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Harry Hite’s Mustard Sauce Recipe

Hite’s Mustard Sauce Recipe: The Taste of Nostalgia

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Harry Hite’s mustard sauce recipe comes from the landmark diner that served the Lexington area for 50 years, Hite’s Restaurant. Though they served BBQ and hash, Hite’s was not a “BBQ joint” per se; however, Hite’s was famous for its barbecue, and that mustard sauce was one of the reasons why.

As Rick Thomas wrote on a Facebook group dedicated to remembering Hite’s Restaurant, “Nothing anywhere can compare with his sauce on pulled pork. I’ve tried – and failed.”

Well, fortunately, Rick doesn’t have to figure it out on his own.  

The State newspaper published Hite’s mustard sauce recipe, which reader Hardy Childers found in their archives and shared with us via email.

While it does have a touch of sugar added, this is not a sweet mustard sauce like you might find at another longstanding Columbia legend, Maurice’s. The Piggie Park Southern Gold BBQ sauce recipe tames the bold mustard flavor.

However, the sugar in Hite’s recipe may serve to take the edge off of the pungent yellow mustard, but it’s not there to make it sweet.

Harry Hite’s Mustard Sauce Recipe
Photo by our recipe tester Buck Vaughan
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Hite’s mustard sauce recipe tastes more along the lines of what one might have tasted at Jackie Hite’s in Batesburg-Leesville or maybe Cannon’s in Little Mountain (both are now permanently closed).

Today, Hite’s Bar-B-Que in West Columbia may be the only restaurant that still serves a strong yellow mustard sauce like this:

Mustard sauce on pulled pork in styrofoam tray from Hite's in West Columbia.

A Little History

Harry Hite, Founder of Hite's Restaurant in Lexington

Harry Hite, founder of Hite’s Restaurant in Lexington

In 1917, John Henry “Harry” Hite, Jr., was born in Ridgeway, SC, the youngest of nine children born to Sally and John Henry Hite, Sr.  

Shortly after, they moved to Lexington where Harry attended school through fifth grade at White Knoll, which at the time was a simple two-room schoolhouse.

In 1947, after having served in World War II, Hite built and opened his first restaurant, the 10 to 1. Originally, the place was named after the hours the restaurant was open, from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

“It was definitely the nightspot,” former car hop Marvin Hendrix said in The State. “It was about the only thing in town with lights on.”

The small building itself wasn’t much to look at.  In the book Lexington, Sharon Paeth quotes Hite as saying the following:

“I had a counter with five stools and two booths. It started with a two-burner kerosene stove, and I put a piece of iron on top of one of the burners for a grill. That’s how I grilled my first hamburger.”

According to Paeth, the original menu was sparse, including only hotdogs, hamburgers, and a BBQ sandwich. Despite its small selection, the 10 to 1 was the place to be.

“The customers were the most fun,” Hite said. “Our restaurant was the town meeting place. Clemson boys would meet there before driving back to college on Sunday.”

Building on Greatness

The next year, Hite expanded, opening the Dairy Bar right beside it, and in 1953, a drive-in was added. In fact, Hite’s became the fastest-growing restaurant in the Columbia area.

Harry Hite's Drive-in and Dairy Bar in Lexington
Harry Hite’s Drive-in and Dairy Bar in Lexington

Hite started his venture with just one cook and by 1977, he had a staff of 45.

In fact, if you knew Hite’s Restaurant, you probably wouldn’t recognize it from the photo above. If you look close at the photo below, you can still see the original restaurant among the additions.  

Here’s what it grew to become in later years:

Hite's Restaurant and Dairy Bar Aerial View

Hite’s Restaurant and Dairy Bar  (Photo shared by C Roger Backman on the Hite’s Restaurant Facebook group)

In 1980, Harry Hite sold the business to the Maghans, and they kept the restaurant open until 1996. Unfortunately, Hite passed after an extended illness in 1999 at the age of 82.

Today, thanks to Paeth, The State, and the Facebook group Hite’s Restaurant, we can remember a legend and enjoy a taste of the past.

Harry Hite's Drive-in and Dairy Bar in Lexington

Harry Hite's Mustard-based BBQ Sauce

Yield: 48 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Classic SC mustard sauce with a bright color that is strong on that yellow mustard flavor and doesn't hide behind sweetness as many other sauces do.


  • 1 quart prepared mustard
  • 1 tbs dry mustard
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper, ground
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tbs margarine


  1. Melt margarine in a saucepan
  2. Add all other ingredients
  3. Mix well
  4. Cook slowly for 10 minutes


Keeps well in the refrigerator.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 48 Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 16Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 196mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g

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Check out these other authentic SCBBQ recipes we’ve published on destination-bbq:

Eastern SC Vinegar-Based Sauce Recipe

Home Team BBQ’s Alabama White Sauce Recipe

South Carolina’s Best Mustard-Based BBQ Sauce Recipe

And we’ve published the following sauce recipes in the SCBBQ Recipes: Going Whole Hog cookbook  (read more about that here):

Sauces and Rubs:

Vinegar-Pepper Sauces
Mustard Sauces
Tomato-Based Sauces
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  • BlackJack Barbecue Dry Rub Recipe
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  • Home Team BBQ Dry Rub Recipe for Chicken Wings Recipe
  • John Lewis BBQ-Style Brisket Dry Rub Recipe

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James Christopher Hill

Saturday 20th of June 2020

Thank you! Great recipe!

James Roller

Sunday 21st of June 2020

Our pleasure. Thanks for the comment and visiting the site!


Friday 19th of June 2020

Grew up on this.

If you like the tart mustard like Hite's, check out Wise's in Newberry. It's thick and tart. I love it.

James Roller

Sunday 13th of March 2022

@Bill, French's will work just fine. I was saying that the sauce is so strong on the standard yellow mustard flavor, it's basically just like opening a bottle of French's. It's an exaggeration with a hint of truth.


Saturday 12th of March 2022

@James Roller, so, French's mustard doesn't work? What kind of mustard?

James Roller

Saturday 20th of June 2020

I have to confess the first time I tried Jackie Hite's sauce (and Cannon's over in Little Mountain), I thought I could just buy a bottle of French's and accomplish the same thing. Strong mustard taste unlike any other mustard sauce I was familiar with. Took me some time to appreciate it. Miss Jackie's now.

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