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What Is Carolina BBQ Sauce?

Have you discovered or been introduced to Carolina BBQ sauce? Are you wondering how it differs from your average bottle of barbecue sauce? Well, you’ll be glad you stopped by. Today, I am going to be sharing with you all you need to know about this interesting variation!

So, what is Carolina BBQ sauce? Carolina BBQ sauce is a thick, sour, and tangy variation of barbecue sauce. It typically contains much less sugar/molasses than your average barbeque sauce used in the South and Midwest and is, therefore, less sweet. It is also commonly made from a base of mustard, compared to tomato/ketchup.

In fact, if you want to get really technical, Carolina BBQ sauce can vary depending on whether you are talking about North or South Carolina.

In the North, you are more likely to find more ketchup-based BBQ sauces that draw much more heavily on molasses.

Whereas down in South Carolina, you are much more likely to find the mustard variation or a heavier reliance on it.

Either way, you will likely find both sauces dotted around in various locations across the states.

Chances are you still have some questions; so let’s delve into them so you know exactly what to expect from this sauce!

What Is Carolina Barbecue Sauce Made Of?

Carolina Barbecue sauce is typically made of yellow mustard, sugar (typically brown/honey), vinegar, and a number of other ingredients and flavorings that differ depending on the recipe or brand.

In fact, if we take a look at a typical home recipe we can see how it differs from those offered on the market.

Home Made Carolina BBQ Sauce Ingredients

  • Yellow mustard
  • Granulated sugar/ Light brown sugar/ honey,
  • Apple Cider vinegar
  • Water
  • Mild chili powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Hot sauce

Sometimes you will even see recipes that call for unsalted butter, liquid smoke, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes ketchup.

So ultimately, recipes can vary.

But they should always never stray too far from the yellow mustard and vinegar base.

Branded Carolina BBQ Sauce Ingredients

There are a number of different branded Carolina BBQ sauces on the market.

Here are some of the most popular, and what they are made of.

Cattlemen’s Carolina Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Distilled Vinegar, Sugar, Water, #1 Grade Mustard Seed, Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Aged Cayenne Red Peppers, Salt, Apple Cider Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Natural Flavor (Including Hickory Smoke), Turmeric, Corn Syrup, Paprika, Mustard Bran, Molasses, Spices, Garlic Powder, Sodium Benzoate (to Protect Quality), Extractives of Paprika & Celery Seed.

Heinz Carolina Vinegar Style Sweet & Tangy BBQ Barbecue Sauce Ingredients

Distilled White Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Dark Brown Sugar, Cane Sugar, Water, Salt, Spices, Corn Starch, Xanthan Gum, Mustard Seed, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Natural Flavor, Natural Smoke Flavor, Turmeric.

Lillie’s Q Carolina Barbeque Sauce Ingredients

Ketchup (Red Ripe Tomatoes, Distilled Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Onion Powder, Spices, And Natural Flavoring), Cider Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Mustard (Distilled Vinegar, Water, Mustard Seed, Slat, Turmeric, Paprika, Spice, And Garlic Powder), Filtered Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor), Salt, Apple Juice Concentrate, Lime Juice Concentrate, Garlic And Onion Powder, Spices.

So as you can see, branded and bottled versions of this sauce are usually a little different – even between themselves.

What Does Carolina BBQ Taste Like?

Carolina BBQ sauce is sweet, tangy, and spicy. It is typically quite thick in consistency and has smoky notes common to all barbecue sauces.

One thing to note here is that Carolina barbeque sauces typically contain much less sugar/molasses or honey. This results in a more sour, tangier flavor.

What Does Carolina BBQ Sauce Go Well With?

Carolina sauce is most commonly consumed with meat; specifically pork (pulled pork, ribs, pork chops, shoulder), and chicken (usually grilled).

That being said, it’s a versatile sauce that can actually be consumed with so many different foods, including

  • As a dipping sauce for fries,
  • With Jacket potatoes,
  • As a condiment for meatloaf,
  • With cooked vegetables, such as cauliflower,
  • To roast root vegetables in,
  • As a spread for sandwiches,
  • As a marinade for meats,

In fact, you can even mix it in with mayonnaise to make a salad dressing.

Related Questions

What Makes Carolina BBQ Sauce Different?

The omission of as much sugar is what makes Carolina sauce different from most other barbeque sauces. As such, this condiment is generally much less sweet and is instead tangier and sourer in flavor.

Does Carolina BBQ Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated?

It is recommended that you refrigerate Carolina BBQ Sauce after opening to preserve quality, for longer. Before then, due to the inclusion of vinegar, this sauce can be stored in a cool, dry place away from natural sunlight.

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