This tangy BBQ sauce is just right thanks to a combination of vinegar and spicy seasonings in this recipe from BBQ pitmaster Rodney Scott's new cookbook, Rodney Scott's World Of BBQ: Every Day Is A Good Day

"We used to make barbecue sauce right next to the pit. The pots we used were too big to really fit on a kitchen stove, plus it was more efficient to use hot coals from the pit as our heat source. We’d put a piece of roofing tin down on the floor and then set some hot coals on top of that, and then we would put the pot right on top of the hot coals. When I was a kid, it was mostly men making the sauce – but I was always the designated stirrer.   

You can still do it that way if you want to do all the cooking outside, but these days at the restaurant, we make sauce on the stove: The two main ingredients are vinegar and pepper, so you have to balance them right. You don’t want the vinegar to be overwhelming. Distilled white vinegar has less acid than other white vinegars, so it helps keep the bite in balance. Also, heating the vinegar takes away some of its sharpness. When it comes to the pepper, you want a little spice, but you don’t want it so overwhelming that you can’t take it. The goal is to get an immediate heat that goes away just as fast as it started. If it lingers too long, you added too much pepper. You know you have it right when you taste a few drops of the finished sauce and, after you taste it, your mouth forms a kiss." –Rodney 

Rodney uses this sauce to mop his Smoked Chicken. For another recipe from Rodney, check out his Coleslaw

Adapted from Rodney Scott's World Of BBQ: Every Day Is A Good Day by Rodney Scott. Copyright © 2021 by Rodney Scott. Used with permission by Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved. 


  • ½ gallon distilled white vinegar
  • ½ lemon, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup ground black pepper
  • About 2 ½ tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • About 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup sugar


Serves: Makes about ½ gallon


In a small stockpot, warm the vinegar over medium-high heat. After about 5 minutes, when the vinegar reaches 150°F on an instant-read thermometer, just before it starts to simmer, add the lemon slices and continue to cook until the lemon peels begin to soften and wilt, about 10 minutes more. 

Whisk in the black pepper, cayenne, pepper flakes, and sugar. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the sauce reaches 190°F, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to completely cool before using. Once the lemon is removed, the sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.