Barbecue Sauce Basics–Lexington Dip

by Darrin on June 5, 2014

Lexington Dip

If I could only use one type of barbecue sauce the rest of my life, I would choose Piedmont Dip without hesitation.

While East Carolina Sauce may be the original, I think it gets far better with the addition of just one ingredient.

You’ve still got the basic foundation of hot peppers immersed in sour vinegar, but the addition of tomatoes adds sweetness to balance it out, without becoming too overwhelming on its own.

Serving Piedmont Dip at a cookout will immediately make you stand out from the rest of the masses, without alienating them with a sauce that’s too different from what they are used to.

And it’s a perfect addition to the ribs and pulled pork I’m making with the Whole Hog Project!


The further you go West in the Carolinas, the more you are going to start finding tomatoes in your barbecue sauce. (At least, that’s what I’ve read. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of doing a barbecue road trip of the Carolinas!)

Everyone’s favorite vegetable-that’s-actually-a-fruit was likely a later addition to the standard East Carolina Sauce, but once people tasted the sweeter concoction, they didn’t look back.

Now, you’ve got three choices of tomato products to put in your barbecue sauce:

  1. Ketchup
  2. Tomato sauce
  3. Tomato paste

As a general rule, ketchup is used in the north, tomato sauce in the middle, and tomato paste in the south. So, the further south you go, the thicker the Piedmont Dip you’re likely to find.

I’d suggest you try tomato sauce first. If you decide you want something thicker or thinner, use tomato paste or ketchup next time.

The Ingredients

Lexington Dip Ingredients

At its heart, Piedmont Dip is simply East Carolina Sauce with tomatoes added.

As such, you’ll simply need to add a tomato product of your choice to the classic combination of apple cider vinegar, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce / 2 Tablespoons ketchup / 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

The Recipe

  1. Into a bowl (or squeeze bottle), add:
    • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
    • 1 T crushed red pepper
    • 1 t black pepper
  2. Shake and serve!

This recipe can be scaled up or down as needed, and you’ve got plenty of flexibility with the ratio of these ingredients.

Have fun with it, and don’t say I didn’t warn you how good it was!

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