the middle of the state so I can enjoy both. :)

      • Chef Mimi August 24, 2022 at 3:54 PM

        Ha! Well what a relief!

  20. Anonymous August 23, 2022 at 2:55 PM - Reply

    As I may have mentioned before, I was born in OK. As were my parents, and most of my cousins. So I fired off a group text to see what people in the family thought of Head Country sauces. There was a resounding “we love it”! One of my cousins even attached a pic of her refrigerator shelf holding 2 bottles. I wish I could attach it here. The blueberry sauce looks great to me. As a Californian (now) it appeals to my love of everything fruity. GREG

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 4:58 PM - Reply

      It’s really very good. If I had one complaint it’s still on a sweeter side, but it’s not cloying. For my friend Stephane’s birthday when he turned 50, I sent him the whole variety pack and he was in heaven. Although he’s French he spent a few years in the US and fell in love with BBQ!!! I have to say, Greg, my sauce is exquisite!!!

  21. Raymund August 23, 2022 at 5:11 PM - Reply

    This is an interesting nice twist to a classic, love this recipe defintiely will be trying it out with when summer hits our way

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 5:17 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Raymond! It was honestly very good!

  22. Anonymous August 23, 2022 at 7:03 PM - Reply

    I’m a huge fan of sweet & savoury combinations, so this Blueberry BBQ sauce sounds perfect to me (loving the addition of pomegranate molasses). Not sure I’ve ever paired salmon with blueberries, but I’m so excited about this pairing!

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 7:05 PM - Reply

      Thank you! I’ve had salmon with smoked cherry jam, so that was probably part of my inspiration!

  23. Ben | Havocinthekitchen August 23, 2022 at 7:04 PM - Reply

    I’m a huge fan of sweet & savoury combinations, so this Blueberry BBQ sauce sounds perfect to me (loving the addition of pomegranate molasses). Not sure I’ve ever paired salmon with blueberries, but I’m so excited about this pairing!

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 7:06 PM - Reply

      Right, well when we visited, I had salmon paired with cherries and huckleberries, in various forms, and it really works. So that was probably part of my inspiration! It’s also wonderful with venison, and I imagine with duck, pork…….

  24. Debra August 23, 2022 at 7:24 PM - Reply

    I’m so sorry your son-in-law wasn’t able to visit, especially in light of all your special planning. I’m sure you were thrilled to have the time with your daughter, however. This blueberry barbecue sauce is heavenly! I can’t wait to give this a try. :-)

    • Chef Mimi August 23, 2022 at 7:26 PM - Reply

      I know. It was terrible timing, but yes, we got time with our daughter. Last year our daughter got covid before thanksgiving, and they couldn’t come, but they were able to at Christmas, which of course was wonderful. I can’t wait for all of this to go away! As everyone does…

  25. John / Kitchen Riffs August 24, 2022 at 10:03 AM - Reply

    I’ve never had blueberry BBQ sauce! Really like the idea — should make this. Although, like you, I typically use a commercial sauce these days — there are some really good ones out there. (Gates, from a Kansas City BBQ place, is my favorite — you WILL taste the vinegar in it, though.) Anyway, good stuff — thanks.

    • Chef Mimi August 24, 2022 at 10:12 AM - Reply

      I’ve never seen Gates. I don’t mind some vinegar taste but my husband would. The blueberry sauce turned out really well!

  26. Carrie Tyler August 24, 2022 at 10:31 AM - Reply

    Delicious! So, blueberry sauce on meat is not foreign to me, but I have never had blueberry BBQ! I’m supper excited to try to recipe.

    • Chef Mimi August 24, 2022 at 12:14 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Carrie! The addition of ketchup and spices, plus the vinegar and lemon juice, make it more like a barbecue sauce. And it’s not as sweet as a blueberry compote or sauce. It’s pretty darn good!

  27. Jean August 25, 2022 at 9:38 AM - Reply

    Lucky son-in-law and the rest of the family–what a feast! I love fruit-based barbecue sauces and thanks for the tip about adding lemon at the last minute!

    • Chef Mimi August 25, 2022 at 9:42 AM - Reply

      It’s always worked for me. You cook the vinegar, but the heat is off when you add the lemon juice, and it’s just stirred in. Hope you get to try this!

  28. Ronit August 28, 2022 at 1:11 PM - Reply

    I cut the amount in half, as I found out I didn’t have enough blueberries. I didn’t have chipotle powder, so added a bit more chili powder. I also don’t have food mill, so I ended up blending the whole sauce together, with the onion mix – which may explain why I didn’t end up with a deep color like you have here.
    But bottom line is, it was very tasty, and paired beautifully with roasted chicken. Thanks! :)

    • Chef Mimi August 28, 2022 at 1:25 PM - Reply

      Oh, wonderful!!! Smoked paprika would have worked, but the chili powder probably added a little more depth of flavor. So glad and honored you made it!

  29. Kristy, Linger A Little August 28, 2022 at 7:40 PM - Reply

    Mimi, What a brilliant idea to combine a blueberry purée with your BBQ sauce. And ALL of these flavors together!
    WOW! I can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Chef Mimi August 28, 2022 at 8:37 PM - Reply

      You are so welcome! When it turned out well, I hurried and jotted down what I thought I’d done to create the recipe. I’m sure you’ve done the same! I made it again, and am pretty proud of the outcome.

  30. popsiclesociety August 30, 2022 at 6:01 AM - Reply

    What a great combination of flavors! Yes, I think I would eat that sauce with the spoon too 😁

    • Chef Mimi August 30, 2022 at 11:46 AM - Reply

      I was very happy with this recipe! Thanks!

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