Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce

A spicy and smoky apricot barbecue sauce. Great with smoked ham, pork and chicken. #apricot #sauce #BBQ @mjskitchen

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Does barbecue sauce really need ketchup or tomatoes to be called a barbecue sauce?  If so, then I’m breaking the rules with this Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce.  This sauce has most everything that one would find in a BBQ sauce, except for a tomato or tomato based product.  The tomato is replaced with apricot, but other common BBQ ingredients – vinegar, mustard and a bunch of chile powders – remain, turning sweet apricots into a smoky and spicy sauce for topping BBQ sandwiches and basting for a variety of meats and possibly vegetables.

Using a few of pieces of meats we had leftover from this and that, Bobby and I did some taste testing to find the best and better matches for this apricot barbecue sauce.  For each test we made a BBQ sandwich with a simple slaw, dill pickles, a toasted bun, shredded meat and BBQ sauce.  We tested smoked pulled pork, smoked chicken, grilled flank steak and smoked ham.  Our favorite was the smoked chicken.  Apricot barbecue sauce was a nice complement for a BBQ smoked chicken sandwich.  The smoked ham was also a winner.  However, we both thought the smoked pulled pork and grilled flank were better with a traditional BBQ sauce. They were good, but the meat overpowered the apricot flavor in the sauce.

In the next couple of weeks I plan to replace the tomato red chile jam with apricot barbecue sauce for the marinade on these pork kabobs.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce

A spicy and smoky apricot barbecue sauce. Great with smoked ham, pork and chicken. #apricot #sauce #BBQ @mjskitchen

Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce Recipe
10 mins
35 mins
Total Time
45 mins

A sweet and spicy barbecue sauce that is great with smoked chicken or ham, and barbecue sandwiches.  Like any sauce, sitting overnight in the refrigerator allows the flavors to meld. It just gets better with a little time.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Condiments, Sauces & Dressings, Vegan
Yields: 2 1/2 cups
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 1 Tbsp. light olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 3 cups chopped apricots*, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar*
  • 1/2 cup ginger ale
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp New Mexico red chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked Serrano powder
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a deep saucepan. Add the onion and lower heat to medium low. Sweat the onion for 3 minutes until translucent.

  2. Add the garlic and continue to sweat the onion and garlic for another minute or two.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and continue to stir until apricots begin to soften. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and, using an immersion blender, blend to a puree'.
  6. Taste. Add seasoning if needed remembering, as the sauce cooks down further, flavors will intensify. But just in case, if you want ...

    more of a smoky flavor without the heat, add 1/4 smoked paprika.

    more heat and smokiness, add ¼ tsp. chipotle or the Serrano powder.

    just more heat, add ¼ tsp. or more New Mexico red chile powder.

  7. Return to the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency*.
  8. Remove from heat and enjoy.
Kitchen Notes

Apricots – Use fresh or frozen.  If you don’t have apricots, replace with peaches or nectarines.


Sweetness – If the apricots are really sweet, cut back on the sweetening components unless you like a really sweet BBQ sauce.  If you do like a sweeter sauce, then, when you do the tasting halfway through cooking it down, you might find add a little more brown sugar or maple syrup.  Keep in mind, it’s only going to get sweeter as it gets thicker.


Vinegar – If you like your BBQ sauce with a little more vinegar then you can add more by adding 1 tsp. at a time to your taste.


Consistency – We like a rather thick sauce so it took about 30 minutes to reach consistency.  Plus it does thicken overnight.  If you find it too thick, just add a little more ginger ale or light beer.


BBQ Sandwich Ingredients – Toasted buns, a tender smoked meat like chicken or ham, dill pickles, apricot BBQ sauce, and a simple slaw.



Simple Slaw for BBQ Sandwich with Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce
A spicy and smoky apricot barbecue sauce. Keep with smoked ham. |


Simple Slaw for BBQ Sandwich with Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce Recipe
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins

A simple slaw that greats in barbecue sandwiches.  This recipe makes enough for 4 sandwiches

Course: Side Dish, Vegetarian
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 3 - 4 small to medium radishes, chopped
  • 2 cup thinly sliced savoy cabbage
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, minced
  • 1/8 - ¼ tsp. celery salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dill pickle brine
  1. Add all slaw ingredients to a large bowl.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over slaw. Toss to coat.


Hope you enjoy this Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce!  If you missed my post last week or you’re looking for more recipes or ideas for dealing with lots of apricots, then take a look at this kitchen helper post – What To Do With a Lot of Apricots.


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31 Responses to “Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce”

  1. Vicki Bensinger August 22, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

    Wow what a great recipe and so flavorful. I love all the ingredients you’ve used here. Saving this!

    • mj August 23, 2017 at 7:42 pm #

      Thanks so much Vicki! We’re enjoying it. 🙂

  2. Terry August 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    Hi MJ
    you have some wonderful recipes. I am a proud foodie and look forward to experimenting with a few of your recipes.
    Do you have any plans to add to your website the ability to “register” in order to save “favorites” ..?
    If not I’ll have to get printing those I like :).


  3. Liz July 10, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

    I glazed our last baby back ribs with an apricot concoction. I think your sauce sounds amazing!! Totally jealous of your apricots!

    • mj July 14, 2017 at 10:57 am #

      That sounds delicious! Thanks!

  4. Katerina July 10, 2017 at 6:28 am #

    I love messing around with old recipes and revamp them! This sauce looks perfect!

    • mj July 14, 2017 at 10:57 am #

      Thanks Katerina!

  5. Sissi July 6, 2017 at 8:52 am #

    This sauce sounds fantastic. I can also imagine why it was so good with chicken…. Thank you so much for this wonderful idea! One day if I have a real BBQ equipment, I’ll certainly try this one.

    • mj July 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

      Thanks so much Darlin! It is SO good with chicken! You could use this as a basting sauce for roast chicken. That would work quite well actually.

  6. Viviane Bauquet Farre July 5, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    Mj! This is brilliant… Absolutely LOVE this BBQ sauce!

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

      Thanks so much Viviane!

  7. Evelyne CulturEatz July 4, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    Definitely one of the most creative recipes I have seen in a while…and a great idea. I would have gone with pork and chicken to as a favorite 🙂

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

      Thanks so much Evelyne!

  8. 2pots2cook July 4, 2017 at 11:11 am #

    My mother phoned saying apricots are ripe and waiting. What I usually do is a lot of jamming but your ideas are so tempting ….. will definitely do BBQ sauce and clafoutis as well…. Thank you very much !

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

      Hope you enjoy! Would love to hear back as to what you make. Thanks!

  9. Adina July 4, 2017 at 6:20 am #

    What a great idea for using apricots, I would love to make this recipe.

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

      Thanks Adina!

  10. Raymund July 4, 2017 at 4:23 am #

    That would be the best sauce for a barbecue chicken thighs

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

      Oh right you are! Thanks Raymund!

  11. Kelly Mulcair July 1, 2017 at 11:23 pm #

    Oh, I’ve been looking forward to this one! I love your mix of ingredients MJ – including the ginger ale! I’ve not come across smoked serrano chile powder – may need to order that one. The flavors sound incredible and would be a welcome change too as we tend to have the same ketchup based sauces for the cue (everything starts to taste the same no matter what is being grilled ;d) wonder how well peaches might work as a sub for apricot…

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

      Thanks so much Kelly! Peaches would be a great substitute for the apricots. Because peaches can tend to be really sweet, you might need to add a bit more vinegar as balance. Once I find some peaches, I’m going to give it a try. It you try, please let me know how it turns out.

  12. Easyfoodsmith July 1, 2017 at 5:03 am #

    I would, hands down, go for your version of the barbecue sauce and the slaw too!

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

      Thanks so much Taruna!

  13. Judy Purcell June 30, 2017 at 7:22 am #

    This would be so good on grilled chicken or a fat pork chop! Love the flavor combo. 🙂

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

      Agreed! Thanks Judy!

  14. Angie@Angie's Recipes June 29, 2017 at 11:44 pm #

    I too just made some apricot sauce with lots of chipotles! Now I am tempted to make your bbq sauce because it has a thick consistency that I really love and looks so GOOD!

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

      Apricot and chipotle – YUM!!! Thanks Angie!

  15. John/Kitchen Riffs June 29, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    This is excellent! I like remaking traditional recipes with new ingredients. Bet this would pair particularly well with pork and fish. Or just eat it by the spoonful. 🙂

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

      Thanks so much John! I didn’t think of pairing it with fish, but that sounds great! Maybe some shrimp?

  16. Debra Eliotseats June 29, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    I bet this sauce could be tweaked with whatever’s in season. (Or maybe with jam.)

    Truly inspired, MJ!!!! (Still wish I had some of the bounty!)

    • mj July 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

      Thanks so much Debra! A little jam would worked great! Just omit or reduce the maple syrup and brown sugar.

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