Blackberry BBQ Sauce Recipe With Grilled Chicken
Jun 22, 2017, Updated May 17, 2023
When my two favorite seasons – grilling season and berry season – combine, you get Grilled Chicken with a delicious Blackberry BBQ Sauce!
We featured this recipe for Grilled Chicken with Blackberry BBQ Sauce live on Portland’s KATU News program, AM Northwest. You can view the segment below.
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Berry season is a universal favorite in my household. We take the kids out berry picking almost weekly during the summer. But my kids tend to go a bit overboard, picking more berries than we can eat before they start to go bad.
Not being huge bakers around here, we like to experiment with berries in savory dishes and sauces, like this blackberry BBQ sauce, which is perfect on grilled chicken or even grilled pork chops.
Best Parts of Chicken for Grilling
We like to get a whole chicken, and then cut it into quarters. If you don’t see this at your store your butcher should be able to cut up a whole chicken for you. Just ask!
Otherwise, feel free to use the equivalent of your favorite cut of chicken. Ideally with the bone-in and skin-on to maximize flavor.
- Season Chicken: First coat your chicken with olive oil then season it liberally with your favorite dry rub. Our chicken seasoning is perfect for grilling as it doesn’t have sugar (and therefore won’t run the risk of burning while over direct heat).
- Prepare Grill: Set your grill for indirect (or 2-zone) cooking.
- Grill Chicken: The key is to start with the chicken cooking over the direct heat to get that crust on each side, then move to the indirect side so you can slowly bring the meat up to temperature.
Blackberry BBQ Sauce
What we’re doing is infusing some berries into your favorite style of BBQ sauce. The naturally sweet flavors from the berries will add great flavor to your typical Kansas City Style BBQ sauce.
Which Berries to Use for BBQ Sauce?
You can use whatever berries you like, and whatever is in season. Berries that are in season will have the freshest and sweetest flavor.
If strawberries are in peak season, feel free to use those. You can also use blackberries, marionberries, blueberries. Make it your own and use your favorite. Just know that the riper the berries the sweeter they will be. If you buy store-bought berries they tend to be less sweet and possibly less ripe. So feel free to adjust the amount of berries based on the sweetness when you taste them.
What kind of sauce to use as a base?
For this recipe we’re using a Carolina style sauce as a base, which is heaver on vinegar flavor. But if you prefer a Kansas City style, which are tomato-based, less acidic, and usually sweeter, then do that.
Easy Hack: If you want to save time grab a store bought sauce and then add the berries to in a sauce pan. Stir to combine over medium heat. If you want smooth then blend it with a hand immersion blender.
How to make Blackberry BBQ Sauce
- Add the berries and BBQ sauce ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Cook about 10-15 minutes until the berries are soft and the sauce has reduced a bit.
- Blend. You can transfer the sauce into a blender or food processor and mix until smooth, or just pour everything through a strainer (the blender method will make for a thicker sauce, while the strainer method will be just a touch thinner since you will have removed some of the remaining berry pulp).
- Brush the sauce over the grilled chicken during the remaining few minutes of grilling.
When to glaze the Grilled Chicken
Once your chicken is almost at proper temperature, glaze the meat. You don’t want to do this too soon otherwise you risk burning the sauce and the meat.
High heat + sugar sauces = easily burned.
Wait until your chicken is about 150 degrees, then glaze the meat. You can do this by dipping your pieces of chicken into the sauce, OR just brush the chicken with a food-safe paint brush.
Let the chicken finish cooking over indirect heat, which will help caramelize the sauce onto the meat, until the internal temperature of the meat is 160 degrees.
Each piece of meat will finish cooking at different times. The legs and thighs will cook quicker since they are smaller, and the breast meat will take the longest, since it’s the biggest.
Other BBQ Sauces
We have a lot of BBQ sauce recipes but a few others may be just as inspirational.
- Low-Sugar BBQ Sauce – This mango BBQ sauce has no added sugar and perfect for pork and chicken.
- Honey Dijon Glaze – Perfect on chicken or pork this is a savory and sweet mustard sauce.
- You can also see a full list of our favorite styles of BBQ sauce.
Watch us make this Grilled Chicken with Blackberry BBQ Sauce on live TV over at AM Northwest.
Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.
Now on 2nd edition
Fire + Wine Cookbook
“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
San Francisco Book Review
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Blackberry BBQ Sauce Recipe with Grilled Chicken
For the Chicken:
- 1 whole chicken, quartered (about 4 lbs)
- Extra virgin olive oil, to coat (roughly ¼ cup)
- ¼ cup chicken seasoning
For the Blackberry BBQ Sauce:
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup hot sauce, (we love Valentina hot sauce)
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- ¼ cup agave nectar, (honey works too)
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 6 ounces blackberries, (or other favorite berry, about 1 ½ cups)
For the Chicken:
- Prep Grill: Set your grill for 2-zone cooking with lump charcoal. Target 500 degrees Fahrenheit in the cooking chamber.
- Season: Coat chicken with olive oil and then season liberally with your dry rub.
- Grill Direct: Place chicken on grill grate over direct heat, paying close attention to the flame to get a nice crust, about 3-4 minutes (or until you see nice grill marks) then flip and repeat on direct heat. Once there are nice grill marks move to indirect side of grill to finish.
- Grill Indirect: When chicken reaches 150 degrees, glaze once with your sauce and continue cooking. Remove chicken from the grill when internal temperature reaches 160 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. If you are cooking various pieces the wings, legs, and thighs will finish first followed by the chicken breast.
- Glaze: Reglaze chicken once more and let sit for at least 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute and then enjoy.
For the Blackberry BBQ Sauce:
- Combine: In a medium saucepan add all BBQ sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce has reduced a bit and the berries have softened (using a potato masher or fork to break up the berries a bit).
- Blend: Transfer to a food processor or blender to make smooth, or pour the sauce through a strainer to remove some of the pulp and seeds. Use as the glaze and to serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.