Carolina-style barbecue sauce has a base of mustard and vinegar with just a bit of tomato sauce, unlike other regional barbecue sauces. It's spicy and tangy and delicious on everything!
Barbecue -- it's a very polarizing topic. It's on par with politics and mascara. People have very strong feelings about their barbecue.
Even worse is when you accidentally use the word "barbecue" to describe the act of having a get-together where you serve meat that's been cooked on a grill. Serious barbecuers will come for your head with pitchforks.
No, I'm not a serious barbecuer. I'm the one who used "barbecue" when I should have said "cookout." I've lived my whole life in Philly, which doesn't have it's own form of barbecue. I mean, you say "Texas barbecue," you know we're talking about beef. Maybe brisket. May or not may have a tomato-based sauce. Memphis barbecue? All pork.
But today we're talking about Carolina-style barbecue sauce. Some regions of both North and South Carolina have a vinegar-based barbecue sauce. Some also include mustard and/or tomato. I don't claim that this is a traditional barbecue sauce, so don't come for my head! This sauce has vinegar, mustard AND a bit of tomato. And a whole lot of spice.
If you like a tangy but not spicy barbecue sauce, leave out the red pepper flakes and reduce the cayenne by half. If you like a REALLY spicy barbecue sauce, add as much red pepper flake as your spice-loving-heart desires!
If you need a sinus-clearing, stand over the pot while this sauce is cooking and inhale. Then grab a box of tissues because your eyes will be BURNING. After this sauce is done cooking, put it on EVERYTHING -- pork, beef, chicken, toast. Okay, maybe kidding about the toast. Maybe. Use it as a marinade or as a condiment. Toss it will pulled pork or chicken.
Check back on Sunday for a recipe using this Carolina-style barbecue sauce, but in the meantime, check out the links at the bottom of the post for more recipes using this sauce.
Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 14 oz prepared yellow mustard
- 1 cups to 1 ½ sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 oz can tomato paste, 6-
- 2 tablespoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Place all ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk to combine.
- Set the saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook just until bubbles begin to form at the edges.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer the sauce for 45 minutes to an hour, until reduced to 1 quart of liquid and thickened.
- Pour into a non-reactive container and cool to room temperature.
- Store covered in the refrigerator.
Recipe by The Redhead Baker
Recipes using Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce
Pulled Pork Sliders by The Reluctant Entertainer
Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Tostadas by Love and Zest
Grilled Pork Chops by A Spicy Perspective
Friday 18th of September 2020
Looking at making this as I LOVE mustard based bbq sauces but what does the 6- mean in the ingredient list for tomato paste?
1 oz can tomato paste, 6-
Saturday 19th of September 2020
Sorry about that, the formatting is screwed up. It's one 6-ounce can of tomato paste.
Saturday 13th of June 2020
I made this sauce today - it was perfect and delicious! Thanks so much.
Monday 3rd of July 2017
Hello Coleen, I am trying to trace the origins of the style of BBQ sauce you have described in your article. Where did you come across this Carolina style?
Thanks for the recipe!
Saturday 1st of April 2017
Do you only use 1 ounce of prepared mustard?
Sunday 2nd of April 2017
Hi Heather -- it's one 14-oz bottle -- looks like the instructions got mixed up when I switched recipe plug-ins. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!