Homemade South Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce

After much pleading and prodding, Ole shares his secret sauce: Homemade South Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce. Or does he? Getting this recipe was like pulling teeth, and I’m pretty sure we have an impacted molar still hiding in there somewhere. Read on for barbecue wisdom.
Homemade South Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce via FoodforMyFamily.com

In the summer of 2003 I pulled the trigger. I was a lifelong (26 whole years) resident of Minnesota. I had a college degree, an honest job, a trendy apartment in uptown Minneapolis, but I wasn’t done learning. I wanted to get a graduate degree and had decided that I needed to move far away in order to focus on studying. I got a late start in the application process and applied to the only school I could find that hadn’t shuttered the registrar’s desk for the semester. I was accepted, and in August with my new girlfriend’s help I packed up everything I owned in a trailer and moved to Columbia, SC.

I learned quickly that South Carolina is not Minnesota. The folks moved slower, the wind never blew, and the barbecue sauce was yellow. The first two took some getting used to, but the sauce was an instant love. Columbia is situated in a very tiny region of the country that believes BBQ sauce is best made with mustard. The area is bordered to the north by the vinegar-and-pepper sauce enthusiasts and to the west by the more standard ketchup-based sauce believers. Because of this fact, this strange mustard sauce remains fairly unpopular or unknown outside of its home region.
Homemade South Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce via FoodforMyFamily.com
Mustard sauce is not something that an unwitting stranger would deliberately seek out. It isn’t attractive, per se, and it has a distinct pungent aroma to it. Plus, the very concept of mustard can be a turn-off to many people. In fact, some people have to be forced to try it. The bright yellow sauce itself is incredibly tangy, but well balanced with brown/palm sugar and a few other simple ingredients and when it’s glazed onto a well-smoked pork rib or shoulder the experience is game changing for those accustomed to the boring sweet red sauce so commonly found with babecue outside of the South. (Sorry, Kansas and, um, large portions of Texas.)
Homemade South Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce via FoodforMyFamily.com
South Carolina didn’t last long for me. By the end of the first school year I was engaged to that girlfriend who had stayed behind in MN and I had been accepted to a great program in St. Paul, so I packed up and moved back. I had a great time in South Carolina, but it’s hard to keep Minnesotans away from home for long. Whenever I’m missing the South, I just fire up the smoker and make up a batch of mustard sauce. All the flavor and a cooling Minnesota breeze.

Notes from Shaina:

  • I had to go back and forth with Ole multiple times in the last 4 years to get this recipe to come to light. Even when he had agreed, I still had at least three conversations where I called him out on leaving things out.
  • Like any good barbecue recipe, ingredients are going to make a big difference in the end product here. The type of yellow mustard you use, the apple cider vinegar of your choosing, the particular brand of hot sauce or whether you make it yourself all come into play. Keep this in mind and come up with a barbecue sauce that is all your own.
  • Here in MN, mustard barbecue is a bit prodigious. People look at it slathered on the pork as if you’ve poisoned the meat (incidentally, the meat can appear a bit green when the pink smoke ring and the bright yellow mustard sauce mix). Then they taste it, ever so gingerly, and they can’t help but ask for the recipe. To their dismay, my husband will say no. Until now.
  • While you can eat this right after you make it, the flavors improve with age. Make it at least a day ahead of time for best results.
  • You don’t make vinegar-based coleslaw to top your barbecue pork sandwich? I’m sorry. You are missing out on greatness.
  • Those baked beans can be found over on Food Fanatic today, along with a little giveaway for a Crock-Pot Connectable Entertaining Set you should probably enter to win.
  • Make extra. Trust me on this one. You won’t be sorry.
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup palm sugar packed (can substitute brown sugar)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sweat briefly, about 30 seconds. Pour in the yellow mustard, palm sugar, apple cider vinegar, and the hot sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Pulse with an immersion blender until smooth, and then season with salt and black pepper.

Serve with your favorite barbecued meats. Baste ribs with it on a medium grill flipping and continuing to baste until the ribs are hot and the sauce is caramelized. Add it to smoked shredded pork shoulder until coated with extra on the side. This will keep for up to a month in an airtight container.

Makes 8 servings.
Copyright © Food for My Family.

Homemade South Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce via FoodforMyFamily.com
This post is dedicated to all of our friends made in South Carolina (John Bolten, I’m lookin’ at you), our family still there (hi, Nate and Vanessa, Amy and Dan!), and Trudy, who can’t wait wait to head back.


  1. This looks perfect Shaina! Perfect for 4th of July. Why don’t you come visit near the 4th and we’ll make it 😉

  2. BBQ sauce is best with mustard ; )

  3. Nice! I like a man who cooks. 🙂

  4. Not really a mustard person, but this looks great!

    • You have to try it! It is so worth jumping in the pool on this one.

    • I am not a mustard fan, either, but this is SO good. I was skeptical when I first had Southern-style BBQ in South Carolina but I definitely prefer it now. Give it a try!

  5. Val in MN says:

    I LOVE following MN bloggers, and we are crazy about mustard. GOTTA try this!

  6. OK so I’m a Texan through and through but I seriously CANNOT get enough of mustard based bbq sauce – it’s SO addictive! Totally pinning and making this next week…YUM 🙂

  7. Lovely work! Would you be happy to link it in to the current Food on Friday which is about all things BBQ? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. Cheers

  8. Totally diggin Ole’s writing style. And even though I KNEW it was written by him, I had to re-read his first paragraph like five times thinking… Since when does Shaina say “pull the trigger”???

  9. Now that sounds fantastic, esp. for the 4th of JULY entertaining! Thanks, Shaina!

  10. These sound perfect and awesome fot the 4th! YUMMY!

  11. I’d try it {although I probably shouldn’t talk about it when I come home}. We move slower down here too. Maybe it’s a Southern thing? I’ve learned to appreciate it as I get older, but when I was a kid I felt like I could actually see things rusting, LOL! Great recipe!

  12. This sounds like a great mustard barbecue sauce. It is hard to leave MN indeed. I left after college and now in grad school in NY and I miss St Paul very much.

  13. Hilarious! The mustard bbq sauce was one of our first loves in our new state! Glad Ole finally “shared” the recipe for others out there 🙂

    • I keep forgetting that you made the move from NYC to SC. Hot. Muggy. Just you wait until the August heat bowls you over. I have fond (?) memories of taking a shower just to be covered head to toe in sweat from simply trying to towel off.

  14. I love that Ole didn’t want to give up this recipe completely! And I don’t think I’ve ever had mustard-based bbq sauce but as I love mustard, I think I’d probably love this.

  15. Shaina, this recipe sounds great! If I know Ole, he spent plenty of time perfecting it and getting it just right. Ah, good old memories of SC… now if only Ole could reproduce the beer at Hunter Gatherer!

  16. Yes to mustard, yes to hot sauce, yes to Ole’s reluctantly-shared recipe. I’m thinking this will be absolutely perfect alongside my Pittsburgh Primanti’s coleslaw (ALWAYS vinegar-based).

  17. Mustard-based bbq sauces are the best! This sounds heavenly! Thanks for sharing!

  18. I’ve never tried South Carolina barbecue sauce but I’ve heard about it – so happy to find this Shaina!

  19. I’m sold — trying this ASAP!!!

  20. MMM southern BBQ and vinegary sauces are so tasty!! My sister went to college down south and I always enjoyed meals out when visiting her 🙂

  21. Yum! I can’t get enough BBQ Sauce, even if it is from the wrong state ; ).

  22. Marisar says:

    The ingredients list minced onion. The directions don’t reference minced onion.

  23. As luck would have it, I just cooked up some pork roasts to use in sandwiches. I think this sauce would be a good change of pace from my usual. Thank you for sharing!

  24. I could kiss you. I’ve been waiting for this recipe. THANK YOU!!!! xo

  25. I need to make this. I’ve never had South Carolina style BBQ sauce, but it’s been on my list for ages!

  26. I am a BBQ FIEND and I love mustard! I feel like this is a match made in heaven 🙂

  27. I have never heard of Mustard BBQ sauce but you better bet I am going to get acquainted with it pronto. Looks devine!

  28. Derrick Hensley says:

    Looks like I’ve found something to prepare this saturday, thanks 😀

  29. I’ve GOT to try this……..and the slaw on my sandwich as well!
    Thanks for sharing Ole!!

  30. I love experimenting with barbecue sauces and this one looks amazing!

  31. Looks like that was 4 years well spent. I had to try really good mustard BBQ sauce before I really got it, his looks perfect.

  32. This sounds awesome. I am not a fan of mustard slavered all over beef but this mixture sounds perfect. If I make it today or tomorrow I guess it would still be good for the 4th?

    Happy 4th of July! I hope you have a great barbecue 🙂

  33. Lovely work! Would you be happy to link it in to the current Food on Friday which is all about sauces? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. There are already quite a lot of links for you to check out. Cheers

  34. elizabeth says:

    Well, I am a NATIVE Columbian! Yep, born and bred in Columbia, South Carolina. I do love my mustard sauce on a slow-cooked-over-hickoried-charcoal pulled pork, but I love the vinegar base from just an hour away too. I have never taken a liking to the tomato based sauce, but I am willing to try again. I have lived and travelled in different places, but I LOVE coming home to SC !

  35. I am so excited to make this tonight! We are a house divided….my husband is a UNC Tarheel alum and I am a USC Gamecock alum. Tonight the season starts off with these to rivals, and football won’t be the only game in the house! I’m making this recipe and Eastern NC BBQ sauce – our guests are in for a t-r-e-a-t!

  36. Let me instantly take the rss because i won’t be able to to find your current e-mail request weblink as well as e-newsletter service. Accomplish you have every? I implore you to allow for my family understand to ensure that I might subscribe. Cheers.

  37. I made 3 racks of ribs, three different ways, and the ones with this sauce disappeared before the others were even touched.

  38. I love mustard and definitely going to have to try this!

  39. Mustard-based bbq sauce can be used on much more than meat. Try it as a dipping sauce for crispy fried onion strings. Nothing better! (I miss SC!)

  40. I’m not a fan of BBQ, but this is perfect.

  41. Paul Carroll says:

    Just for the record, while east Texas, as well as most of the Gulf states, are inordinately fond of sweet slathers for BBQ sauce, the Hill Country (central Texas) and west Texas tend to eschew such. We prefer to dry rub the meat, maybe use a mop sauce, and serve a dipping sauce on the side. Vive la différence!


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