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North carolina barbecue sauce recipe

North carolina barbecue sauce recipe

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  • Side dish
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  • BBQ sauce

A spicy barbecue sauce, which is super-easy to make. It's tangy and hot. Adjust the amount of cayenne and hot pepper sauce to your own liking.

146 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 500 ml

  • 250ml white vinegar
  • 250ml cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown soft sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

MethodPrep:10min ›Extra time:2days chilling › Ready in:2days10min

  1. Combine the white vinegar, cider vinegar, dark brown soft sugar, cayenne pepper, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper in a jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days before using so that the flavours will blend. Shake occasionally and store for upto 2 months in the refrigerator.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(171)

Reviews in English (141)

by Larra Van Dyke

This was great, I've made it twice already and am craving it again. I wasn't sure how much to use so if you have that same question, here's what worked for me. I cooked a 2 1/2 pound pork loin (tenderloin wasn't as good) cut in half in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low (just pour a beer over it, season it with salt and pepper and throw in some garlic cloves). Then I shredded it using two forks and put it back in the crock pot and added this sauce in the "16 serving" size (1/2 cup of each vinegar). I like it extra spicy, so I added more cayenne pepper and also some habanero hot sauce (1T-ish). Just heat it through for 15 minutes and it's DELICIOUS. Extra-good with fresh sliced onions and cole slaw on them. Made enough for 16 well-stacked sandwiches. I'm making this for the next family get together.-10 Feb 2008

by Claudette P Henry


North carolina barbecue sauce recipe - Recipes

The ancient feud of the North Carolina Barbecue Sauce Recipe continues, as it has since the early 1800's. Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce or Western North Carolina Barbecue Sauce lovers say the twain shall never meet.

Although basically similar vinegar barbecue sauce recipes, the addition of tomato sauce (ketchup) used in the traditional Western North Carolina barbecue sauce, fires the East/West North Carolina barbecue sauce rivalry every time. But, the "Cookin' Cousins" love them all!

They love their Carolina Style Pulled Pork! Whether it is the Eastern North Carolina preference for roasting a whole hog, or the Western North Carolina "druther" for the pork shoulder, pick a North Carolina barbecue sauce recipe that "tickles your fancy" and you will discover just why this 400 year old tradition is alive and kickin'!

The old southern saying "the secret is in the sauce" seems to defy our ("The "Cookin' Cousins") motto "Barbecue is the Mystical Communion of Fire, Smoke and Meat" . But with pork barbecued southern style, basted periodically with a wonderful North Carolina barbecue sauce, we find both are true and we make the exception gladly.

The Carolina folk call their favorite North Carolina Barbecue Sauce Recipe "finishing sauce", as it is served after roasting the meat, in bowls at the feast, to be applied by the ravenous guests. So whip one up, experiment to make it your own "secret sauce". Your barbecue fame is secure!

Old Time Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce Recipe

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (white will work also)
  • 3 tblsp lemon juice (approx. 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce (preferably Lea & Perrins)
  • 1 tblsp honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper (fresh ground if you have it)

Once the butter is melted in a sauce pan, stir in all but the vinegar and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vinegar, allow the sauce to cool.

Restaurant Style Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar (white will work also)
  • 3 tblsp lemon juice (approx. 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tblsp brown sugar (or Turbinado sugar)
  • 1 tblsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tblsp hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper (fresh ground if you have it)

You don't have to cook this one! If you wish, just combine the ingredients, put in a jar with a tight lid (for occasional shaking), place in the refrigerator for a couple of days before the feast, and give it a vigorous shaking once in a while.

You may simmer the ingredients for about 25 minutes to serve immediately if you are in a hurry.

Western North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 lemons approx.)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, simmer for 25-30 minutes.

East Meets West North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (white will work also)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tblsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

No cooking required! Just stir until the sugar is dissolved and serve. Although this one will stay fresh in the refer "'til the cows come home", we have virtually never had any left over!

Eastern North Carolina Vinegar-and-Pepper Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Why It Works

  • Infusing the sauce with spices builds its flavor.
  • Layering spice using multiple ingredients (black pepper, red pepper flakes, hot sauce) increases the sauce's complexity.
  • Brown sugar balances out the strong vinegar character and heat of the sauce.
  • An optional tablespoonful of ketchup will give the sauce a slightly redder tinge and increased viscosity, for those who prefer that.

A classic of Eastern North Carolina–style barbecue, this sauce isn't thick like the tomato-based ones most people think of when they picture barbecue sauce. It's on the thinner side, made mostly of cider vinegar that's seasoned with black pepper, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar.

This type of sauce is traditionally mixed into pulled pork to moisten and flavor it, not used as a slather on top of the meat like other sauces. It gets better after a day or two, when the flavors have had a chance to infuse and meld.

Old-Time Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce Recipe

After spending the weekend in the Raleigh area of North Carolina, eating my way from Allen & Son to Ed Mitchell's The Pit, I'm proud to say that I'm a full-fledged North Carolina 'cue convert. The defining style of the Carolinas involves chopped barbecue dressed with a spicy vinegar sauce--so much that no restaurant I visited even offered a sauce alternative. This immersion experience really opened my eyes to just how well the spicy tang of vinegar sauce complements smoky barbecue. There's no looking back for me now.

I couldn't resist picking up a copy of the newly published Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, while down there, and the first thing I did after arriving home was follow the simple recipe of cider vinegar, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and salt to whip up a batch of the native North Carolina sauce to have on hand to adorn all barbecue pork in my future.

Recipe Summary

In the South, we sure do know our barbecue. Each year, we ask our readers to help us rank the South's Best BBQ Joints, and the list is bound to elicit some fiery debate. How is one supposed to rank smoked chicken smothered in vinegary white sauce against Central Texas brisket? Our studies in Southern barbecue have proven that this revered culinary landscape is far from a monolith&mdasheach Southern region, state, and even city has its own unique expression of barbecue. And more often than not, the secret is in the sauce.

It's impossible to miss the fierce debate in North Carolina over the winning BBQ style: Eastern vs. Western. While the Western North Carolina camp champions a tomato-based barbecue sauce, the version that you'll find in Eastern North Carolina keeps it plain and simple with a vinegar-based sauce.

Our Test Kitchen considers this Eastern North Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce the most fundamental of barbecue sauces. Using just 4 ingredients, our Eastern North Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce leans heavily on distilled white vinegar, only adding three spices (salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes) to draw out the flavor. Since this BBQ sauce is essentially a seasoned vinegar, the longer it sits, the more infused and flavorful it will become. Let your BBQ sauce sit for at least 4 hours, but it can go way beyond that to develop a rounder, more complex flavor. Did we mention that this sauce is incredibly easy to make? No cooking required: Simply combine the ingredients in a mason jar, seal, and shake it all up. The result is a light sauce that's spicy, peppery, and piquant.

This Eastern North Carolina Vinegar BBQ sauce packs lots of tang, making it the perfect accompaniment for a nice, fatty cut of meat, like brisket or pulled pork. Don't forget the slice of white bread to soak up all that extra sauce.

Carolina Mopping Sauce

Carolina Mopping Sauce is used in place of a rub as a baste while the meat slowly roasts on the barbecue. Eastern Carolina Mopping Sauce is vinegar-based with a spicy kick.

When I moved to South Carolina, I had never heard of a wet mopping sauce. Carolina Mopping Sauce is a vinegar-based BBQ sauce that many pit masters use to baste the meat while it&rsquos slow roasting on the barbecue. It&rsquos a very regional sauce and it&rsquos quite common to find it here, along with traditional tomato-based sauces, on the table of the local barbecue joints. It is used as both a baste on the meat and as a sauce on your sandwich.

For people like me who love vinegar and a bit of heat, this simple sauce is all you need on pulled pork to make your mouth sing. However, for many, it is a bit harsh and you may only want to use it as a mopping sauce in place of the rub and still top with a traditional barbecue sauce at the table.

Vinegar BBQ Sauce Recipe #2

Variations on a theme, this vinegar BBQ sauce still contains the requisite vinegar and chilli but you'll find this recipe sweeter and the addition of some Worcestershire sauce gives it an extra flavour dimension.


Worcestershire sauce contains both fish (anchovies) and gluten by virtue of vinegar brewed from barley.

Yield:- 1⅓ cups or 315ml

Preparation Time:- 5 mins
Cooking Time:- 5 mins


  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


Throw all the ingredients into a saucepan, warm over a gentle heat and stir until all the sugar has melted.

You will find that as you warm it up, the vinegar adds a pungent note into the air, don't worry, this is normal and as the sauce warms through this pungent smell will die down.

It will only take a matter of minutes to dissolve the sugar, now cool it, give it 12 hours if you can wait that long.


I'm not sure what the other reviewer means about not adding sugar. Sugar is clearly listed and the amount worked well. It was good on the chicken thighs we grilled last weekend.

This was ok. A bit too bitter by not adding any sugar or sweetener.

The name, vodka, comes from the Russian phrase zhiznennaia voda, or "water of life". It can be made from everything from potatoes to beets. It's considered to be fairly flavorless which makes it a great liquor for mixed drinks .

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Ketchup add or no ketchup?

From what I’ve read, this recipe is East North Carolina-style and has no ketchup in the mix. West North Carolina style BBQ sauce has ketchup added, making it redder and sweeter. I myself enjoy them both, especially on my Pulled Pork. You pick and see what is your favorite.

The top one in the photo below is East North Carolina style and the bottom one is West North Carolina style sauce.

Carolinians it seems are one camp or the other when it comes to the ingredients in their BBQ sauce. Some won’t use it if it isn’t clear (no ketchup), some only use the redder, sweeter version.

Then there’s South Carolina! South Carolina has a Mustard BBQ Sauce and I love it on my South Carolina Ribs.

North carolina barbecue sauce recipe - Recipes


North Carolina is the "Cradle of Cue ®." It all started on our shores. The North Carolina Barbecue Society invites you to join "The Fun Tribe ®" and help preserve the historic culture and uniqueness that sets North Carolina barbecue apart from all others. Come visit the Old North State and experience the barbecue diversity that makes North Carolina the Barbecue Capital of the World.

Jim Early
Founder & CEO NCBS

Click here to register for one of our BBQ Boot Camps!

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