South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Tangy and sweet makes this mustard bbq sauce one of our favorites.

South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Prissy Lee Montiel
Active Time:
10 mins
Cool Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
3 ½ cups

In the South, we sure do know our barbecue. Each year, we ask our readers to help us rank the South's Best BBQ Joints, and the list is bound to elicit some fiery debate. How is one supposed to rank smoked chicken smothered in vinegary white sauce against Central Texas brisket? Our studies in Southern barbecue have proven that this revered culinary landscape is far from a monolith—each Southern region, state, and even city has its own unique expression of barbecue. And more often than not, the secret is in the sauce. We sought out to devise a South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce that pays tribute to the rich history of South Carolina and its Gullah culture.

When looking for inspiration to develop our own version of this iconic sauce, we turned to Lillie's of Charleston, a family business that gained a cult following for its mustard-based BBQ sauce. "The mild Finger Leek-en and the hot Hab Mussy versions are named in tribute to Gullah culture," writes Robert Moss. "The mustard base is their father's recipe."

You can order your very own Lillie's BBQ sauce online, or recreate this South Carolina classic at home with a little help from our Test Kitchen. Our version of South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce is super tangy, with a leading flavor of mustard that's balanced out with honey.

This 6-ingredient sauce is decidedly simple, really aiming to complement the flavor of the yellow mustard. It's slightly sweet from the brown sugar and honey, almost replicating that lip-smacking honey-mustard flavor, and just a touch spicy from the cayenne and black pepper. Apple cider vinegar brings the whole sauce together with acidity and zing. Pair your mustard-based sauce with pork or chicken.


  • 2 cups yellow mustard

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

  • ½ cup honey

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

  • A few dashes of cayenne pepper

  • Black pepper, to taste


  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring often, until sugar and honey are dissolved and mixture is just beginning to bubble, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 months.

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