Piedmont Barbecue Sauce

Piedmont Barbecue Sauce

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 18 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
43 Calories
0g Fat
9g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 43
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 588mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 107mg 2%
*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 is a classic Carolina-style barbecue sauce from the Piedmont or Lexington area of western North Carolina. It is typically served at the table to go on smoked pulled pork or added to pulled pork sandwiches that are topped with slaw.

This thin, vinegar-based sauce has tons of flavor yet lets the delicious pork essence come through. You can also use this sauce with pulled chicken. If you are visiting western North Carolina, you may also find this sauce used in red slaw, which is made by substituting this barbecue sauce for mayonnaise. Piedmont barbecue sauce is also called Lexington dip.

The Lexington style is to use only the pork shoulder when making smoked pulled pork. This is believed to be due to the influence of German street stand entrepreneurs in Lexington during World War I. Shoulder was easier to sell from a stand, as opposed to whole-hog barbecue. It also mimics German pork shoulder with a sweet and sour vinegar sauce. You can vary the sauce in making it sweeter or spicier to your taste.


  • 1 1/2 cups (360 milliliters) cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) ketchup

  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) water

  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) sugar

  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 milliliters) red pepper flakes

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Piedmont Barbecue Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Remove sauce from heat and let cool completely (about 30 minutes) before using. To give the flavors a chance to really combine, make the sauce a day ahead of time. Store the sauce in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week after preparation.

    Piedmont Barbecue Sauce in a container

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

A typical Piedmont barbecue meal would include pulled pork shoulder, red slaw, and hushpuppies. This is a unique pairing because otherwise you only see hushpuppies served with fried fish.

The Difference in Carolina Barbecue Sauces

The Piedmont style varies from other Carolina styles in important ways. Eastern North Carolina is home to vinegar barbecue sauce that has no ketchup or sugar. When Heinz ketchup debuted in the late 1800s, cooks in the western region began adding it and a little sugar to the vinegar-based barbecue sauce. However, it is not tomato-heavy, it just has little bit of tomato in a sauce that is still primarily vinegar-based. Meanwhile, South Carolina makes a mustard-based barbecue sauce.

Bottled generic barbecue sauce tends to follow the Kansas City sauce tradition. It is thick and sweet compared with the thinner consistency of the Piedmont style. Heinz makes a specialty Tangy Vinegar Carolina Style BBQ Sauce the Piedmont way. But since it's so simple to whip up your own and spice it just the way you like, you won't need to buy it in the store or online.

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