Carolina Barbecue Sauce

  • Active Time 10m
  • Total Time 2h 55m
  • Rating ****

Yields about 12 cups. ( 96 servings)

This recipe produces a marinade, a "mop" (for basting the pork), and a sauce. It should have a sharp edge; if it's too sweet, add more vinegar.
This sauce is eastern North Carolina in origin. It's a thin, spicy sauce with lots of vinegar.


  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 head garlic, broken into unpeeled cloves
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 8 small dried chiles
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cans (16 ounces each) whole peeled tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 quart distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt

Companion recipe: Carolina Barbecued Pork


Combine the honey, molasses, garlic, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, chiles and bay leaves in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The garlic will darken and the mixture will be very thick and fragrant. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently to break up tomatoes. Stir in the vinegar, water and salt. The sauce should be thin. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for at least 2 hours and as long as 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Set aside half the sauce (or more, if necessary) for marinating the pork. Let the remaining sauce cool; fish out any large pieces of garlic peel. Puree the sauce in a blender or food processor; some spices will still remain whole. The sauce should be rather watery and look similar to a brothy tomato soup.

Serving Size = 2 tablespoons

Recipe reprinted by permission of <I>Fine Cooking<. All rights reserved.

RecID 1312

nutrition information per serving

12 calories; 0g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 293mg sodium; 3g carbohydrates; 0g fiber; 0g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

Sign Up for Newsletters Here

Delicious recipes, easy meal ideas and holiday inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.