As the warm weather approaches, many of us are heading outside to grill our meat and other favorites.  When it comes to BBQ in the United States there are a variety of methods and favorite flavors that people like more than others.

Can you tell we are hungry?

While the wide variety of barbecue styles makes it difficult to break barbecue styles down into regions, there are four major styles commonly referenced (though many sources list more). The four major styles are Memphis and Carolina, which rely on pork and represent the oldest styles, and Kansas City and Texas, which utilize beef as well as pork, and represent the later evolution of the original deep south barbecue.[10] Pork is the most common meat used, followed by beef and veal, often with chicken or turkey in addition. Lamb and mutton are found in some areas, such as Owensboro, Kentucky, and some regions will add other meats.

Memphis

Memphis barbecue is primarily two different dishes: ribs, which come “wet” and “dry”, and barbecue sandwiches. Wet ribs are brushed with sauce before and after cooking, and dry ribs are seasoned with a dry rub. Barbecue sandwiches in Memphis are typically chopped pork served on a simple bun and topped with cole slaw. Of note is the willingness of Memphians to put this chopped pork on many non-traditional dishes, such as pizza or nachos.

Carolinas

Carolina barbecue is usually pork, served pulled, shredded, or chopped, but sometimes sliced. It may also be rubbed with a spice mixture before smoking and mopped with a spice and vinegar liquid during smoking.

Two styles predominate in different parts of North Carolina. Eastern North Carolina barbecue is made by the use of the “whole hog”, where the entire pig is barbecued and the meat from all parts of the pig are chopped and mixed together. Eastern North Carolina barbecue also uses a thin sauce made of spices and vinegar. Western North Carolina barbecue is made from only the pork shoulder, which is mainly dark meat, and uses a thicker sweetened tomato-based sauce. Western North Carolina barbecue is also known as Lexington barbecue, after the town of Lexington, North Carolina, home to many barbecue restaurants and a large barbecue festival, the Lexington Barbecue Festival.[11][12]

South Carolina has three regional styles. In western parts of the state, along the Savannah River, a peppery tomato or ketchup-based sauce is common. In the central part of the state (the Midlands), barbecue is characterized by the use of a yellow “Carolina Gold” sauce, made from a mixture of yellow mustard, vinegar, brown sugar and other spices. In the coastal “Pee Dee” region, they use the whole hog, and use a spicy, watery, vinegar-and-pepper sauce. In Piedmont area of the state shoulders, hams, or Boston butts are used.

Kansas City

Kansas City has a wide variety in meat, but the signature ingredient is the sauce. The meat is smoked with a dry rub, and the sauce served as a table sauce. Kansas City style sauce is thick and sweet (with significant exceptions such as Arthur Bryant’s, which is significantly less sweet than others in the region, and Gates, notably spicier than other KC-style sauces) based on tomatoes and molasses. This is perhaps the most widespread of sauces, with the Kansas City recipe K. C. Masterpiece being a top-selling brand.

Texas

There are four generally recognized regional styles of barbecue in Texas: East Texas style, which is essentially Southern barbecue and is also found in many urban areas; Central Texas “meat market style,” which originated in the butcher shops of German and Czech immigrants to the region; West Texas “cowboy style,” which involves direct cooking over mesquite and uses goat and mutton as well as beef; and South Texas barbacoa, in which the head of a cow is cooked (originally underground).

California

The original use of buried cooking in barbecue pits in North America was done by the Native Americans for thousands of years, including by the tribes of California. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries eras, when the territory became Spanish Las Californias and then Mexican Alta California, the Missions and ranchos of California had large cattle herds for hides and tallow use and export. At the end of the culling and leather tanning season large pit barbecues cooked the remaining meat. In the early days of California statehood after 1850 the Californios continued the outdoor cooking tradition for fiestas.

In California a well known barbecue dish is grilled tri-tip beef rump, sometimes cut into steaks. The Santa Maria Style BBQ, originally from the Central Coast of California, uses a portable ‘towed’ trailer version frequently seen at Farmers markets.

Hawaii

The cooking customs of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia became the traditional Hawaiian Luau of the Native Hawaiians. It was brought to international attention by 20th century tourism to the islands.

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What is your favorite type of BBQ

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30 Comments

  1. March 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm — Reply

    If you have never eaten at the original Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City you are doing a disservice to your taste buds. Make sure to get the Creme Soda while you are there too.

  2. Halite
    March 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm — Reply

    Texas. Luling and Lockhart.

  3. morpheus11
    March 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm — Reply

    I agree with Zach. Arthur Bryant’s is awesome. Another Kansas City BBQ place to check out is Oklahoma Joe’s. It started in a convience store of a gas station and now has a couple of stores around KC.

  4. March 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm — Reply

    Wet Memphis. I live on the other side of the globe but I love me some spareribs.
    I make my own sauce with Ketchup, Tabasco, Olive oil, Garlic and fresh green and red chili peppers.

    Mm-Mmmm.

    Had my first this season, after a nice day on skiing.

  5. Russ Catt
    March 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm — Reply

    I tried some BBQ while on a job in Raleigh, NC and remember being fairly unimpressed.
    Unfortunately, I never got a chance to try Memphis-style BBQ when I was there. (Too much work, not enough play)
    I’ve had multiple opportunities to sample Texas style BBQ and have always come away happy. The meat market style just speaks to me.

    • TaZ
      March 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm — Reply

      Russ, Raleigh is not the place in NC to go for Barbecue despite being the capital city. Actually Lexington Barbecue is different from Eastern NC Barbecue that you would have gotten if you had headed down US 70 from Raleigh toward Wilson and Kinston. Eastern NC Barbecue is far better than Lexington (no ketchup in the sauce). Wilson, NC and my hometown (north of Raleigh) has some of the best barbecue anywhere.

      • Gary
        March 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm — Reply

        NORTH CAROLINAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  6. March 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm — Reply

    I never knew there was any other kind of BBQ other than Texas style. Then I went up north.

    I’m not a big BBQ fan, but man, what is with some of those other kinds?

    -c

  7. TaZ
    March 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm — Reply

    Eastern NC Barbecue rules. Cooked low and slow over real wood. No ketchup or mustard in the sauce. Joy to a redneck like me is a big wood cooker in the back yard with a half a whole hog being smoked to perfection and eating the meat right out of the cooker dipped in sauce with a big side of slaw and barbecued baked beans with bacon. And iced tea (sweetened, of course) unless you crack open a Natural Light. Throw in a good Camacho cigar and a cornhole game (not what ya’ll think it is…it’s like horseshoes with bean-bags filled with corn tossed through holes in opposing boards) and you got country heaven right there.

    • March 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm — Reply

      How awesome would it be if all BBQ places had an area designated for cornhole and/or washers? Should be mandatory.

  8. Beren1
    March 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm — Reply

    KC Bar-B-Q is the best in the world. Period. Texas is a little sweet to me, but I’ve had misquite smoking that was alright in comparison to hickory.

  9. Xian
    March 13, 2012 at 6:49 pm — Reply

    My favorite type of BBQ is Char Siu pork which my mother would do authentic slow-style, not the dry dyed-red fast-styled stuff widely available (which is still tasty, but is to authentic Char Siu as MacDonald’s is to a grilled prime rib steak). It has many of the attributes of great American BBQ- juicy, smoke, etc.- while having sweet, salty, spicy, meaty, and aromatic flavors all well balanced Chinese style with a mouth watering array of textures as well- crispy blackened edges, chewy tips, tender fall-apart insides… a colossal PITA to make, so when mom did it seemed like she did a whole pig that we’d be eating for weeks afterwards (without complaint! you get a slice on your noodles or rice, or stuffed in a steamed bun, or mixed with fried rice, or just have sticky ribs by themselves as a main course).

    That said, the poll is American styles so I probably have to go with Kentucky because they bring sweet to the party… something generally missing from American savory meat dishes… mixed with tangy which is a very Asian sensibility (Asian palate tries to combine as many flavor compounds as possible into a dish to hit salty, sour, sweet, etc. all at once, whereas Western palates like to double up on a specific flavor profile- like putting mushrooms, cheese, and beef together for umami or most diabetes-inducing sundaes hammering the sweet button). However, the sauce can cover up a lot of the smoke and meat flavor so I tend to order Memphis dry unless I know a place has a really good KC sauce.

  10. March 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm — Reply

    Damn my sedentary european habits; I’ve never tasted any of these sauces.
    (And they sound most intriguing).

  11. Ian
    March 13, 2012 at 7:08 pm — Reply

    If your BBQ needs sauce then it isn’t any good

    • March 13, 2012 at 8:13 pm — Reply

      A good sauce is never a bad thing, no matter how good your meat is… And sometimes, chili has beans. :D

  12. March 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm — Reply

    If it’s good for the King it’s good for me, Memphis all the way. uh-huh

  13. foolsmask
    March 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm — Reply

    I was raised on Kansas style. I didn’t know there was a name or other types until college. I will eat any style you want to serve, but Kansas style is far and away the best.

  14. Oldcomicfan
    March 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm — Reply

    Wow. Every single one of you is off base here. Barbecue is the art of cooking over charcoal. If you put flavored tomato sauce on the food, no matter from what region of the country, that DON’T make it barbecue. If you cook it on the oven or stove top or an electric grill, it AIN’T barbecue. If you bake it in an oven, no matter how much “barbecue” sauce you smother it in, it ISN’T barbecue. Especially if you cook it over a gas grill it’s NOT barbecue. Barbecue only has one essential ingredient and that’s a charcoal fire! Anything else IS NOT barbecue. I don’t know when people started equating barbecue with flavored tomato sauce, but I wish people would stop doing it!

    That said, my favorite marinade is this: Melt some butter in a sauce pan. Add in a few ounces of soy sauce to the melted butter. Open a beer. Put a few ounces of beer into the mixture. Put the rest of the beer into the cook. With a brush, baste the chicken with the marinade repeatedly as it cooks OVER A CHARCOAL FIRE! The last thing you do before removing the chicken from the grill is to give it a final baste and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over it. It will be the best chicken you ever tasted!

    • March 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm — Reply

      I don’t know when people started equating barbecue with flavored tomato sauce, but I wish people would stop doing it!

      I suspect it’s because they’re called “barbecue sauce.” I’m just spitballing on this, mind you… :D

      • ~wyntermute~
        March 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm — Reply

        Dude… We evolved from “firepits” a long time ago, and consequentially so did language. What people commonly know as “BBQ” isn’t what you’re describing, as much as you might bemoan this decades-old change of phrase. We used to not have microwaves or toaster ovens, but we still “bake” in both of those implements. People can “barbeque” food a number of ways, including your narrowly-exclusionistic one. ^_^

    • ~wyntermute~
      March 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm — Reply

      From wiki: (just because I’m feeling pedantic tonight. ^_^)
      Barbecuing encompasses four or five distinct types of cooking techniques. The original technique is cooking using smoke at lower temperatures (usually around 240–270 °F or 115–125 °C) and significantly longer cooking times (several hours), known as smoking. Another technique is baking, utilizing a masonry oven or any other type of baking oven, which uses convection to cook meats and starches with moderate temperatures for an average cooking time (about an hour plus a few extra minutes). Yet another technique is braising, which combines direct dry heat charbroiling on a ribbed surface with a broth-filled pot for moist heat, cooking at various speeds throughout the duration (starting fast, slowing down, then speeding up again, lasting for a few hours). Finally, grilling is done over direct dry heat, usually over a hot fire (i.e., over 500 °F (260 °C) or 260 °C) for a short time (minutes). Grilling may be done over wood, charcoal, gas (natural gas or propane), or electricity.

  15. Antonio Sanciolo
    March 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm — Reply

    Coming from Australia, a nation that identifies itself with the “barbie”, I find it pretty odd you’ve left out international styles, like the Portuguese Churrasauria which you wouldn’t have the American styles without.

    • ~wyntermute~
      March 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm — Reply

      The website is Based in The U.S.of.A, so…. You’re honestly surprised? They probably think they =invented= barbequing, but we don’t need to get into that here.. ^_^

      • March 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm — Reply

        we invented everything… ;)

      • March 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm — Reply

        They probably think they =invented= barbequing, but we don’t need to get into that here.. ^_^

        Stephen and I actually invented the intarwebz, too.

        • March 15, 2012 at 1:02 am — Reply

          Well to be quite honest, you slept most of the time, while I toiled away… still I let you sign your name to that one to make you feel better.

  16. Jason
    March 14, 2012 at 12:50 am — Reply

    Wow. This is a tough one.

    I’m not picky about my BBQ and I’ve had BBQ from everywhere on this poll except Hawaii and California. If California BBQ is anything like other California creations, I will likely leave it on the plate.

    First and foremost, don’t knock the sauces when they work. Dry rubs work. Sauces work. Depends on the meat. Depends on the what part of animal is being cooked.

    I like the Kansas City dry rub and the Memphis styles, but I love my neighbor to the south Carolina (both the vinegar and, moreover, the tomato-based sauces). Don’t care for the mustard-based, though.

    I’ve had Texas BBQ from a handful of big name Texas BBQ places and, although good, just doesn’t satisfy my cravings. Sorry, Texas, I was raised on pulled pork, not beef and haven’t found a place in Texas that can do pork as well as out this way.

  17. Frank
    March 14, 2012 at 11:20 am — Reply

    None of the above. I like the flavors in the Deep South, though every time I’m in TX, I get as much brisket as I can.

    Jason, don’t bother with pork in TX, I have never found any place that can cook it very well in the state.
    Likewise, in the Deep South, you can not find good Brisket.

  18. March 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm — Reply

    I went with Memphis. I spent a lot of time there when I was going through treatment for Leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a kid, and I grew quite fond of the way they do BBQ there. Every month when we’d go to visit the hospital for checkups afterwards, it wouldn’t be a complete visit without getting BBQ from this one particular place (the name of which escapes me as it has been about 12 years, but I know where it used to be located by heart) afterwards.

    That isn’t to say I don’t like others, I just like Memphis style particularly.

  19. March 19, 2012 at 6:59 am — Reply

    I maintain that there should have been an option on the poll for “All of the Above”, but then I’m not a BBQ Connoisseur, more of a BBQ Omnivore.

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