Grilled Sweet Cherry, Sausage, and Goat Cheese Appetizer Bites


Cherries are often thought of in sweet recipes (and rightfully so) but Holley from our Kitchen Council proves in this summer appetizer recipe that cherries can work just as well with savory flavors. Enjoy the latest from Holley’s kitchen!

Though not officially so, it feels like summer has started and that means it’s time to break out the grill and enjoy all the wonderful flavors popping up around us. Fresh and ripe summer produce makes every recipe so special, especially when it includes dark sweet Stemilt cherries.

Cherries are such great little fruits for snacking and I often find myself mindlessly popping one after another into my mouth because I can’t get enough of them! While cherries are an addictively tasty snack, they’re also versatile because they work well in both sweet applications and savory applications like various desserts, appetizers or main dish recipes.

In an effort to include more fruits and veggies at every meal, I started thinking about an appetizer we often have on the weekend when grilling out at the lake house with my family—grilled sausage sliced into rounds and served with toothpicks and a side of mustard or barbecue sauce for dipping. I knew that I could take this appetizer up a notch by adding fresh cherries and choosing a fancier style sausage, like spicy merguez (a North African lamb sausage). While I didn’t try chorizo or Andouille, I feel confident that they would also make delicious options.

Because cherries have pits, I decided to do just a small amount of prep work ahead of time to remove the pits before grilling the cherries. This added a few extra minutes to an otherwise simple recipe. Once the pits were removed, I made a little foil bowl for the cherries so they wouldn’t fall through the grill grates and then threw on the sausage and 2 green onions.

You’ll see in the recipe that I decided to take the grilled cherries up a notch by making them into a compote using ingredients I already have on-hand like lemon juice and honey. The compote by itself would be delicious served in fish tacos or alongside pork tenderloin. Instead, I decided to serve it over grilled sausage rounds and paired with goat cheese. The flavor combination of sweet cherries, spicy sausage and tangy goat cheese was instant harmony in my mouth. If you want to get fancier than just toothpicks, place a sausage round on individual grilled bruschetta then add the toppings. You can also turn this into a heartier meal by serving an entire sausage link plus toppings inside of a whole wheat hoagie. However you decide to combine the flavors, you’re sure to love this unique twist on a classic summer appetizer.

Grilled Sweet Cherry, Sausage, and Goat Cheese Appetizer Bites


  • 1 cup Stemilt cherries, halved and pitted
  • 4 (4-6 oz) merguez lamb sausage links
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese

These sweet and savory hors d'oeuvres pair sweet cherries with tangy goat cheese and spicy sausage for a unique and easy-to-prepare snack.

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    8-12 servings
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These sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres pair sweet cherries with tangy goat cheese and spicy sausage for a unique and easy-to-prepare snack.


  1. Place halved cherries on a sheet of aluminum foil; fold up the sides to make a bowl. Grill sausage, cherries (in foil), and green onion over medium-high heat stirring cherries every 2 to 3 minutes. Cook onion 2 minutes or until slightly charred; remove from grill. Cook cherries and sausage 7 to 9 minutes or until cherries soften and release juices and sausage is cooked through.
  2. Roughly chop the cherries and finely chop the green onion then mix together in a bowl with lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  3. Slice sausages into 1/2-inch rounds and place on a serving tray. Spoon cherry compote over sausage then crumble with goat cheese. Serve with toothpicks.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving

  • Calories: 129