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North Carolina Lexington Dip BBQ Sauce Recipe

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Add some serious zip to your barbecue with this ketchup and vinegar based sauce.

Inland from the coast in North and South Carolina, in the west part of the Carolinas, the area called Piedmont or Hill Country or the Foothills, they call BBQ sauce “dip” and they apply it to pork shoulder most of the time. Small amounts of ketchup and sugar are added to the simple vinegary Low Country Mop-Sauce. The result is still thin and penetrating, never thick like Kansas City Sauce.

The debate over whether ketchup belongs in barbecue sauce has caused many a shouting match and even stirred a raucous debate in the North Carolina legislature. Some recipes omit the sugar, but I think it rounds out the flavor. Using apple juice is also a veer from the standard, but I stole the idea from my favorite North Carolina sauce, George’s, made in Nashville, NC. It really adds depth. Since it is mostly vinegar, it keeps a long time in the fridge.

Lexington Dip BBQ Sauce Recipe


sauce
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4.50 from 250 votes
In Lexington, North Carolina the barbecue sauce recipe is mostly vinegar with just a touch of ketchup and hot pepper. Here's how to make an authentic NC Lexington Dip BBQ sauce and mop baste. Relying heavily on vinegar, apple juice, and red pepper flakes, this tangy sauce penetrates meat deeply to make it flavorful.

Serve with: a local North Carolina beer.


Course:
Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine:
American
,
Southern

Makes:

Servings: 2 cups

Takes:

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup distilled vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon Morton Coarse Salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Notes:
About the vinegar. I've seen both distilled and cider vinegar used in NC. I usually prefer cider vinegar in most of my sauce recipes because it has more flavor, but in this recipe I prefer distilled. Try both on meat and see which you prefer. Lemme know.
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works. 
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Prep. Whisk together all the ingredients and let them sit for at least three hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld. Overnight is better. A week is best.
  • Use. Divide the sauce in two. Use one for basting. The locals mop it on the meat with a basting brush once every hour while cooking. If you do mop, a good silicon brush is best. It holds lots of fluid and is easy to clean. A lot of places still use string mops, but I think these are too hard to clean and potential sources of food poisoning.
  • Take the remaining mop and serve it in a cruet on the side so your guests can drizzle on more if they wish.

Related articles

Published On: 12/16/2014 Last Modified: 5/21/2022

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  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

 

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