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.

South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

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.



  • 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


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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Showing 4 of 34 Comments

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.
    Patty Martins


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