Best Odds Pulled Pork Barbecue Sauce

Best Odds Pulled Pork Barbecue Sauce

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 7 mins
Total: 17 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
12 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 12
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 134mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 32mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This thin vinegary sauce is added to smoked pulled pork in the tradition of the eastern Carolinas. The tangy combination of apple cider vinegar and spices adds flavor and keeps the meat moist. Your family and guests will be delighted by how delicious and pure the pulled pork tastes.

This simple sauce made with vinegar, black pepper, and chile peppers is believed to be the oldest barbecue sauce style on the North American continent. In the Carolinas, barbecue means whole hogs or pork shoulders cooked over hardwood coals. This minimalist sauce cuts through the fat and allows the naturally sweet pork to shine. It would be a shame to hide that under a typical commercially produced tomato-based barbecue sauce that is thick and sweet in the Kansas City tradition.

If you are smoking pork shoulder to make pulled pork, you would work a pork rub (with similar spices but no vinegar) into the meat and then smoke it at 200 F to 225 F for five to six hours. In the Carolina tradition, the crispy skin (cracklings) are chopped up with the pulled pork for extra bursts of flavor.


  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup hot water

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Best Odds Pulled Pork Barbecue Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine water and brown sugar over medium heat, until the sugar has dissolved.

    In a medium saucepan, combine water and brown sugar

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the remaining ingredients and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.

    sauce ingredients in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it stand for 3 to 4 minutes.

    sauce in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Slowly add the sauce to pulled pork. Using tongs, gently turn the meat. The pulled pork should be lightly and evenly coated, neither dry nor soupy.

    add sauce to the pulled pork in the bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Place the pulled pork onto warmed sandwich buns and serve with coleslaw.

    Best Odds Pulled Pork Barbecue Sauce

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

The coleslaw can go on the sandwich on top of the pulled pork or be served on the side. You could also have the pulled pork by itself, rather than as a sandwich. In addition to a mayonnaise-based coleslaw, typical sides would include hush puppies and Brunswick stew (a tomato, bean, and vegetable stew). Sweet tea is the usual beverage.

If you prefer, you can use distilled white vinegar and it would be just as authentic as that is also often found in sauces served in the eastern Carolinas. Another common variation is to include some Texas Pete hot pepper sauce, which is popular in the region.

This sauce can do double duty as a mop sauce during smoking. It is best applied with a spray bottle so you don't contaminate the remaining sauce or disturb the rub on the meat. Mop sauces are used to keep the meat moist during cooking, especially when whole hogs are cooked in the open pit style.