South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce


Not all barbecue sauces are red. Enjoy this tangy South Carolina barbecue sauce made with yellow mustard, onions, vinegar, sugar, and cayenne.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Like most barbecue sauces, South Carolina BBQ sauce 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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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

15 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Melissa

    We’ve had a lot of success with this recipe, using it on pork and poultry. My husband asked me to make this sauce and put it over a ham before baking it. I figured it couldn’t hurt. It was amazing!! I don’t know if there is anything this sauce wouldn’t work on!

  2. Pat E.

    Marvelous! But how can you get such a bright yellow color using Brown sugar? When I made it, it was brownish, not really bad but not as gorgeous as on your picture.

  3. barbara nascimben

    Made this and fell in LOVE!!


  4. 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!


  5. 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.

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