If you’re looking for a delicious alternative to sweet molasses-based BBQ sauces for your next cook-out, this homemade Carolina BBQ Sauce is sure to impress!
This North Carolina BBQ sauce is thick and tangy with subtle sweetness and a delicate smokey taste. Use this mustard and vinegar-based sauce to elevate the flavors of grilled pork and chicken while cooking, or use it as a dressing or marinade!
❤️ Why we love this recipe
- This Carolina BBQ sauce provides the perfect balance of tangy, sweet, and spicy for all of our barbecues.
- Making this vinegar based BBQ sauce is as easy as combining the ingredients in a saucepan and simmering before allowing it to cool to use.
- We can easily adapt this Carolina BBQ sauce recipe into a dressing or marinade by making it a bit thicker.
The distinct tanginess from the mustard and vinegar and subtle sweetness and smokiness is the perfect addition to our grilled meat!
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Note: The full list of this Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce recipe ingredients with their amounts and options are listed in the recipe card below.
- yellow mustard
- granulated sugar
- light brown sugar
- apple cider vinegar
- mild or hot chili powder-- pick your favorite heat level
- ground black pepper
- ground white pepper
- cayenne pepper (optional)
- soy sauce
- unsalted butter
- liquid smoke
Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The full instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Add all the ingredients (except the soy sauce, butter, and liquid smoke) in a medium saucepan.
- Add cayenne pepper (if using) and simmer for 20 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Add the liquid smoke.
- Add the butter and soy sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool for 10-15 minutes before using.
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You’ll need the following items to make this recipe successfully.
These are the questions frequently asked about Carolina BBQ Sauce.
Carolina BBQ sauce is thicker with a tangier flavor and more of a subtle sweetness due to reduced sugar when compared to MIdwest and Southwest-style BBQ sauces.
This BBQ sauce is known for its tangy ingredients - the vinegar and the mustard. This sets it apart from other BBQ sauces that use molasses as a base.
While there are subtle differences between North and South Carolina-style BBQs, both camps favor pork as the main choice of meat, flavoring the meat with tangy sauce as the meat cooks.
North Carolina is known for ketchup-based BBQ sauces that are sweetened with molasses and brown sugar, although vinegar-based sauces are also extremely popular, like this Carolina BBQ sauce that is more mustard-based.
- Always use clean utensils when removing this sauce from the storage container for health reasons and if any meat residue or piece of meat falls into the stored container, discard the sauce.
- I prefer to decant this BBQ sauce into a separate bowl or squeeze bottle for easy use and to keep excess sauce away from other food and bacteria.
- If you choose to use this BBQ sauce as a marinade for chicken and other meat, be sure that you allow the meat to marinade for a few hours, but no longer than 12 hours otherwise, the marinade can change the texture of the meat (particularly chicken) in an undesirable way.
- Make a thicker sauce by adding 1 cup of BBQ sauce with 1 cup of full-fat mayonnaise - perfect for sandwiches, as a dressing, or to be enjoyed with fries and potato wedges. For a lighter version, use 1 cup of full-fat Greek yogurt instead.
- Create a thinner sauce by combining ½ cup of BBQ sauce with ¼ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil. This is a great option for a dressing to coat vegetables before roasting.
- Adjust the cayenne pepper for an extra kick of heat in this BBQ sauce, or add some tabasco sauce.
Store this Carolina BBQ sauce in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks. You could also freeze this sauce for up to 3 months and thaw it in the fridge overnight, giving it a good whisk before using.
📗 Related Recipes
Getting ready for summer barbecues couldn’t be easier and tastier when incorporating these delicious sauces and marinades:
- Spicy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce - Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce give this spicy bourbon barbecue sauce a kick of heat. But you can easily adapt the sauce to a milder version.
- The World's Best All-Purpose Meat Marinade - Use this versatile marinade on all types of meat - making it tender and flavorful!
- The Best Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe For Grilling - This light lemony sauce is perfect for chicken and seafood and stores well too!
🍽 Serve with
📞 Chiacchierata (chat)
No matter what the season, I'm always in the mood to whip up a flavor-packed BBQ sauce. This Carolina Gold BBQ sauce certainly does the trick!
While I love a sweet molasses-based BBQ sauce, it’s great to try a tangier alternative sometimes. My Carolina BBQ sauce recipe is the homemade version of the popular Carolina Gold BBQ sauce. It combines tangy mustard and apple cider vinegar with soy sauce, Worcester sauce, sugar, spices, butter, and liquid smoke. This is an irresistible sauce to use on your grilled pork or chicken.
Next time try our delicious White BBQ Sauce. This sauce is the famous Alabama White Sauce and it's delicious as a marinade, dipping sauce, and basting sauce.
And if you want to add a bit more of a kick to your dishes, make your own Chipotles in Adobo Sauce and add just a teaspoon for the extra heat.
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📝 Recipe Card
Carolina BBQ Sauce is tangy and thick, made with a mustard and vinegar base that’s subtly sweet and smokey. Use this homemade BBQ sauce to flavor your grilled meats for that perfect summer barbecue experience!
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
The Ultimate Finger-licking Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce
- 1 cup yellow mustard
- ½ granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 Tablespoons mild chili powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- Optional: ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke - hickory flavor
- Gather the ingredients.
- Combine all the ingredients, except the soy sauce, butter, and liquid smoke, in a medium saucepan.
- Add the cayenne, if using. Simmer on low for 20 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally.
- Add the soy sauce, butter, and liquid smoke and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the sauce from heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before using it in your favorite barbecue recipe.