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Vinegar BBQ Sauce (North Carolina Style)

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This is the most delicious condiment when it comes to pulled pork! Easy to make, this vinegar BBQ sauce is tangy and sweet. Originating in North Carolina, vinegar-based bbq sauce is a delicious addition to any bbq table.

Vinegar BBQ sauce on a spoon.

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Full Recipe Ingredients/Instructions are available in the 
recipe card at the bottom of the post. 
You can find important tips/tricks in the
blog post.

If you love pulled pork, then this North Carolina-style BBQ sauce is a must-have! Sweet and tangy, it’s a delicious way to add flavor to every bite and it’s so crazy easy to make it from scratch.

In North Carolina, BBQ is a big deal and you’ll find many different flavor profiles along the state. Vinegar-based BBQ sauce originated in Eastern North Carolina. Traditional vinegar-based BBQ sauce is mainly made with vinegar and spices like cayenne pepper, but no tomato-based products or sugar like other BBQs.

Western BBQ sauce is known to have ketchup and brown sugar added to the vinegar base. I happen to love the complex flavor ketchup and brown sugar give this sauce. I may also be biased as I’ve lived in western, NC for over a decade. However, you can’t go wrong with either type of sauce.

Be sure to try my Jerk BBQ Sauce and Homemade BBQ Sauce too!

How to make vinegar BBQ sauce

  • Gather your ingredients.
Ingredients to make the recipe.
  • Add ingredients in a medium-sized pot and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
The ingredients for the BBQ sauce in a pot.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Serve and enjoy.
Vinegar BBQ sauce in a glass jar.

Can you make it ahead of time?

This vinegar BBQ sauce is actually best made at least a day ahead of time, and if you can, 3 to 4 days ahead of time. It can be used right away, but allowing it to sit will let the flavors develop further.

How do you store it?

Once made, let your sauce cool before transferring it to a sealable bottle or jar. It will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. It’s best not to freeze and defrost it. The sauce can be used straight out of the fridge, or you can reheat it gently on the stovetop if you prefer.

Is it spicy?

This North Carolina-style BBQ sauce does have a bit of a kick to it thanks to the red pepper flakes, but it’s not an overwhelming level of spice. If you prefer it spicier, you can add in a pinch of cayenne or add in some hot sauce. If you don’t like spice, reduce the amount of red pepper flakes or don’t use it.

Serving Suggestions

This is delicious when poured onto cooked pulled pork and then served in a bun. You could also pour it over some grilled chicken pieces. Serve it alongside your favorite sides like:

BBQ sauce in a glass jar.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Simmer the sauce, but don’t boil it.
  • If making ahead of time, let the sauce cool completely before storing.
  • The spices will settle to the bottom as it sits. You should shake it up every time you use it.

More Sauce Recipes

Vinegar BBQ Sauce (North Carolina Style)

This is the most delicious condiment when it comes to pulled pork! Easy to make, this vinegar BBQ sauce is tangy and sweet, and the only way you'll eat your pulled pork when in North Carolina.
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Keyword BBQ sauce with vinegar, North Carolina BBQ sauce, tangy homemade bbq sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 3 cups
Calories 157kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Add ingredients in a medium-sized pot and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Notes

  • Simmer the sauce, but don’t boil it.
  • If making ahead of time, let the sauce cool completely before storing.
  • The spices will settle to the bottom as it sits. You should shake it up every time you use it.

Nutrition

Calories: 157kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1588mg | Potassium: 328mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 1000IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 1mg
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