South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Please welcome Simply Recipes contributor Hank Shaw who is doing a series here on barbecue sauces. If you love mustard, you’ll love this sauce! ~Elise

Not all barbecue sauces are red. In fact, one of my favorites comes from South Carolina, and is a bright yellow, mustard-based sauce that is every bit as delicious as a vinegar or tomato-based sauce. Yes, I know such things are blasphemy in the Barbecue Belt, where your local style of BBQ is the only true one. Fortunately, I am from New Jersey, where we don’t really have an indigenous barbecue. That leaves me free to enjoy them all.

This sauce can be as simple or as complex as you want. It must have yellow mustard, vinegar, sugar and onions. Everything else is icing. This version goes with brown sugar and cider vinegar, as well as some dry mustard and cayenne for kick. I’ve also fancied up this sauce for an elegant sauce for barbecued jackrabbit.

Like most barbecue sauces, this one matures as it cooks. You will want it to cook at least 30 minutes, but if you are holding it for hours, you might need to add a little more mustard and water to keep it pourable.

What to put this on? Really anything. Like Emeril Lagasse says, you could put this sauce on a bumper and it’d taste good. I typically will put it on pulled pork, country pork ribs, regular pork ribs, pork belly – see a trend here? – but I’ll also use it on barbecued chicken or turkey, and I bet it might even be good on a big piece of swordfish, sturgeon or catfish.

South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: About 2 cups.

Use this sauce toward the end of barbecuing meat because the sugar will caramelize fast, then burn. So leave it until the last 45 minutes or so, and paint it on in coats, letting each coat cook into the meat a bit before adding the next one.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard (the kind you get at the ballpark)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard (like Coleman’s)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste

Method

1 Heat the butter over medium heat until it's frothy, then add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Do not let the onions brown.

2 Add everything else, stir well and simmer slowly for 30 minutes or more.

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32 Comments

  1. James King

    As a South Carolina native, we’re very proud of the mustard-based BBQ sauce. A West Columbia restaurant called Piggie Park BBQ run by Maurice Bessinger was the first place where I had a mustard-based sauce.

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. jonathan

    Flashback….Summer ’74….transplanted father (Charleston, SC) trying to convince his pre-teen son to eat BBQ with “yellow” sauce.

    He did try it, and he never looked back.

    Ahhh…sweet memories of Bessinger’s…stop me.

  3. Lee

    My husband is from South Carolina. I am from Texas. I still have a hard time calling anything yellow “barbeque”, but I will admit that it’s great. A pulled pork sandwich, slaw, hushpuppies and hash over rice… Mmmmmmmmmm…

  4. Aqui na Cozinha

    Elise never used mustard sauce on the barbecue, I found a good option for a change. Here in Brazil we usually make a sauce for the barbecue is the sauce vinaigrette, delicious.
    I’m using Google translator.
    Beijos
    Patty Martins

    @aquinacozinha

  5. kim

    This can also be found in North FL and GA. I love mustard based BBQ sauce as well as the spicy vinegar based sauce in NC where I live now.

  6. Katrina

    This is such an interesting and unique recipe. I’m intrigued!

  7. Val from PA

    You’re right – not all barbecue sauces are red!! In fact, just a few weeks ago I came across some recipes for White Barbecue Sauce – a mayo based sauce that appears to have originated in Northern Alabama. Being that I’m from central Alabama, I was surprised that I, nor my family who still lives there, have never heard of it. Anyway, I’m gonna give it a try sometime… Maybe you might want to check it out for your series on BBQ sauces…

    Your recipe for the South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce looks delicious! I’ll be giving that one a try as well!! I live in the Philly suburbs, so I, like you, can enjoy whatever kind of BBQ I want to!

    I just learned about that white BBQ, too! You can bet I will be making it… ~Hank

  8. Nick (Macheesmo)

    Wow Hank. You’re really rocking my world these days. I was just thinking about how I don’t really have a solid mustard BBQ sauce which is funny because it’s my favorite.

    Ketchup based never really do it for me. Vinegar is pretty solid but sometimes mustard is what I want!

  9. Matt

    Never had mustard based bbq sauce until I moved to Florida, now I’m turned off to any bbq place unless I see it on the table. There’s just nothing at all like it *drool*

  10. Jamie Z

    Frankly, the only BAD part of moving away from SC was leaving behind mustard-based BBQ sauce. BBQ just isn’t the same without it. It was a good day when I realized I could make my own (easily). thanks for this version. I’ll have to give it a try.

  11. Debbie

    I had this at a bbq hosted by the National Wild Turkey Federation in SC. Of course, the mustard bbq sauce graced a big tray of shredded turkey, and it was fabulous!!!

    That sauce on wild turkey? Ooooh yeahhh… Me likey! Me likey a lot! ~Hank

  12. Gail

    Thank you for this. I tried this at a bbq place on the drive from Ft Lauderdale to Key West. Yummy. The waiter told me it was South Carolina bbq sauce. Didn’t think I’d ever get to try it again after coming back to California.

  13. Liza (Jersey Cook)

    I am from New Jersey too! I actually made a similar mustard-based sauce and put it all over some pulled pork sliders: http://jerseycook.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/bbq-pulled-pork-sliders-from-a-yankee-recipe/

    My sauce used a bunch of spices and they really added to the complexity of the flavor. I must admit, I like the mustard-based BBQ sauces much more than ones that have tomato.

    Yours is such a gorgeous yellow color!

  14. John Mill

    Wow! I just made this for dinner tonight, and it is so refreshing after all of the red BBQ sauces I normally make.

  15. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I’ve never seen mustard barbecue sauce before, but I must try it at the earliest possible opportunity. I’ve made my own mustard in the past and it’s quite fun to make.

  16. mary b

    Thanks so much for this recipe. Just the other night I was trying to dream up something for grilled pork that had mustard on it for my husband (who does not care for traditional BBQ sauce).

  17. Tina

    I can’t believe I’ve never had yellow barbecue sauce before! Not even while traveling in South Carolina. Guess I’m going to have to frequent more barbecue joints down there! I’ve been craving ribs, and I think this is going to be the sauce for my next batch.

    By the way Hank, as a transplanted Jersey girl, the phrase “Fortunately, I’m from New Jersey” made me chuckle; here in Pennsylvania, you get really odd looks if you don’t display the appropriate degree of embarrassment at being from Jersey.

    You know, I “own” my Jerseyness. Keeps me warm at night. ;-) ~Hank

  18. Lori

    I had been looking for a mustard bbq recipe — I had one years ago but lost it. This one is very good and so easy! I used molasses instead of brown sugar and it came out great.

  19. Jamie

    I made your mustard-based sauce after a recent trip to Myrtle Beach, where we enjoy bbque at Maurice’s on the way down and back…my husband said your sauce was just as great and with a little kick! Thanks for the recipe:)

    That’s a rare compliment! I know how much people love Maurice’s – I’ve eaten there a couple times, and it is good bbq! ~Hank

  20. Lester

    I love this sauce! I used on a Bacon Explosion this weekend to tremendous response. I made pork ribs the next day with the leftover sauce. Delicious!

  21. Ally

    I live in the Barbecue Belt and I too enjoy all types of sauces. In North Alabama where I am from, cooks basted their pork shoulder or chicken with a vinegar-based hot sauce. If one went to a barbecue restaurant, this was what was on the table as well, along with a mayo-based white sauce for the chicken. Back in the 90s many establishments began adding a tomato-based thick sauce to their tables. It is still rare to find a place in N. AL. which uses the tomato sauce as a base or glaze, but lots of us love it on the side. I enjoy mustard-based sauce and look forward to trying this out.

  22. Marshall Senk

    Made this for a bbq last weekend along with 2 other homemade sauces (root beer from epicurious and Michael Symon’s with coffee) and this was the only one to disappear. Guests were intrigued by the color and blown away by the flavor. Also please tell your father that his fish stew is one of our family favorites.

  23. Tre

    Absolutely wonderful sauce. I made this about a week ago and the entire family loved it! This is definitely a winner!

  24. Jenna

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I tried it and it is wonderful. Since we boycott Maurice’s in SC, I haven’t had a decent mustard sauce in years. This one hits the spot.

  25. Mary C.

    I made this last night for grilled chicken and it is now my new favorite bbq sauce!!!!!! Everyone loved it, mostly my 8 y/o daughter :)
    Thanks and I love your blog and recipes (I’ve made a bunch!!!!)

  26. Colleen S

    Growing up in Charleston, SC, Piggy Park, aka Bessinger’s, was the place to be for pulled pork bbq and their onion rings (still is!). That’s all we knew growing up and that was just fine by us. I was thrilled to find this recipe and now won’t have to have my brother ship it to me! I have some pulled pork just waiting for this sauce! Thanks so much!

  27. Elita

    Hi, I’m planning on making this tonight, but the grocery store didn’t have dry mustard. I do have mustard seeds at home, though, can I just grind them up? Or just omit the dry mustard? Thanks!

    Yep. Grind ‘em up fine and you will be in business… ~Hank

  28. Ruben

    I love Carolina BBQ!! Especially the mustard sauce… found a great carolina bbq at the WalMart …. Cattlemen’s Tangy Carolina Gold and it’s sooo delicious. I just mixed it in with the pulled pork and also into the slaw. And am a fan of Piggie Park’s too.

  29. LizAnn

    Yay! Yay!! and Yay!!! I’ve been buying Maurice’s on and off (by the case) since I moved from SC to Colorado 25 years ago. I share it out with other SC transplants. I just made your sauce 5 minutes ago with inexpensive ingredients that are always in my kitchen. My mouth is watering already in anticipation of tonight’s ribs. OH baby!

  30. June

    Back in the early 70′s I moved to Charleston. I was introduced to ROBERT’S BBQ on the corner of River’s Ave and Remount Rd. Best BBQ in the world. Recently I discovered Little Pigs @ Myrtle Beach and now this is the best in the world since I no longer live in Charleston.

  31. KariVery

    I ran out of cider vinegar so I used Balsamic vinegar and it was really good too! The color is not nearly as pretty, but it tasted wonderful.

  32. Jenni

    I have to say that you are my fave person right now. we recently moved to ky from sc and i’ve already run out of my stash of maurices bbq sauce. i appreciate you posting this great recipe(hubby thanks you for stopping my whining).i added another tsp of cayenne(if its not spicy its not worth eating in my book) to the recipe and now im in pulled pork heaven. thanks again!

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