The Meaning History And Definition Of BBQ.

History, meaning and definition of BBQ

When I started thinking about the idea of writing about the meaning, origin, and history of barbecue I had no idea what I got myself into.

I thought it would take me maybe one or two hours to write an article but only the research alone took me a whole day and still am I not sure if I found all the answers and if the answers are right.

Meaning Of The Word Barbecue

I read on several websites about what the barbecuing definition is and I think this is the best explanation I can come up with in trying to answer the question of what does BBQ stands for.

The word barbecue can refer to the cooking method, the thing you use to cook meat on, or even a social gathering.

It was originally used to describe a cooking method for meat slow at low temperatures over indirect heat.

The methods we use for barbecuing now can be:

  • Grilling
  • Roasting
  • Smoking
  • Braising

I will tell you more about them later or you can click on them to go there.

Barbecue or Barbeque

How do you spell barbecuing is a search that about 1600 people type in Google every month.

I was not able to find if there is a correct or wrong way and according to you can use both, but barbecue is the preferred form and barbeque is a variation.

I have noticed that in some European countries they use the word barbeque and not barbecue like in the United States.

Barbecue Origin

Here is where it gets confusing and many people have their own opinion when it comes to describing the barbecue origin.
The most accepted story is this one.

A Baracoa was used by the Taino Indians and is a wooden structure they used to smoke their meats.

I have been trying to find a picture of it but could only find dishes named Barbacoa and pictures of BBQs and grills as we use nowadays.

Barbecoas, is a variation of the word and explains it like there were holes dug in the ground, with a pig or lamb in it, and then covered with wood and set on fire for several hours.

This is still used in Hawaiian BBQ and is very popular there.

In 1526 these words were used for the first time in print some type of Spanish dictionary.

After this, it took a long time before the word barbecue was commonly used for what we use it for now in the western world.

It was in 1755 that the word barbecue was entered in the English dictionary and it was described as a term from the west-indies for cooking a whole hog, that was split in half and cooked about two feet above a charcoal fire.

History of barbecue in America

Barbecue in the USA is not to be compared anymore with the old Barbacoa, but it is a wide variety of cooking meat outdoors.

I guess we have to go back to colonial times and the southern states to start our journey through time.

After this, it was hard to find more history but I found that roasting meat was popular in the south and after that, it slowly found its way to the more northern states.

Mostly it was pigs that were used. The reason is that you can let a pig run in the woods without feeding it. For cows that are harder to do.

Then when food was scared in wintertime the pigs were caught and roasted on an open fire when needed.

I can write probably a whole article just about this, but If you like to read more in-depth about where it all came from look at one of the resources at the bottom of this page.

Most used ways to Barbecue

As I mentioned earlier the word bbq can mean several things. From cooking to the type of product you use or it can even mean a social gathering.

There are however a few things we can divide the whole thing into and here I will give you a short overview of all types of Barbecue.


This is in my opinion more popular in the northern regions of the USA and is mostly used to grill hamburgers or hot dogs over a hot fire with some options to make grill marks. read my top 10 grill tips here.


Roasting can be done on a hot fire but in most cases will be done by placing the meat more next to the fire or higher above it and in this way controlling the temperature a little better.
Roasting also includes larger cuts of meat.


Smoking meat is very popular in the southern states and is basically preparing meat at a low temperature for a longer period of time. Historically this was done with the tougher cuts of meat to make them tender. Smoking is done with a side box or the lately very popular pellet smokers.


Braising is preparing meat on the grill for a short time and then adding them to a pot and letting it simmer till done.

What region to go to for BBQ

Every region has its own specific way of preparing meat outdoors.
Most of them also have a signature sauce and way of serving their BBQ.

I wrote some more about the types of American BBQ but you can find some information below.

Memphis-style BBQ.

This region is mostly pork and most of the time prepared with a dry rub and a tomato-based sauce.
Most known for pulled pork and pork ribs.

North Carolina-style BBQ.

Also mostly pork but here a vinegar and spice mix is used to season the meat.
Most known for pulled pork and ribs.

South Carolina-style BBQ.

Basically the same as North Carolina but the sauce is more mustard and brown sugar-based.
Most known for ham and pulled pork

Kansas City-style BBQ.

This is a mix of pork and beef region. The reason is that it is located between pork lovers in the east and beef lovers in the south.
Most known for burned ends and the use of a sweet sauce of tomato and molasses.

Texas-style BBQ.

Although Texas is a beef state they still eat a lot of pork also.
Eastern Texas uses more chopped versions and the rest of Texas is more sliced meat.
Most known for Brisket smoked over Pecan or Oak.

Alabama-style BBQ.

Alabama is influenced by Texas and the Carolinas.
They tend to lean more towards pulled pork and their white sauce that has a base of mayo and vinegar.
Most known for pulled pork with white sauce.

I know that my writing here is far from covering everything related to BBQ but it is a start.

Eddie van Aken

Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews he is doing. You can read more on the about page for Eddie van Aken


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