Barbecue Mop. An Important Step in Traditional Barbecue.

Barbecue mops or basting sauces, are quite significant in traditional barbecue cookery.

Now, some of you may be saying; "What is this mop you're talking about?" or "Why would I need one? I didn’t know I had to mop my barbecue!"

Well…Let me define it for you. A barbecue mop has two meanings; the first is a small basting brush, which actually looks like a miniature mop. It's made from a wooden handle with some cotton string tied onto the end. Usually a hole is drilled for a cord so you can hang it to dry. (See the picture below)

It is used to apply barbecue sauce, or a barbecue basting sauce called mop or mop sauce. This basting sauce is simply a flavored liquid that is used to moisten and flavor meats that are cooked with fire.

We will be talking about the second definition in detail; a flavored liquid that is used to moisten and flavor meats that are cooked with fire.


Why You Want To Use a Mop.

Because it will make anything you cook on your pit even better, and for good reason;

  • They add a tremendous amount of flavor to your meat.
  • The spices in the recipe help develop a better crust.
  • Basting will make your masterpiece even juicier and more delicious.

When You Should Use a Mop…And When You Shouldn’t...

Now you don't always have to use a mop and sometimes you shouldn't. (If you can, you definitely should) When you should or shouldn’t and how often you apply it, depends on your equipment.

  • If you use a wood burning pit you should about once every 1½ - 2 hours. Rule of Thumb: Allow the meat to dry before applying more. 
  • If you employ the use of a wood oven, like the Cookshack, you should not. The oven seals tightly and retains a lot of moisture. Plus you should Never, Ever use a mop in a cooker that operates on electrical power.
  • When using a charcoal grill for barbecue, you should. Charcoal gills loose a huge amount of heat when the lid is removed, so you should only apply the mop when you are adding more wood or charcoal.
  • Water smokers use, well, water! This makes using a mop unnecessary as far as adding moisture to the meat is concerned. The air inside the smoker is already very moist. You can use one for added flavor though, if you like. Water smokers lose a lot of heat when the lid is removed, so basting should be done every 1½ - 2 hours.

How to Make Your Barbecue Mop.

Now this can be as simple as beer, meat juices or even water. Or it can consist of a list of ingredients a mile long. We’re going to keep it simple though.

Some things to keep in mind;

  • You want a very thin basting sauce for barbecue. It’s thin so it can penetrate the meat better. A thick sauce just sits on top.
  • Using some kind of fat, like butter or oil, will help lean items like chicken, fish and lean beef brisket retain their moisture.
  • The ingredients for your barbecue basting sauce should complement the food you’re cooking.
  • If you’re using a rub, which you should always do, add some to your barbecue mop recipe.

Important! Keep the basting liquid warm by placing it in your smoker, on your fire box or over a burner to kill any bacteria that may be transferred from the meat as you baste it. This also helps in maintaining the temperature of the food by applying a warm liquid to your food instead of a cool or cold liquid.

If you need to use a mop for one of the recipes on Barbecue-Know-How.com, an accompanying recipe or link for it will be included on the page.

Mop Recipes


Check out my Mop Sauce Recipe. It's spicy, with a good bit of tangy vinegar. Works great for pork, ribs, chicken and turkey.

Mop Sauce

For a savory, less acidic basting sauce, check out my Beer Mop. It's a little more subtle. Goes great on beef brisket, beef ribs and meats that are more mild in flavor.

Beer Mop


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