Regions all over the United States take a great deal of pride in their own styles of barbecue sauce. You may have heard of South Carolina Style Mustard Sauce, Texas Style Mop Sauce, Alabama White Sauce, Kansas Style Sauce, and Memphis BBQ Sauce. For a different taste that doesn’t include a thick tomato-based sauce, try this Carolina bbq vinegar sauce. Today, it’s served at most barbecue pit restaurants alongside other regional bbq sauces.
Two North Carolina sauce recipes and 1 great instant pot meal: You’re getting the BEST Instant Pot Pulled Pork recipe to date plus I’ve included the original NC recipe in the recipe card notes section to preserve the authenticity of this regional eastern North Carolina bbq sauce as well as a modified sauce recipe that builds on the flavors of the original recipe for a more balanced taste.
Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Sauce: Origin
If you’re looking for a new style barbecue sauce that’s not tomato-based, then try this recipe because you won’t find tomato in this classic Carolina regional style sauce.
Originating in the southeastern region of the United States; this sauce is famously drizzled on pulled pork in a bbq-joint fashion and my Instant Pot pork recipe will have you eating in half the time. Talk to any North Carolinian, and they’ll tell you that this sauce is the real deal and it’s always made with pork, but it may vary with different ingredient-ratios due to deep family roots within towns. It’s very much a Caroline-style regional sauce classic that the people take pride in. NC style BBQ is an Eastern-style barbecue known for pit-smoked barbecue covered in vinegar sauce.
The Original Authentic North Carolina Vinegar Sauce Recipe Ingredients:
REAL RECIPE VERSION: What ingredients are needed for North Carolina Vinegar Sauce?
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. hot sauce
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
Furthermore, North Carolina Vinegar Sauce originate in eastern North Carolina several centuries ago. This true vinegar-based sauce can be made on the stovetop or campfire and uses no tomato (ketchup/paste) as a lot of traditional regional bbq sauce recipes throughout America do. Instead, this tangy apple cider vinegar sauce is liquid-based and brown in color thanks to the apple cider vinegar. It’s also a bold vinegar tasting sauce that is tangy, acidic, tart, and has a sharp bite with very little spices to flavor it. Hot sauce, cayenne powder, or red pepper flakes are traditionally added for extra heat flavor.
Included only here is the original recipe found in the recipe card notes section to preserve the authenticity of this regional eastern North Carolina bbq sauce.
NOTE: I’d recommend trying this undisputed original North Carolina Vinegar Sauce first before you try my modified version. If you want a sauce with a more refined taste and deep flavor, try my modified version below.
A Modified North Carolina-Style Vinegar Sauce Recipe
MODIFIED AND BALANCED NORTH CAROLINA SAUCE RECIPE. In addition, I’ve taken the original Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Sauce recipe and modified the ingredients to improve the overall palate flavor. This tweaked version is improved with a balanced flavor that doesn’t compete with other tastes yet still very much has a bold tangy and sweeter flavor. It’s my family’s favorite custom refined NC BBQ Pit sauce version. In this modified version, I like to add more brown sugar as well as granulated sugar, water to balance out the sharp vinegar taste, and spices like onion and garlic powder. A touch of liquid smoke builds up and deepens the sauce flavor while adding a hint of hickory campfire and smoke flavor traditionally found in classic smoked pulled pork from the smoker or grill.
BETTER TASTING CAROLINA STYLE VINEGAR SAUCE VERSION:
I don’t like the original sauce, what can I do to make it taste better? My North Carolina style bbq sauce version uses the same ingredients in the original recipe plus a few others:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dark brown sugar (more) AND Granulated sugar
- Salt and Pepper
- Onion powder AND Garlic powder
- Hot sauce AND Red pepper flakes
- Hickory Flavored Liquid Smoke
A NOTE ABOUT THIS TWEAKED RECIPE
My bona fide recipe uses natural flavors like spices and sugar to make the real version more palatable as it has a less overwhelming vinegar taste. I’d recommend starting with the original authentic version and if it’s too strong or acidic, simply stir in the remaining ingredients I’ve shared in the recipe card to make it more desirable.
HOW TO MAKE PULLED PORK IN INSTANT POT DIRECTIONS
DIRECTIONS: The key to creating delicious shredded pork or beef in the Instant Pot takes place by cutting the meat into large chunks and adding beef broth than pressure cooking it for 1 hour and allowing it to NR naturally release so the pork can rest and stay tender and juicy. Then make the homemade caroline-style vinegar-based sauce is made in 7 minutes on the stovetop. Once the pork (or beef) is done pressuring cooking, it gets added to a bowl and shredded with forks then covered in caroline sauce and topped with coleslaw and served on a bun.
Pulled Pork Tips & Questions:
Can I make pulled pork in the Crock Pot/slow cooker? Yes. Low and slow-cooked pulled pork can be made a variety of ways. A slow cooker is a great option if you won’t be home all day. The pork is tender, juicy and smells great while it slowly cooks. To make as a crockpot recipe, season with additional salt and pepper, then place it in the slow cooker. Cover with a lid and cook on low for about 8 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 190F. When it’s done slow cooking, remove it to a cutting board and let sit 20 minutes. Next, use two forks to pull the pork (or beef!) apart.
First, What’s the fastest way to cook pulled pork? The fastest way to cook pulled pork is to use the Instant Pot pressure cooker. It takes a total of 100 minutes or 1 hour 40 minutes including coming to pressure time (15 minutes), cooking time (70 minutes), and resting time (15 minutes). Other ways you can make pulled pork include the slow cooker at 8 hours, the smoker at 6 hours, the grill at 4-6 hours, and oven-baked at 5 1/2 hours.
Why don’t you use the vinegar sauce in the Instant Pot? Apple cider vinegar is very powerful and the smell can quickly become overwhelming, especially when it’s warmed up. Typically, the sauce can overtake the smell of the house. Also noteworthy is that spices, sauces, seasoning become diluted and less flavorful when pressure cooked. For this reason, I add the sauce to a bowl with the pulled meat at the end and then add additional salt for the same reason.
Any kind of cuts of meat I can use and serve with this vinegar-based North Caroline pit sauce?
- Pork shoulder
- Pork butt
- Beef brisket
- Beef chuck roast
- Beef Rump Roast
- Chicken breasts (see notes for cooking directions)
What Side Dish Can I Pair or Serve with Barbecue Sandwiches?
How can I serve leftover Instant Pot pulled pork in a new recipe? Add pulled pork to po’ boys, pulled pork lettuce wraps and cups, salads, top on fries debris-style, use as meat to your own cheesy french bread, pulled pork taquitos, add to pizza, toss in scrambled eggs or a breakfast hash, top on burgers, brats, and hotdogs, make a pulled pork shepherds pie, pork-stuffed peppers or avocados, burrito taco bowls, pork carnitas, nachos, tacos, use in pasta sauce, pulled pork rice bowl (my favorite childhood memory).
Favorite side dishes to serve with instant pot pulled pork? My favorite side dish recipes to serve with pulled sandwich sliders include Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, Jambalaya, Roasted Broccoli AKA Crack Broccoli, Strawberry Pretzel Salad, Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes, Italian Pasta Salad, Sweet Cornbread, Savory Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread, Bacon Green Bean Bundles, Cranberry Fluff Salad, Ambrosia Salad, Mexican Street Corn Salad, Loaded Baked Potato Salad, BLT Pasta Salad, Macaroni Salad, Ranch Potato Salad, Glazed Fruit Salad, Caprese Pasta Salad, Barbecue Pasta Salad.
Additionally, What else can I add to the sandwich? For a delicious twist, make this Queso Dip cheese recipe and pour the melted cheese sauce over the pulled pork sandwich. For added flavor with a hint of tart sweetness, try using my Cranberry Sauce recipe served on top of the pulled pork slider with classic slaw like in this Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Cranberry Slaw Slider I made a few years ago.
Truly, a Carolina-style classic; A taste of Carolina-style BBQ pork shoulder that tastes like it has been smoked in a pit over a wood fire with hickory or oak chips all day long. If you’ve never had truly authentic North Carolina Sauce, then you’ll appreciate that I’ve included 2 sauce versions. Give the original vinegar sauce recipe a try then if the taste is too much, modify the sauce with my recipe.
Instant Pot North Carolina Pulled Pork Slaw Sandwiches
- 3.5 lb boneless pork shoulder or pork butt ((or 3.5lb beef chuck roast or brisket!))
- 2.5 cups beef stock
- 16 oz. bag tri-color coleslaw
- 12 oz coleslaw salad dressing
- 12 hamburger buns
- 1.5 tsp salt
North Carolina Sauce (For AUTHENTIC NC Sauce, see notes for recipe)
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 cups cold water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 4.5 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1.5 tsp hickory liquid smoke (found near the BBQ sauces)
- 1 tbsp hot sauce, like Texas Pete
- serve with potato chips
- Trim off any large pieces of fat from the surface of the pork. Alternatively, you can use a beef chuck roast if you want to make this with beef. The beef has the same directions as the pork so trim it too.
- Cut pork (or beef) into 6 pieces.
- In Instant Pot ( pressure cooker ) insert, add 1 tbsp oil. Turn Instant Pot “ON” then press “SAUTEE”. Sautee/sear meat chunks in batches of medium heat, flipping once to brown each side. This is optional but adds a lot of flavors.
- Pour 2.5 cups beef stock or water into the bottom of the insert pot. Add meat.
- Secure lid. Set the pressure valve to SEALING. Select “MANUAL” or “PRESSURE COOK”; use the arrows to cook on high-pressure for 70 MINUTES.
- Instant pot will indicate "ON" and that means it is coming to pressure; about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the North Carolina vinegar-based sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add apple cider vinegar and water. Next, stir in granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, liquid smoke, and hot sauce.
- Stir sauce until fully combined and sugar has melted. Remove from heat; set aside.
- Once Instant Pot beeps and is done, select “CANCEL”. NATURAL RELEASE (NR) steam pressure knob for 15 minutes. That means to let the pressure naturally come done without opening the vent. Once pressure pin drops, open lid.
- Remove pork (or beef) to a large bowl, discard any cooking liquid. Gently pull apart the meat with two forks until shredded. Sprinkle in 1.5 tsp salt into the pulled pork. Laddle in desired amount of vinegar sauce then stir.
- Mix entire bag of coleslaw with the desired amount of coleslaw dressing.
- Toast buns and serve pulled pork on sandwich topping it with coleslaw.
REAL NORTH CAROLINA VINEGAR SAUCE RECIPE:I’ve included the original recipe in the recipe card notes section to preserve the undisputed authenticity of this regional eastern North Carolina bbq vinegar sauce. Use as desired or simply start with this recipe and modify it with mine if desired.
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp hot sauce or pepper sauce
- Directions: Combine ingredients in saucepan over medium heat. Stir until mixed and sugar has dissolved.
- Boneless pork shoulder or pork butt
- Beef chuck roast (pressure cooked same amount of time)
- Beef Brisket (pressure cooked same amount of time)
- Several pounds of chicken breasts ( note that IP cook time will change to 15 minutes and you’ll need to replace the beef stock with chicken broth).
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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