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Home » Everything You Need To Know About Low and Slow BBQ Styles

Everything You Need To Know About Low and Slow BBQ Styles

Barbecue is a cuisine that has a special place in the hearts of many Americans. As a result, few foods are as closely associated with a region’s sense of pride as barbeque.

These pieces of meat have actually ignited friendly – and not so friendly – feuds among followers of specific ways of seasoning, saucing, and slow-cooking them for hours on end.

We can all agree that barbecue, like baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie, is a product of our country’s history and culture, and it thrives in our current culinary landscape.

We sincerely apologize to anybody who hasn’t had the pleasure of experiencing slow-cooked BBQ prepared in the traditional manner in the ‘BBQ Belt’ of the United States. Pig roasts, beer, and southern-cooked perfection are the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

We decided to go ahead and spell out the primary BBQ types to prevent any misunderstanding while you’re at the counter selecting between Carolina ‘cue and Texas brisket in the future, given the season and all. Even if you get the answer wrong, the progenitors of this delectable feast would be pleased anyway. We’re here to assist, so don’t worry.

Texas: How About Some Beef?

Texas Style BBQ

There will be no other kind of barbecue if Texas gets its way. All the way from Texas. So it comes as no surprise that the state goes to great lengths to stand out in the crowd, and they’ve done a good job of it. When grilling at this establishment, brisket is the most preferred piece of meat. To make it easier to grasp the vastness of the state, we’ve divvied it up into distinct regions….of course.

This is old school brisket at its best, and it serves as the most well-known style. Styles such as these may be traced back to the butcher’s tradition, which calls for seasoning the brisket with a mix of cayenne, salt, and pepper before slow smoking and slicing it for each client. Not to worry: The rubs in these sections are among the greatest in the nation, and the sauces are usually offered on the side (if at all).

The east of the state has the least amount of obstacles to deal with in this state. Instead of brisket, you will discover chopped beef and pig as well as ribs that fall off the bone and melt in your mouth at this establishment. Hickory wood is used in an indirect smoking procedure that results in a somewhat sweet and rich sauce for the smoked meats.

Sausage and barbacoa are the two most popular foods in South Texas. Some BBQ joints in this area will offer what South Texans consider the only Barbacoa in the country, which is prepared by burying whole cattle heads in BBQ pits covered in hot coals in the ground, while others offer smoked barbecue beef links that are fatty, juicy and heavily season with garlic, paprika, and chile powder.

Meats are regularly smoked over big pits of mesquite wood in the Texas Hill Country, which is located in the state’s westernmost region. It’s in this less-known location that barbecue resembles that of your backyard grill, with hog ribs, chops, and sausages taking center stage. The king here in Texas, though, will always be beef, and chances are, if you’re in Hill Country, you’ll find a BBQ place serving it.

South Carolina: Pass the Mustard

Similarly to North Carolina’s famous whole hog BBQ, South Carolina’s is likewise recognized for its long-simmered pit-roasted and smoked pig. Chopped BBQ that includes both white and dark meat may be served in sandwiches or as a side dish with a side of’slaw.

However, unlike any other BBQ location, South Carolina is known for the inclusion of one distinctive ingredient: mustard in their sauce. In general, save for a few exceptions, most of the other components are the same. In other words, the mixture of vinegar, pepper, tomato puree, and other ingredients. To answer your question, the German immigrants who resided in the coastal communities between Columbia, the country’s capital, and the seashore introduced mustard to the dish.

North Carolina: Whole Hog Cooking

North Carolina Style BBQ

In the 1500s, the Spanish brought pigs to the American southeast for the first time, and the animal quickly adapted to its new surroundings and became wild.

So it’s no surprise that much of the BBQ in this area is still focused on pork. As a matter of fact, why tamper with tradition when it comes to subjects like this? This kind of BBQ is unique to this area and, at least in North Carolina, calls for roasting the entire animal over an open fire before presenting the meat in finely diced form.

You can’t go wrong with a typical Carolina barbecue sandwich with a peppery and vinegary sauce on top. The combination of light and dark meat results in a drier end product than in the west.

Those in the state’s western areas prefer a tomato puree and brown sugar-based sauce, while those in the state’s eastern parts prefer a vinegar-based sauce that includes spicy peppers, black pepper, water, and salt.

Controversial Discussion About The Sauce

Oh, the sauce. One part of BBQ hosting such a rivalry that tournaments are conducted throughout the nation to give one fortunate cook the great honor of concocting the “best sauce.” And much like the rub, the greatest of the best are frequently family secrets; recipes passed down down the years with only minute iterations at a time.

Here, it’s practically hard to lock down any constants within a sauce because there are so many varieties. However, consistent basic ingredients differ from clear vinegary and peppery sauces throughout the East Coast to mustard-based sauces in the south to richer, sweet molasses-based sauces in the West. Some, however, vow off sauces entirely and instead employ a dry rub (a secret blend of salt and spices) to ready the meat before cooking.

Origins: From Rough to Delicious

History of BBQ

It’s hard to believe, but the roots of barbecue can be traced all the way back to colonial times, when the core area was bounded by Texas and Oklahoma to the west, Missouri, Kentucky, and Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Coast to the east and south, respectively. The point of mentioning the origins of the many varieties of BBQ and the preponderance of award-winning BBQ places in this area is not to indicate that this is the only location that does BBQ well.

However, it was originally designed to make difficult meats more palatable by cooking them for long periods of time over low heat provided by wood. ‘Barbacoa’ is a Spanish word that meaning to dry or roast meat slowly in order to preserve it. People now associate BBQ with communal gatherings of family and friends over big and satisfying meals in the modern sense of the phrase.

Direct heat was used for BBQ at least as far back as the beginning. Myoglobin in meat reacts with the carbon monoxide in the smoke to produce a smokey flavor that eventually became a hallmark of all barbecue styles. Traditional rib establishments, many of which have been in business for many generations, may still be found across the American South, serving the basic origins of American barbecue. There aren’t many, but if you do your homework, you’ll find a slew of opportunities.

Touch of Smoke: Wood in Smoke

Smoky and sweet are the two most common types of wood used for smoking BBQ. And depending on where you live or what sort of BBQ you want, these are the most often utilized woods.

Mesquite, pecan, oak and hickory slices of wood are often used by pit masters to create more robust, smokey tastes.

The gentler and sweeter flavor of fruit woods like as apple and pear, as well as cherry, maple, and alder, makes it perfect for thicker sauces.


Kansas City: Sauce is King

Much like the beef-centric state of Texas, Kansas City is renowned for its open-minded attitude toward barbecue. Meaning they’ve honed their grilling skills to the point that almost any kind of meat can be barbecued. Even fish and seafood are employed in traditional culinary ways here in this region. Burnt ends and sauce, on the other hand, are unique to Kansas City barbecue and can’t be found anywhere else.

Anyone who has never experienced burned ends should pay heed now. This will be a treat your taste senses will appreciate. Each end of the brisket cut has points that cook faster than the rest of the meat, caramelizing and crisping in the process, while the entire cut is smoked over wood. These ends are then chopped into squares and drenched in Kansas City’s famed sweet and spicy sauce, which includes fruit and spice tastes, before being served on their own with different toppings, such as cornbread or greens.

Beef Cutting Guides

Learn where every cut of beef can be found on America’s most delicious animal once you’ve got the styles down with our guide to beef cuts.