Carolina Gold barbecue sauce is the famously tangy honey mustard barbecue sauce from the Midlands of South Carolina. Make it in 10 minutes!
Carolina Gold barbecue sauce is made with mustard, vinegar, and spices, sweetened with honey, brown sugar, and/or molasses. It has a distinctive sweet tangy flavor that’s completely different from the tomato-based sauces found in other regions of the United States, and I guarantee it will knock your socks off! (That brilliant gold color is thanks to a base of yellow mustard.) If you love honey mustard sauce you’re going to love Carolina Gold!
did you know?
The origins of Carolina Gold BBQ sauce can be traced back to German and French settlers who brought their culinary traditions (and love of mustard) to the original vinegar and pepper based sauce that slaves were using on their roasted meats. The combination developed into the distinct barbecue traditions in the Midlands of South Carolina, from Columbia to Charleston.
ingredients for Carolina Gold barbecue sauce
- yellow mustard
- yes, you absolutely need yellow mustard, it’s what makes the glowing gold color of this sauce. Brown or whole grain mustards will not work in this recipe.
- apple cider vinegar
- apple cider vinegar is the traditional vinegar used in all types of Carolina bbq sauce. It’s got the perfect twang with a hint of sweet apple.
- brown sugar, honey, and molasses
- this trio of sweeteners balances out the intensity of the mustard and the tartness of the vinegar. Adjust it to your liking, we all taste things differently and what’s right for me might not be right for you. The molasses is often left out of modern recipes and I think this is a big mistake. It adds incredible richness and depth of flavor to the sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce
- this fermented condiment made with vinegar, molasses, anchovies, tamarind, garlic, onions, and various spices adds umami and complexity to the recipe.
- Tabasco sauce
- add a little, or a lot.
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper
how to use your Carolina Gold bbq sauce
The most common way to use this distinctive sauce is to brush or baste grilled or smoked pork ribs, pulled pork, or chicken during the cooking process, and then to add extra to the meat for serving. But there are lots of other delicious uses!
- Burgers and Brats: Brush the sauce on burgers during the last few minutes of cooking to add a flavorful glaze. Use as a condiment for hot dogs, grilled sausage, and brats.
- Chicken Wings: Try this golden sauce out on your next batch of chicken wings.
- Dipping Sauce: Carolina Gold BBQ sauce can be served as a dipping sauce alongside grilled steak, fried chicken, or even as a condiment for fries and onion rings. Don’t forget cheese curds!
- Sandwiches and Wraps: Use Carolina Gold BBQ sauce as a condiment for sandwiches and wraps. It works particularly well with pulled pork or turkey sandwiches.
- Salad Dressing: Create a unique salad dressing by combining Carolina Gold BBQ sauce with olive oil, vinegar (such as apple cider vinegar), a touch of honey or sugar, and your preferred seasonings.
- Glaze for Roasting: Brush Carolina Gold BBQ sauce on roasted meats, such as chicken, turkey, or ham, during the last few minutes of cooking.
- Marinade: Marinate your chosen meat with the sauce for a few hours or overnight to infuse it with the tangy flavors.
- Slather it on Corn: Use a clean basing brush to add some zip to your corn on the cob.
- Make Potato Salad: Add the sauce to mayonnaise for a Carolina Gold Barbecue Potato Salad!
Carolina Gold FAQs
Q: Is Carolina Gold barbecue sauce spicy? A: Carolina Gold barbecue sauce is mild, without any pronounced heat. Yellow mustard has a strong kick, but is not hot. Some variations include hot sauce or cayenne pepper to add heat.
Q: Can I make Carolina barbecue sauce without sugar? A: Yes, instead of using brown sugar, you can use more honey, maple syrup, or a sugar substitute that fits your dietary restrictions.
Q: Can I use other types of mustard? A: No, this sauce requires yellow mustard which is a type of mustard that is milder and less pungent than other types. Look for French’s, Heinz, Gulden’s and Boar’s Head brands, for example.
Q: Can I purchase Carolina Gold barbecue sauce? A: Yes, there are lots of commercially available Carolina Gold barbecue sauces on the market. FYI, I taste tested my homemade version against several commercial brands and the homemade came out on top every time.
Q: What meats pair well with Carolina Gold barbecue sauce? A: Carolina Gold barbecue sauce is particularly delicious with pork. Brush it on grilled or smoked pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, or even use it as a marinade for pork chops.
Q: Can I adjust the sweetness or tanginess of Carolina Gold barbecue sauce? A: Absolutely! Adjusting the sweetness or tanginess of Carolina Gold barbecue sauce is simple. Add more sugar or honey to make it sweeter, or increase the amount of vinegar for a tangier flavor. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the perfect balance for your taste preferences. You can adjust your sauce as it’s simmering on the stove.
Q: How long can I store homemade Carolina Gold barbecue sauce? A: Homemade Carolina Gold barbecue sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Make sure to check for any signs of spoilage before using it.
Q: Can I freeze Carolina Gold? A: Yes! Let it cool completely, first. Then portion it out, based on your needs, in small airtight containers or freezer-safe bags. Leave some headspace in the containers or bags to allow for expansion during freezing. Use within 2-3 months.
Carolina Gold Barbecue Sauce
- Put all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk to combine.
- Heat to a simmer, stirring often, then turn down the heat and gently bubble for about 5 minutes. Stir often so the thick sauce doesn't scorch.
- While the sauce is cooking give it a taste and feel free to adjust any of your ingredients. It is a tangy sauce, so if it's a bit too tangy for you, add a bit more honey or brown sugar. If you'd like more heat, add more hot sauce, etc.
- Let the sauce cool completely and then pop it into a jar or other airtight container and refrigerate until needed.
- Your homemade Carolina Gold bbq sauce will last up to a month in the refrigerator, but always use your best judgment to determine if the sauce is still safe to consume. When in doubt, it's better to err on the side of caution and discard the sauce. You can freeze for longer storage.