Grilling hotdogs over the campfire and flipping burgers in the backyard are symbols of a quintessential summer for people across America.
However, there are parts of the country famous for mastering the craft of barbeque. Much different than standard grilling, talented BBQ experts cook over indirect heat (often for many hours) with a special infusion of meat, smoke, spices, sauces and meat juices/fats. It's a true art form that varies from state to state.
Seven regions often referred to as part of the "BBQ Belt" include Texas, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri's Kansas City and Tennessee's Memphis.
Specialty Meat: Texas-style BBQ does beef brisket better than anyone.
Signature Sauce: In order to give more emphasis on the meat, Texas Sauce packs a lighter punch with a tomato base and beef drippings, spice, and chili pepper.
Popular Sides: Onion Rings, Potato Salad, Beans, and Coleslaw
Specialty Meat: North Carolina is known for the "whole hog" which means utilizing every part of the pig.
Signature Sauce: North Carolina has two separate sauce styles. Lexington Sauce is a tomato-based red sauce with vinegar, and Eastern Sauce is a simple blend of vinegar and pepper. Both are delicious!
Popular Sides: Hush Puppies, Boiled Potatoes, Green Beans, Boiled Cabbage, and Peach Cobbler
Specialty Meat: South Carolina mirrors North Carolina - specializing in "whole hog" BBQ.
Signature Sauce: South Carolina actually has three separate BBQ sauces. Western-Style is a peppery tomato-based sauce, the central Carolina Gold consists of a mustard sauce, and the coastal region uses a peppery, spicy, vinegary sauce.
Popular Sides: Cornbread, Hush Puppies, Collard Greens, Coleslaw, and Corn Pudding
Interesting Fact: Owensboro is the king city for BBQ in Kentucky, which is also where an annual Mutton 5k run is held.
Signature Sauce: Western-Style is vinegar based and usually used as a mutton dip, and Southern-Style is a blend of pepper and vinegar.
Popular Sides: Vinegar Slaw, Pickled Eggs
Specialty Meat: Pork Butt, Shoulder, and Ribs
Signature Sauce: Inspired by the surrounding BBQ states of the Carolinas and Tennessee - Alabama's signature White Sauce contains mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper, horseradish, vinegar, and hot sauce.
Popular Sides: Red Beans and Rice, Bacon Cheese Fries, Fried Corn on the Cob and Grits
Specialty Meat: While Kansas City has it all (chicken, ribs, brisket, and pork) the absolute specialty is beef brisket burnt ends.
Signature Sauce: Missouri is the king of tomato and molasses-based sauces, which have a tangy and sweet taste.
Popular Sides: Mac and Cheese, Baked Beans and French Fries
Specialty Meat: Memphis BBQ specializes in their fall off the bone pork ribs.
Signature Sauce: BBQ in Tennessee specializes in dry rubs rather than sauces. Common ingredients in these rubs include paprika, cayenne, pepper, salt, and sugar.
Popular Sides: Jalapeño Coleslaw, Baked Mac and Cheese and Potato Salad