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Regional Variations of Barbecue

At its most generic, any source of protein may be barbecued, including beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, and seafood. The meat could be ground, as with hamburger, or processed into sausage or kebabs.

Hong Kong style BarbecueThe meat may be marinated or rubbed with spices before cooking, basted with a sauce or oil before and/or during cooking, and/or flavored in numerous ways after being removed from the heat. Occasionally, vegetarian alternatives to meat, such as soyburgers and mushroom caps, are prepared similarly.

Often meat is covered with barbecue sauce. Vinegar-based sauce is typical of Southeastern United States barbecue, while tomato-based sauce is Midwestern and Western United States style.

Many forms of barbecuing involve tough cuts of meat that require hours of cooking over low heat barely exceeding the boiling point of water. Some forms of barbecue use rapid cooking over high heat, being therefore barely distinguishable from grilled meats to those who would make such a distinction.

With high heat barbecuing (often called grilling), the food is placed directly above the flame or other source of heat. With low heat barbecuing, the food is offset from the heat source and almost always under a cover, frequently with added smoke for additional flavor.

Sometimes, an open flame is required, with the fuel source irrelevant. In other cases, the fuel source is critical to the end result, as when wood from particular kinds of trees are used as fuel.


South Africa
The braai, an abbreviation of braaivleis, Afrikaans for "meat grill" started out as a major social tradition amongst the Afrikaner people of Southern Africa, though the tradition has since been adopted by South Africans of all ethnic backgrounds.

The word braai is very popular in South Africa; it replaces the standard English word barbecue, which is almost never used in South Africa, except on chips packages. One won't find barbecue wood or wood for the barbecue in the supermarket; instead one will find braaiwood.


Jamaican Jerk Chicken is an example of barbecue in Jamaica.
The Bahamas
Bahamian barbecue is similar to Pacific Islander, Hawaiian, mainland American, UK, and Australian styles.
Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico
The indigenous Native Taíno people's method involved slowly cooking meat over a wooden mesh of sticks. In Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean, such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and especially Puerto Rico, lechon is a common delicacy. Lechon consists of taking a whole pig, slicing it from the head to tail along the chest and stomach, and slow-grilling the hog as it is turned on a rod.
Other Caribbean islands
Barbecue is also popular in all the Caribbean islands, each with their own traditions

East Asia

Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, pork barbecue is made with a marinade of honey and soy sauce, and cooked in long, narrow strips. This form of barbecue is known as char siu. Outdoor barbecues (usually known simply as BBQ) are popular among local residents on short trips to the regional parks in the countryside. These are invariably coal-fired, with meat (usually beef, pork, sausage, or chicken wings) marinated in honey, then cooked using long, hand-held forks. This style and atmosphere is closer to fondue and hot pot.
Although called BBQ, Korean BBQ is actually grilled. Bulgogi is thinly sliced beef (and sometimes pork or chicken) marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and chili pepper, and cooked on a grill at the table. It is a main course, and is therefore served with rice and side dishes such as Kimchi.  Bulgogi literally means "fire meat." The more common Korean "BBQ" is called galbi, which is marinated ribs.
Barbecuing is very popular in Japan as part of an outdoor activity. Normally, more vegetables and seafood are incorporated than in the US, and soy sauce or soy based sauces are commonly used. Occasionally, the Japanese-style fried noodle "Yakisoba" would be cooked as well. In addition, Jingisukan, Yakiniku, Horumonyaki are famous.
Yakitori is the Japanese version of shish kebab. Spare ribs, chicken, and steak are also grilled and glazed with teriyaki sauce.

Southeast Asia

Satay is popular in several Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It consists of pieces of meat skewered on bamboo sticks. The meat is marinated in a mixture of spices similar to a curry mix and pulverised peanut. Most common meats are chicken, lamb and beef, and in non-Muslim enclaves, you will also find satay made from pork and animal offal. Satay is a mainstay of most Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean barbecues. Traditional uses only chicken thigh meat cut into strips before they are skewered. Other types of satay include pork, mutton and beef.

After the meat has been cooked over a charcoal flame, it is served with a thick gooey dipping sauce made from the same mixture as the marinade for the meat, a peanut tasting curry like mixture).

In the mountainous regions of North Borneo, the local Kadazan people's specialities are chicken satay and snake meat satay; the latter, as of 2007, is only available under exceptional circumstances). Before 1990, it was possible to get satay of animals like tapir, elephants, flying fox, goannas and wild boar. Unfortunately, these animals are now rare and/or endangered.

In the Philippines, Lechon is a centrepiece of the main cultural diet. It is extremely rare for any celebratory occasion to lack lechon. Philippine lechon is prepared similarly to that of the Spanish speaking islands of the Caribbean. The hog is opened from head to tail along the belly, and is slow-grilled turned on a rod over a fire.

 Even though the Spanish speaking islands of the Caribbean and the Philippines do not share a common everyday spoken language, it is still referred to with the same pronunciation. This may be due to the fact that both regions were ruled by Spain for several centuries; linguists estimate that some 40% of informal spoken Tagalog contains Spanish loanwords).

Barbecue is also the term for skewered pork or chicken, marinated in and basted with a sweetish sauce made from catsup, pineapple juice and/or 7-Up. Chicken barbecue is often served with what is popularly known as Java sauce. Bananacue, a dish consisting of plantains skewered on a stick similar in style to shish kebab, is also commonly cooked.

In the city state of Singapore, barbecue or BBQ, as it is commonly known as, is a common feature in social gatherings, but a less common feature of a typical Singaporean’s daily lifestyle and diet. Majority of Singaporeans live in government aided apartments or HDB flats. A lack of open spaces at home results in BBQ gatherings in parks or chalets. The Singapore National Parks rents out barbecue pits that are placed in popular parks like the East Coast Park. Other parks that offer barbecue pits to the public include Punggol Park, Pasir Ris Park, West Coast Park, Changi Beach Park, Sembawang Park and Pulau Ubin.

Singapore styled BBQ is mostly charcoal fired and Singaporeans roast a variety of Southeast Asian and Western food. Besides satay, other BBQ food include sambal stingray or cuttlefish wrapped in aluminium foil, grilled meat (chicken, pork, beef) and marinated in BBQ sauce commonly made from soya sauce, pepper, salt, sugar and oyster sauce. Taiwanese sausages, chicken franks and sausages are also grilled. Marshmallows skewered using satay sticks is another highlight of a Singaporean barbecue.

The fire starter used is not the typical lighter fluid or charcoal chimney starter used in western grills. Instead, the fire starter comes in a box of small rolled up briquette of saw wood dust and wax which is lit and placed under a stack of charcoal briquette.

Central and Southern Asia

Nomadic Mongolians have several barbecue methods, one of which is "Khorkhog". They first heat palm-sized stones to a high temperature over the fire and alternate layers of lamb and stone in a pot. The cooking time depends on the amount of lamb used. It is believed that it's good for your health if you hold the stone used for cooking.

Another way of cooking is a "boodog" ("boo" means wrap in Mongolian). Usually marmot (black tail prairie dog) or goats are cooked in this way. There is no pot needed for cooking "boodog", after slaughter and dressing, the innards are put back inside the carcass through a small hole and the whole carcass is cooked over the fire.

The Mongolian barbecue often found in restaurants is a style of cooking falsely attributed to the mobile lifestyle of nomadic Mongolians. Originating in Taiwan in the mid to late 20th century, the so-called "Mongolian barbecue", a popular dish in American and Canadian Chinese restaurants, consists of thinly sliced lamb, beef, chicken, pork, or other meat, seasonings, vegetables, and noodles, or a combination thereof, which is quickly cooked over a flat circular metal surface that has been heated.

India and Pakistan
The tandoor is a form of barbecue, particularly focusing on baking, that is common in Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India. Grilling is also popular, and uses many spices native to the local land, especially the many variations of Curry blends.


Western Mediterranean
Barbecuing is popular in Mediterranean countries. It is influenced by traditional Mediterranean cuisine. Olive oil is a key part of the Mediterranean barbecue style, as it is in the region's cuisine. The most common items cooked are chicken, beef steaks, souvlakis/brochettes, halloumi cheese, and pita bread, and may be grilled, baked, or both. In addition, some dishes combine grilling with braising for more variety. Often, barbecue meat items are marinated with olive oil and citrus juice mixtures, and then garnished with various herbs and spices; basic persillade and several variations are often put on top of the meat.
The Alps
A traditional cooking method of the French and Swiss Alps similar that has recently been commercialized is pierade or cooking meats on a hot stone, usually communally and directly on the serving table. This type of cooking is in no way limited to the Alps, but is associated with it and with other rustic or communal methods of cooking like fondue and raclette.
Germans are enthusiastic about their version of barbecue, grilling ("Grillen"), especially in the summertime. It is the one area of traditional home cooking that is a predominantly male activity. Germans grill over charcoal or, increasingly, gas, and grilled meats include all of the local sausage variations as well as steaks (especially marinated pork steaks from the shoulder) and poultry.

Regional festivals feature grilled items ranging from eel to trout, whole sides of pork or beef, chicken, and duck. Smoking is common practice in German butchering, but pure smoke-based techniques have not yet entered popular practice. Barbecue variations are also popular among the immigrant communities in Germany, with notable traditions of outdoor grilling in Germany developed by immigrants and visitors from the United States of America, Turkey, Greece, other Balkan States, and among the German-speaking emigrants from the states of the former Soviet Union.
Barbecue in Scandinavia implements traits of traditional Scandinavian gourmet cuisines. In addition to more traditional meats such as chicken, beef, lamb, and pork, wild game are common, especially venison. A sauce made from Juniper berries is often put on top of the meats when served.
Shashlik is the Russian version of shish kebab, and like all other international variants, is cooked on a grill. Sausages are also commonly grilled over an open flame, and Chicken Kiev and pierogies are baked in ovens, after which sometimes they can be grilled.
United Kingdom and Ireland
Barbecuing is a popular al fresco cooking and eating style, common in both the United Kingdom and Ireland. Many homes in both countries have a barbecue, usually located in the home's back garden. Most popular are steel-built "kettle" and range-style barbecues, with wheels to facilitate moving the barbecue. Due to the typically wet weather of the climate of the British Isles, during the autumn and winter, many British and Irish people store their barbecues in a garden shed or garage, although permanent brick barbecues are also common.

In recent times, barbecue cook-off competitions are beginning to take place in the United Kingdom and Ireland, similar to those in the United States. Some of these barbecue competitions also allow teams from both countries to compete against each other. Similar competitions are also held in Canada, continental Europe, and Australia.

The most common foods cooked on a British-style barbecue are chicken, hamburgers, sausages, beef steaks, shish kebabs, and vegetarian soya or quorn based products, and can be grilled, baked, or a combination of both. Such vegetarian products require extra attention due to their lower fat content and thus tendency to stick, as well as their weaker structure due to the manufacturing process of such foods.

Less common food items include fish, prawns, lobster, halloumi (cheese), corn-on-the-cob, squashes, potatoes, plantains, asparagus, beetroots, pork fillets, pork patties, and pork or beef ribs. Similar to the United States, barbecue sauce is sometimes spread onto the meat while it is cooking. All the major supermarket chains now offer a range of barbecue products, although availability is usually limited to the duration of the "barbecue season" (late spring to early autumn).

Barbecue in the UK is mostly influenced by traditional English, Scottish, and Welsh cuisines. However, as modern British cuisine as a whole is also heavily influenced by its multi-ethnic minority communities, British barbecue draws on traditions from Continental Western European, Scandinavian, and Mediterranean cuisines, and to a lesser extent, Middle Eastern, Asian, Oceanian, and Oriental cuisines. For example, the barbecue sauce may contain Juniper berries, and persillade may also be put on top of the meat as a garnish. Overall, British barbecue is similar to a mix of American, Australian, German, Scandinavian, and Mediterranean styles.

The Irish have their own tradition of barbecue which is influenced by traditional Irish cuisine. In addition to meat and vegetables, potatoes, a staple in Irish cuisine, are also cooked. Barbecue sauce is spread onto the meat while cooking, which can either be grilled, baked, or both. The Irish barbecue style is similar to a mix of American, UK, and Australian styles.

Middle East

Arabia and Eastern Mediterranean
Shish Taoouq, the Middle Eastern Kebabs made from beef and lamb, beef steaks, chicken, or non-pork sausages are popular barbecue dishes in the region. Mangal, Arabic for a grill, is the act of grilling meat on coals outdoors and also known as "On the fire" (Hebrew: Al Ha'esh על האש). Barbecue is very popular in Israel, especially in Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence day), celebrated with picnics and mangal. The meat is eaten with pita bread, Tehini paste, Hummus, Arabi salad, Tabouli, and other salads. Al tazaj is a Shish Taoouq chain throughout the region.
Persian-style kabob has various types. The main one is koobideh kabob, which is seasoned ground beef that is skewered and barbecued outside on a charcoal flame. There is also a marinated chicken kabob called joojeh kabob and a filet mignon steak kabob, called kabob barg. Both are skewered as well. All three main types of Persian kabob are usually served with Iranian style saffron rice and salad Shirazi, but can also be eaten with middle eastern lavash bread.

North America

United States
Meats have been cooked over open flames by the Aboriginal peoples of Canada since the beginning of the human habitation of North America. This kind of cooking was also used extensively by lower-class rural whites as hunters and campers. However US-style barbecue culture is a recent import to Canada, having been introduced only following the Second World War.

 Its arrival coincided with the commercially-driven popularization of a type of "domestic masculinity" for middle-class suburban fathers in the 1950s. This was a sharp break with the Canadian tradition, however, and as late as 1955 an article in Maclean's called the practice "weird". Therefore "barbecue" (in one sense) cannot said to be a deeply-held Canadian tradition. Yet by the late 1950s the barbecue, once a fad, had become a permanent part of Canadian summers.

Canadian barbecue takes many influences from its American neighbor, but also takes influences from British, Central European, and Euro-Mediterranean barbecue styles. The most common items cooked on a Canadian barbecue are chicken, burgers, ribs, steaks, sausages, and shish kebabs.

Barbecue sauce is either brushed on when the meats are cooking, or before the meats are served. As in the United States, barbecue cook-off competitions are quite common. Barbecue cookouts, either pit-smoking, baking, grilling (charbroiling, gridironing, or griddling), or braising (by putting a broth-filled pot on top of a charbroil-grill or gridiron-grill), can also be combined with picnics, again the same as in the United States.

Regional varieties are present between provinces, as well as regionally within provinces. Since mass consumer society allows once traditional local products to be sold in all regions, these are to be considered stereotypical examples only. British Columbian barbecues would most likely feature salmon and chicken cooked indirectly on a cedar plank, a method indigenous to the Pacific coast.

Those of the Prairie Provinces would like feature beef steaks and sausage. Ontario barbecues are more likely to contain bbq ribs and burgers. Quebec-style barbecue draws closer and greater influences in style from European and Mediterranean grilling, baking, and braising traditions and Louisiana barbecue, which likewise is also distinct from the barbecue styles of the rest of the American Deep South due to the influences of the unique regional cuisines of the state:

Cajun cuisine and Louisiana Creole cuisine, which both descend from French and other Central European and Euro-Mediterranean cuisines. In addition to rubs and sauces, the meats are marinated in various mixtures containing olive oil and citrus juices, persillade is often added as a garnish, and meat skewers, called brochettes (French) or souvlakis (Greek), are also very common.
In Mexico the Horno is a traditional earthen barbecue tradition. Carne asada (literally meaning "roasted meat") consists of marinated cuts of beef rubbed with salt and pepper, and then grilled. Normally, it is accompanied with tortillas and grilled onions and bell peppers sometimes as well.

This dish is now extremely popular in the entire country; although it is widely believed to have originated in the northern part of Mexico, it is now found almost everywhere in Mexico and the southwestern U.S. Additionally, there are several other types of meats that are barbecued in Mexico, depending on the geographic region. In the northern part of the country, Cabrito is a popular barbecue dish, which consists of an entire kid goat, minus head, hooves and entrails (except the kidneys), slowly grilled/smoked on an open charcoal grill.

The kidneys release a strong desired flavor as the carcass is slowly cooking over the fire. A somewhat similar dish popular all over the country is barbacoa, which is sheep meat slowly cooked over an open flame, or more traditionally, in a fire pit. Also, like in many other places in Latin America, there is a strong tradition in Mexico of preparing pollo asado (roasted halved chicken) on mesquite charcoal-fired grills after the chicken meat has been marinated overnight in an often secretly-guarded-recipe adobo sauce.

In addition to carne asada, there are several types of beef, chicken and pork, as well as sausages (such as (chorizo, moronga, etc) that are grilled during back yard or picnic-style events, commonly referred to as "parrilladas". Some types of vegetables may be grilled alongside the meat, most commonly green onions, bell peppers and chile peppers, commonly referred to in Mexico as chiles toreados, or "bull-fought chiles". Quesadillas often and tortillas always accompany the consumption of grilled meat at these events, as well as soft drinks for children and alcoholic beverages for adults.

South America

Asado is a technique for cooking cuts of meat, usually consisting of beef alongside various other meats, which are cooked on a grill (parrilla) or open fire. It is considered the traditional dish of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and southern Brazil.
Argetina, Uruguay and Paraguay
In Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay some alternatives are the asado al disco and asado al horno de barro, specially in the countryside. The recipe doesn't change, only the way of cooking the meat and ofalls.

In the asado al disco the worn out disc of a plough is used. Being metallic and concave, three or four metallic legs are welded and with hot coal or lumber below it's easily transformed into a very effective grill. Meat and ofalls are put in spiral, in such a way that the fat naturally slips to the center, preserving the meat for being fried. Chili peppers and onions are usually put next to the edge, so that they gradually release their juices on the meat.

The asado al horno de barro differs from traditional asado, as an horno (adobe oven) is used. These primitive ovens are a common view in Argentine estancias, and their primary function is to bake bread, but they are well suited for roasting meat. Pork suckling and, less commonly, lamb are served, as they are more unlikely to get dry.

Though not technically a grill, it is a very traditional way of cooking that still requires the great skills of an asador and the gathering of family and friends, which are the essence of asado. Moreover, the smoky flavour and tenderness of this dish are very appreciated.
The barbecue-style meat known as Churrasco, is also the cooking style which translates roughly from the Portuguese for barbecue. Many Brazilian restaurants called Churrascarias in Brazil and abroad serve churrasco.
In Chile, the local version of the asado is usually accompanied with pebre, a local condiment made from pureed herbs, garlic and hot peppers; in many ways similar to chimichurri.


South Pacific islands
Barbecuing is popular in the Australasian, Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian islands, and every country and culture has its own version of earth oven barbecue cuisine. Some of the most legendary and continuously-practiced examples can be found in South Pacific Oceania.
Tahitians call their earth oven barbecue a Hima’a. A thousand miles away in the Marquesas Islands, there’s the Umu. With many tropical islands' styles of barbecue, the meat is marinated, glazed with a savory sauce, and adorned with local tropical fruits.
The cooking customs of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia became the traditional Hawaiian barbecue of Kalua in an underground oven called an Imu, and the Luau, of the Native Hawaiians. It was brought to international attention by 20th century tourism to the Hawaiian islands.
In Australia barbecues are a popular summer pastime. Coin-operated or free public gas or electric barbecues are common in city parks. While Australian barbecue uses similar seasonings to its American counterpart, smoking or sugary sauces are used less often.

More commonly meat is marinated for flavor and then is cooked on a hot plate or grill. Australian barbecues tend to be either all hot-plate or half and half hot-plate/grill. The barbecuing of prawns ("shrimp" in the USA) has become increasingly popular in Australia but was not popular at the time of the American TV commercial featuring Australian actor Paul Hogan.

Barbecues are also common in fund raising for schools and local communities, where sausages and onions are served on white bread with barbecue sauce or ketchup. These are most often referred to as "Sausage Sizzles".
New Zealand
Barbecues are a very popular activity and cuisine in New Zealand. As well as being a common feature in gardens of New Zealanders, barbecues are also found at most campsites and many beaches throughout the country.

Foods cooked include beef, lamb, pork, fresh fish, crayfish, shellfish, and vegetables. Sausages are a well liked and demanded element of barbecues, and as in Australia "sausage sizzles" are one of the most common form of fundraiser. New Zealand barbecue is similar to a mix of American, British, Australian, South African and Pacific Island styles.

New Zealand’s Maori have the hangi, a type of earth oven cooked on special occasions. Multi-Cultural society in New Zealand has also led to Indian/Pakistani, East Asian, South American and Middle Eastern cuisines all influencing the flavours and types of food found at a barbecue.

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