Trying to navigate the nuanced world of barbecue can be confusing, but tasty. So, let’s not delay, because today we’re taking a look at 21 different types of BBQ from all across the globe.
Barbecue traditions run deep all over the world. Whether you’re dining in the U.S., Caribbean, Europe, or Asia, grill masters are serving up platefuls of delicious barbecued meats and sauces, each unique to the region.
So, if you love cooking your food low and slow, keep reading to discover 21 mouthwatering barbecue styles.
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Types of BBQ Explained
Learning everything about BBQ would take a masterclass in culinary arts. Therefore, we’re breaking down different barbecue styles from South Korea to Kansas City.
Let’s dig in!
Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay – Asado Style
Meat that has been stretched out, usually whole, and smoked over an open flame marks the Asado style of cooking. Serve it up with some with chimichurri, grilled vegetables, and a glass of red wine.
Brazil – Churrasco Style
One of the more basic grilling styles hails from Brazil called the Churrasco method.
By skewering the meat, pit masters will then lay it across a grill or open flame. Then the skewers are used to lift and serve the meat at churrascarias by shaving parts off.
Although the meat is skewered similar to kebabs, the method is different for each. For churrasco, you’ll see large portions, and the meat gets saved off rather than eaten from the skewer.
China – Char Siu
While famous for noodles, China has one of the broadest BBQ scenes in the entire world. With so many street food vendors and carts, you’ll think you died and went to barbecue heaven.
You can find carts loaded with seared, smoked meat, with equally enticing accompaniments. One element that ties them all together is the sweet and sour tang that is present in Chinese barbecue.
So, whether you’re enjoying char siu inside a bun, or alongside a bowl of rice, there’s a bottomless barbecue well from which to draw.
India – Tandoori Style
For Indian barbecue, you’ll have to become one with the earth. Because in India, a Tandoor clay oven is a built into the ground.
As with most Indian food, tandoori BBQ can be spicy if you’re not used to heat. But to keep your mouth cool, accompany your meal with naan bread, rice, and raita – a yogurt based sauce that is as flavorful as it is comforting after a Scoville filled bite.
Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore – Ikan & Ayam Bakar Style
Throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, you can find charcoal roasted fish and chicken called Ikan and Ayam Bakar. By rubbing fiery sambal sauce over the meat before grilling, the spicy flavors are infused into the dish. Then to add to the experience, the meat is wrapped in banana leaves before hitting the grill.
Israel – Al Haesh Style
With waves of food that run the gamut from chicken to beef sausages, to smoky ribs, Al Haesh really is fire. For the Israeli method of barbecue, preparation for Kosher eating is key, but it’s the culinary accompaniments that steal the show.
Alongside tantalizing meats lies quartered pita bread, and a wide array of sauces that hit spicy, creamy, and sweet – sometimes all within the same bowl.
Korea – Gogigui
Korean BBQ, or Gogigui, is a medley of thinly sliced meats so supple that they melt in your mouth. Plus all the side dishes and kimchi you could ever ask for. All you need to make your dinner even better is a shot of soju to wash it all down.
Japan – Yaki StyleView in gallery
In Japan, grilling styles might look a little different from its Western counterparts, but the resulting food will be sure to satisfy your BBQ cravings. Plus Japan has several types of grills you can use to barbecue your food.
Yakitori, and Irori are the best known, but robatayaki, sumibiyaki, teppanyaki, and yakiniku are starting to make their way west. All of them are made in similar fashion over binchotan, an oak charcoal that uses infrared to cook the meat on the inside as flames sear the outside to a charred delight.
Middle East & Asia – Mangal
Throughout the Middle East, parts of Asia, and Eastern Europe, you’ll find ample BBQ options grilled on a Mangal. Although Mangal is a term used for the grill itself, it’s also a term used to describe the resulting kebab style cuisine. Because the Mangal style barbecue is so far reaching, there are endless variations of this barbecue style. However, the most notable are the Russian shasliks, and Turkish shish kebabs.
Pacific & New Zealand – Hāngi
Throughout New Zealand and other Pacific islands, the traditional Māori barbecue style takes the title of “pit master” to a deeper level – underground.
A Hāngī is the oven itself but the name is synonymous for the feast which follows the cooking process. By heating volcanic stones and cooking low and slow through indirect heat, the final product is a worthy of celebration.
Philippines – Lechon
Over in the Philippines, locals go hog wild over lechon. For traditional Filipino lechon, you’ll take a whole suckling pig, or at least pig parts, then roast it over an open flame. Once cooked to perfection, serve the whole hog with some lechon sauce on the side and enjoy!
South Africa – Braai
A braai is similar to grilling done anywhere in the world. However, the big difference between a braai and the backyard barbecues others are familiar with is the flame that’s a central figure in the process. And braais are serious business, as seen through their role in celebrating Heritage Day.
Alongside having an important role in South African Culture, braais also incorporate pineapple juice and vinegar to marinate the meat. These additional flavors make the meat more acidic than the smoky taste we’re used to in the United States, but it makes for a beautiful culinary experience.
Barbecue is king in the United States, and any excuse to light up the grill is seized to the fullest extent. Because of this love of chargrilled meat, there’s a multitude of regional BBQ to choose from.
So, before you get lost in the barbecue sauce, sink your teeth into some of the best United States style barbecue around.
Smoking meats – typically pork – over hickory, pecan, or oak is how Alabama does its BBQ. Then the meat gets pulled or chopped up high on a roll with coleslaw and pickles. Or better yet, you can baptize your meat in the patron saint of Alabama barbecue, Alabama white sauce.
Though lumping the two Carolinas together can often cause an argument to ensure, even so, the two are exceedingly similar. Both South Carolina barbecue and North Carolina barbecue focus heavily on pork that is slathered in tangy apple cider vinegar mop sauce and western style sauce with black pepper as the main ingredient. However, South Carolina is also known for their mustard based barbecue sauce.
Over in Midwestern barbecue restaurants, links and wet ribs get smoked in a huge hardwood smoker that makes up the majority of Chicago’s barbecue fare. These items are then hit with a lot of sweet and spicy BBQ sauce that is sure to get everywhere.
Smoked fish, mostly mullet, is the backbone of Floridian BBQ, and what makes it unique. They use mostly oak to smoke the fish and then enjoy it with a refreshing cocktail. Alongside smoked fish, you’ll find pulled pork here as part of the influx of Cubano culture.
Kansas City Style
Tomato-based sauces that go heavy on brown sugar with a healthy dose of pepper are what makes Kansas City barbecue so delectable. Kansas City style barbecue can use any kind of meat but one thing stays the same – a sweet sauce on top, on the side, and a backup bottle on the table.
If you’re grilling up some mutton – sheep meat – or using a umami rich black sauce, or dip, then you’re doing BBQ the Kentucky way. Gamey, peppery, and unique for it’s sauce, Kentucky might be known for it’s bourbon, but the BBQ is yet another culinary sensation from the state.
Extreme slow smoking and a dry rub is how they do things in Tennessee. Many consider this dry style to be the only true way to eat Memphis style barbecue. Nevertheless, you can also find a tangy tomato based sauce alongside the dry rubs.
St. Louis Style
Caramelization is the word to watch in Missouri, as their meats get a healthy helping of sauces before, during, and after the cooking process. Their sauce is usually a sweet tomato-based affair that often has more than a little horseradish on the backend, all of which is thinned out with vinegar.
Anyone who’s been there knows that Texas is actually a few states in one, which means Texas style barbecue has a lot to offer. In East Texas, you’ll find hot sauce, fall off the bone brisket, and pulled pork piled high on buns. Then mix your meat with all the sides and carbs you want.
Head down to South Texas and experience scores of barbecue options, some inspired by Mexican cuisine, and others that feature a sugary sweet sauce.
If you jump over to Western and Central Texas, the focus is more on the meat itself. Sauces and sides can take away from the star of the show, the meat. Texas barbecue focuses on raising the best cattle to produce the best meat, and as such, there is little need for side items.
Types of BBQ: Parting Words
If you went down this far, you must have a sweet tooth (pun intended) for barbecue. Or maybe you want to learn new tricks in the kitchen.
Of the BBQ meats above, which is the one you best associate yourself with? Are you a tomato or vinegar based sauce fan? Do you enjoy pulled pork or pork ribs?
Leave us a comment below and let us know what’s on your mind, and on your plate!
Very well written article. You can never know enough about meat on a grill! Thanks!