Cherry Bourbon Barbecue Chicken
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
  • 1½ pounds dried cherries
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 2⅔ cups water, divided
  • ½ cup agave or honey
  • 8 ounces tomato paste
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning*, divided
  • 3½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  1. In a medium bowl, combine cherries and bourbon. Let stand for at least 4 hours. (Do not drain.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat 2 cups water, agave, tomato paste, vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke, and almond extract over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, 1½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Add hot sauce to taste. Stir in cherries and bourbon. Bring to a low boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; let cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Working in batches, process cherry mixture in a blender until mostly smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape sides of container. Add remaining ⅔ cup water if mixture becomes too thick to blend. Using a spatula, press cherry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids. Reserve 1½ cups cherry mixture. Set aside remaining cherry mixture to serve. (Refrigerate remaining cherry mixture for up to 2 weeks.)
  5. Pat chicken dry with paper towels; place on prepared pan. In a small bowl, combine remaining 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper; sprinkle all over chicken. Brush both sides of chicken with reserved cherry mixture.
  6. Bake, skin side up, for 15 minutes. Brush top of chicken again with reserved cherry mixture. Bake until chicken is done, 20 to 25 minutes more. Serve with remaining cherry mixture.
*We used Tony Chachere’s.
Recipe by Taste of the South at