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Barbecue sauce, the soul of a Southern BBQ feast, comes in various forms and flavors. From the rich and smoky tomato-based sauces of Kansas City to the sweet and tangy offerings of the Carolinas, there’s something special about the diverse world of BBQ sauces. 

This easy recipe shows you how to make the most tangy and delicious Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce, also known as South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce, and explore why this mustard-based BBQ sauce should find a place with your favorite grilling and barbecue recipes.

Pouring homemade Carolina mustard bbq sauce onto pulled pork sandwich.
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Carolina’s Mustard BBQ Sauce Tradition

The roots of mustard-based barbecue sauce can be traced back to South Carolina. This state has a rich history when it comes to barbecue, influenced by the German immigrants who brought their love for mustard with them. 

The result? A tangy, golden sauce that perfectly complements smoked or grilled meats.

Key Ingredients 

  • Yellow Mustard: The main ingredient, yellow mustard, provides the sauce with its distinctive color and tangy kick.
  • Honey and Brown Sugar: These sweet ingredients balance the tanginess of the mustard, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Adding a touch of acidity and fruity notes, apple cider vinegar is a crucial element in this recipe.
  • Chipotle Pepper in Adobo: For a hint of smokiness and a touch of heat, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a secret weapon.
  • Ketchup: Though not a traditional Carolina ingredient, ketchup adds depth and richness to the sauce.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: This umami-rich sauce contributes to the savory complexity of the mustard sauce.
  • Garlic and Black Pepper: Garlic powder and black pepper provide layers of flavor and a little kick to the sauce.
ingredients used to make Carolina mustard bbq sauce.

Why This Recipe Works

  • No Cooking Required: One of the fantastic aspects of this mustard sauce recipe is its simplicity. Unlike other BBQ sauces that require simmering for hours, this sauce is a breeze to make. Simply mix the ingredients together, and you’re good to go.
  • Tangy and Sweet: The combination of yellow mustard, honey, and brown sugar creates a sauce that’s both tangy and sweet. It’s the perfect balance that tickles your taste buds.
  • A Touch of Heat: With the addition of chipotle peppers in adobo and black pepper, this mustard-based BBQ sauce has a touch of heat that’s sure to please spice lovers.

What Does It Taste Like?

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce has a unique flavor profile.

It’s tangy, slightly sweet, with a touch of smokiness and heat. 

The mustard base gives it a bold and zesty character that sets it apart from a traditional tomato-based sauce.

Why You Should Make It

  • Versatility: This mustard-based BBQ sauce isn’t just for pulled pork sandwiches; it goes well with a variety of grilled meats, from chicken and ribs to pork chops.
  • Authenticity: If you’re looking to capture the essence of traditional Carolina BBQ, making your own version of this mustard sauce is the way to go.
  • Customization: Feel free to tweak the recipe to suit your taste. You can adjust the sweetness, heat, or smokiness to create your personal favorite.
  • Easy to Store: Once prepared, you can store this sauce in an airtight container for future use. It only gets better with time, allowing the flavors to meld together.
Pouring Carolina mustard bbq sauce onto smoked pulled pork sandwich.

Serve This Sauce With

If you enjoy making your own sauces, you may want to also make my Whiskey BBQ Sauce.

mason jar with homemade Carolina mustard bbq sauce next to pulled pork sandwich.

So, the next time you fire up the grill, consider adding a touch of Carolina gold to your favorite meats and savor the magic of homemade mustard BBQ sauce.

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Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Prep5 minutes
Cook5 minutes
Total10 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce is the easiest homemade BBQ sauce recipe you'll find! This mustard BBQ sauce is so easy to make, spicy, and flavorful!



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  • Mix all ingredients well.
  • For best results, refrigerate in an airtight container overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
  • To serve, warm in a pot over very low heat and use on grilled meats like pulled pork or chicken.


Makes about 2 cups


Calories: 57kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 269mg, Potassium: 52mg, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 40IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

This post was originally created in April 2015 and has been updated with photos and helpful information. Don’t worry – I didn’t change the recipe!

Hi! I’m Krissy.

I love to create the BEST versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to cook, love to eat, or just have a deep appreciation for good food, you're in the right place! Stick around... I have hundreds of recipes for you to make.

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4.98 from 87 votes (59 ratings without comment)

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  1. Tried this sauce mixed with beer as a braising liquid for pork shoulder. Came out delicious and tangy. Made a second regular batch for topping the pulled shoulder and served it up on pretzel rolls. I work as a chef in corporate dining and this recipe pleased about 150 people. So thanks very much.

    Chef Timothy Lopez
    Novacare Complex, South Philadelphia

  2. I came across this recipe the other day and decided to make it last night. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this sauce and will be making it often! I didn’t have chipotle in adobo nor red wine vinegar. I substituted with chipotle powder and white balsamic vinegar and it turned out fantastic! This will be my new go-to sauce for pork chops and chicken.

  3. 5 stars
    That is pretty much how we do it here in the midlands, the Columbia area, of S.C. I will have to try it your way. Some people here will add the honey, some do not, some will use the apple cider vinegar, others the regular “Heinz” white distilled vinegar, but it all has mustard, brown sugar and worcestershire sauce in it. For the heat, some will add tobassco sauce, others red pepper flakes which gets better if it is allow to set a day or two in the fridge. It is use on pork ribs and for pull pork, as well as chicken. It is not “mopped” or put on the meat until its about half way done and the meat is cooked with the indirect heat method because of the sugar in the recipe. I’ve tried the Heinz mustard and it does taste better. South Carolina actually has three types of BBQ sauces and this is the one that is mainly used in the central part of the state. We grill 10 months out of the 12 with our warm winters and the pass five weeks with temps over 97 degrees and into the 100’s, its to damn hot to cook up anything in the kitchen… fire up the grill!

    1. So many great suggestions, Tedd! I have to have my cold rainy winters. I can’t handle that much heat and sunshine! – Krissy

  4. Where in the supermarket would I be able to find the Chipotle pepper in adobo? That’s something I’ve never seen before

    1. I’m not entirely sure, but based on the ingredients I’m guessing yes – it should last awhile. I always do my official “sniff test” to ensure I won’t die before eating. 🙂 -Krissy

      1. Hey Krissyi was wondering if you have to refrigerate once it’s bottled? I was thinking as giving this as a Christmas presents..

        1. Hi Nicole, I’m so sorry for such a late reply! Yes – I keep mine refrigerated. I think it would be shelf stable if you canned, but am not sure if a water bath canner would do the trick or if you’d need a pressure canner.

  5. This is a good sauce. It is a Carolina sauce, but it’s really a South Carolina sauce. North Carolina has a vinaigrette pucker sauce in the East and a Ketchup and vinegar sauce in the West. There are some ketchup and soft drink recipes but they are more family recipes than regional.

  6. Oh. My. Goodness, I just tasted this and I don’t think I can wait for the pork! This will make a great dipping sauce for so many things. Yum!