Homemade BBQ mop sauce is brushed onto your meat during a low and slow cook on the grill, or smoker. The tangy, spiced mixture enhances the flavor, and keeps your meat from drying out.
No one really loves to mop their kitchen floor, but this homemade BBQ mop sauce recipe is so tasty it will have you thinking of mopping in a whole new light. And since it's used in barbecuing you should have zero mess in the kitchen which means, no actual mopping!
So what is mop sauce?
While you use it for barbecue, it is not your traditional BBQ sauce. Mop sauce is very thin and has an almost water-like consistency. You use it to cook meat on low, for longer periods of time, or for smoking meats.
Mop sauce is most commonly vinegar based because it helps to increase the tenderness of the meat. Other liquids used are beer, Worcestershire sauce, or fruit juice help to enhance the flavor.
This easy, homemade BBQ mop sauce recipe lets you cook like a true pitmaster.
Mop sauce is used to continually baste barbecued meats to infuse your meat with flavor while it cooks. It's used while smoking or grilling over wood chips.
Make sure you are mopping about every 20 minutes. The layers of mop sauce work with a BBQ rub to create a tasty crust on the meat. Mop lightly so you don't rub all the RUB off!
Remember to get the mop sauce on the meat, it doesn't do anything if mopped right on the fat!
Ingredients in BBQ Mop Sauce
The best news is that this bbq mopping sauce is so simple and easy to make. The sauce is made with a base of apple cider vinegar and water for a nice briny flavor.
Simmer the liquid with a pinch of brown sugar, cayenne, and red pepper flakes for a hint of sweetness and touch of heat.
Sugar in mop sauce
Sugar burns at 265°F, so it is a great ingredient for mop sauce, because you are cooking at low temperatures. Regular BBQ sauce has a higher sugar content so you want to save it to apply just towards the end of high-heat grilling, or after, for added flavor.
Mop sauce will keep for up to 3 months, but since it uses such simple ingredients it's often recommended to make new sauce fresh for every time you use it!
Learn how to make a homemade BBQ mop sauce recipe that will take your grilling to the next level!
Not only will this simple mop sauce bring your summer barbecue game to the next level, but you can use it for multiple dishes! It's easy to make my BBQ mop sauce, and you can use it as a quick marinade, put a few tablespoons in your burger meat mixture, or add a few tablespoons to my homemade BBQ sauce.
I love to use my bbq mop sauce on all different cuts of meat on the grill, like ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, and even chicken. Both this pulled pork recipe and Kansas City Ribs recipe are even more flavorful when using my vinegar mop sauce. Whatever you use it for, the flavor will be incredible.
What is a BBQ mop?
I know what you might be thinking right about now. Mop sauce? Like, with a real mop? Well kind of. That's where the idea came from, but now we just use tiny mops, that are super adorable, and are made just for cooking and grilling. They are perfect to use with your homemade BBQ mop sauce recipe.
These little mops can be used a few times. After use, just soak them in soapy water for a bit, then wash with your hands. Let air dry. It may get a little stained from the caramelized meat, but it should last through 2 to 3 washings.
You can also get the silicone mops, but I find they don't work as well with this thin mop sauce.
Mop sauce is thinner in consistency than bbq sauce, often with a vinegar base. The mop sauce is used to baste meat every 20 minutes or so over a long cooking time on the grill, or smoker, at a low temperature.
BBQ sauce should be applied at the end of cooking meat since it's thicker and has a higher sugar content. If the BBQ sauce is applied too early, the sugar in the sauce will burn.
Let me know how it went!
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BBQ Mop Sauce
- 4½ cups cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan with ¾ cup water. Stir over medium heat until salt and sugar have dissolved and sauce is hot. Cool, and set aside 2 cups for serving or making BBQ sauce; use the rest for mopping meat as it cooks.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Stir before using.
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Photos & Recipe by Tara. Photo editing. Updated May 2023.