Travel around the United States, and you will find that “barbecue” means many things to many people, depending on where you are standing.

Most grillmasters agree that AT LEAST four major regional styles exist:

  • Memphis
  • Carolina
  • Kansas City
  • Texas

Memphis-style barbecue– 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.

Carolina barbecue–  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.

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 typically thick and sweet based on tomatoes and molasses.

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).

To read more on regional traditions in barbecue, check out this article, “The United States of Barbecue” in Saveur Magazine.