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Carolina BBQ Sauce

Carolina BBQ Sauce Recipe

I grew up with tomato-based KC-style BBQ sauce but after moving to North Carolina I learned to love this mustard-based Carolina BBQ sauce!
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Mixing Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 16 ounces
Calories 49 kcal
Author Debra Maslowski



  1. Making your Carolina BBQ sauce is simple. Blend all the ingredients together and use it on the meat.
  2. I recommend warming the sauce before eating it (BBQ sauce is always better when warm).
  3. You can use this as a marinade, a finishing sauce, or both. It's important to note that if you use a sauce for a marinade or any leftover juice, you need to start over fresh. Someone could get very sick if you try to make a finishing sauce out of the leftover marinade.


You can use any kind of mustard that you like for this Carolina BBQ sauce. Yellow mustard is the most common, but I like stone-ground mustard. Dijon might also be a good choice.

I use honey and brown sugar. You could vary that and use all honey, all brown sugar, demerara, turbinado, or muscovado sugars. You could also use a sugar substitute. You'll need to adjust the amounts because most sugar alternatives, like stevia, are much sweeter than sugar.

Apple cider vinegar provides the acid compound. The acid helps to break down tougher cuts of meat and cuts the cloying sweetness. You could also use lemon or lime juice.

The original Carolina BBQ sauce recipe called for ketchup and not apricot jam, but I wanted to stay in the golden color. And the jam blends nicely with the mustard. You could use almost any kind of sauce or jam, depending on the flavor that you want to achieve.

Worcestershire sauce adds the savory umami factor that nothing else can bring. You could try soy sauce or tamari as a substitute.

Spices are very subjective. I like onion and garlic, but I like them more subtle, so I use powders. If you like sharper flavors, you can use fresh spices. And the amount of cayenne is up to you as well. I like mine with a bit of a bite, but you can tone it down or kick it up a notch if you like.

Nutrition Facts
Carolina BBQ Sauce Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 ounce)
Calories 49 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 187mg8%
Potassium 42mg1%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 29IU1%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 13mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.