Over the years, America has developed some loosely defined BBQ regions, using similar cooking styles, meats, and sauces to produce wildly different results that are all finger-lickin’ good. Depending on where you live, you may be fiercely loyal about a specific style that represents your home area. Or, you may be wondering where to begin.
Whether you are a grill master or a BBQ novice, we’ve created this guide to help your explore the US’s different BBQ scenes in your own backyard.
South Carolina BBQ
Best known for its whole-hog barbecue with mustard sauce, South Carolina is usually known as the Birthplace of Barbecue and the home of the Four Official Sauces.
Unique to South Carolina, you’ll notice that barbecue means pork and only pork in this southern state. Of course, other things such as beef and chicken can be barbecued, but only pork is referred to as barbecue.
The four types of barbecue are distinguished by the sauce used, either basted on during cooking, added after cooking, or both. You may not realize it, but South Carolina is the only state that can claim to be home to all four varieties of BBQ sauce:
Mustard Sauce: In the Midlands of the state, and in a band that stretched toward the coast, you’ll get the mustard sauce. This is distinctive to South Carolina and can be traced back to German Settlers that settled in small towns between Columbia and that coast, a stretch known as the Mustard Belt.
Light Tomato Sauce: Light tomato sauce, made from a vinegar and pepper with ketchup, is found in the upper middle part of the state.
Heavy Tomato Sauce: Heavy tomato sauce, similar to what is found at the grocery store, is popular in the western part of the state
Vinegar and Pepper: Preferred on the coast, this spicy vinegar and pepper sauce dates back 100 years.
How to Make It: South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
If you’re looking to recreate South Carolina’s favorite Mustard BBQ Sauce, fear not! We have the best recipe for you:
Ingredients: (servings 10 – 20)
3⁄4 cup yellow mustard
3⁄4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1⁄4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce (to taste)
1. Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Whisk to combine and occasionally while simmering for 20-30 minutes. Let cool before using.
2. Save remainder in a sealed container in the refrigerator. (But we doubt you’ll have any left).
Slather this mustard sauce all over some smoked pork shoulder and watch your guest’s gobble it up.
Kansas City BBQ
Kansas City is home to more than one hundred barbecue restaurants, and is commonly referred to as the world’s barbecue capital!
Missouri is actually the birthplace of dry-rubbed barbecue drizzled in a tomato-molasses sauce. While the city doesn’t discriminate among types of meat, no restaurant joint in Kansas City goes without its own version of this condiment.
The BBQ style dates back to Henry Perry, a Tennessee native who opened a smoked-meat stand in the city’s Garment District in 1908. He served beef, ribs, possums, raccoon, and woodchuck with his secret sauce made predominately from black pepper. His stand became wildly popularly. After Perry died in 1940, his restaurant was taken over by Charlie and Arthur Bryant, who claimed it Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue. Today, the restaurant still stands and is noted as an American barbecue landmark.
How to Make It: Kansas City BBQ Sauce
If you are looking to make your own thick, sweet and tangy tomato mixture that is reminiscent of Kansas City’s famous BBQ sauce, check out this recipe:
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Transfer sauce to the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator for up to a month.
The great thing about this sauce is that it can be used on almost everything. Slather this over everything from ribs to chicken, beans, or dips. It is so finger licking good, that your guest are sure to love it.
Central Texas BBQ
When we talk about BBQ in Texas, there are really several styles of Texas barbecue. The most iconic and well-known type is the Central Texas style, which originated in the German and Czech meat markets during the late 19th century.
The style is most well known as being the most primal and stripped down form that you can find. Smoked over oak coals, brisket is the most popular cut, followed closely by sausage, and after that beef short ribs. It’s usually served market-style without any sauce. But, when there is sauce, it tends to be a thin tomato and vinegar mixture.
How to Make It: Central Texas BBQ Sauce
If you are looking for a tomato based mixture that’s a little sweet and a little spicy, check out this Texas-style sauce that is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 chipotle chile from canned chipotle chiles in adobo,* minced with seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds.
2. Stir in ketchup and all remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until reduced to 1 1/3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Can be made 1 week ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and chill.
Serve over some beef brisket for the perfect summer time meal that is great anywhere in the country.
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What’s your favorite sauce recipe or regional BBQ style? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below.