What BBQ Sauce Is Vinegar Based



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Summertime grilling has never been more tantalizing than with the zesty and tangy goodness of vinegar-based BBQ sauce! This unique and distinct condiment, originating from North Carolina, adds a mouthwatering kick to your favorite grilled meats.

But what exactly is vinegar-based BBQ sauce, and how do you make it at home? In this blog post, we delve into the origins of this delectable sauce, explore its flavor profile and ingredients, share some homemade recipes for you to try out yourself, and recommend the best dishes to pair it with.

Key Takeaways

  • Vinegar-based BBQ sauce originated in North Carolina and is made with apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic granules, and onion.
  • Common ingredients used in vinegar-based BBQ sauce include ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce or cayenne pepper, mustard (for Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce), lemon juice or lime juice (optional), onion powder or minced onions (optional), and salt.
  • Popular variations of vinegar-based BBQ sauce include Carolina-style, white BBQ Sauce, and spicy vinegar-based BBQ Sauce. Fruit-infused Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce and Asian-Inspired Vinegar barbecue sauce.
  • Some tips for making the perfect vinegar-based BBW sauces are using high-quality ingredients; experimenting with different types of vinegar to create your desired taste; balance the sweetness by adding an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or Worcestershire suave. Lastly, adjust spiciness levels based on your preferences.

What Is Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce?

Vinegar-based BBQ sauce is a tangy and spicy sauce that originated in North Carolina and is made with apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic granules, and onion.

Origin And History Of Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce

The origins of vinegar-based BBQ sauce can be traced back to early homemade barbecue sauces that primarily utilized vinegar, salt, and pepper. This tangy and simple yet flavorful sauce has been a staple in the world of barbecue for centuries, particularly in North Carolina.

Many commercial pioneers helped popularize this unique sauce. Two such trailblazers were Adam Scott of Goldsboro and Bob Melton of Rocky Mount who played pivotal roles in introducing their versions of vinegar and pepper sauces to the masses.

Another variation originated from South Carolina known as Carolina Gold BBQ sauce – a mustard-based concoction thinned with vinegar.

Ingredients Used In Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce

Vinegar-based BBQ sauces consist of a variety of ingredients that create their unique tangy and bold flavor. Here is a list of common components found in these sauces:

  1. Apple cider vinegar: A staple in many vinegar-based BBQ sauce recipes, providing acidity and a fruity undertone.
  2. Brown sugar: Adds sweetness to balance the acidity of the vinegar.
  3. Ketchup: Imparts a tomato base and additional sweetness to the sauce.
  4. Spices: Cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and garlic granules are often used to enhance the flavor profile.
  5. Worcestershire sauce: Contributes umami and depth to the overall taste.
  6. Hot sauce or cayenne: Provides an extra kick of heat depending on personal preferences.
  7. Dijon mustard or yellow mustard (for Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce): Gives a distinct tanginess to certain recipes like Carolina-style sauces.
  8. Lemon juice or lime juice (optional): Adds another layer of acidity for added brightness in some recipes.
  9. Onion powder or minced onions (optional): Offers an aromatic component to the sauce.
  10. Salt: Balances out flavors while enhancing other ingredients.

These ingredients can be combined and adjusted according to personal preferences, resulting in various styles of flavorful vinegar-based BBQ sauces perfect for grilling, marinating, or basting your favorite dishes.

Different Variations Of Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce

The world of vinegar-based BBQ sauces is diverse and full of unique flavors. Here are a few popular variations that showcase the versatility and deliciousness of this type of sauce:

  1. Carolina-style: Known for its tangy flavor, this sauce typically contains apple cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. It’s perfect for pulled pork dishes.
  2. White BBQ Sauce: A popular choice in Alabama, white BBQ sauce is made from mayonnaise, vinegar, horseradish, and spices. It’s often used as a dipping sauce or drizzled over smoked chicken.
  3. Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce: Another staple in the Carolinas, this mustard-based sauce combines yellow mustard with vinegar, brown sugar, and spices for a tangy taste that complements grilled meats like pork and chicken.
  4. Spicy Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce: For those who enjoy a bit more heat in their barbecue sauce, there are recipes that add cayenne pepper or other hot ingredients to the traditional vinegar base for a fiery kick.
  5. Fruit-Infused Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce: Some variations include fruit juices or purees to add depth and natural sweetness to the classic vinegar base. Common fruit additions include apple cider, pineapple juice, or raspberry puree.
  6. Asian-Inspired Vinegar BBQ Sauce: Combining soy sauce with rice wine vinegar or mirin can create an exciting twist on traditional vinegar-based sauces by incorporating bold umami flavors that enhance grilled meats like beef or pork.

These are just some examples of the vast array of options available when exploring the rich world of vinegar-based barbecue sauces – which means there’s always something new to try for every palate!

Homemade Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce Recipes

Learn how to make your own vinegar-based BBQ sauce with these mouthwatering recipes: Carolina BBQ Sauce, Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce, and Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce.

Carolina BBQ Sauce Recipe

If you’re a fan of tangy and sweet flavors with just a little bit of spice, then you need to try Carolina-style BBQ sauce. Here’s a simple recipe to make your own at home:


  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


  • For a spicier version, add more red pepper flakes or some hot sauce like Texas Pete or Tabasco.
  • Some recipes call for smoked bacon to be added for additional flavor.

Whether you’re using it as a marinade, basting sauce, or dipping sauce, this Carolina-style BBQ sauce is sure to add some zing to your next barbecue spread!

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce is a popular recipe that incorporates the tangy flavor of vinegar with the sweetness of honey and brown sugar. This sauce is perfect for pork, chicken, and beef dishes. Here’s a simple recipe to make it yourself:


  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper until well combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes or until the brown sugar has dissolved completely.
  4. Remove from heat and let it cool down before serving with your favorite BBQ dish.

Some tips to consider when making Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce are using high-quality ingredients such as pure honey and aged apple cider vinegar for better flavor. You can also adjust the sweetness or tanginess according to your preferences by adding more honey or vinegar respectively.

Try this recipe and enjoy the sweet and tangy flavors of Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce on your next BBQ feast!

Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce Recipe

Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce is a popular vinegar-based barbecue sauce that originated in North Carolina. Here is a simple recipe for this tangy and savory BBQ sauce:

  • Combine 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of ketchup, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of hot sauce, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper in a bowl.
  • Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.
  • Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes until it thickens.
  • Let the sauce cool to room temperature before using.

This Carolina-style vinegar-based BBQ sauce is perfect for pulled pork or any other type of smoked or grilled meat. Adjust the amount of hot sauce and red pepper flakes to your preference for spice level. Homemade Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce is easy to make and adds delicious flavor to any barbecue dish.

Tips And Tricks For Making The Perfect Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce

Creating a perfect vinegar-based BBQ sauce can seem daunting, but following these tips and tricks will make it a breeze:

  1. Use quality ingredients such as high-quality vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, and spices to enhance the flavor of your BBQ sauce.
  2. Experiment with different types of vinegar such as apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar to find the perfect balance for your taste buds.
  3. Balance the sweetness of your BBQ sauce by adding an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Adjust the spiciness level according to your preference by adding more or less hot sauce or red pepper flakes.
  5. Use a blender or food processor to blend all ingredients together for a smooth consistency.
  6. Store your vinegar-based BBQ sauce in airtight containers in the refrigerator for optimal freshness and flavor.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make the perfect vinegar-based BBQ sauce that will leave your guests raving about your culinary skills!

How To Use Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce

how to use vinegar based bbq sauce

Use vinegar-based BBQ sauce as a marinade or basting sauce for pork, chicken, and beef dishes. It also works wonders as a condiment alongside your favorite barbecue dishes.

Best Dishes To Pair With Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce

Vinegar-based BBQ sauce is a versatile condiment that pairs well with a variety of dishes. Here are some of the best dishes to pair with this tangy sauce:

  1. Pulled pork – The acidity in the vinegar-based BBQ sauce complements the richness of the pulled pork, making it a classic pairing.
  2. Beef brisket – The bold flavor of beef brisket pairs perfectly with the tangy and slightly sweet flavors of vinegar-based BBQ sauce.
  3. Chicken wings – This classic appetizer is taken to new heights when paired with a kick of tangy flavor from the vinegar-based BBQ sauce.
  4. Ribs – Whether it’s baby back or spare ribs, vinegar-based BBQ sauce adds an extra layer of flavor that elevates this classic dish.
  5. Grilled vegetables – The acidity in vinegar-based BBQ sauce is a great complement to grilled vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and onions.

With these perfect pairings in mind, it’s time to get grilling and enjoy the deliciousness that is vinegar-based BBQ sauce!

Grilling Techniques For Using Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce

Vinegar-based BBQ sauce can add a tangy and bold flavor to grilled meats. Here are some tips for using this type of sauce when grilling:

  • Basting: Brush the sauce on the meat during cooking to add moisture and flavor. If the sauce has a high vinegar content, use it sparingly to avoid overpowering the meat.
  • Marinating: Before cooking, marinate the meat in vinegar-based BBQ sauce to infuse it with flavor. Leave it in the marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.
  • Finishing Sauce: Use vinegar-based BBQ sauce as a finishing touch by adding it to the meat right before serving. This will give the dish an extra burst of flavor.
  • Pairing: Vinegar-based BBQ sauce pairs well with pork and chicken dishes, but can also be used with beef or fish.
  • Heat Control: If your vinegar-based BBQ sauce is too spicy, mix in a little sugar or honey to balance out the heat.

By using these grilling techniques, you can elevate your barbecue game and impress your guests with delicious, tangy flavors.

Marinading And Basting With Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce

Marinading and basting with vinegar-based BBQ sauce can add a tangy flavor to your meats. Here are some tips for using this type of sauce:

  • For marinading, generously coat your meat with the vinegar-based BBQ sauce and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
  • If you want the flavor to be stronger, add more sauce before putting it on the grill.
  • While grilling, baste the meat with vinegar-based BBQ sauce every 20 minutes or so. This will ensure that the meat stays moist and flavorful.
  • Brush on more of the sauce during the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking for extra caramelization and flavor.
  • Be mindful not to use too much vinegar-based BBQ sauce as it can overpower the natural flavors of your meat.

Using vinegar-based BBQ sauce is a great way to enhance your grilled meats, especially if you’re looking for a tangier taste. It’s perfect for pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and even vegetables!

Conclusion: Why Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce Is A Must-Try For BBQ Lovers

In conclusion, vinegar-based BBQ sauce is a unique and tangy option for barbecue enthusiasts. Originating in North Carolina, this thin sauce packs a flavorful punch with its combination of apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt, garlic granules, and onion.

Its versatility allows it to be used as both a basting sauce and mixed into cooked meat. Whether you prefer the mustard-based Carolina Gold or the red pepper flake-packed Eastern Carolina variation, there’s no denying that vinegar-based BBQ sauce is an essential addition to any BBQ spread.

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