July 21, 2017

BBQ Styles

Pit BBQ is not an incredibly common cuisine in Canada and because of this BBQ is often confused for grilling. True BBQ is not steaks, burgers, hot dogs at a cottage or small backyard get togethers. True BBQ is large quantities of meat, often using whole animals, cooked slowly at a low temperature using wood smoke and enjoyed by as many people as portions are available.


There are four main regions that are primarily used to define BBQ: the Carolinas, Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas. There are other regions with their own variation of BBQ but for our purposes here we’re going to cover the main four.



Split between North Carolina and South Carolina, both are pork-focused BBQ styles with one major division: Mustard. Both regions agree that the meat should be cooked slowly and basted with a vinegar and spice mixture throughout the process but the north is known for serving their meats with a ketchup-based sauce, whereas South Carolina serves their meat with mustard-based sauces.


North Carolina

Main meats: Pork, based with a vinegar-based mop sauce throughout the smoking process.

Wood: Oak and Pecan

Sauce Style: Thin, vinegar-based red sauces. Usually using some ketchup in the recipes, these sauces are designed to pair with pork dishes, especially pulled pork.

Key dishes: Pulled Pork, Pork Shoulder, Whole Hog BBQ.


South Carolina

Main meats: Pork Shoulder and Ham.

Wood: Oak and Pecan

Sauce Style: Mustard-based BBQ sauces. Vinegar and Brown Sugar are common elements.

Key dishes: Pulled Pork, Pork Shoulder, Whole Hog BBQ.



This style of BBQ is also pork-focused. Ribs and pulled pork are the main dishes. Memphis-style BBQ typically uses a dry rub that includes garlic, paprika, and other spices and served with a tomato-based sauce.

Main meats: Pork focused, shoulder and ribs.

Wood: Hickory

Sauce Style: Tomato based BBQ sauces are prevalent in this region, usually tangy and on the thin side of the sauce spectrum.

Key dishes: Pulled Pork


Kansas City

Main meats: All of them and any of them. Pork, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb and mutton, fish.

Wood: Hickory is favourable in this region, but White Oak is also quite prevalent.

Sauce Style: sauces found in and around Kansas City are tomato-based, with sweet, spicy and tangy flavour profiles

Key dishes: Brisket Burnt Ends. See page X [BBQ Meat Cuts page explains the burnt end]


Central Texas

Texas BBQ is almost a different ball game entirely. No meat is off limits. A fair amount of beef is used in Texas BBQ.

Main meats: Brisket, Pork Shoulder, Chicken

Wood: Post Oak, Mesquite, Hickory, Pecan

Sauce Style: Hot Sauces are common, most sauces are served on the side.


A note on different types of wood


Wood is the core of BBQ, sitting right be side the meat as a critical element of the entire process. The smoke produced, and subsequent flavour imparted into the meat, is heavily influenced by a number of factors held within the wood. BBQ pits and smokers require wood that will produce the right amount of smoke and not burn too quickly. Many BBQ joints protect their wood sources just as they would their sauce recipes.


In a way, Barque has developed an Ontario-based regional BBQ style that combines classic BBQ styles with our locally sourced wood smoke and personal technique. The wood we use in our smokers is Ontario Sugar Maple and is sourced from a local provider. A truly Canadian wood, sugar maple is the tree responsible for the bulk of Maple Syrup production in Canada.