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Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce is tangy, spicy, and is the ultimate sauce when you’re serving pork! Originating in North Carolina, this sauce is easy to make with just 6 ingredients. This traditional sauce is for anyone who takes their pork BBQ seriously.
Where I’m from, it’s just not a proper Southern pulled pork sandwich without Carolina Vinegar Sauce.
In North Carolina, we’re famous for our pulled pork that’s chopped, loaded onto a soft bun, and topped with this sauce that packs a punch. It brings out all the beautiful flavors of smoked meat without overshadowing it.
Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce Is:
- tangy with a peppery kick
- easy to make with just 6 ingredients
- a classic sauce for pulled pork
- is great to serve with chicken and ribs
- totally addictive!
The base of the recipe is apple cider vinegar which brings a strong acidic flavor that goes so well with rich, smoked pork. With the addition of ketchup and brown sugar, the flavor of the vinegar mellows just a bit. To take the sauce over the top, red pepper flakes and black pepper gives it a spicy kick that’s irresistible.
Ingredients For This Recipe
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Brown Sugar
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Black Pepper
PRO TIP: You can adjust the heat level by cutting back on the red pepper if you’re not a fan of that much heat.
How To Store Homemade BBQ Sauce
Once you’ve made the sauce and let it cool, you can store it in the refridgerator for up to 2 weeks. I keep mine in a mason jar but any glass container with a lid will work.
What To Serve With Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce
I always serve Carolina Vinegar with pulled pork and ribs. It’s also delicious drizzled on grilled chicken and as a dressing for slaw.
If you love good BBQ and all the good eats that go with it, then THIS post is for you. You need to save, pin and print these recipes to make the best pork BBQ and sides using this sauce that your friends and family will ever eat.
More Recipes You’ll Love…
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Smoked Pulled Pork
- Sweet Heat Grilled Chicken
- BBQ Red Slaw
- Easy Oven Roasted Chicken Breasts
- 2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer cooking for 2 minutes until sugar and salt dissolves.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Store in a covered jar or bottle in the refrigerator until ready to use. It can be stored for up to 3 weeks.
I lost my vinegar sauce recipe. I found this on line. Easier then mine was. Guess I’ve got a new one!
This is really a great BBQ sauce. Easily the best vinegar sauce I’ve tried, and it’s so easy to make! It was a big hit when I brought this and some pulled pork to a potluck. Also it does last more than 3 weeks in the fridge – I’m going on two months with this batch and it’s as good as ever.
Wonderful! Thanks for sharing Wesley and thanks for the fantastic rating.
Absolutely perfect! Just like what I remember from my E. Carolina days.
Awesome! Thanks for the terrific rating,
Awesome and thanks for the terrific rating!
Ok, so, haha. I was searching for a vinegar bbq sauce like the fabulous sauce my friend used to make. But she wouldn’t share her recipe. Her last name was Mullins, so this recipe caught my eye. Then when I read some of the comments by “Buddy”, “Carole”, “Elizabeth”, and “Stony”, it’s such a weird coincidence but those are the names of some of my other “Mullins” friends (a big family). I am “Douglas” haha. I’m so glad I made this sauce. Very tangy and with a touch of heat. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.
Thanks and I appreciate the outstanding rating!
Love this sauce. Grew up in Salisbury, NC and I think it’s spot on. I, however, make enough to carry me through several months. It taste great even after 4 months. Love your recipes!!!
Hey there Carole!
My goodness! It always warms my heart to hear from a fellow NC neighbor, I’m so happy to hear that you’ve been enjoying my recipes! This sauce is a favorite in my house as well, I also usually make one or two big batches a year. Thank you so much for your kind words of support, if you ever have any questions about a recipe, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Can be stored for up to 3 weeks!? It’s almost pure Vinegar, with Sugar and Chili, it will store almost indefinitely, unless you cross contaminate it along the way 😉
Thank you so much for your interest in this recipe, I hope you do give it a try! You are absolutely correct, this sauce will likely last longer than 3 weeks if it’s made and stored properly, I included the 3 week cutoff as a recommendation, it’s all better to be safe than sorry. Let me know if you give this BBQ Sauce recipe a try, I’d love to hear how everything turns out, I hope you enjoy!
Always loved this sauce, perfect for many other dishes, mine has a few other additions.
Thanks again Donya
Thank you so much for your fantastic rating and your kind words, I am so happy to hear that you’ve been enjoying this recipe! I totally agree with you that this sauce is super versatile, it goes well with so many different dishes. I really appreciate you’re support, if you ever have any questions about a recipe, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Found your recipe online and became a fan. My husband and I love your sauce with smoked pulled pork – it cuts the fatty flavor but complements the pork all at the same time. Here in the Pacific NW many of us only know the bottled bbq sauces and this recipe is a nice change of pace.
Hey there Elizabeth!
Wow! I am so glad to hear that you found your way to my corner of the internet, welcome to the Southern Soul family! Thank you so much for your kind words and your phenomenal rating, I totally agree with you, this is the ultimate sauce for smoked pulled pork. If you enjoyed this recipe, you should check out my Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce, it’s a mustard based BBQ sauce that has a delicious tangy flavor, I’d love to hear what you think of it. Thank you so much for your support, if you ever have any questions about a recipe, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!
Donya,,, This sauce doesn’t last 3 weeks, it’s always gone way before that, use it on fish and much more. First fell in love with it in a small town by Blowing Rock just off the trail, like a general store place. Used if for years now.
Thanks as always for all you do here, Douglas
Hey there Douglas!
Wow! Thank you so much for your phenomenal rating and your kind words, I am absolutely thrilled to hear you like this recipe! There’s something special about NC BBQ sauce, personally I love vinegar based BBQ but some prefer tomato based, either way you end up with a tasty meal. Thank you so much for your support, it makes me so happy to hear you’ve been enjoying my content. I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend!
Best damn Carolina style sauce I ever had, great on the pulled pork! Thanks
signed – a damn yankee from the midwest
You are THE BEST and I love this comment.
Thanks so much for the great rating!
Have a great day,
Donya,,,,,Love all your recipes,,,always keep my eye on what you post and ever have any questions on something I’ll let you know…thanks ,,,Douglas
My all time favorite sauce for BBQ and many other things,,could almost drink it,,had in Blowing Rock years ago and since then it’s been my favorite,,,some time I mix it with OVOO and sour cream for a nice fresh dressing…yum yum
I like the idea of the dressing and will have to try that. Thank you so much for the high rating you’ve given to my recipes.
Have a great day,
I grew up in statesville NC and my favorite BBQ joint of all time is Little Pigs. Their sauce is a bit thicker. I just LOVE it. My mom always said that texas pete was their secret ingredient. I am wondering if they didn’t have some mustard. The sauce was thick and orange-ish. IF anyone has a recipe for that style I would LOVE to know.
Thanks for the recipe making this tonight @April Befort the sauce you are describing sounds like South Carolina Mustard sauce one on my favorite BBQ Sauces from the south
Originally from Winston Salem and grew up on Lexington style BBQ. Now I live in Florida and always have a yearning for some good BBQ. Thanks for your sauce, slaw and pulled pork recipes, they bring a little bit of home sweet home to southern Florida!
Good sauce. Here in Tn, we don’t use ketchup. Black pepper continues to get hotter, so, we use red pepper, which holds its heat steady and paprika for color. Otherwise, we are on the same page!!
Thank you so much for your fantastic rating! I’ll definitely have to try your spin on it, that sounds great! You should check out my Air Fryer Chicken Wing recipe, it goes really well with the sauce. Let me know if you try it!
Carl J Craig
I have tried other bbq sauces, they had no flavor. After I let the sauce sit for 4 days best I ever tasted
Thank you Carl!
I’m so glad you like the recipe.
Have a great day,