Eastern North Carolina BBQ Sauce
December 6, 2007, 6:32 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

Ah…now I feel like I’ve really accomplished something. Homemade Eastern NC BBQ sauce! From my uncle’s own recipe (or one of them, at least). I knew there was a reason I went home for Thanksgiving .

To put this recipe in context for those who aren’t native to BBQ country, in the Southeast, BBQ almost strictly refers to pork (take that, Texas!). And the way it’s prepared is down right territorial. The BBQ you get in the Blue Ridge Mountains is NOT the same BBQ you’ll get on Bogue Sound. Some counties make tomato based sauces, others make vinegar based sauces. Both consider the opposers’ recipes to be blasphemous. I am firmly in the vinegar camp, by birth and by taste. “Pig pickins” are a way of life (and an all day affair), with menfolk out in the yard starting up the pit in the wee hours of the morning, tending the meat for hours, and then chopping and serving it in the early afternoon.

Of course, a pig pickin’ turns out a 100 lb pig, and unless you’re throwing a Downeast wedding, graduation, or birthday, you don’t need that much meat. For our purposes, your crockpot will do a fine job.

To make pork BBQ, put a pork shoulder in your crockpot, dry, and cook on low 6-8 hours. Drain, shred with a fork, and drench in the following sauce. Serve on a toasted bun with fresh coleslaw (in the bun on top of the meat…yes I mean that), or on a plate with baked beans, hush puppies, and potato salad.

Eastern North Carolina BBQ Sauce

1/2 quart brown cider vinegar
1 1/4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tbsp Texas Pete or Tabasco
3 tbsp black pepper
3 tbsp salt
16 oz ketchup
3 tsp dry mustard
1/2 + 1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tsp red pepper

Heat and boil until brown sugar dissolves. (You may simmer longer – it will get spicier the longer it cooks.)

I quartered the recipe, but it still makes a whole heck of a lot. Good thing it keeps in the fridge. This is great for feeding crowds – the pork is inexpensive and the sauce goes far. Perfect picnic food.

22 Comments so far
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[…] made this to balance out the vinegar of my latest batch of pork bbq.  It was actually quite good.  I’m starting to think it’s the celery (and in the case […]

Pingback by Purple Potato Salad « architheque

Hey… I’m seeing that you put Ketchup in this bbq sauce.
I’m from Eastern NC and I had never seen ANY ketchup put in our kind of bbq sauce. If you’re ever in Wilson, NC stop by Parker’s Barbecue and eat your heart out. :o)

Comment by Heather

I agree. I lived in the Newport, Morehead City area of eastern NC and we never put ketchup in our BBQ sauce. Ketchup comes from western NC.

Comment by Sandi

Like I said, the recipes are territorial. :) This is Onslow County grub – how I’ve eaten it all my life.

Comment by architheque

After reading your ingredient list I know for sure that this is going to be a good one. And Heather, Parker’s is good, my sis usually stops there on her way to GA and brings a lb or 2 of BBQ and some hush puppies. BUT, you know that no two sauces are the same, and try to get the ingredient list from Parker’s and make it at home. It won’t be the same. I don’t know of any self respectin sauce maker from Down East that will give you their recipe and not “forget” a small detail. Most can’t write down their recipe if their life depended on cause they just start makin it and put something in and say “Hmmm that’s enough” no measuring cups and no tablespoon or 1/4 tablespoon. They mix it they taste it and then they add a little more of something, -and then- when nobody’s looking they slip in the secret ingredient. But architheque has a good start. I will try the recipe ( as any BBQ connoisseur would) as is without changing it and then on the next batch i will tweak it with my own secret ingredient. And for the record the best BBQ Sauce I have ever tasted came from a gentleman in Lenoir County. He made the best sauce and he took the recipe to his grave… Even his wife tried to make after he died but it just wasn’t the same!

Comment by Jesse J

This can be a good sauce, but DO NOT call it Eastern North Carolina Sauce if you use ANY Catsup or Mustard. Those Ingredients in some combination make good sauces, but it is blasphemous to put catsup or mustard in EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA BBQ sauce…period!

Comment by Stephen Greene

I spent the first two decades of my life in Onslow County eating this sauce. I’m comfortable calling it East Carolinian.

Comment by architheque

Yes it is, I second that! Scott’s BBQ sauce from Goldsboro NC is my favorite. Hot & spicy vinegar based and no ketchup, mustard, or sugar/sweetener.

Comment by Carla

What exactly are you calling Brown cider vinegar ?? Never heard of it. Some say it’s malt vinegar ??????

Comment by mtg

yes what is brown cider vinegar

Comment by gerardo rodriguez

I am from Onslow County and can say I have never ever seen anyone put ketchup in barbecue sauce. EVER. Plenty of folks choose to add a bit or ketchup or mustard after the fact but it is never in the sauce.

Comment by Carrington Beach

How long is it safe to refrigerate?

Comment by Cecilia R Byrd

Carolina girl here and brought up on Eastern Carolina BarBQue with sweet coleslaw on top

Comment by Tana Balhoff

Eastern NC BBQ is vinegar base not ketchup base sauce!!

Comment by James K.

I grew up in Pitt County and ate tons of BBQ at restaurants, friends, pig pickins’ etc. Although the ratios differed depending on who made the sauce, they all contained 3 ingredients vinegar, sugar, and pepper flakes. I honestly never had ketchup in the sauce until I got to Raleigh, which is NOT eastern NC.

Comment by Richard Anderson

I love it! Thank you for the recipe!
I have always wanted a sauce that wasn’t sooo thick that it over powers the meat.
I just smoked my first brisket and I can’t wait
To try the sauce! Woo hoo!!

Comment by Dave Williams

When living near Morgans Corner (close to Elizabeth City, NC), I got my recipe for BBQ sauce from a local church. The recipe is one they always used for large BBQ gatherings and it contains both vinegar and ketchup. Also red pepper flakes and tabasco. Very similar to this recipe and it has been our family favorite for 40 years now.

Comment by Linda R. Ballance

Would this work on ribs??

Comment by Ricky Owings

More like Lexington BBQ sauce or dip as some call it. Several varieties of this but this one is closest to lexington bbq

Comment by Jim

Looking for a brisket mop using a large can tomato juice and pineapple juice. It is so good, but don’t remember all the ing.

Comment by carol sylvester

Looks like “western “ NC “dip” to me. It looks good too. I’m from NC and I still live there. I like it all! Eastern,Western, vinegar, tomato based, SC mustard style is killer. However there’s only one wood to use to get it just right. Hickory! It reigns supreme for pig bbq.

Comment by Frank Roberts

Thank you! I was born and raised in eastern NC and now live in Florida. I come back home several times a year and my first stop is Smithfield’s in Lumberton. I have been buying their sauce and now will make your recipe. We have pig pickins here and I invite folks to come for “Heaven on a Bun” .

Comment by Kelly Whitney

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