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Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

This pulled pork finishing sauce will add incredible flavor to your pulled pork sandwiches. This is a must-have condiment for your next cookout or party!

Poulled pork table sauce on pulled pork sandwiches

What is a pulled pork finishing sauce?

Traditional smoked pulled pork is served with tasty finishing sauce on the side. These sauces appear at BBQ restaurants and cookouts all across the south, including the North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Kansas City, Missouri . This BBQ sauce is a delightful combination of different flavors that work well together. It may contain tomato sauce or ketchup which gives it a deep red color, vinegar for tartness, brown sugar for sweetness, and cayenne for a little kick of heat. Now pair this with smoky pulled pork, and it’s pure heaven. 

Try our Piedmont Sauce recipe if you prefer a purely, vinegar-based sauce with the addition of spicy ingredients like red pepper flakes and hot sauce.

pulled pork finishing sauce


  • Apple juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar (use dark brown sugar to add a deeper, richer molasses flavor to the finishing sauce)
  • Butter
  • Yellow mustard (Optional ingredient. Sub with dry mustard)
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper (just a little!)
  • Salt

How to make a pulled pork table sauce

We recommend preparing this table sauce at least 30 minutes before serving your pork. Doing this will allow the flavors to bloom. Let the sauce to reach its full potential by making it the night before. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and warm it too room temp before serving.

  • Simmer apple juice, vinegar, ketchup, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
  • Stir in the mustard (optional), black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  • Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Remove the finishing sauce from the heat, cover, and keep warm for 30 minutes. 
  • Transfer to a squeeze bottle and serve this delicious table sauce when dinner is ready.

Recipe tips

  • Sugar: If you’d like your finishing sauce a little sweeter, add 1-2 more tablespoons of brown sugar to the sauce while it is simmering.
  • Mustard: The mustard adds depth to the sauce, but this ingredient is purely optional. If you’re not a fan of mustard, simply omit it from the recipe.
  • Usage: Squeeze (or spoon out) your desired amount on top of pulled pork shoulder. It’s great in sandwiches and can be used as a dipping sauce.

Storing the finishing sauce

For those making their pulled pork finishing sauce in advance, let it cool completely before placing it into an airtight container. Store it in your refrigerator for 7-10 days. Warm the finishing sauce before using. Double or triple this recipe if you’re feeding a large group

More recipes to try!


Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

Traditional smoked pulled pork is served with a finishing sauce at the table. That way your guests can add their desired amount. This homemade sauce is sweet, tangy, and absolutely fantastic!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: barbecue sauce, pulled pork sauce, table sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 16 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 96kcal


  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar see instructions
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard optional
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of salt


  • Add apple juice, vinegar, ketchup, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir often. Add mustard, black pepper, cayenne pepper, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 3-4 minutes.
  • Give the sauce a taste. If you need to up the sugar, add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons or more to achieve the desired sweetness. Let the sauce simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
  • Let the sauce cool for about 30 minutes before using. If making ahead of time, let it cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week after preparation. Rewarm to room temperature before using.
  • Use this sauce on pulled pork or pulled chicken.


Calories: 96kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 218mg | Potassium: 132mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 257IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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