The Mop Sauce Guide (+ 5 Delicious Mop Sauce Recipes)

Wondering if you need a mop sauce?

Or maybe you want to know when to use a mop sauce?

How much mop sauce do you need?

The mop sauce is one of those things that you have probably gone a good portion of your life unware of… and after this post.

It is going to be one of those things you never knew how you lived without.

Yes, it is similar to BBQ sauce, however, it is used at a different stage of cooking and has a slightly different texture.

In this post, we will be exploring everything about mop sauce and I will even throw in my secret mop sauce recipe for you

Need a Mop Sauce Recipe Now? Jump Straight to my recipes below!
Apple Cider Mop Sauce
Beer Mop Sauce
Tomato Based Mop Sauce
Vinegar Based Mop Sauce (Our Favorite for Ribs)

for these ribs we used a apple cider vinegar mop sauce recipe
For these ribs we used our apple cider vinegar mop sauce recipe

What is a Mop Sauce?

Mop sauce is a thin liquid sauce used to baste over tough cuts of meat that are cooked ‘low and slow’.

A mop sauce can come in many different types with most home cooks and professionals having their own versions.

However, most mop sauces will start with a simple base of either apple cider, beer, tomato sauce or vinegar. If you don’t have any or can’t find it here are some alternatives to apple cider vinegar.

As mentioned above most cooks have their own secret mop recipe – some are very simple recipes with only a couple of ingredients added to the base – however, some are very complex and can have up to 20 or sometimes even 30 ingredients!

When creating your mop you always want to take into account what meat you are cooking – depending on what meat you are cooking a mop can make, or break your BBQ!

How is Mop Sauce Different From BBQ Sauce?

The main difference between a BBQ sauce and a mop sauce is the thickness of the sauce.

A mop sauce is a much thinner sauce, it is usually more of a watery texture than a ‘saucy’ texture.

The second major difference is when the sauce is used. Unlike a BBQ sauce, mop sauce is used during the cooking process. Its primary role is to keep the food (usually meat) moist and tender over a ‘low and slow’ cook.

A mop sauce is most commonly used during the cooking process when cooking/smoking brisket, ribs, or a whole hog. However, it can be used on any longer cook that you are wanting to keep your meat juicy and tender on.

Where Does Mop Sauce Come From?

There are several similar theories about where mop sauce comes from.

The theory that I like to believe originates from the commercial BBQ pits of Texas.

Because the pits were so hot it was easier for the pitmasters to baste their cooks with a bucket full of sauce and a good old-fashioned mop.

This way of basting was slowly adapted to the backyard pitmaster and eventually because what it is today.

Obviously, the tools have changed a little bit and luckily nowadays we don’t have to use the mop from the kitchen.

What Does A Mop Sauce Do?

Is a mop sauce an essential part of bbq? Do you need to use mop sauce to get the perfect brisket or ribs?

Some people swear by it and others think that it’s a load of baloney.. so let’s see the reasons behind why you should use a mop sauce.

simple mop sauce we used for ribs baby back ribs
We used a simple mop sauce for these ribs baby back ribs

A Mop Sauce Adds Flavor

Mop sauces are a fantastic way to elevate even the most simple cook.

Depending on what you are cooking, your taste preference, and the style of cooking you are doing you can create a mop to bring your cook to the next level.

Because your mop is slathered all over your meat throughout the cook your meat gets ample time to absorb all those flavors and moisture.

Mop Sauce Helps Create Better Bark

When cooking brisket a good bark is essential – It will elevate your smoked brisket into something special.

A sugary mop sauce can help develop a nice thick bark thanks to the sugar. Over time the sugars will break down and start to turn into a thick, bark-like crust full of flavor!

Mop Sauce Helps Keep Your Meat Moist

As well as creating a bark your mop sauce will help keep your meat moist. It does that in two ways.

The first is with the bark – when your meat has a thick bark-like skin it is harder for the moisture and juice to escape.

Secondly, the mop sauce will keep your meat moist and juicy because throughout the cook you are mopping the sauce all over!

The key throughout the cook is to not let the meat totally dry out.

bbq mop sauce we used on these ribs
We used the tomato-based mop sauce for this batch of ribs.

Enhances Smoke Flavor

Even though your mop sauce doesn’t have any smoky flavor, it will in fact help you get more of a smokey flavor.

This is because smoke loves moisture. A nice moist piece of meat will absorb more smoke than a tough, dry piece.

When to use a Mop Sauce?

A mop sauce is best used on ‘low and slow cooks‘ when using bigger cuts of meat such as brisket, pork butt, tri-tip, whole hog or even my smoked whole pork loin recipe.

The idea is to help keep the bigger cut moist and juicy – so throughout your cook you want to keep an eye on the surface of the meat and apply enough sauce to keep things tender. But without applying so much that you rinse off any dry rubs or seasonings already applied to the meat.

To apply your mop sauce simply dunk in your mop and lightly dap / brush your mop over the entire outside of your meat, making sure each nook and cranny has been hit.

In general you want to check at least every 30 – 45 minutes depending on your cooking temperature.

Some of My Favorite Mop Sauces

When I am not making my own recipes these are some of my favorites go-to mop sauces!
1. Black Pepper Vinegar Mop Sauce
2. Coffee Mop Sauce
3. Sweet Rib Mop Sauce

Mop Sauce Recipe – The 4 Different Mop Sauce Styles

As mentioned above there are 4 main bases for mop sauce.

So, I will give you a recipe for each of these bases. Remember, depending on what you are cooking and how you are cooking it you can adjust each of these mops to suit your specific cook a little better.

There is no wrong or right when it comes to creating a mop sauce, let your senses run wild – you can add as little or as much of whatever you like!

Apple Cider Mop Sauce

An apple cider mop sauce AKA the ‘Memphis Mop’ is the most common mop sauce base in Memphis, hence the name.

As the name suggests it’s a mop sauce that has a base of apple cider vinegar.

Apple Cider Mop Sauce Recipe

This apple cider vinegar based mop sauce is a great mop sauce with a little bit of heat. It is my go to for pork. Please add in or take away any ingredients as per your taste preference.
Prep Time2 minutes
Total Time2 minutes
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American, Barbecue
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: $5


  • Mop
  • 1 litre bowl


  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 – 2 tbsp Chilli flakes more or less depending on heat preferences
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup White vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours for the best flavor. You can use it right away but I would always advise to prepare in advance.

Beer Mop Sauce

Beer mop sauce is my favorite.

Usually, in a beer mop sauce, there is vinegar and oil – however, I like my beer mop sauce to get most of the flavor from the beer.

So I like to leave out the vinegar and oil and replace it with a stock – or even water will just do the trick.

Beer Mop Sauce

This beer based mop sauce is great for brisket. Feel free to use your favorite beer for this recipe and also your own brisket rub. If you don't have your own rub a store bought rub will work absolutely fine.
Prep Time2 minutes
Total Time2 minutes
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American, Barbecue
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: $5


  • 1/2 Onion finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Brisket seasoning home made or your favorite store bought
  • 1 Tbsp Chilli flakes or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup Water or stock
  • 2 2 garlic cloves minced or finely sliced
  • 12 oz can Beer use your favorite beer


  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours for the best flavor. You can use it right away but I would always advise to prepare in advance

Tomato-Based Mop Sauce (Our Favorite Mop Sauce for Ribs)

Tomato-based sauces are my favorite. I love this mop sauce when cooking ribs.

Because of all the sugar and the fact this sauce is a little thicker than most mop sauces it creates an amazing bark/crust on the outside of the ribs.

Tomato Sauce Mop Sauce

This mop sauce is great on ribs. I love that it is a little thicker than other mop sauces – its created a really nice crust on the outside of the ribs. You can sweeten this mop sauce with a little bit of sugar or add in a little bit of vinegar for an extra bite – I like to add in a little more chilli though!
Prep Time2 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time22 minutes
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, bbq
Servings: 1 cups
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: $5


  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup Burbon your favorite
  • 1/2 Onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic minced or finely sliced
  • 2 cups Tomato sauce home made is best
  • 1/4 cup Tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup Water or stock
  • 1 can Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce


  • In an oiled pan cook onion and garlic over a medium heat until fragrant (1 – 2 minutes)
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix together well.
  • Bring sauce to a boil then leave on a light simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. If the sauce seems to be reducing too much add in 1/4 of a cup of water at a time until it is at the desired texture.
  • I like to use a stick blender to make sure all the chipotle chilli, tomato and garlic and onion have broken into a smooth, watery sauce.
  • Ideally, you want to cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before using.

Vinegar Based Mop Sauce

Vinegar-based mop sauces are the most popular.

Nearly every version no matter what the key base ingredient in will involved vinegar of some description.

Vinegar Based Mop Sauce

This is a vinegar based mop sauce which has a perfect combination of heat and sweetness. In this recipe you can use as much or as little heat and sugar as you like – you can also change out brown sugar for your preferred sugar.
Prep Time2 minutes
Total Time2 minutes
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American, Barbecue
Servings: 1 cups
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: $5


  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups distilled vinegar


  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours for the best flavor. You can use it right away but I would always advise to prepare in advance.

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