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

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Yellow BBQ Sauce?

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.

Mustard BBQ Sauce on brush

Matures As It Cooks

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

21 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Rick

    I make this stuff all the time. Great recipe! It would taste good on road gravel!


  2. Danielle

    I absolutely love a good mustard/vinegar sauce and this is by far the best recipe that is out there (trust me I’ve tried probably 20 or more myself.) I have added a couple of spices and other goodies to claim it as my own recipe. Without fail, everyone who tries my bbq sauce loves it.I’m a self taught cook who enjoys learning from amazing chefs and other great recipes to teach myself how to be a home chef. My dream is to be a Personal Chef/Caterer someday; so bring on the knowledge and inspiration.


  3. akshay shetty

    Hello Hank, the dry mustard you mentioned in the recipe is yellow colored one or brown colored one? looking forward for your reply.

    Show Replies (1)

    This is an interesting twist on a SC mustard-based BBQ sauce, but I wouldn’t call it authentic, which doesn’t mean it’s bad, mind you, just not what you would find in SC. I have tasted a lot of mustard sauces having lived in SC my whole life and writing a blog dedicated to SC BBQ. I have never seen a “chunky” version nor have I seen another recipe that includes onion. The bay leaf is also an unusual addition. Like I said…interesting, but worth the small effort it takes to mix up. Well done!

  5. 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!

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