Tangy and sweet with the perfect kick of spice, this Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce is a must-have for your grilled and smoked meats. An easy mustard base recipe with a little bit of heat, a little bit of sweet, and a whole lot of flavor!
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A Must-Try Mustard BBQ Sauce
This Carolina-style BBQ sauce is a delicious mix of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors that perfectly compliment the richness of almost any grilled and smoked meats. The combination of mustard, vinegar, sweetener, savory spices, and a hint of liquid smoke create a distinct smoky taste with a beautiful golden hue. And it only takes 10 minutes to prepare!
As an outsider of South Carolina, biting into a smoked meat sandwich drizzled with yellow sauce may be a bit of a shock. Until you take that first bite.
While the taste is similar to a traditional red barbecue sauce, the base flavor is mustard, not ketchup, and the sweetness is from a combination of honey and brown sugar, instead of molasses. It is surprisingly delicious!
In fact, I now prefer it to the conventional red sauce on my pulled pork and grilled chicken. And I love the contrast of the golden color against the dark meat.
If you have never tasted Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, you MUST try this recipe. It’s an edgier approach to barbecue than the sweeter, tomato-based ketchup and molasses version that you may recognize in your standard bottle.
The secret to our sauce is that we make it a little thick and give it a tiny kick! We aim to highlight the leading flavor of yellow mustard and balance it out with honey. With a touch of spice, the apple cider vinegar brings the whole sauce together with a wonderful acidic zing.
I love how versatile this recipe is. I smother it on pulled pork, smoked brisket, baby back ribs, barbecue chicken and even hot dogs. The sauce is also a must-have condiment for all of your dipping foods. Serve it on the side for a bold sauce to dip your chicken tenders, pretzels and French fries.
Why We Love This Sauce
- Quick and easy to make
- Can be prepared in 10 minutes
- Adds so much flavor to BBQ meats
- Perfect make once, serve twice sauce
- Multi-purpose sauce is perfect for marinating, grilling, dipping, drizzling, smothering and covering just about EVERYTHING!
- Homemade sauce without any artificial ingredients
- Sweet and savory and a bit spicy
- Thick and tangy
- Contains less sugar than traditional barbeque sauce
- You can adjust the heat factor to your liking
Ingredients / Shopping List
- Yellow mustard: I prefer standard yellow mustard, although you could use others.
- Honey: a natural way to add sweetness
- Apple cider vinegar: apple cider vinegar has a nice sweetness and tang, although you could use other vinegar
- Brown sugar: adds to the sweet factor
- Worcestershire sauce: has a powerful umami flavor and balances the tangy, savory, sweet, and salty ingredients
- Garlic powder: for seasoning
- Liquid smoke: adds smoky flavor
- Hot sauce of your choice: add more or less depending on your desired level of heat
- Cornstarch: thickens the sauce
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How To Make Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
This Carolina Mustard BBQ sauce is so easy to make and tastes delicious with almost everything! Why not make a double batch for multiple finger-licking meals?
- Start by making the slurry. Mix the cornstarch and water in a bowl and set it aside.
- Pour all of the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Whisk until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into a small saucepan.
Pro Tip: Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl when pouring the mixture in the saucepan.
- Simmer the sauce on low heat for 3 minutes or until it starts to bubble, whisking often. Add your slurry mix to the sauce and continue to simmer for another 2 minutes.
Pro Tip: Do not overheat or boil.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool. Once it is cool to the touch, pour your sauce into a glass jar or container with a sealed lid. Place it in the refrigerator overnight.
Pro Tip: This sauce can be used once cooled, however the best results occur when the flavors have had time to enhance. This recipe fills a 12 ounce jar.
- To serve, bring your sauce to a simmer in a small saucepan and start drizzling, dipping and smothering!
Variations / Options / Add-In’s
- Spices: If you’d like to up the overall heat factor of your sauce, you can easily include cayenne pepper in the mix or add some spicy chili flakes.
- Heat Level: If you prefer a no-heat or low-heat version of this sauce, simply omit the hot sauce or add less than the recommended amount.
- Mustard: I prefer standard yellow mustard, although you could use your favorite other mustard.
- Vinegar: I like using apple cider vinegar because it has a nice sweetness and tang, but you could use other vinegar of your choice.
- Pick Your Protein: Enjoy this BBQ sauce on chicken, ribs, pork, or any of your favorite foods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Carolina barbeque sauces contain very little sugar which results in a tangier flavor than traditional BBQ sauces. This sauce is deliciously thick and spicy with a subtle sweet flavor.
Yes! While most ketchup brands are gluten-free, make sure you double check your bottle to make sure the label clearly states “gluten-free.”
Homemade BBQ sauce should be stored in an airtight container or bottle in the refrigerator.
If properly stored, BBQ sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Great Barbecue Side Dishes
KFC Coleslaw (Copycat) | Traditional Potato Salad | Caprese Pasta Salad | Grilled Corn on the Cob | Elote – Mexican Street Corn Recipe
Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
- ½ cup mustard
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp liquid smoke
- 6 dashes hot sauce of your choice more or less depending on your desired level of heat
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp water room temperature
- In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water for slurry. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add all the ingredients.
- Whisk until the ingredients are well combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, pour the mixture into a small saucepan.
- Whisk often while simmering, on low heat, for 3 minutes (or just until it starts to bubble). Do not overheat or boil.
- Add your slurry mix to the sauce and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool. Once cool to touch, pour into a jar or container with a sealed lid.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- To serve, warm it up in a small pot and get eating!