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What is Mop Sauce?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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While mop sauce is sometimes confused with barbecue sauce, there is an important difference. Mop sauces are thin sauces that are applied to meat as it is being grilled on a barbecue or broiled in an oven. While containing a lot of flavor, it is thin enough to leave a thin layer on the surface of the meat that is able to soak in as the meat continues to cook. It is usually applied with the use of a hand held mop brush. It is not unusual for the sauce to be utilized to keep the meat tender and flavorful during the cooking process, and a thicker sauce added to the meat just before serving.

Sometimes referred to as a basting sauce, a mop sauce often begins with the use of some type of stock, such as beef or chicken stock. Small amounts of soy or Worcestershire sauce are added to the stock, along with white vinegar and various spices. Most recipes call for the use of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a small amount of dry mustard.

Often, the choice of stock and other ingredients is based on the type of meat being prepared. Barbeque mop sauce is often used for ribs and pork, while brisket sauce will be formulated to compliment the preparation of a beef brisket. Chicken mop sauce may be the right option for use when grilling or broiling boneless breasts. However, it is not unusual for people to prepare a basic BBQ sauce that can be used for anything from ribs to pork and chicken.

Mop sauce may also serve as the basis for a thicker sauce served at the table called sopping sauce. Essentially, enough sauce is prepared to baste the meat and serve as the base for the thicker sopping sauce. After setting aside enough to prepare the meat, the remaining is infused with granulated sugar and a thickener, such as ketchup. This allows the sopping sauce to retain the basic flavor of the mop sauce, but is ideal for cutting and dipping a small portion of the prepared meat during the meal.

While it is possible to buy commercial brands of mop sauce, the process of making the sauce from scratch takes very little time. An added benefit is that the flavor of homemade sauce can be enhanced using any combination of spices that are desired. It is also easier to control the thickness when it is prepared using ingredients found in most kitchens.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Ivan83 — On Apr 17, 2012
My dad has his own recipe for smoked brisket mop sauce. It is beer based and it contains a ton of spices like chili powder, cumin, brown sugar and cayenne pepper. It is a pretty nuclear brew but it adds just the right hint of sweetness and heat to the crust of the meat. When it mixes with the brisket fat the flavor is incredible.
By gravois — On Apr 17, 2012

Does anyone have a recipe for a good mop sauce for pork ribs? The grilling season is just getting started and I got a new smoker for Christmas this year. I am planning on spending a lot of time cooking meat in my backyard this summer and I want to hit the ground running.

By summing — On Apr 16, 2012

I used to work at the counter at a BBQ place in Kansas City. They were famous for their mop sauce. It gave the meat the most amazing flavor and it kept it moist and tender throughout the hours of smoking.

The recipe was very well guarded. I think the owner and the pit master were the only ones wo knew it. They would make up a batch every morning behind closed doors. The BBQ industry can be very cutthroat and you have to guard your recipes carefully.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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