Cheerwine BBQ Sauce Recipe

by | Jul 18, 2018 | Editor's Picks, Reader Favorites, Recipes

Cheerwine BBQ Sauce Recipe

A Hot BBQ Sauce

…with a hint of cherry.

I first came across Cheerwine soda a few years back when I was visiting family in North Carolina. Upon sipping the drink for the first time I thought, “Whoa, this cherry flavor is sweet!” If you’ve never had the pleasure of a Cheeerwine experience, think Cherry Coke, but with an extra sweet cherry wallop.

As a soda, Cheerwine is a little too sweet for my palette. As an inspiration for a California-style BBQ sauce, Cheerwine’s cherry flavor is perfect.

Cheerwine BBQ recipe

A California-style BBQ sauce with a Taste of North Carolina

Although I currently reside in North Carolina, most of my life was spent in California. The official BBQ of California is the Tri-tip, where it’s unusual to use any sauce. However, when it comes to grilling chicken or ribs, a glaze BBQ sauce is par for the course. On the spectrum of BBQ sauces, California-style BBQ sauce is more of a West Coast fusion version of the Kansas City-style sauce and far removed from the vinegar-base sauce seen in North Carolina.

While it’s rare to find any California sauce in North Carolina BBQ establishments, it’s also difficult to find Cheerwine in California. So if you can, track down some Cheerwine soda and try this sauce. You’ll be in for a treat.

This Cherry BBQ Sauce Brings the Heat

My recipe is packed with spicy heat and kick. And the sauce won’t be as sweet as you might expect. Cheerwine’s cherry profile is more of a flavor undertone, not the main event.

It’s best to make this sauce a day ahead so the ingredients meld. But serving the same day as the meal is good too. This sauce is perfect for grilled Chicken or on a chicken sandwich.

If you or your guests are sensitive to spice, then cut back on cayenne. Do expect some heat with this sauce!

Cheerwine BBQ Sauce Recipe

Cheerwine BBQ Sauce Recipe
Print Recipe
4.64 from 11 votes

Cheerwine BBQ Sauce Recipe

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Calories: 132kcal


  • 1 1/4 Cups Organic Ketchup
  • 1 1/2 12oz Bottles Cheerwine Soda (Original, not diet)
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 2 Tablespoons (heaping) Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/3 Chopped Yellow Onion
  • 3 Cloves Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Soy Sauce


  • Combine all ingredients except soy sauce in medium sauce pan.. 
  • Bring to boil on high heat, then lower heat to medium-low to simmer for 1-hour or until thickened. Periodically stir ingredients as it thickens.
  • Remove from heat.  Stir in Soy Sauce.


Best when made a day ahead. Great with chicken. If your grocery store doesn't carry Cheerwine, substitute with Cherry Coke.


Calories: 132kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1629mg | Potassium: 274mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 773IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

Written by Peter La Fond

I'm food- and- wine obsessed. Discovering a new recipe is a delight; refining a classic one is my all-consuming idée fixe.

Related Posts

Pistachio Bacon Guacamole Recipe

Pistachio Bacon Guacamole Recipe

Homemade guacamole is one of my “go-to” appetizers. With the addition of bacon and pistachios, this dish will be the talk of party.


Pin It on Pinterest