How to Make Easy Carolina Ribs with Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce

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How to Make Easy Carolina Ribs with Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce www.compassandfork.comCarolina ribs with a vinegar based BBQ sauce are on the menu today. A Carolina bbq sauce guarantees excellent results in either the oven or smoker.

As I have a BBQ smoker, my preference is to cook my Carolina ribs in it to impart some extra, smoky flavor. We are using a vinegar based BBQ sauce recipe utilizing everyday ingredients as a marinade for the ribs. Then we cook them low and slow on the BBQ smoker. So very good and popular throughout the United States, BBQ smokers are now available in most countries around the world. It is a sheer joy for your nose as our North Carolina ribs slowly cook. Expectations and appetities rise the closer the finshing time approaches.

No problem if you don’t have a smoker, this recipe also works well in your oven with the addition of that wonderful ingredient, liquid smoke. 

Surely one of the greatest culinary exports from the United States, barbecue is something all aspiring, outdoor cooks (Ok they are usually male) should conquer. As well, ribs and barbecue restaurants are springing up in many countries as the popularity of the different BBQ styles takes hold overseas.

Read on to find out how American barbecue styles are becoming so popular throughout the world.

People from all Over the World Enjoy Ribs Now

We have our cousins in the United States to thank for the different BBQ styles now so readily available for home cooks and to enjoy for an evening out at a BBQ restaurant. It was in the US where the low and slow method of cooking ribs was developed using marinades, dry rubs and finishing off with sauces. Vinegar based BBQ sauces are generally associated with North Carolina barbecue. We dive into the various regional types of BBQ sauce later in the post.

The availability of baby back ribs and the explosion of barbecue restaurants throughout the rest of the world is tantamount to the popularity of ribs. We see barbecue restaurants everywhere now throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, as well as in Asia and European countries like Romania where they adore pork.

Many visitors to the United States would be aware of the great passion of professional and amateur cooks to produce the perfect ribs. There are many regional differences as to the rubs, marinades and finishing sauces Americans use for cooking ribs on the BBQ smoker.

North Carolina is a place we really enjoyed on our recent great American road trip throughout the American south and it was here we discovered the North Carolina BBQ trail. If you ever visit North Carolina, which I really encourage as there are many, great tourist options, make sure you visit a North Carolina barbecue restaurant. Those ribs will be sure to come with a vinegar based BBQ sauce. Then you will experience the passion of devotees to North Carolina ribs.

Gardens in the American South

North Carolina Barbecue on the BBQ Trail

There are many theories going around as to the origins of barbecue. Popular thought is that the method of cooking low and slow over smoke was as a result of observing Native American tribes cooking meat slowly over fire pits.

The Biltmore www.compassandfork.comAs to ingredients, for the rubs, marinades and sauces, these slowly developed over time with many of the ingredients arriving with African American and later European migration. African Americans were also “the cooks” in many southern states, and later, northern states of the United States. So, over time, the use of ingredients popular in the south, spread throughout the United States. You can read more about this fascinating subject here.

But what is a Carolina barbecue? What sets it apart from Memphis style, Kansas style and Texas style? It’s the vinegar based barbecue sauce, short and simple. This excellent Time magazine article describes four different barbecue styles that compete for bragging rights as to being the best barbecue style in the country. North Carolina barbecue always includes a vinegar based BBQ sauce recipe and traditionally includes cooking a whole hog.

Luckily for us these days you don’t need to cook a whole hog, to enjoy North Carolina ribs. Some pork baby back ribs, available now in many countries, and a vinegar based BBQ sauce are the keys to success.

Carolina Ribs with Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce Recipe

It is important not to rush with this recipe. You do need to start the day before by preparing your vinegar based BBQ sauce, which we will use as a marinade. Allow the baby back ribs to take on all those wonderful flavors in the marinade over a 24-hour period. Less time is OK but the more time our Carolina ribs rest in the marinade the better. If I use the oven I add a little liquid smoke to my marinade to impart some excellent smoky flavor to my Carolina ribs.

The American South www.compassandfork.comApporoximately one hour before cooking commences, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and prepare your woodchips and smoker, if you are using a BBQ smoker, or pre-heat the oven.

I cook my North Carolina ribs for 6 hours at a very low temperature of 220 f (105 c). Remember low and slow is the name of the game. So, my advice to you is not to plan to eat your North Carolina ribs too early. That is unless you are a very early riser in the morning!

For the smoker, you will also need about four cups of good smoking wood chips. Which are the best wood chips to use for the smoking the ribs? Try a mild wood chip such as- hickory, cherry or pecan wood chips for a smooth taste that won’t overpower the ribs.

I like to serve the Carolina ribs with coleslaw. I think the coleslaw is a wonderful balance against the vinegar based BBQ sauce.

Looking for some other recipes to cook in the smoker? How about easy barbecue brisket? Just perfect if you are looking to feed a crowd. And then, of course, there is always smoked turkey? Don’t wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can enjoy turkey cooked in the smoker at any time of the year.


North Carolina Ribs with Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce Recipe - marinate and cook low and slow for tender juicy ribs that just fall off the bone
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How to Make Easy Carolina Ribs with Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce
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For the best results, plan to marinate your baby back ribs in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Allow 1 hour for the ribs to come up to room temperature while you prepare your smoker and soak your wood chips. I like to cook the ribs for 6 hours at 220 degrees Fahrenheit (105 C).
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4people 30minutes 6hours 24hours
Servings Prep Time
4people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
6hours 24hours
Servings: people
Servings: people
  1. Brush the olive oil across all surfaces of the pork baby back ribs and place in a flat container that will fit in your refrigerator. Place all marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine. Using your hands, rub the marinade into the ribs, cover your container and refrigerate for 24 hours if you can.
  2. 1 hour before cooking, remove the ribs from the refrigerator to allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, if using a BBQ smoker, soak your wood chips and prepare your smoker using the manufacturer's instructions. Set the temperature to 220 Fahrenheit or 105 Celsius. Alternatively set your oven to the same temperature. Place the ribs in the smoker or oven and cook for 6 hours. Brush any leftover marinade over the ribs from time to time.
  3. Serve the ribs with plenty of coleslaw or potato salad. Corn on the cob also goes well.How to Make Easy Carolina Ribs with Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce
Recipe Notes

How to Make Easy Carolina Ribs with Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce

13 Responses

  1. Marvin
    | Reply

    Awesome recipe, the ribs are tender and very delicious. This is now my go to recipe for ribs. Many thanks!

  2. Samantha
    | Reply

    This looks amazing. You have inspired me to grill something this weekend. 🙂 I think I have some tri-tip in the freezer. Either way, I will be grilling something. Thanks so much for sharing. Have a great weekend.

  3. Mark
    | Reply

    I’ve been smoking ribs and making my own rubs and sauces for over 30 years. So I sheepishly I have to admit I was blown away by the simplicity and deliciousness of this recipe. Did the 24 hour marinade with a true 3-2-1 method at 225°. Wow! I’ve always been partial to Carolina vinegar-based sauces. This one just knocked it out of the park. Thanks.

  4. Julio
    | Reply

    I made your sauce that I call it baste and that’s what I’ve used it for. I didn’t marinate the ribs before I just found your sauce after I’d already put my ribs on but I’m always up for trying a new one, as the dry rub that I put on before I started them smoking on my pit boss pellet grill is a brand-new rub also. I’ll let you know here in a few hours but tasting of the sauce that I made up which was remarkably close to your recipe except I didn’t have dried mustard it is very good and I use smoked paprika because that’s what I always use. pardon the punctuation as when I’m trying to get my point across I really don’t use it. I just speak into my phone it’s a lot quicker. Thanks a lot!

  5. Shawn W. Jurgens
    | Reply

    Dude! These smell amazing, the rub worked well. I mixed the ingredients in a pot and threw the ribs in there mixing them around so every rib has some getting in it. I’ll let them marinate for a couple days and be back to comment further

  6. Greg Burns
    | Reply

    I don’t get it. How can you “rub” this wet marinade into the ribs? There is a 1 cup of vinegar in the recipe. This is a very wet and thin marinade. Don’t get me wrong it sounds great and I’m trying it tomorrow, but the ribs are soaking in the marinade. I will be pulling them and drying them off before I smoke them.

    • Editor

      How did you go with the marinade?

  7. Dave
    | Reply

    Awesome rib recipe! The vinegar smells overpowering while basting but the taste after cooking is amazing!

    • Editor

      I was also a little dubious about the vinegar, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

  8. Catering Den Haag
    | Reply

    Yum! This looks amazing!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Editor

      Thanks for that. Give them a try!

  9. Iryna
    | Reply

    These look so juicy! I would love to try them!

    • Editor

      Nothing better than a great big slab of ribs. Thanks for your comment.

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