3 American Regional Barbecue Traditions

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Photo by Emerson Vieira on Unsplash

Cooking meat over fire is a tradition found in many cultures, and the US is no exception. The Southern states in particular are associated with their long-standing barbecue culture. As straightforward as it may seem, the way the meat is prepared does vary from place to place. Here are a few distinct barbecue traditions and their defining characteristics.


Barbecue in Memphis primarily refers to pork. The city is known for its ribs, which can be divided into “dry” and “wet” versions. Wet ribs are basted in a tomato-based sauce before, during, and after cooking, while dry-rubbed ribs are covered with a blend of spices and herbs, smoked, and served with sauce on the side.


Texas barbecue is all about beef, but it’s perhaps most famous for brisket smoked over oak and served without sauce, either in slices or on a sandwich. In South Texas, you’ll find more mesquite-smoked barbecue, and the Eastern part of the state is known for its chopped pork and beef sandwich.

Kansas City

In Kansas City, you’ll find melded traditions from the Carolinas, Memphis, and Texas. But it is also the birthplace of one special barbecue dish: the burnt ends. Those are the point ends of the brisket that have been double smoked, yielding a caramelized crisp exterior and richly flavored interior.