BBQ Battle: (East) North and South Carolina Barbecue

BBQ Battle:  (East) North and South Carolina Barbecue


Oh, Saturday. I thought you’d never come.  Anyone else feel that way?  Anyway, enjoy it. and if you need guidance on how to do so, Joy has some stellar advice.

You guys know how much I love love love (LOVE!) barbecue. I think I’ve probably mentioned it at least a thousand times and make it a birthday favorite every year, so I’m always up for trying up a new kind.  That bring us to the Carolinas, each of which have their own very unique brand, and each very different from the sweet, sticky, saucy kind to which I’m constantly drawn.

In North Carolina, barbecue is taken very seriously, and has over the years even become a hot-button political issue.  No joke.  In NC alone, there are two very different types: Lexington and Eastern.  Lexington, or Piedmont style, is a red, ketchup-based sauce, and served with a red, mayo-less slaw.  It’s this kind that I usually think of when I think barbecue.

Eastern on the other hand, is a vinegar based sauce- no ketchup in sight, and is tangy and spicy, and served with a traditional mayo, deli-style slaw and drizzled with the remaining “mop” (the vinegar basting sauce).

South Carolina definitely gets on board with both the tomato and vinegar sauces, but then completely confuses those of us not from the Palmetto State, with a non-ketchup mustard sauce.  Yes. Mustard.  I don’t even know.  This mustard sauce is specific to South Carolina, and makes the whole shebang complete.

IMG_8585PicMonkey CollageIMG_8589

Since I’ve made a few Lexington-style barbecues in my time, I decided to mix it up today by making both the vinegar based mop and the SC mustard sauce.  I have to say, I was very skeptical, but the vinegar sauce proved to be, dare I say, just as delicious as my favorite tomato based sauce.  No, really. I am serious when I say I was fully prepared to tell you all it was merely “meh” and that I didn’t know what the fuss was over, but when I tried this pork, I have to say that, compared to other recipes I’ve made, the vinegar sauce really permeated through the whole roast, and without any extra mop to baste, this barbecue still had flavor.  Lots of it.

As for the SC mustard sauce, I can’t say that I love it. I mean, it was fine, and a strong contender for any sandwich condiment, but…it just didn’t win my heart over as barbecue.  That fight, will continue to be fought in my head between the East and the Lex.

I think the only solution is to always have all the BBQ options, all the time. 


Recipe notes:

Recipes today come only moderately adapted from Food and Taste of Home. I know, I actually followed a recipe!

As for the slaw on my sliders, I wasn’t feeling the mayo-deli style, so I grabbed some brussel sprout/kale slaw from Whole Foods. Yes, I’ve completely snob-ified my barbecue. I’m not really even a little sorry about it because it did taste good. Do as you will.

I served my SC BBQ with cornbread because all BBQ needs cornbread. Obviously.

Eastern Carolina Slow Cooker Barbecue Pork
Serves 6
Eastern Carolina vinegar based BBQ sauce
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Total Time
7 hr
Total Time
7 hr
  1. 1 boneless pork shoulder (2-3 pounds)
  2. 2 TB light brown sugar
  3. 2 tsp kosher salt
  4. 2 tsp smoked paprika
  5. 1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
  6. 1 medium onion, quartered
  7. 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  8. 4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  9. 1 TB granulated sugar
  10. 1 TB crushed red pepper flakes
  11. 2 tsp garlic salt
  12. 1 tsp mustard powder
  13. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  14. 1 pound deli coleslaw
  15. 6 hamburger buns
  1. Mix the brown sugar, salt, paprika and pepper and rub all over the meat. Place the meat and onion into the bowl of a slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, Worcestershire, sugar and seasonings and pour over pork. Cook on low 6-8 hours until the meat is pull apart tender.
  3. Remove the roast, cool lightly and shred with two forks. Skim the fat from the juice, and reserve 1 1/2 cups. Return the reserved juice and shredded pork to the slow cooker to heat through and keep warm. Serve on toasted buns with deli-coleslaw.
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World
South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
Yields 1
Mustard-based South Carolina BBQ Sauce
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 3/4 cup yellow mustard
  2. 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 TB light brown sugar
  4. 1 1/2 TB unsalted butter
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 2 TB Worcestershire sauce
  7. 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  8. 1 TB Louisiana hot sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine and occasionally while simmering, about 30 minutes.
  2. Store in a sealed container.
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World


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4 thoughts on “BBQ Battle: (East) North and South Carolina Barbecue”

  • OMG, YUM! I adore BBQ and it’s the #1 reason I’m sad about not going to Georgia at Christmas this year. I do however have a bottle of their BBQ sauce (sweet georgia soul sauce – how do you go wrong with a name like that??) That I add to my roast pork. Top with homemade sweet chili lime slaw and a few bread and butter pickles. Not the same, but good. They serve it with a side of cornbread batter fried green beans; because, Georgia. LOVE.

    (and pretzel bun – good choice)

    • Pretzel bun, always

      Yours sounds so good! I actually put this into the freezer straight away because I invited friends over to help me eat it in a few weeks but needed to make it this week for blog purposes. I was really sad about it, but knew I didn’t want to have to make it twice. Your lime slaw/ B&B pickle twist sounds so good. I haven’t spent a ton of time in GA, but I’d love to go just to eat.

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