Lexington-Style Barbecue Sauce

By Fred Thompson

Makes about 3 cups
This is the dividing line for North Carolina barbecue. In the Piedmont, which includes Lexington, pork shoulders are smoked and the sauce features some ketchup and sugar, but more sugar than sauces from eastern North Carolina and less ketchup than sauces from western places like Memphis and Kansas City. Use the “dip” to toss with any pulled pork, chicken or turkey; it makes an excellent table sauce, as well. People who prefer predominantly dry, Memphis-style ribs might like to use this sauce as a mop during the last few minutes of cooking.

Super easy

Lexington-Style Barbecue Sauce


For 1 Batch(es)


  • 2 cup(s) apple-cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup(s) water
  • 1/2 cup(s) ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon(s) light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon(s) hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoon(s) crushed red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoon(s) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) freshly ground black pepper

Lexington-Style Barbecue Sauce Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, water, ketchup, brown sugar, hot sauce, chili flakes, salt and pepper until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Shake before using.
  2. Barbecue reheats nicely in a microwave at medium power. Don’t nuke this stuff full bore or it will dry out. Another way I like to reheat pork is to put about an inch of water in a 3-quart saucepan and then insert a vegetable steamer. As the water begins to simmer and steam, pile the barbecue on top of the vegetable steamer and cover. Steam the ‘cue for 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through.

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