Types Of American BBQ

map of American BBQ style regions

The population here in America is a melting pot of people from all over the world and that makes the American types of BBQ so interesting.

We use all these styles that came to us from all over the world and converted into what is now known as “American BBQ”

I guess I don’t have to explain what BBQ is but here is a short description.

What Is BBQ

BBQ is nothing else than cooking on a fire. That fire can be from wood, gas, or charcoal and the style can range from cooking directly over the fire to cooking indirectly and low and slow for tougher cuts of meat.

4 Types of BBQ In America

When you take a closer look at the regions and the way to use their BBQ pits you can narrow it down to the following 4 styles of BBQ.

  • Kansas City style
  • Memphis style
  • Carolina style
  • Texas style

The styles of BBQ have been developed slowly over time and although used all over the USA they are more prominent in their own geological area of course.

Let’s dig a little deeper into what they are and what the differences are and what types of outdoor grills they use for that.

Memphis Style BBQ

This part of Tennessee is famous for being one of the 4 pillars of BBQ in the USA.

The most used meat is pork and to be more precise pork shoulder or Boston butts.

When you order Memphis-style pulled pork sandwiches they usually come with cole slaw and a tangy sauce.

(You can read my how-to cook a pork butt recipe on its own page.)

If you like to go all the way you also have to order the famous barbeque spaghetti.

Their ribs can be smoked either with a wet or dry rub and this kind of depends on what area you are in Memphis.

Kansas City Style BBQ

Kansas-style BBQ is known for the low and slow way of cooking most of their meats and slathering them in a usually thick sweet sauce.

The rub that is used is known under the name Kansas City rub and the main ingredients are Paprika powder and brown sugar in a 1:2 ratio.

The low and slow prevents the sugars from caramelizing and forming a hard crust.

Kansas City sauces are in my opinion one of the most famous sauces used and I use them myself a lot. You can read my BBQ sauce recipe for pulled pork here.

The basic ingredients are a Ketchup base and all types of molasses added. An average Kansas City BBQ sauce contains a lot of sugar.

Texas Style BBQ

When you say Texas and BBQ you say ribs and brisket! The saying is that everything is bigger in Texas and since this is one of the largest states with several regions that have their own signature BBQ.

The eastern part is more known for sausage.

The central Texas part is more known for brisket

The southern part of Texas is more known for the Mesquite-flavored meat.

Texas BBQ brisket is in many cases smoked open and not wrapped for about 18 hours. Some people mentioned that it looks like a piece of coal.

However, inside the meat is as tender as can be!

Carolina Style BBQ

In my opinion, Carolina BBQ is more of a mix of whole hog and pork shoulders depending on the area of Carolina you are in.

The Carolina pit masters have taken smoking a whole hog taken a high level. The different part of the hog all has their unique needs to come out perfect.

We all know the Carolina mustard sauce but this is more used in southern Carolina and is also known as “Carolina Gold”.

More BBQ Styles

Although these 4 are the most known there are more regions that have their own micro styles of BBQ.

Alabama Style BBQ

Famous for its white BBQ sauce and smoked meats. The white sauce is based on mayonnaise and added apple cider vinegar, mustard, and horseradish. This is all in combination with Coleslaw and potato salad.

St. Louis Style BBQ

Here we talk about St. Louis-style ribs. These ribs come from the stomach part and are to be recognized by the fact that the shape is more square compared to other cuts of ribs.

These ribs are usually grilled and not cooked low and slow.

Kentucky style BBQ

One of the signature types of meat used in Kentucky is mutton. Mutton is a mature sheep and needs to be cooked on low and slow to become very tender.

One dish you find in some parts of Kentucky is burgoo. This is basically a mix of all kinds of vegetables and mutton or any other type of meat.

I am sure there are more regions that have a very specific style of preparing their BBQ and if you are one of them feel free to contact me.

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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