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Eastern Carolina BBQ Sauce (Vinegar Based)

This authentic Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce is famous for mopping and dressing whole hog chopped barbeque. It’s a must for smoked pulled pork butt as well. Vinegar based Carolina BBQ sauce is a tangy, spicy no-cook apple cider vinegar sauce. This sauce packs a vinegary kick with heat from the spices. And no. It absolutely does not have tomatoes in it!

A jar of vinegar BBQ sauce with pulled pork.

Oh man, do we love our BBQ! We love making and trying many different types of barbeque. Every region has perfected its way of making it and has come up with its own style of sauce to go with the meat. It’s a great way to get to know people and learn about other cultures. It also tends to highlight regional ingredients.

Eastern Carolina Barbeque Sauce

We’re North Carolinians, born and bred. Although Taylor and I are from the Western part of the state, we have friends and family across NC. We’ve spent plenty of time in the Piedmont and Eastern parts of North Carolina.

This particular vinegar sauce is East Carolina Vinegar based barbeque sauce. This sauce is used for mopping and dressing whole hog chopped BBQ. It’s also perfect for any homemade pulled pork. 

Y’all. Please don’t put ketchup in your Carolina vinegar sauce! I’ve seen a lot of recipes made that way. But I’m telling ya, that ain’t right! Don’t cook it either. This stuff is nice and tangy to cut through fatty meat like smoked pork.

If you’re looking for a sweeter ketchup or tomato-based sauce, we make that in western NC! It’s a totally different thing. And, if you’re looking for South Carolina Gold Mustard BBQ Sauce, I’ve got that covered too.

Pure and simple. No cooking. No tomato. You can adjust the spices in this vinegar sauce to your liking. 

Eastern Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce.


  • Apple Cider Vinegar is the base of a good Carolina vinegar sauce. Do not substitute other kinds of vinegar. 
  • Spices. Red pepper flakes, cayenne, salt, and pepper season the vinegar. 
  • Hot Sauce. Use your favorite Louisiana-style hot sauce to add extra heat and depth.
  • Brown Sugar. Just a touch of brown sugar helps balance this vinegar sauce. This sauce is not sweet. If you’re looking for something sweet, move on.
Cider vinegar, hot sauce, brown sugar, pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and cayenne on a butcher block.

How to make Eastern North Carolina Style Vinegar BBQ Sauce

Shaking NC vinegar sauce in a mason jar.

Add everything to the jar and shake it good. It gets better as it sits. Don’t refrigerate it.

How to serve Eastern NC vinegar BBQ sauce

Use it as a mopping sauce for smoking pork. If you’re making whole hog BBQ, you can triple this recipe. Heck, make a gallon of it!

Use it as a finishing sauce for chopped pork BBQ, smoked pulled pork, or pork shoulder/butt.

Eastern NC style vinegar BBQ sauce in a jar.

Related Recipes

Do you have a favorite style of BBQ? Is it from the place you call home or something you’ve learned to love? Let me know in the comments below!


Carolina Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce

Eastern North Carolina style vinegar based BBQ sauce in a jar.

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Authentic Eastern NC vinegar based BBQ sauce famous for mopping and saucing whole hog barbeque and chopped pork. Easy, no-cook vinegar sauce.

  • Author: Mandi
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Shake
  • Cuisine: Southern


Units Scale
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Add all ingredients to a mason jar, put the lid on, and shake it good. Let it sit for at least 1 hour. It gets better as it sits. Store at room temperature.


Adjust the red pepper flakes and cayenne to make it more or less spicy to your taste.


  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 8
  • Sugar: 0.3 g
  • Sodium: 103 mg
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6 g
  • Fiber: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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