I first discovered this Carolina mustard BBQ sauce at a friend’s BBQ and fell in love with it. Here, I’ve tried to recreate it so I can’t have it on demand instead of searching UK supermarkets for a sauce in a current market that only appreciates the dark brown tomato-based version of BBQ sauce.
What is Caroline Mustard BBQ Sauce?
BBQ sauce is ubiquitous in American BBQ traditions, and everyone seems to think they know what BBQ sauce is. It’s dark brown, smoky and made with tomatoes and molasses. Yet, every state has its own variation. This different, almost unique sauce comes from South Carolina, hence the name Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, or to give it its proper name: Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce.
Carolina Mustard BBQ sauce differs from most American BBQ sauces as it’s made from sweet American-style yellow mustard. While most BBQ sauces use tomatoes for acidity, Carolina-style BBQ sauces use vinegar to give the sauce its trademark tang. Some recipes call for additional hot sauce for added heat, but it’s entirely optional. I use a BBQ spice rub to marinate my meat, such as these pork chops, which gives the sauce added heat from cayenne.
This sauce is perfect for brushing on pork chops as they grill, is a popular condiment for pulled pork, and works well with chicken like everything else. Not only is it flexible, delicious, tangy, and smooth, but it’s also quick and easy to make. It has few ingredients, most of which appear in a well-stocked pantry or store cupboard.
5 Ingredients for Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce
American Style Mustard – Yellow Mustard is mild and sweet, which helps balance the tanginess of this BBQ sauce. It’s also the ingredient that gives the sauce its distinct yellow colour.
Tomato Ketchup – While this Carolina mustard BBQ sauce isn’t tomato-based, tomato ketchup helps give the sauce the perfect mix of sweet and sour balance. It’s also crucial in turning the sauce into a sticky glaze.
Apple Cider Vinegar – I find apple cider vinegar one of the least intense. At the same time, it also has a distinct fruity flavour, which works well for a recipe like this.
Brown Sugar – For sweetness, I prefer brown sugar, but honey and mustard are ubiquitous. Some recipes call for a combination of honey and brown sugar, but I like the caramel flavour of brown sugar. Personally, honey’s use only serves to keep the sauce yellow in colour. For the same reasons, I prefer light brown sugar, which is more golden than dark brown sugar. However, either sweetener can be used depending on your preference and availability.
Worcestershire Sauce – This fish-containing condiment works here similarly to salt. Some recipes may call for soy sauce or tamari sauce, a gluten-free Japanese sauce. If I were to make this recipe for a vegetarian, I’d omit Worcestershire sauce and use more salt. Or I’d use soy sauce or tamari, although this has a distinct flavour.
Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
- 150 g American Style Mustard
- 2 Tbsp Ketchup
- 75 ml Apple Cider Vinegar
- 75 g Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ Tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
- Place all the ingredients in a small pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is thick and combined.
- Pour into a heatproof container and allow to cool.
- Leave the sauce to stand, preferably overnight, to let the flavours infuse.