Carolina BBQ Sauce (Nectar of the South)

Carolina BBQ Sauce

This Carolina BBQ sauce recipe is legendary, delicious and addictive, so get ready!

Vinegar based bbq sauce is a very North Carolina thing that goes back a very long way when making pulled pork or grilled chicken.

Known as Carolina vinegar, North Carolina bbq sauce, Carolina mustard bbq sauce, and Carolina vinegar bbq sauce, among others.

Whatever it’s called, you are going to want to know how to make it, because there is a very good chance that you’ll fall in love.

Carolina BBQ Sauce

A Short History of Carolina Barbecue Sauce

The history of BBQ sauce in the U.S. can be traced back to the four types of barbecue that are usually used in basting. 

The four types of barbecue in historical discovery order are vinegar, pepper, mustard, light tomato, and heavy tomato. 

Barbecue sauces emerged with the introduction of barbecue, which dates back to the 1500s.

This is when the Spanish settlers introduced the pig to American Indians, and the Indians in turn introduced them to the art of slow cooking.

The first barbecue sauce was a very simple vinegar, with salt and pepper sauce. 

It’s origins can be traced back to the coastal plains of North and South Carolina.

And back to the Scottish settlers in Williamsburg County, South Carolina. 

The second barbecue sauce to emerge was a mustard based BBQ sauce, and it’s known today as South Carolina style barbecue sauce. 

It was greatly influenced by the Germans living in South Carolina from the 1730s to 1750s. 

The third style of barbecue sauce recipe found in the Carolinas is the light tomato based BBQ sauce. 

It’s the same as the vinegar and pepper sauce with a small amount of ketchup to add a bit of sweetness. 

“Barbecue sauce is like a beautiful woman. If it’s too sweet, it’s bound to be hiding something.” – Lyle Lovett.

Lexington in North Carolina is most famous for this sauce, and it’s also found in the upper middle part of South Carolina.

It is also popular in the South Carolina Pee Dee region, which is the upper coastal plain area of the state. 

The last major BBQ sauce found was the heavy tomato sauce.

It’s sweeter than the other BBQ sauces with the addition of brown sugar, and has evolved due to marketing, and it’s wide availability.

If you want to experience all four styles of American barbecue, then the Carolinas are the place for you.

The Carolinas are famous for their BBQ sauces

Eastern Carolina is famous for vinegar BBQsauce, whereas western Carolina is famous for a sweeter BBQ sauce. 

Generally, the southern region of the United States is known for BBQ sauces and dips, from the Carolinas, Kansas City to Texas and everywhere in between. 

Different Uses

Carolina BBQ Sauce

Barbecue sauce has different flavors, depending on the type. 

It’s mostly used as a marinade, for basting, or a topping for meat cooked in the barbecue cooking style, mostly pork, or beef ribs, and chicken. 

The Eastern Carolina style BBQ sauce consists mainly of vinegar, and spices.

The spice mix is usually cayenne, black pepper, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, salt, and sometimes water. 

It’s usually used to soak pork in as it cooks. 

Usually barbecue is “whole hog”, where the entire pig is barbecued and the meat is pulled and mixed together.

However, western style BBQ sauce, which has a sweet and tangy taste with the ketchup or tomato. 

This tangy sauce is thicker in consistency helping it cover the fatty pork, unlike the thin vinegary BBQ sauce. 

Why it’s so popular in the South

BBQ sauce is most popular in the South, because it’s related to the first colonies who came to settle around the 16th and 17th century.

The Indigenous people had been using barbecue methods to cook meat way before colonists first came to the United States. 

The word barbecue comes from the Spanish word barbacoa, which means to preserve meat by drying or roasting slowly. 

Nowadays, barbecue is popular throughout the United States, for it’s strong cultural and historical importance. 

Barbecue styles and traditions vary depending on the region, but are enjoyed all over the country.

How is This BBQ Sauce Unique?

Carolina BBQ Sauce

Carolina BBQ sauce has an apple cider vinegar base,  with red pepper flakes and a few other ingredients shaken in a mason jar. 

The meat used is marinated in this style sauce before cooking with more added after cooking. 

The more traditional Texas BBQ sauce consists of tomato paste or mayonnaise, vinegar, liquid smoke, and onion powder.

Other spices as well as mustard, black pepper, with sugar or molasses are added as well.

All barbecue sauces are delicious in my book, and Carolina BBQ sauce is up there with the superstars!

Carolina BBQ Sauce

Carolina BBQ Sauce (Nectar of the South)

Vinegar based bbq sauce is a very North Carolina thing that goes back a very long way when making pulled pork or grilled chicken.
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Course: Basics
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Barbecue, Carolina BBQ
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 234kcal


  • 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Ketchup
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper ground
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce


  • Add all ingredients together in a pan over medium high heat.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for five minutes while stirring.
  • Cool to room temperature.



Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1826mg | Potassium: 501mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 616IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg

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