So easy to make with pantry items on hand, this North Carolina BBQ Sauce is a thin, vinegar-based, spicy one and not a tomato or mustard based BBQ sauce. It’s a MUST on Carolina pulled pork, or as they as, simply barbecue!
What is North Carolina BBQ Sauce?
This is not your average BBQ sauce. While most barbecue sauces are tomato based with either a spicy or sweet flavor, this is a vinegar based BBQ sauce. It’s thin, not thick and with lots of pepper! It also doesn’t have any added smokey flavor.
Apple cider vinegar is the main ingredient with kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and the sweetness comes from brown sugar.
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.
How to make North Carolina BBQ Sauce
- In a saucepan add apple cider vinegar, water, brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
- Remove lid, stir and cool completely before using or storage.
- Refrigerate after using for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts).
Squeeze this stuff all over your next pulled pork sandwich and dig in! Enjoy!
North Carolina BBQ Sauce
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup ketchup optional
- Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove lid, stir and cool completely before using or storage. Refrigerate after using for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts).