Here’s How to Make Ed Mitchell’s Eastern-Style BBQ Sauce

The North Carolina barbeque legend shares his recipe for a tangy vinegar-based sauce to top chopped pork and other Southern food.
recipe by Ed Mitchell | photographs by Baxter Miller

In this new cookbook, Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque, Ed Mitchell and his son Ryan gather family recipes, histories and essays for a deep look at North Carolina style barbeque and its origins. This recipe appeared in the book. Read Ed’s introduction to the book here.

“My mother taught me how to make our vinegar barbeque sauce. I can still remember the smell of the tangy sauce boiling on our stove when I was a child. In Eastern North Carolina, there are two styles of whole-hog barbeque: The first is the festive pig pickin’, where a barbequed pig that’s been slathered with sauce is set on a bar and people pick off what they want. The second is when the whole hog is chopped—the meat is pulled from the bones and skin, the skin is toasted into cracklin’, and the meat and cracklin’ are then chopped up and seasoned. The same ingredients — cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes — are used to season both styles of whole-hog barbeque. However, for the pig pickin’, the sauce is mopped on the pig during the final hour of cooking. For the chopped barbeque, the sauce ingredients are added to the meat one at a time, just before serving. We recommend using this sauce to season whole hogs for a pig pickin’, barbequed whole turkey, or baby back ribs. It makes about 1 gallon of sauce, enough to season one 150-pound hog, three 18- to 20-pound turkeys, or 8 racks of ribs.” – Ed Mitchell

1 gallon apple cider vinegar
1 cup red pepper flakes, plus more if needed
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, plus more
if needed
1 cup hot sauce (preferably Texas Pete or
Frank’s RedHot), plus more if needed
½ cup smoked paprika
¼ cup kosher salt, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Combine all the ingredients in a container and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and add more salt, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, or brown sugar to suit you. Just before applying, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Serves 12.

This recipe is excerpted from Ed and Ryan Mitchell’s new book Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque. The recipe appeared in the June 2023 issue of WALTER magazine.