Barbecue Sauce Basics–East Carolina Sauce

by Darrin on June 2, 2014

East Carolina Sauce

What’s barbecue without the sauce?

Sure, I’ve mentioned that dry rub is more important than sauce for great barbecue, but who says you can’t have both?

For what it’s worth, I never barbecue without the two of ’em, and I also used barbecue sauce extensively for the whole hog project.

While there’s a vast array of barbecue sauce styles out there, only one comes to most people’s minds: Kansas-City style.

I certainly have nothing against this sweet, thick sauce, but it’s worth exploring other styles if you really want to make unique barbecue sauces.

I’ll be walking you through five main types of barbecue sauce and how you can make them at home over the next few articles.

First up, let’s look at what is perhaps the oldest barbecue sauce of them all: East Carolina Sauce!

The History of Barbecue Sauce

While cultures around the world have used barbecuing as a way to prepare their food, in the United States we have created our own unique spin on it.

Few places are so synonymous with barbecue in the States as the Carolinas, and it’s here we need to go to trace barbecue sauce to its roots.

The first pitmaster who decided he wanted a little extra spice with his smoked pork created our first classic barbecue sauce by adding crushed peppers to vinegar and mixing it all together.

The vinegar adds a lot of punch to the flavor, but it also balances out the fattiness of the pork. The watery consistency of these sauces also help it to penetrate the meat rather than sitting right on the surface.

While most people might think it overly simplistic today, basic sauces of vinegar and pepper are still used widely across the Eastern part of the Carolinas.

And with all things cooking-related, the simplest things are often the tastiest.

The Ingredients

East Carolina Sauce Ingredients

The beauty of East Carolina sauce is its simplicity: hot and spicy pepper (of both the red and black variety) suspended in a solution of apple cider vinegar that will cut through the fat of the barbecue and give it extra flavor.

You can gussy it up with extra ingredients once you’ve made a few batches of the simple stuff, which only requires the following:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T crushed red pepper
  • 1 t black pepper

The Recipe

Bottled East Carolina Sauce

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

East Carolina Sauce may look simple, but it’s oh-so-tasty. Moreover, this basic recipe will lay the foundation for the other classic sauces to come.

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