If you live in America or have visited the country, you know that American food is known for its diverse spices and types of BBQ. Since it is such a huge country, you will easily find different versions of the same food and types of BBQ styles in various parts of America.
The same applies to different barbecue styles. While the basic recipe, technique and low and slow cooking methods are the same, American barbecue varies in every region. For example, while the Kansas City barbecue is sweet with lots of brown sugar, the Memphis-style barbecue focuses more on pork.
So, before you plan to go for your weekly grocery shopping for a barbecue get-together on the weekend, go through this article to choose the type of barbecue you want to make. This way, you would know exactly the ingredients you might need to create a mouthwatering meal.
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Barbecue Traditions in the USA
If you haven’t tried making or eating barbecue before, here is a short description for you. Barbecue is a cooking technique that uses smoke and fire to prepare food. The process uses a low and slow cooking method to create soft, tender, and juicy meat.
What’s more, the barbecue tradition in every region varies according to the spices and new methods used. For instance, in regions like North America, experts use charcoal to roast or smoke for many hours and magically convert into a tender and rich delight.
It is safe to say that barbecue is the heart and soul of Americans. Barbecue meat is often the main meal of all special days, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.
But since the process of creating barbecue meat varies in different regions, the taste also differs a lot. In addition, the sides and drinks are also not the same. If you are intrigued to know more, dig into the next section for the four most popular and lesser-known bbq types.
Four Popular Types of BBQ
There are four popular American style barbecues. Why are they so prominent? Because people love these smoked meat barbecue renditions. All these styles are unique and delicious so let’s find out more about them.
Kansas City Style Barbecue
According to the words of a famous author, Doug Worgul, “Kansas City didn’t invent barbecue, but we did perfect it.” That’s quite a statement, but is that true?
One of the most amazing things about Kansas City barbecue is that it embraces all kinds of meat. This barbecue uses sweet seasoning and involves slathering the meat in brown sugar before placing it in a smoker for a slow cooking process.
There’s no doubt that brown sugar is the core ingredient of this barbecue style. Experts try to keep the temperature low so that the sugar doesn’t overcook and turn the meat all black.
While Kansas city style barbecue technique aces all kinds of meat, it is mostly known for its delicious burnt ends. What are these?
Burnt ends are prepared by smoking the pressed pork shoulder. They are not like your thin bacon strips as they are quite juicy, tender with a nice crunch. Burnt ends are a brisket‘s fatty ends and take about 15 to 17 hours to cook, caramelize and smoke properly.
Kansas City BBQ sauce
Undoubtedly, the Kansas City bbq sauce is a game-changer. So many people use words such as sticky and sweet to describe this regional sauce. But we think that these words don’t provide a fair description.
This bbq sauce or condiment is like a perfect wine made with a collection of rich flavors. It contains brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, molasses, and cayenne pepper. This beautiful mix is rich in sugar content and adds lots of value to the overall barbecue experience.
Other Special Elements
So, what else makes the Kansas City style barbecue perfect? Other than burnt ends, it usually revolves around pork ribs, pulled pork, sausages, and chicken.
Moreover, the barbecue experts in Kansas City use a special rub made of paprika, brown sugar, and various other spices. Hickory wood is often the first choice for this barbecue style.
And lastly, no Kansas City style barbecue is complete without sides such as coleslaw, baked beans, green beans, fried okra, or cheesy macaroni.
Carolina Style Barbecue
Next up, we have Carolina style barbecue. The people of Carolina love whole hog cooking. The hog takes about 12 to 24 hours to roast and requires only basic ingredients such as pepper and vinegar.
People in South Carolina, East, and West Carolina, love to smoke and enjoy the entire hog but the North Carolina bbq rejects this delight. Instead, this region is more focused on preparing Lexington style barbecue using pork shoulder.
While preparing the hog, the barbecue geniuses in Carolina make a traditional mop sauce and brush it on the meat while it smokes. This is a vinegar based sauce, apple cider vinegar, beer, and tomato juice.
Carolina BBQ Sauce
So, what kind of sauce does this barbecue meat go with. In Carolina, meat cuts and sauces vary. For instance, in South Carolina, you will find a mustard sauce with a tangy flavor.
But in North Carolina, people often prefer a vinegar sauce with their smoked meat. Also, in West Carolina, bbq enthusiasts enjoy their pork shoulder covered in vinegar, pepper sauce, and ketchup. They call this their western-style sauce.
Other Special Elements
Most Carolina bbq enthusiasts use hickory wood to create their favorite meat dishes. In addition, they often serve their primary barbecue meat with sides such as green beans, potato salad, and red slaw.
Texas Style Barbecue
Interestingly, Texas follows more than one regional practice to prepare its traditional barbecue. For instance, in East Texas, you will find lots of beef and pork. In this region, sliced beef is usually used in sandwiches and contains lots of vinegar sauce.
But in Central Texas, cattle is their king, and sauce is often considered offensive. People in Central Texas love to smoke brisket using oak wood and then slice it before serving.
Texas BBQ Sauce
As stated above, bbq sauce in Central Texas is more like a condiment. But in other parts of Texas, pitmasters prepare a mop sauce. This is usually made of meat drippings, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and cumin.
Other Special Elements
The barbecue experts in South Texas prefer mesquite wood to smoke. However, Central Texas uses either oak wood or hickory wood to give the right smoky flavor to the meat.
In addition, the most famous sides in this region are fried okra, potato salad, and pinto beans.
Memphis Style Barbecue
“No one does pork like Memphis.” That’s what most experts say.
Memphis barbecue contains both chicken and beef, but you will always find pig as the primary meat. This barbecue style takes pride in its pulled pork and pork ribs.
Interestingly, there are two different ways to prepare the Memphis ribs. You can either go for the wet ribs method that applies a sauce during and after the smoking process or try the dry ribs.
The latter is equally delicious and tender and uses a dry rub for marination. Moreover, dry ribs are served naked without a sauce which helps their original flavor and texture to shine.
Memphis pork shoulders are also unique. The meat is slow-cooked and then enjoyed with a tangy sauce. Moreover, this meat is often enjoyed as sandwiches with a pile of creamy coleslaw.
Memphis BBQ Sauce
The traditional Memphis bbq sauce is quite thin. It is made of white vinegar, ketchup, yellow mustard, and brown sugar. In addition, some experts also add Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, salt, and onion powder.
Other Special Elements
The hickory wood flavor is the traditional choice of most pitmasters in Memphis. But there has been a recent trend of using pecan and applewood flavors.
The most popular sides for Memphis barbecue are baked beans, green beans, coleslaw, and French fries.
Micro BBQ Regions in the United States
There are many barbeque styles that, although they are not as popular as the four above, are equally delicious and loved by many.
In Alabama, the most famous meat options for barbecue are whole chicken and pork shoulder. But the most important thing that makes this barbecue style stand out from the rest is the Alabama white sauce.
It is a unique mayonnaise-based sauce with small quantities of brown mustard and apple cider vinegar. You can either enjoy this sauce with your smoked meat or use it to prepare sides such as potato salad and coleslaw.
Santa Maria Barbecue
The king of Santa Maria barbecue is grilled tri-tip coated with a rub made of salt, garlic powder, and pepper seasoning. The pitmasters in this region use oak coals to give a distinct flavor to the meat.
This smoked meat is then often served with sides such as beans and Salsa Cruda.
St Louis Barbecue
If you are in St Louis, you can’t afford to miss their spare ribs. This meat cut comes from the rib cage’s stomach side. These ribs have high-fat content and are quite tender.
But what makes them different is that since they have a high bone-to-meat ratio, they are grilled instead of slow-smoked.
Last but not least, Kentucky barbecue is all about mutton. This meat uses slow smoking to convert it into a juicy, soft, and tender meaty delight. The recipe often uses Worcestershire sauce to increase the game level of the flavor.
Different Types of BBQ Sauces
Now that we have introduced different barbecue styles let us explain some famous barbecue sauces with various meat. Take a look!
This sauce is quite popular and uses either tomato puree or ketchup for a base. A tomato-based sauce also has plenty of sugar which gives it a perfectly sweet taste.
If you like such sauces, you can pair this one with meats that use a sugary rub to prepare. Moreover, you can also enjoy it with beef brisket or ribs.
Mustard Based Sauce
A mustard-based sauce uses yellow mustard as a base. It has a tangy flavor and is quite rich in pepper. This sauce is often served with South Carolina barbecue, but you can also use it as a rub when smoking tough meat.
Mayonnaise Based Sauce
In our opinion, nothing goes well with smoked turkey than a mayonnaise-based sauce. It is quite creamy and rich. Moreover, it has a unique hint of horseradish that increases the value of the overall flavor.
You can use this barbecue sauce as a dip with smoked chicken as well. But since this sauce is full of calories and is quite heavy, many health freaks may choose to avoid it.
Vinegar Based Sauce
This sauce is tangy and sour. It is also quite strong, so it is better not to experiment with it. While using a vinegar-based sauce, try to follow the quantity mentioned in the recipe so that you do not overuse it and ruin the real and organic flavor of the meat.
The Worcestershire sauce is quite popular among many cuisines. This sauce has a bold and sweet taste, so again make sure to avoid overusing it. It is an astringent, and so it can ruin the overall meat flavor when used more than required.
Types of BBQ Summary
Did you feel you were in barbecue heaven while reading this article? We are sorry if this guide made you hungry; that was exactly what we wanted to achieve. If you live in the USA but have never tasted the oh-so-famous American barbecue, you are missing out on a major life pleasure.
Your weekend plan is the best opportunity to prepare and enjoy the best barbecue lunch. The article above has helped you understand different barbecue styles. So, regardless of which barbecue tradition you go for, make sure you follow the right recipe and serve your dish with the most appropriate sides.
Also, don’t forget the drinks. Cheers to your successful barbecue adventure!