Throughout the country, every state it seems has their own version of barbecue. Many have become so well defined and unique to their own area, that they have developed a strong enough reputation to be found elsewhere.

Often times abundance of a particular livestock or even sauce that matches the local cuisine can be the deciding factor of what designates a specific style. Here are many well know BBQ styles known across the USA.

North Carolina Style

If you are in Carolina, then you are likely going to try vinegar barbecue. Traditional style is with pulled pork or sometimes shredded chicken. The stte is sharply divided with East favoring the purity of their sauce and the Western part of the state ok with the addition of some tomato added to the base.

Whether you are smoking a whole hog or a Boston butt, the only thing more controversial than purely vinegar is by bringing up the UNC vs Duke rivalry.

Kansas City BBQ

If you are in Missouri or any of the surrounding states, tangy and spicy sauces rule the area. Slathering all forms of ribs and other slow cooked meats with tomato based sauces are know in these parts as Kansas City Barbecue.

People from this area are loyal to their recipes and believe everyone else has it wrong if they do it otherwise.

Texas BBQ

Since Texas has such an abundance of cattle, it is no surprise that most of their BBQ is beef. Since they love grilling it often, don’t be surprised if they mix it up by slow cooking it with smoke and finishing it off with a sear. Slather it in barbecue sauce and dig in.

Maryland, Baltimore in particular

Pit Beef served with Tiger Sauce (Mayo & Horseradish)

Memphis Style Barbecue

3 Distinct Styles. West TN, Memphis style dry rub and whole hog. East is more to the NC vinegar style and in the middle, there is a blend of both.

You will find a lot of pork ribs being smoked in Tennessee and the big thing there is they are seasoned with a dry rub. Now traditionally you can slow cook them and straight up eat them that way or add a thin sauce when served, but it is a unique style that takes practice so as not to dry them out. But delicious and worth the effort for the uniqueness of little to no sauce.

Western Kentucky

Mutton over open pits with vinegar / lemon juice / Worcestershire sauce “dip” or mop sauce.

South Carolina

It is believed that a strong German influence led the good people of SC to create a Mustard Based Sauce. Who knows if it is true or not but it definitely seems to be uniquely South Carolina. Similar to NC, their preferred meat is smoked pork. This makes for a potent combination.

St. Louis Style

Low and slow.pork Lots of sweet and lots of heat.

Santa Maria Grill Style

In California you will often find Tri Tip cooked over a red oak fire. In San Joaquin Valley specifically, you’ll often find citrus pepper and garlic over open coals.

Alabama White Sauce

Usually poured over smoked chicken, this mayonnaise based sauce is the pride and contribution to this culinary category.


Even further South, all of the way down to South Africa, you will find that Braai is as popular as barbecue is in the Southeast. While more of an open grill style, the meat is slow cooked and heated over coals using direct heat. These events usually involve numerous families getting together, not too different from cookouts in the good old US of A. Besides, it is just fun to say.