Tangy Carolina Barbecue Sauce

Take your barbecue to the next level with this mouthwatering Tangy Carolina Barbecue Sauce recipe. Bursting with the tangy goodness of apple cider vinegar, the zing of mustard, and the subtle sweetness of brown sugar, this sauce is the perfect complement to ribs, pulled pork, grilled chicken, and more. With simple ingredients and easy preparation, you can whip up a batch of this flavorful sauce to impress your guests at your next cookout. Let’s dive into the details and discover how to make this Carolina-style barbecue sauce that will elevate your BBQ game.


  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce


  1. Combine Ingredients: In a medium saucepan set over low heat, combine all the ingredients: apple cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, yellow mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Whisk and Bring to a Boil: Whisk the ingredients together to ensure everything is well combined. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Simmer: Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until it has reached your desired consistency. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken slightly as it cools.
  4. Cool: Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the barbecue sauce to cool slightly.
  5. Transfer and Store: Transfer the sauce to a one-pint mason jar or any airtight container. Store the tangy Carolina barbecue sauce in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Nutritional Information:

  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Servings: 16
  • Calories: (Calories per serving may vary based on specific ingredients used.)

Serving and Storage Tips:

Serving Tips:

  1. Brush or Dip: Use a basting brush to generously coat your grilled meats with the tangy Carolina barbecue sauce during the last few minutes of cooking for maximum flavor infusion. Alternatively, serve the sauce on the side as a dipping sauce for guests to enjoy according to their preference.
  2. Garnish: Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley or cilantro over your barbecue dishes just before serving to add a pop of color and freshness that complements the tangy flavors of the sauce.
  3. Pairings: Serve your barbecue dishes alongside classic sides like coleslaw, cornbread, baked beans, or potato salad to create a complete and satisfying meal that’s perfect for any outdoor gathering or summer cookout.
  4. Customize: Feel free to customize the sauce to suit your taste preferences by adjusting the sweetness, tanginess, or spiciness levels with additional brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, or chili powder, respectively.
  5. BBQ Pizza: Use the tangy Carolina barbecue sauce as a flavorful base for homemade BBQ chicken pizza. Simply spread a thin layer of sauce over your pizza dough, top with cooked chicken, red onions, and mozzarella cheese, then bake until bubbly and golden brown for a delicious twist on a classic favorite.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: Store any leftover tangy Carolina barbecue sauce in an airtight container or mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Ensure the sauce is completely cooled before transferring it to the container to prevent condensation and maintain freshness.
  2. Freezing: For longer storage, you can freeze the barbecue sauce in a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using, and stir well to recombine any separated ingredients.
  3. Small Portions: Consider portioning the barbecue sauce into smaller containers or ice cube trays before freezing to make it easier to thaw only the amount you need for future use without having to defrost the entire batch.
  4. Labeling: Label the containers with the date of preparation before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer to help you keep track of freshness and ensure you use the sauce within the recommended storage timeframe.
  5. Room Temperature: If you plan to serve the sauce at room temperature, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to allow it to soften slightly and reach its optimal consistency for brushing or dipping.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can enjoy the tangy goodness of Carolina-style barbecue sauce with your favorite grilled meats and dishes anytime, anywhere, while ensuring maximum flavor and freshness for all your barbecue gatherings and cookouts.


  1. Spicy Carolina Barbecue Sauce: Add a kick of heat by incorporating cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or red pepper flakes to the sauce for a spicy twist that will tantalize your taste buds.
  2. Smoky Carolina Barbecue Sauce: Enhance the flavor profile with a touch of liquid smoke or smoked paprika to impart a rich, smoky aroma reminiscent of traditional pit barbecue.
  3. Honey Mustard Carolina Barbecue Sauce: Substitute part of the brown sugar with honey and increase the amount of yellow mustard for a sweeter and tangier sauce that pairs perfectly with grilled chicken or pork.
  4. Peach Bourbon Carolina Barbecue Sauce: Infuse the sauce with the sweetness of ripe peaches and the depth of bourbon whiskey for a sophisticated twist on the classic recipe that adds depth and complexity to your barbecue dishes.
  5. Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce: Amp up the mustard flavor by reducing the ketchup and adding more yellow mustard for a tangy and pungent sauce that is a hallmark of Carolina barbecue tradition.
  6. Maple Bacon Carolina Barbecue Sauce: Incorporate crispy bacon bits and a drizzle of maple syrup into the sauce for a savory-sweet combination that adds layers of flavor and richness to your barbecue creations.
  7. Carolina Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce: Intensify the sweetness and fruitiness of the sauce by blending apple butter with the other ingredients, creating a luscious and velvety texture that pairs perfectly with pork ribs or chops.
  8. Carolina Vinegar Pepper Sauce: Simplify the recipe by focusing on the tangy vinegar base and enhancing it with freshly ground black pepper and a dash of hot sauce for a traditional Carolina-style sauce that is bright, zesty, and full of flavor.
  9. Carolina Mango Pineapple Barbecue Sauce: Incorporate tropical fruit flavors by adding pureed mango and pineapple to the sauce, creating a vibrant and fruity condiment that balances the tanginess of the vinegar and mustard.
  10. Carolina Coffee Barbecue Sauce: Add depth and richness to the sauce with the bold flavor of brewed coffee or espresso, which complements the sweetness of the brown sugar and enhances the savory notes of the spices for a unique and complex barbecue experience.

FAQs :

  1. Can I use this sauce as a marinade?
    • Yes, you can use this Carolina barbecue sauce as a marinade for meats before grilling or smoking to infuse them with flavor and tenderize them.
  2. Is this sauce gluten-free?
    • The ingredients in this recipe are typically gluten-free, but it’s essential to check the labels of individual ingredients to ensure they meet your dietary restrictions.
  3. Can I adjust the sweetness of the sauce?
    • Absolutely! You can customize the sweetness of the sauce by adding more or less brown sugar to suit your taste preferences.
  4. How can I make the sauce less tangy?
    • To reduce the tanginess of the sauce, you can decrease the amount of apple cider vinegar or balance it out with additional sweetness from brown sugar or honey.
  5. Can I use Dijon mustard instead of yellow mustard?
    • While traditional Carolina barbecue sauce uses yellow mustard, you can experiment with different types of mustard, including Dijon, for a unique flavor profile.
  6. Can I make the sauce ahead of time?
    • Yes, you can prepare the sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, allowing the flavors to meld and develop over time.

With its perfect balance of tangy, sweet, and savory flavors, this Tangy Carolina Barbecue Sauce is sure to become a staple at your next barbecue. Whether you’re grilling up ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, or chicken wings, this versatile sauce adds an irresistible kick that will have your guests coming back for more. Plus, with its simple ingredients and quick preparation time, you can whip up a batch in no time to impress family and friends alike. So fire up the grill, slather on the sauce, and get ready to elevate your BBQ experience to new heights!