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Published June 30, 2021. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This simple-to-make delicious vinegar-based Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce has the perfect combination of tangy, sweet, and spicy for all of your BBQ dishes.
Sauces can oftentimes make or break recipes, especially when it comes to BBQ. If you want to try out some new sauces that will absolutely make your next smoked pork shoulder or smoked ribs amazing, then definitely try my Sweet BBQ Sauce or Mustard BBQ Sauce.
Carolina BBQ Sauce
Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce is considered the mother of all the BBQ sauces out there. With generations-old history, this thin condiment is fantastic when mopping your whole hog barbecue all day long. The well-balanced combination of flavors greatly enhances the flavor of smoked proteins and helps to tenderize due to the high vinegar content.
The basic ingredients for this tasty Carolina style Vinegar BBQ Sauce are:
- Vinegar: Most often apple cider is vinegar.
- Spices: Pepper, cayenne, salt, and onion are commonly used.
- Red Pepper: Crushed pepper flakes are a staple
- Hot Sauce: any hot sauce will do.
How to Make BBQ Sauce from Scratch
Use these easy-to-follow instructions for making this delicious Carolina BBQ sauce from scratch:
Add the vinegar and brown sugar to a medium-size saucepot and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down and add in the remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 3 days ahead of time. The longer it sits the more flavors that will come out.
How to Reheat: Add the desired amount to a small size saucepot and cook over low heat until warm.
How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 21 days. This will not freeze well.
Chef Notes + Tips
- Substitute the onion and garlic granules with powder.
- You can lightly caramelize finely minced garlic and onions in oil before adding it to this recipe substituting for the onion and garlic granules.
- This would go excellent with beef, pork, chicken, and French fries.
More Sauce Recipes
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Vinegar Based Carolina BBQ Sauce Recipe
- 3 cups of apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic granules
- 2 teaspoons onion granules
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/3 cup of ketchup
- Add the vinegar, brown sugar, and salt to a medium-size pot and bring to a boil.
- Add in all the other ingredients and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
- Cool and serve.
I love this recipe….for slaw burgers it is a must!
Great flavor. Mine came out thick rather than the thin sauce pictured (I halved the recipe and maybe cooked it too high for the 15 minutes?) but the sauce is still great. I used fresh onion and garlic. Siracha for my hot sauce. Nice spicy taste. Will cook at a lower temp next time to see if it’s more saucy
I LOVE this sauce. Family doesn’t like the heat of the pepper so when I make it again, I will see how it is with half the pepper. Thank you!!
its on the stovetop now simmering…..i substituted my powdered smoked habaneros i grew in my garden for the pepper flakes.,….. Oh My this is coming out terrific….
I have made this recipe 3 rimes in one week already. It’s so good I think someone here must be drinking it….. We have a Fathers Day/ Birthday part this weekend and we are putting this on everything. We love you Sweet Vinegar Based sauce. You can always make it a little hotter or just keep it cool for the kids, and older adults that can’t take to much heat…Thank you so much for all your recipes….
Okay, I’m looking forward to making this and I’m going to try this on some Shrimp… yes BBQ shrimp 🍤