The Mop Sauce Guide

Do you need a mop sauce? When do you use a mop sauce? How much mop sauce do you need? Wait, what is a mop sauce?

The mop sauce is one of those things that you have probably gone a good portion of your life un ware 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!

What is a Mop Sauce?

It makes sense to start at the beginning right? What is a mop sauce?

Essentially, a 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.

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?

There are several main differences between a BBQ sauce and a mop sauce.

The first difference 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. This is

The second major difference is when the sauce is used. Unlike a BBQ sauce the 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 met juicy and tender on.

Where Does Mop Sauce Come From?

There are several similar theories where mop sauce comes from.

The theory that I like to believe originates from the commercial BBQ pits of Texas. Because the pits where to bog and hot it was easier for the pit masters 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 pit master and eventually because what it is today. Obviously the tools have changed a little bit and luckily now days 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 perfect brisket or ribs? Some people swear by it and others think that its a load of baloney.. so lets see the reasons behind why you should use a mop sauce.

A Mop Sauce Ads 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 breakdown 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 you 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.

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 meats surface and apply enough sauce to keep things tender 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 Favourites Mop Sauces

When I am not making my own recipes these are some of my favorite 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 what ever 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 its a mop sauce which 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 mins
Total Time2 mins
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American, Barbecue
Servings: 1 cup
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 to 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 mins
Total Time2 mins
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American, Barbecue
Servings: 2 cups
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

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 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time22 mins
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, bbq
Servings: 1 cups
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. Im not going to lie I like to leave vinegar out if it is not a vinegar based mop sauce. Vinegar just doesn’t really excite me too much.

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 mins
Total Time2 mins
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American, Barbecue
Servings: 1 cups
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.

Vinegar Based Mop Sauce

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