Our last Daily South BBQ installment looked at the origin and spread of South Carolina-style mustard-based barbecue sauce. Now let's take a look at what's inside those bright yellow bottles.

Most recipe writers seem wedded to the principle of never using six ingredients when a mere 24 will do, and they can't resist the urge to fancy up barbecue sauce by adding an array of exotic spices and bottled condiments and all sorts of "improvements." But, despite the reluctance of tight-lipped proprietors to share their "secret recipes," the yellow sauces you find at most South Carolina barbecue restaurants are fairly simple preparations. Some add butter or margarine for texture and perhaps a unique spice or two, but the real difference from one version to the next lies mainly in the proportion of mustard, vinegar, and sugar that goes into the pot.

This basic recipe strikes a nice balance between tanginess and sweetness and is a foundational version .

Basic Carolina-Style Mustard-Based Barbecue Sauce


Makes 1 cup of finished sauce

1 cup prepared yellow mustard 1/4 cup light brown sugar 1/4 cup honey 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar Dash of red cayenne pepper Black pepper to taste

Combine mustard, brown sugar, honey, and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring well to blend. Cook just long enough for the honey and brown sugar to dissolve and the mixture to begin to bubble. Stir in cayenne and black pepper, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into a bottle or plastic container and refrigerate before using.

And If You Need to Get Fancy . . .

This standard base of mustard, sugar, and vinegar offers a nice foundation for all sorts of more elaborate variations. For a little more jazzed-up version, check out this video.