Types of American BBQ


Are you a juicy pork shoulder kind of eater or do you go for the savory dry rub ribs? Do you slather your meat in a thick, red barbecue sauce or are you a purist? Whatever your fancy, know where to go for that drool-worthy barbecue.

North Carolina – This is a state divided, but we get to reap and eat the benefits. First, we have the Lexington-style barbecue known for pork shoulder. It gets cooked, pulled, chopped and served with a tomato and vinegar dippin’ sauce.

Second, we have the East style. Eastern eaters aren’t picky about their cut of meat. They barbecue the whole pig and mix it all together with a vinegar-pepper sauce. Rule of thumb: wherever you are in North Carolina, pig out.

South Carolina – This is whole-hog central, similar to North Carolina but not identical. Unlike their northern cousins, South Carolinians stain their fingers with yellow; mustard-based sauces reign supreme. But, if you’re not a mustard fan, you can also find tomato, ketchup and vinegar-pepper sauces.

Kansas City – Let’s not forget their signature barbecue, which is all about the sauce. In fact, the sauce is so good that meat is optional. It’s a robust molasses and tomato-based concoction of sweet goodness. And whatever you do, don’t forget the fries on the side.

Memphis – Here, you’ll find blue suede shoes and ribs – all kinds of ribs – from slide-off-the-bone wet ribs to dry-spiced ribs. Whatever the style, the ribs are smoked and served with a tomato-based barbecue sauce. Like North Carolina, pork is preferred and repurposed for all kinds of non-barbecue-related foods. Pulled pork pizza, anyone?

Texas – Wherever you go, beef is boss. After all, barbecued beef brisket is the national dish of Texas. It’s a slow-cooked slab of meat – actually, a cow’s pectoral muscle – that’s rubbed, slathered and often injected until it becomes a succulent slab of smoky awesomeness.

But it’s not all about the brisket. In West and Southwest Texas, you can pick from Mexican or Cowboy-style beef barbecue. If you go Cowboy, you get barbecue directly cooked over mesquite charcoal. If you go Mexican, you get barbacoa-style barbecue, where the meat is steamed and smoked at the same time, making it super-tasty and super-moist.

St. Louis – These pork ribs are so good, they literally have their own name: St. Louis spare ribs. They’re bigger than their baby-back, baby-back, baby-back counterparts, but, unlike regular spare ribs, the ends are trimmed so they look rectangular. Cookin’ ’em low and slow is the key to carnivorous ecstasy.

We’ve covered some of the heavy hitters here, but we’ve only just begun to dip into the deliciousness of American barbecue. Flavor that