Vinegar + Pepper

North and South Carolinians date this vinegary barbecue sauce, often regarded as the “original,” back to Scottish settlers. Whisk 1 cup cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon black pepper; let sit overnight. Use to baste meats while grilling or as a spicy dip.

Try: Scott’s Barbecue Sauce

Tomato + Vinegar

Versions from the early 1900s consisted of a vinegar-pepper sauce with added tomato ketchup. Often called Lexington- or Piedmont-style, this tangy condiment is also used to make a  traditional side dish called “red slaw”: Simply combine with salted, chopped green cabbage and marinate overnight.

Try: Organicville Tangy BBQ Sauce

Tomato + Sugar

Stout and flavorful, this tomato-based, sweet, thick sauce is especially popular in Kansas City. Don’t settle for any with high-fructose corn syrup; look for those made with healthier organic molasses or maple syrup. Slather it over chicken or stir into baked beans.

Try: Annie’s Naturals Organic BBQ Smoky Maple Sauce


Mustard-based barbecue sauces hark back to German immigrants in South Carolina more than 275 years ago. Ranging from super spicy to sweet and honeyed, “Carolina Gold” sauce often contains heady spices like paprika, black pepper, and even celery seeds. Brush over meats, tofu, or veggies while cooking.

Try: Bone Suckin’ Mustard