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Barbecue Techniques from All Over the USA

Updated on June 11, 2010

Especially in the South, there’s nothing that defines a region quite like the style and technique of its barbecue. From pork to beef, dry rubs to saucy sauces, each region has their own distinct style. And Southern folks like to live just the way they like to cook: low, and slow.


Being from Texas, I’m putting my state’s barbeque at the top of the list (because it’s the best, naturally!) You  won’t find coleslaw or too many other fixings when you are serving true Texas barbecue, but there are two main schools when it comes to sauce and meat: Central Texas and East Texas.

In Central Texas, the real focus is the quality and smokiness of the meat, usually beef. There is no mop sauce for the meat – very rarely will you even find sauce on the side or even a bun (think white bread and pickles on the side!)

East Texas barbecue is a different style that is typically sauced and chopped – it is said that the style originated when the residents there couldn’t afford the best cuts of meat so they made a style that would work with tougher cuts. The sauce you will find on Texas barbecue is tomato-based and thick as our accents.

North and South Carolina

Carolina style barbecue focuses on all things pig. Pork is king is this region. Typical preparation includes a dry rub on the meat before it is cooked as well as a vinegar-based mop sauce as it is cooking. Now for the sauce: In South Carolina, a mustard and vinegar sauce makes the perfect compliment to any smoky barbeque pork. In North Carolina, the sauce still has plenty of spice and vinegar, but it is a thinner consistency. You will probably find a pulled pork sandwich or two, stacked high with crisp coleslaw.


If you’re looking for a good rib technique, head to the Memphis region. There are two techniques used for pork ribs in Memphis: wet and dry. The wet ribs will be mopped with sauce before and after cooking. The dry ribs are simply seasoned prior to cooking with a simple pork rub (and as any good barbecue lover knows, never ask a chef their secret rub recipe!)

Alabama and Georgia

Like most of the Southeastern states, pork is the main focus at an Alabama or Georgia barbecue. Most of the time, you will find it served with a tomato-based sauce, but you could also find Alabama’s famous white sauce (mayo and vinegar) depending on where you pull over to find a quick bite

Kansas City

Ever heard of K.C. Masterpiece?Kansas City barbecue is characterized not by the meat, but by the thick, tomato and molasses-laden sauce that is served on the side. The technique for Kansas City barbecue does include a dry rub prior to smoking, but the sauce on the table is the star of the show.


Kentucky sets itself apart because of the state’s choice of meat: mutton. Prepared in a typical barbecue style, the gamey taste of the mutton can be counteracted by a white vinegar based mop sauce that is applied throughout the cooking process.

You could argue that Maryland or California or Hawaii have their own barbecue techniques, but, again being a Texas girl, I would probably laugh. To me, there’s nothing like a delicious barbecue brisket (I would settle for a saucy pulled pork shoulder sandwich, but don’t tell my grandpa!)

No matter where you’re from or what barbecue style you identify with, the whole point of barbecue should be to have fun with friends and family!


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