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Cranberry BBQ Sauce

Try something just a little different at the next BBQ. This BBQ sauce is sweet and savory and sets itself apart by combining the tartness of whole cranberries and the smokiness of chipotle peppers. Your family and friends will wonder where this delicious sauce came from and ask for it time and time again.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry BBQ sauce
Servings: 32 Servings
Calories: 64kcal
Author: Sweet Daddy D

Here's What You Need

  • 3 slices smoked bacon cut into 1”
  • 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 4 cups cranberries fresh or frozen (see Notes)
  • 2 cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup sweet smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of ½ Lemon
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce finely chopped (about ¼ ounce)
  • 2 cup beef stock or broth see Notes
  • Kosher salt to taste

Here's What You Do

  • Fry bacon until crispy in a cast iron dutch oven over medium high heat, until the fat has rendered.
  • Remove the bacon from the pot, but leave the bacon grease, and add the onions.
  • Saute the onions, stirring almost constantly, until clear and the edges are just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and lemon zest. Stir to combine all the ingredients and simmer together for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the chopped pepper, the cranberries and a pinch of salt, stir completely to mix all ingredients.
  • Add the vinegar, lemon juice and brown sugar and stir well for a couple of minutes, until all the ingredients are combined.
  • Lower the heat to a simmer and cover for about 10 to 15 minutes, while the cranberries break down. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove the dutch oven from the heat. Using an immersion blender, reduce the whole cranberries into small pieces. The sauce will have a thick, paste like consistency at this point. (see Notes)
  • Let the sauce cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then process through a food mill set with its finest disc. Remember to scrape off the bottom of the disc and return that with all the processed sauce to the dutch oven. (see Notes)
  • Place the dutch oven over medium high heat and mix in the beef stock, starting with about 1 cup. Stir to blend together, adding more stock until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Reduce to a simmer, cover and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add more beef stock to thin out the sauce, if desired. (If you need it to thicken, just simmer without the cover)
  • Turn heat off and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.


Fresh or frozen cranberries are very tart, but the amount of brown sugar can be adjusted to your taste.
Canned cranberry sauce can be substituted for the whole cranberries-use two 15 ounce cans. There are other ingredients in the canned sauce, so you should consider the amount of brown sugar you use. Maybe start with 1 cup, then add more after tasting, if desired.
Use a food processor to chop the onions, garlic and chipotle pepper. You want them as fine as you can get them.
This recipe was developed using about ¼ ounce of chipotle pepper in adobo sauce-that was 1 pepper.  To increase the heat, add more.
If you do not have an immersion blender, use a potato masher or large wooden spoon to smash the cranberries, or you can add them as is to a blender or a food processor.
If you do not have a food mill, a blender or food processor works very well. Make sure to process the sauce until smooth.
The final consistency of the sauce will depend upon the amount of beef stock or beef broth you add. You may use more than two cups of stock to get the consistency you like....that's OK!
To make this vegetarian, substitute olive oil or vegetable oil for the bacon grease and vegetable stock or broth for the beef stock.


Calories: 64kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 163mg | Potassium: 34mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g

This recipe came from First...You Have a Beer (www.firstyouhaveabeer.com). If you like it, please leave a 5 star rating and a comment on the site and, most importantly, SHARE it with your friends.