Cranberry Honey Mustard BBQ sauce belongs on your smoked meats during the cooler months. Tangy flavors brighten up just about any sandwich, salad, or appetizer.

Cooler weather brings out fresh cranberries, and what better way to use them? Braising them into a delicious honey mustard sauce gives you so many options for your holiday barbecue recipes.

Check out the recipe for Smoked Pulled Turkey or the Smoked Pulled Ham guide. This sauce pairs incredibly with either one, making the ultimate pulled sandwiches.

Why This Recipe Works

Tangy, but not overwhelming. Cranberries have such a unique flavor that pairs well with sweet honey and earthy mustard. They don’t overpower the sauce, adding just enough of their flavor without taking over the food.

Versatile. You can marinate meats, use this for basting, or simply just dunk your food. The oil-based foundation allows it to be flexible, and the two kinds of vinegar help tenderize meats along the way.

Seasonal BBQ. Fresh cranberries ring in the holiday season. They add just a touch of sweet, vibrant tang to the mustard-based BBQ sauce without taking over. You can simply add a few more if you want that flavor to be more forward.

Flavorful cranberry honey mustard has a great consistency for dressings or saucing sandwiches.

Key Ingredients

Here are a few of the key ingredients which make up the unique flavor profile:

  • Cranberries – Fresh or frozen, they are cooked in a pot with most of the other ingredients to break down and add a healthy level of acidic tart flavors.
  • Honey – One of the sweet components along with brown sugar. Not only does it thicken the sauce, but the natural flavors work well with the mustard to counter the tartness from the cranberries.
  • Apple cider vinegar – This tangy splash of acid brightens the dish with a little extra flavor.
  • White vinegar – More neutral in flavor, but essential for the vibrancy of this bbq sauce recipe.
  • Worchestershire sauce – Big flavor, adding the salty foundation along with a dash of savory.
  • Dijon mustard – Spicy notes of mustard seeds come forward to play with the tart cranberries. Dijon adds a complex depth to the sauce that yellow mustard just doesn’t match.
  • Canola Oil – This neutral oil brings the sauce together, added at the end to emulsify everything.
Cooking down the cranberries in the liquids before blending.

Step 1: Simmer Ingredients

Grab your medium saucepan. Add all of the ingredients except the Dijon mustard and the oil into the saucepan and cook on medium heat until the liquid comes to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until the cranberries have softened and start to burst.

Make sure to stir periodically with a silicone spatula to prevent the sugars from burning on the bottom.

Step 2: Blend Sauce with Mustard

Once the contents have slightly cooled off, add the sauce to the blender. Add in the mustard, not the oil (yet).

Blend your ingredients together until mostly smooth.

Stream in the oil slowly while blending at the end to emulsify the ingredients, creating a smooth sauce.

Step 3: Emulsify with Oil

Turn the blender on and slowly stream in the oil through the top. This process allows the mustard, vinegar, and oil to emulsify, creating a thicker body to the sauce without the oil separating.

Important Tips

  • Make sure you slowly drizzle in the oil while the blender is rolling. This is absolutely key, causing the sauce to emulsify so it won’t separate. Results may vary if you try to dump the oil in and blend everything all at once.
  • After blending, the Cranberry honey mustard will have lots of air bubbles. This isn’t an issue for flavor or storage, but you can get rid of these by pouring the sauce back into the saucepan and cooking it on low heat for a few minutes while gently stirring. The steam from warming it will get rid of the bubbles.
Pour the cranberry honey mustard sauce onto a smoked pulled turkey sandwich with carrot slaw.

BBQ Sauce Variations

The cranberry honey mustard BBQ sauce has a great profile, but that doesn’t mean you can’t adjust it! Maybe you want more of the tangy cranberries or even some heat. Read below for tips on how to adjust the flavor based on your preferences:

Make it sweeter: I’d recommend reinforcing it with additional honey, rather than brown sugar to bring out more of the main flavor profile.

Make it tangier: Add more fresh cranberries when cooking the sauce down. Start with an additional 1/4 cup and go from there.

Add chiles for heat: Fresh chipotles in adobo sauce work really well here. Add a tablespoon when blending with the Dijon for a nice heat.

More Delicious Sauces You’ll Love

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Tangy cranberry honey mustard tastes amazing on pulled turkey sandwiches.

Cranberry Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce

Cranberry Honey Mustard BBQ sauce belongs on your smoked meats during the cooler months. Tangy flavors brighten up just about any sandwich, salad, or appetizer.

  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: About 3 Cups 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (about 4 oz)
  • 1/3 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • Kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Add all of the ingredients except the mustard and oil into a medium saucepan. Warm the contents on medium heat for a few minutes until the liquid has just come to a low boil. Reduce the heat slightly and allow it to stay at a strong simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the cranberries have softened and started to burst.
  2. Pour the warm contents into a blender with the Dijon mustard. Blend to incorporate everything, making sure the cranberries have been pureed.
  3. While the blender is still running, slowly pour in the oil through the lid to emulsify the sauce. The sauce will thicken quickly. Taste and adjust with salt if needed.
  4. The sauce will likely have air bubbles. You may add the sauce back to the saucepan and set the burner to low heat, which will get rid of the bubbles.
  5. Store the sauce in an airtight container. It will last for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

Notes

  • Make sure you slowly drizzle in the oil while the blender is rolling. This is absolutely key, causing the sauce to emulsify so it won’t separate. Results may vary if you try to dump the oil in and blend everything all at once.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Sauces & Salsas
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: BBQ Sauce

Keywords: BBQ sauce, sauce, cranberries, BBQ, basting, marinade, marinating, Dijon, honey mustard

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