Grilled Chicken with Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

4.80 from 5 votes
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This Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce glaze is both sweet and spicy (and super simple). The BBQ sauce is ready in less than 30 minutes and the perfect glaze for grilled chicken. Cherry Season has never been so delicious with this Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce recipe.

Grilled Chicken with Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce Glaze

Cherry Season in Oregon brings in some amazing bounty. And they’re everywhere! We simply can’t get enough of this sweet fruit and one way we like to make fresh cherries last is to use it for this Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce recipe.

Ingredients + Substitutions

  • Fresh Cherries – You can use any variety of fresh cherries for this recipe. Be sure the stems are removed, discarded, and the pits removed and discarded.
  • Bourbon – Bourbon adds a nice flavor profile and earthiness to the recipe. You can also use whiskey or dark rum. The alcohol cooks out during the simmer. If you do not want to cook with alcohol you can omit without the need for a substitution.
  • Cane Sugar – We like to add some sugar but the amount will vary depending on how sweet the cherries are. Fresh in-season cherries are sweeter than those off-season. So test them first. Add the sugar in small increments until you get the right amount of sweet.
  • Orange Juice – Freshly squeezed orange juice adds a nice amount of acidity and fresh flavor.
  • Chipotle Pepper and Adobo Sauce – We use both the sauce and a chipotle pepper (smoked jalapeño in juices). This is what gives the glaze its heat.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Any good BBQ sauce needs acidity to balance the sweetness. Otherwise, it will taste flat. The ACV combined with the orange juice balances the sugar. You can use white vinegar as a substitute. It has a more distinct flavor.
  • Kosher Salt – A touch of kosher salt balances the ingredients. We use Diamond Crystal and recommend you only use kosher salt or large crystal sea salt.
  • Honey – The honey at the end adds a glistening sheen to the Cherry Chipotle BBQ sauce as well as sweetness.
  • Chicken – Whole roaster chicken is best cut up, but you can use this BBQ sauce on any cut of chicken, or pork.
  • Seasoning – Our preferred seasoning is our chicken rub. You can also used our all-purpose chicken and pork rub if you want some sugar.


Seasoning Meat – We start by placing the chicken onto a sheet tray lined with a paper towel. We then dry the chicken with the same paper towel. Once dry we coat lightly with some olive oil as a binder and season all parts of the chicken with our chicken rub. Season the meat the night before cooking or one hour before grilling.

Sauce – Prepare all the ingredients in small bowls.

How Make Cherry Chipotle BBQ Glaze

  1. Start by pitting your cherries then adding them to a small sauce pan. Next add the remainder of the ingredients except the honey, and simmer about 15 minutes.
  2. Next transfer to a blender or food processor to get out the chunks. Then return to the saucepan, add the honey (this is going to add gorgeous shine), and continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. This is not only a delicious sauce, but it’s sure beautiful too!

Make Ahead and Storage

You can make the sauce two weeks prior to using given the acidity level. We typically make it the day before and then use it the day of.

Be sure it’s stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, like a mason jar, for up to 2 weeks. The Cherry Chipotle sauce is not intended to be a shelf-stable sauce.

Grilling The Chicken

You can follow even more detail in our guide on how to grill chicken perfectly. Have a gas grill? We have an entire article on how to cook chicken on the gas grill.

Prepare the Grill for Indirect Cooking

We are using an indirect method or two-zone set up so we have high heat on one side, and indirect heat for finishing. Target an internal temperature of 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit. We prefer to use lump charcoal.

Big Green Egg set up for two zone grilling.

In this example, we’re using our Big Green Egg. But the same concept applies if you have a kettle grill or gas grill.

Start Over Direct Heat

Start your chicken over the direct heat side to get a nice crust on each side (just a couple of minutes per side). The length of time will depend on how hot the grill is.

Move to Indirect Heat

After you have achieved a nice sear on each side of the chicken use long tongs to move the chicken to the indirect side of the grill. Close the lid and let cook until it’s time to glaze.

Direct vs Indirect heat cooking a chicken on a Big Green Egg

Glaze the Chicken + Rest

Cook the chicken until the internal temperature of the meat is 150 F. That is when you will start your first glaze. This gives it time to meld into the chicken while it approaches the finishing temperature.

Glazing chicken on a grill

Cover the grill again and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160 degrees F. We like to use a good digital thermometer (like Thermoworks Thermapen One) for the for best results. This is also why we want to grill chicken cut into pieces. The smaller pieces will cook much faster than the thicker thighs or breast meat.

Then each piece of chicken has reached the proper internal temperature remove from the grill, glaze one more time and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. This will allow carry over cooking to occur.

Grilled Chicken with Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce Glaze

Frequently Asked Questions

What cut of chicken works best on the grill

For our grilled chicken we like to start with a whole chicken, cut into quarters. If this isn’t available at your store then ask the butcher to cut up a whole chicken for you. It never hurts to ask (they always say yes when I ask them to do the butchering). It’s much easier than doing it yourself. And bone-in chicken is ideal but you can also use boneless.

Whats the difference between a BBQ sauce and a glaze

The best way to think about this glaze, vs. a traditional BBQ sauce, is that a glaze is basically a sweetened sauce that you “glazing” onto the meat towards the end of the cook.

A BBQ sauce would be thicker (think ketchup based) and used as a condiment. This glaze will add shine and color, and seep into the meat. We add honey and more sweet characteristics so that it thickens more, especially as you apply to the meat and let the heat tack up the glaze for flavor. A sauce as mentioned, is more of a condiment we add after we are done cooking.

Cherry Chipotle BBQ Glaze

More Grilled Chicken Recipes

Here are some of our favorites or explore all of our grilled chicken recipes.

Tools Used

Here are some of the products we used in this Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce and Glaze.

  • Long Tongs – Prevents the burning of your arm hair.
  • Instant Read Thermometer – We have used Thermoworks products for over 10 years and it’s some of the best in the industry.
  • Silicone Basting Brush – We prefer the silicone because the fiberous versions will loose their bristles over time in your food. They are also dishwasher safe.

If you like this recipe we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes. 

About Vindulge

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.

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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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Grilled Chicken with Cherry Chipotle BBQ Glaze
4.80 from 5 votes

Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce Glaze with Grilled Chicken

A delicious sweet and spicy Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce Glaze. A great way to use summer cherries and add great flavor to grilled chicken. Easy to make. 
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
10 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 -6 servings


For the Grilled Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken, quartered
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chicken seasoning

For the Cherry Chipotle BBQ Glaze

  • 2 cups sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 2 medium sized oranges)
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sauce from the can of chipotle in adobo
  • 1 chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotle in adobo)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey


For the Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

  • Add all ingredients EXCEPT the honey to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, then transfer to a food processor or blender to pulse and get smooth.
  • Return BBQ sauce to the pan and add honey. Simmer 15 more minutes to reduce. Set aside.

To Grill the Chicken

  • Prepare Grill and Chicken: Set your grill to two-zone grilling and target 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit within the cooking chamber. For charcoal, we recommend using lump charcoal. For gas light one or two burners and leave one section cool for two zones. Coat chicken with olive oil and then liberally season with your dry rub.
  • Grill Direct: Place chicken on direct heat, paying close attention to the flame to get a nice crust, about 1-2 minutes per side. Then flip and repeat to get a nice crust on the other side.
  • Grill Indirect: Move to the indirect side. Cover the grill and monitor the temperature in each piece after 10 minutes. Some pieces will cook faster than others.
  • Glaze and Finish: When chicken reaches 150 degrees, glaze with your sauce and continue cooking (covered) until the internal temperature of each individual piece reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit (each piece will vary and come off at slightly different times). Then remove the chicken from the grill, reglaze, and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes to allow for carry over cooking to happen.


Calories: 694kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 310mg | Potassium: 690mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ, Barbecue
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Calories: 694
Keyword: cherry chipotle bbq sauce, glazed chicken, grilled chicken
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. 5 stars
    These look perfectly sticky as the best BBQ sauce is! I love that you paired a fruit with something a little smokier. The charry sounds like it goes great with the spice!

  2. 5 stars
    This chicken looks so juicy and delicious!!! The glaze sounds amazing as well – I have a huge stash of cherries on hand right now and now I know what to do with them! Love all your detailed photographs too Mary!

  3. 5 stars
    Mary, you read my mind: I was JUST thinking a couple of days ago about making a cherry BBQ glaze with all of the summer cherries we have. This looks perfect!