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10 July 2020

Get your smokers and grills ready for summer with this classic Carolina mustard bbq sauce recipe from South Carolina. It goes perfectly with pork or grilled chicken.

South Carolina has a rich and proud history in barbecue. Growing up, I only knew of tomato-based barbecue sauces. Sadly, they were all I’d ever been introduced to.

Little did I know there were so many other types of barbecue sauces out there, and a practically infinite variation of them, but each with their own unique base. This mustard-based barbecue sauce is one of them.

Mustard, you say? In barbecue sauce?

Absolutely. If you’ve never encountered a barbecue sauce recipe made with mustard, you’re in for a taste bud awakening because it is truly a revelation.

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce in a bowl

A History of Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Mustard-based bbq sauce is tied back to the Germans who populated South Carolina in the 1700s.

Germans are fond of their mustards, which accounts for its early introduction, but its overall flavor is the reason for its enduring popularity. I’ve seen many variations of this sauce, with a smattering of other ingredients included. This is the version I personally enjoy at home. It pairs ideally with pork – think ribs, pork chops, pork shoulder that’s been smoked to tender perfection.

You’ll find it all over South Carolina, though it has found its way up through North Carolina as well, and is offered along with other barbecue sauces at many BBQ restaurants. North Carolina is known more for their ketchup based bbq sauces with molasses and brown sugar and their vinegar based sauces as well, but they’ve made plenty of room for this mustard bbq sauce, which is also known as Carolina Gold Barbecue Sauce.

It’s great stuff, my friends!

It’s also incredibly easy to make. First off, you only want to use yellow mustard. No brown mustard here, my friends. You MUST go with the classic recipes. Trust them in the south. They know what they’re doing.

Toss in your ingredients and whisk away. A little bit of heating and you have a sauce ready to go. I like to make mine a day ahead to allow the flavors to mingle a bit. The choice is yours.

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce, ready for a sandwich

What Does Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Taste Like?

This mustard bbq sauce is a wonderful mix of sweet and tangy and spicy. You get a double whammy of tang from the mix of apple cider vinegar along with yellow mustard, which has a respectable level of tang on its own. You’ll find a wonderful sweetness from the brown sugar and honey, a welcomed savory taste from the seasonings, as well as enticing spicy notes from the cayenne.

If you’d like to up that overall heat factor, you can easily include extra cayenne pepper in the mix, or introduce some spicy chili flakes. If you’d prefer a no-heat version, simply omit the cayenne and focus on the other ingredients.

Let’s talk about how we make it, shall we?

South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Ingredients

  • Mustard. Use ¾ cup yellow mustard. Yellow mustard is standard and preferred, though you can use others if you’d like.
  • Sweet Factor. I use both ½ cup honey and ¼ cup brown sugar. Adjust to your own preference.
  • Vinegar. Use ½ cup apple cider vinegar, though you can use other vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has a nice sweetness and tang.
  • Ketchup. 2 tablespoons ketchup, or more to preference.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. Use 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Seasonings. I use 1 teaspoon garlic powder, a pinch or more of cayenne (usually more for me) and ½ teaspoon salt. If cayenne is too spicy, use paprika.
  • Hot Sauce. I like to add in a few dashes of hot sauce, though this is completely optional.

How to Make Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Gather Ingredients. First, add the following together in a mixing bowl: yellow mustard, honey, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and hot sauce.

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Whisk. Whisk everything together until very smooth.

Swirling my Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe

Simmer. Next, add to a small pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.

A fresh batch of Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Refrigerate. Pour into a jar and cover. Refrigerate at least one day to let the flavors mingle.

Serve. To serve, warm it up in a small pot and get eating! Or enjoy it straight out of the refrigerator! So good.

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce in a bowl and a squeeze bottle

Time to get the smokers and grills going. Here’s another barbecue sauce to add to your arsenal. Enjoy!

What to Serve with Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce is particular delicious when served with pulled pork on a bun, topped with crunchy coleslaw. It is also wonderful spooned over grilled pork chops or grilled chicken. I’ve also enjoyed it over smoked pork ribs, where the tanginess really shines.

Still, personally, there’s nothing better than smoking up a couple pork butts until they’re pull apart tender, then smothering the meat with this outstanding bbq sauce. So flavorful and infinitely enjoyable. I love to eat pulled pork.

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce being squirted onto a pulled chicken sandwich

Try Some of My Other Popular BBQ Sauce Recipes

Best Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe – Ever!

I love this sauce! Such a great recipe. So tangy, wonderfully sweet, just a touch spicy. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe
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4.93 from 26 votes

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe

Get your smokers and grills ready for summer with this classic Carolina mustard bbq sauce recipe from South Carolina. It goes perfectly with pork or grilled chicken.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Main Course, sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bbq, Buffalo sauce, mustard, spicy
Servings: 16
Calories: 58kcal


  • ¾ cup yellow mustard
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch or more of cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Dash of hot sauce


  • Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Add to a small pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool.
  • Pour into a jar and cover. Refrigerate at least one day to let the flavors mingle.
  • To serve, warm it up in a small pot and get eating!



Heat Factor: Mild, though it is nice and juicy-tart.
Makes about 1 cup of bbq sauce.


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 58kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 231mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 18IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

This recipe was updated on 7/10/20 to include new information, video and photos. It was originally published on Jun 15, 2016.