Beyond PB&J: Easy Sauces To Use Your Preserves

Pantry full of jam? Yeah…me too. And while I like a good jam thumbprint shortbread cookie as much as the next person, there’s only so much sweet I can take, you know? (Okay, that’s is a lie, but at least 19 times out of 20 I do not actually scoop homemade jam into my mouth with a spoon. So there’s that.)

When my jam making obsession threatens to outpace my jam consumption, I think beyond the PB&J and use my jams as a fast and easy way to make sauces for savory meals. Take something like a maple-dijon glaze for pork. Substitute apricot preserves for the maple component, and you get a similar sweet-tangy sauce with an additional fruity flavor. Easy peasy.

These venison chops got sauced with a red-wine fig reduction that took me about a minute to throw together, using homemade fig preserves from the pantry.


Typically, when I put together jam sauces I’ll just throw ingredients together until the sauce tastes right, and I encourage you to do the same. So play around like a jam alchemist, but keep a few guidelines in mind:

  • The type of preserve you use – jam, jelly, compote, salsa, etc. – and the flavors in that preserve will of course influence your final sauce. So if, like me, you have a peach-lemon jam that turned out a bit more lemony and marmaladey than you planned, don’t look at that as a jam failure, look at it as the base for a killer peach-lemon sauce for prawns or fish. Yum!
  • Your preserve will probably need some acid (wine, vinegar, citrus juice, etc.) to balance out the sweetness.
  • Add something liquid (wine, stock, juice, water, etc.) to thin the jam to the right consistency. Glazes should be thicker, something designed as a pan sauce should be thinner.
  • The white meats like chicken or pork tend to do very well with peach, apricot, plum, tropical fruit or citrus flavors flavors. Red and gamey meats like beef, duck, lamb or elk are great with fig, berry, cherry or tomato flavors.
  • Preserves can also be added to ground meats – I recently made a large batch of meatloaves for the freezer and added a few jars of apricot ketchup with the ground beef-pork-bacon base. It worked wonderfully.
  • If your jams have added pectin – typically mine don’t – or set up fairly thick you will find it easier to mix the jam with other liquids if you melt the jam first. (Read More: How To Make Pectin-Free Jam.) I use a pyrex cup or the glass jam jar itself in the microwave.
  • These sauces are so easy to whip together, just make them as you need them. If you have some leftover, they will typically store in the fridge for a week or so. Use your good judgement.

Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Plum Stirfry Sauce

This sauce is a tangy, fruity addition to Asian-style stir-fries and makes a good potsticker or eggroll dip. If needed, thin with a bit of water or stock to get the right consistency for the dish you are making.

Playing around ideas:

  • Substitute apricot or peach jam for the plum.
  • Substitute toasted sesame oil for the dijon mustard
  • Add water and cornstarch or arrowroot to make a thinner sauce that will glaze a stir-fry when heated.


Plum Stirfry Sauce
Serves: 1 cup
  • ½ cup plum jam
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Rice Wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp.Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha or to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. This will be easier if you melt the plum jam first in a small saucepan or in the microwave.
  2. Adjust seasonings to taste.


Apricot Mustard Sauce

This sauce is a good with pork, chicken or salmon. Try glazing with the sauce in the last few minutes of roasting, or use it as a pan-sauce if you are sautéing cutlets or chops.

Playing around ideas:

  • Substitute plum, peach, cherry or blackberry jam for the apricot.
  • Substitute red or white wine for the vermouth. Red wine is more appropriate with cherry or berry flavors.


Apricot Mustard Sauce
Serves: About 1 cup
  • ½ cup apricot preserves
  • ¼ - ½ cup dry vermouth
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. This will be easier if you melt the apricot preserves first in a small saucepan or in the microwave.
  2. Adjust seasonings as desired. If you want a sauce that is more glaze-like, use less vermouth. If you prefer a thinner sauce for deglazing, use more.


Red Wine & Fig Glaze

This is one of my go-to sauces for duck, elk, venison, beef or anything gamey. A little rich fruit, a little red wine, a little herbage and you’ve got something fantastic.

The photo at the top of this post is of venison chops covered in this fig-red wine sauce. After pan-searing the chops to medium-rare, I set them aside to rest and deglazed the pan with a bit of red wine. Then I added this sauce, heated everything until it thickened up nicely and poured it over the warm chops. Viola. Easy and yummy.

Playing around ideas:

  • Substitute blueberry, cherry or cranberry preserves for the fig.
  • Add or substitute additional herbs, such as sage, thyme or crushed juniper.


Red Wine and Fig Glaze
Serves: About ¾ cup
  • ¼ cup fig preserves
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp. finely ground black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. This will be easier if you melt the fig preserves first in a small saucepan or in the microwave.
  2. Adjust seasonings to taste.


Coconut Curry Simmer Sauce

This simmer sauce is great with pork, chicken or white fish and firm vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squash or onions. Sear meats, then add simmer sauce and cook at a gently simmer until meats are cooked through and tender. Saute vegetables until browned, then add sauce and simmer, covered, until vegetables are cooked.

While I love using fruit salsa for the big chunks of fruit and built in onion, spice and cilantro flavor it adds to the simmer sauce, a jam like mango-lime could be whisked together with the coconut milk and curry paste for a different – but still delicious – simmer sauce.

Playing around ideas:

  • Substitute mango or pineapple salsa for the peach.
  • Substitute red or green curry paste for the yellow. 
  • Use curry powder instead of paste (very different ingredients but will still taste good).
  • Add fresh grated ginger, garlic or shallot to your sauce. 
  • Add cilantro or Thai basil to your dish at the end.
  • Add fish sauce to the sauce instead of salt.


Coconut Curry Simmer Sauce
Serves: About 2 cups
  • 1 cup peach salsa
  • ¾ cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp - 1 tbsp yellow curry paste (to taste)
  • juice and zest of one lime
  • Salt to taste
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Adjust seasonings as desired.


Do you use jams and other preserves in your savory cooking? What are your best tips and combinations?


  1. says

    Yes! Wild plum is a favourite for stir fry or marinade in our house, and apple butter is the secret ingredient to my meat loaf, both in the mix and as the glaze (shhh, tell no one). But does anyone have a suggestion for a wild grape jam that wouldn’t set?

  2. says

    I think jams and poultry are best friends. I love a plum preserve sauce on duck and strawberry with onions cooked in butter with a bit of apple cider vinegar are just about the perfect meal. Mint peaches with bbq ribs are also good!

  3. says

    I make a lot of sweet loaves in the winter time using plum, peach, apple or other sauce as a base. I hardly have to add any sugar that way and they even work as an egg substitute for when the chickens aren’t laying in the winter (or if you have egg allergies/food preferences etc). I just mix flour, a jar of sauce, a little sugar and some baking powder and soda and voila, ready to bake!

    • Becky says

      Any chance you’ve got a recipe for that? I’ve got quite a few jars of jam ect left over and this sounds like an awesome way to use them up!

  4. says

    These sauce ideas are so helpful! I tend not to make jam & fruit preserves simply because we aren’t going to be able to eat them in any reasonable amount of time, so it’s great to hear some new & different uses for them.

  5. Missy yanchuck says

    I remember many years ago my mom making jam that didn’t set- it made the best frenchtoast and pancake syrup!

  6. Miriam says

    You have the kind-of spooky talent for writing exactly the post I need at exactly the moment I need it. I can’t tell you how often this has happened, and this post is just the latest in the list – so thank you! (Again!)

  7. Donna C says

    One of our family favorites is:
    half orange marmalade/half red wine vinegar
    garlic and ginger to taste
    large pinch of tarragon

    Absolutely fabulous on chicken or Cornish hen! I marinate the poultry then cook right in the marinade, basting as needed. Then I remove the poultry and cook the sauce down a bit to serve at the table, to go over the poultry, rice, quinoa, whatever!

  8. says

    I do this with slow-cooked pork all the time. Cup of stock, half a cup of Random Jam, cup of water, glog of cider vinegar, plus some mustard and Sellected Herbs (usually bay, rosemary, and thyme). Add pork roast and possibly some root veggies, and cook until delicious.

  9. thomfoote says

    Hah, you eat spoonfuls too? Sometimes my dessert consists of a spoonful of peanut butter dipped in a jar of my strawberry freezer jam.

  10. Greg says

    I made a few jams with intent of them being for savory dishes to begin with but you could take a jar of said jams and just add the savory ingedients when making the sauce just the same. I did a plum jam with rosemary,shallot,port and congac. Its really good on pork, I also did a peach safron jam thats good on pork and chicken with rice or cous cous and the plum jam turned into stir fry sauce is a great idea I did that with plum jam a few times not that exact recipe but something like it. I also like pear agri doux (pears packed in wite wine, white wine vinegar, and honey) cooked down and served with blue cheese, or similar pear butter with thyme and pepercorns served with a sharp chedar and thin crackers.

  11. Beth Rutherford says

    Strawberry Jam becomes Strawberry Sauce with Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary (eye rolling back in my head – YUM!). Same for Huckleberry Jam — a huckleberry, balsamic and rosemary reduction — FABULOUS with lamb or salmon! I do lots of these reductions/sauces and they are all wonderful — just play. Sometimes a little wine (red or white depending on the fruit) and then further pairing with vinegar and herbs/spices.

  12. says

    Oh this is great! actually Just what Iwas looking for! we have so many jams at home and i’m getting bored of my typical meat sauces. This should be a fun thing to play around with! THANKS A LOT!

  13. Brenda W. says

    I like using up jams for savory sauces. I also use them in salad dressings – faves are equal parts strawberry or apricot jam and dijon mustard (a tablespoonish), whisk together with red wine vinegar and olive oil.

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