Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce is a tangy, slightly sweet and mildly spicy sauce that’s ready in minutes and delicious served over any kind of pork. Enjoy this sauce on pulled pork, pork chops, pork burgers, you name it! It’s also wonderful spooned over grilled turkey burgers or grilled chicken. 

What is Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce?

Carolina Gold is a unique barbecue sauce that’s unlike any other. It’s tangy, vibrant and lusciously smooth. This vinegar and mustard-based barbecue sauce hails from South Carolina and has German roots in addition to Southern roots.

When German immigrants arrived in central South Carolina they began adding mustard to the popular vinegar-based BBQ sauce already widely used in the region. Today, it’s a hallmark sauce of central South Carolina and Georgia.

The TL;DR: this sauce is tangy, slightly sweet, and mildly spicy. 

ingredients in glass bowls arranged on a gray counter

Ingredients Needed

  • Prepared yellow mustard: this is the bright yellow stuff (French’s, Heinz, Coleman’s). Not Dijon, not whole-grain, prepared yellow mustard is what you need!
  • Apple cider vinegar: this BBQ sauce is essentially a mustard variation on the traditional vinegar-based BBQ sauces known throughout the carolinas. Apple cider vinegar is ideal for this recipe though white vinegar can also be used.
  • Honey or brown sugar: either will work! But you do need some sweetness to balance out all of the tart flavors.
  • Molasses: a splash of molasses adds depth and gives this true BBQ sauce vibes.
  • Tomato paste: tomato paste also offers depth and duance to the sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: a couple of teaspoons of Worcestershire bulk up the flavor of this sauce and give it ultra-savoriness.
  • Frank’s hot sauce (or Tabasco if you like it spicier): either hot sauce will work, but you definitely need a dash for this recipe!
  • Spices: you only need two spices for this recipe; cayenne pepper and garlic powder. If you like a spicy BBQ sauce, go a bit heavier on the cayenne. If you prefer things on the mild side, start with the amount we give (this sauce is mild as written).

How to Make Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce

Ya’ll this sauce is easy with a capital E. Combine everything in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool. Done!

How to Store Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ sauce should be stored in a glass airtight container in the refrigerator. Stored this way, BBQ sauce will last about 1 month.

yellow-orange sauce being spooned fro a glass jar

What to Serve Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce With

a quarter of a glass jar filled with yellow sauce


Is this BBQ sauce spicy?

Carolina gold barbecue sauce is a mild BBQ sauce. This recipe uses both Frank’s hot sauce and a dash of cayenne. But, here’s the thing with this sauce—and all barbecue sauces—you can make it as spicy or mild as you’d like. 

If you like things on the mild side, start by decreasing the cayenne or leaving it out altogether. Love it fiery? Use Tabasco instead of Frank’s and increase the cayenne a pinch.  

Is Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce Sweet?

It is somewhat sweet, but we would say it’s more tart and tangy than anything. If you like a really sweet BBQ sauce, you can add more sweetener to taste.

What type of mustard is best to use?

Prepared yellow mustard such as French’s, Heinz or Coleman’s is what you need.

Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce Recipe

4.84 from 12 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 1 ⅔ cups
Category Sauce
Cuisine American
Author Lauren Grant


Tangy, slightly sweet and mildly spicy, this Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce is perfect for any barbecue or grilled meat you’re making!


  • 1 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 teaspoon Frank’s hot sauce or Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder


  • Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Bring sauce to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Store BBQ sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.


MAKE IT VEGAN: use maple syrup, coconut sugar, or brown sugar in place of the honey and use liquid or coconut aminos in place of the Worcestershire sauce.


Serving: 2tablespoonsCalories: 43kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 1gSodium: 221mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 5 stars
    Wow! this sauce was so easy to whip up and it’s delicious!! We used this on pulled pork and grilled chicken this week. We will be making this regularly. thank you!

    1. Hi David! I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I’ve got to make some pulled pork—I bet it holds on to the sauce beautifully!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this sauce for chicken wings and it was incredible! I’ve been searching for a perfect gold BBQ sauce for a while and this was it. My husband and I couldn’t get enough and he’s requesting me to make more already. We were unable to find molasses at the store so I subbed about a quarter cup of dark brown sugar (started out with 2T, but adjusted for taste), which worked really well.
    Thank you for the awesome recipe!

    1. Hi Kate! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Love the tip for using brown sugar—I bet it added great flavor!

  3. Didn’t give stars yet. My question is it a finishing sauce, i.e. put it on cooked meat, or is it a put it on the bbq while the end of the bbq to thickening on the meat?
    It does sound good though

    1. Great question! It can definitely be used either way and works well both served over cooked meat or slathered onto meat towards the end of cooking. I do love when it slightly thickens on the meat during cooking, but I also love to serve it with pulled pork. I hope that helps!