What Are the Major BBQ Styles and Regions in the US?

What Are the Major BBQ Styles and Regions in the US?
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Answer by Matthew Kane, Managing Partner, Morefield Partners

Although there are dozens of variations of BBQ throughout the US, as described in the map above, there are generally
4 main barbecue styles in the US
. Here are the main differences (though they aren't set in stone, as bbq varies within each region and at different establishments):


  • Meat of Choice: Pork
  • Wood of Choice: Hickory (Oak, Pecan, Apple, Cherry also used)
  • Famous Dish: Pork Ribs "Wet" (slathered with sauce after smoking) or "Dry" (no sauce, just dry rubbed with seasonings and smoked)
  • Sauce Style: Tomato & Vinegar Base


  • Meat of Choice: Beef
  • Wood of Choice: Oak
  • Famous Dish: Sliced Beef Brisket, Link Sausage
  • Sauce Style: Spicy & Tangy Tomato Based Sauce with Some Sweetness

Kansas City

  • Meat of Choice: Mix of All Meats (KC has influences from all other regions because of geographic location)
  • Wood of Choice: Mix
  • Famous Dish: BBQ Chicken, Ribs
  • Sauce Style: Sweet Tomato Based Sauce with Molasses


  • Meat of Choice: Pork
  • Wood of Choice: Hickory; Oak also used
  • Famous Dish: Pulled Pork, Whole Hog
  • Sauce Style: Vinegar Based in East; Tomato Based in West; Mustard Based also Served in Georgia & South Carolina
I have added a graphic courtesy of
so as not to offend anyone as southerners take their bbq seriously.
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