Taking a break from the grill today for this sweet and tangy cherry BBQ pulled chicken made in the crockpot – no oven required!
As a kid I LOVED cherries. That is until I realized cherries aren’t always maraschino cherries. Major life disappointment for an 8 year old. Thankfully, as I’ve grown up, my taste buds have as well and I now adore actual cherries (but I still won’t turn down a maraschino cherry 😉 ). Perfect in oatmeal, smoothies, and yogurt or eaten right out of the bag while lying on the beach, cherries are an overlooked hero of summer produce. And now I have proof that they also make for a killer BBQ sauce.
In addition to being portable and delicious, cherries pack in important nutrients. For just 1 cup you get 3 grams of fiber, 16% of your daily vitamin C needs and 10% your daily requirement for potassium, as well as disease-fighting antioxidants and LDL cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. Do you workout? If so you may want try throwing some cherries into your post-workout smoothie as current research suggests that compounds in cherries called anthocynanins may help reduce inflammation resulting in less muscle soreness after exercise.
While I really wanted to make this BBQ sauce even lower in sugar, the taste just wasn’t right (much too vinegary). If you don’t mind your BBQ sauce on the vinegar-side, feel free to cut back the sugar to 2 tbs, but I do think the taste is best with the full ¼ cup of maple syrup.
We served the chicken as a salad with roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus, but it would also be great over a baked sweet potato or in a bun as a traditional pulled chicken sandwich.
So here’s a toast to cherry BBQ sauce!
Cherry BBQ Pulled Chicken
- 2 cups frozen pitted cherries
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1.25 tsp chili powder
- 1 TBS tomato paste
- 1 15- oz can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 lbs chicken breasts
- Whisk together BBQ ingredients, taste and adjust as needed. Place ¾ cup of sauce in large Tupperware container and store in fridge for later. Place chicken in bottom of crockpot and pour over remaining sauce. Stir around to make sure all sides of chicken are covered with sauce.
- Cook on low for 4 hours. Carefully remove chicken and shred with fork. Place shredded chicken back in crockpot and cook an additional 30 minutes with the cover off.
- Serve over baked sweet potato, in a salad, or as a sandwich. Enjoy!
Cherry BBQ Chicken (1/6 of recipe): 330 calories, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 34 g protein
Nutrition for Cherry BBQ Chicken is based on 2 lbs of chicken and a batch of sauce, but you will likely have some sauce leftover so actual nutrition content may be lower. Adapted from Serious Eats