Patricks BBQ Pork Recipes

Types of BBQ Flavors

Regional barbecue styles for smoked meats.

List of the most popular BBQ flavors and techniques found in the United States.

I watch a lot of BBQ-related TV shows, and they like to use terms related to regional styles. So, for reference, I have compiled the most common American barbecue styles. Each has unique flavors, techniques, and BBQ sauces associated with them.

NC style bbqNorth Carolina Style BBQ (my favorite)

  • Flavors: Carolina barbecue is known for its tangy and vinegar-based flavors. It has a perfect balance of tanginess, sweetness, and heat.
  • Techniques: Carolina-style pork is typically slow-cooked or smoked over hardwood, such as hickory or oak, until it becomes tender and easily pulled apart. The meat is often seasoned with a dry rub before cooking.
  • Sauces: Carolina barbecue sauces are categorized into two main styles: Eastern and Western. Eastern Carolina sauce is thin, vinegar-based, and often spiced with red pepper flakes or hot sauce. Western Carolina sauce, also known as "Lexington-style," adds a tomato and ketchup base to the vinegar sauce, giving it a slightly sweeter flavor.

KC bbqKansas City Style BBQ

  • Flavors: Kansas City barbecue is all about bold, sweet, and smoky flavors. The meat has a rich, caramelized exterior with a hint of spiciness.
  • Techniques: Kansas City-style pork is slow-smoked over various kinds of wood, such as hickory, cherry, or apple, to infuse it with a smoky flavor. It is often cooked low and slow, using indirect heat.
  • Sauces: Kansas City barbecue is renowned for its thick, sweet, and tomato-based sauces. These sauces are rich and sticky, featuring a combination of flavors like brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and spices.

Memphis bbqMemphis Style BBQ

  • Flavors: Memphis barbecue offers a balance of flavors, combining sweetness, tanginess, and smokiness. The meat has a prominent smoky flavor and a slightly sweet undertone.
  • Techniques: Memphis-style pork is usually slow-cooked in a pit or smoker with charcoal and hardwoods like hickory or oak. The meat is traditionally prepared with a dry rub with a blend of spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
  • Sauces: In Memphis, the preference is divided between "wet" and "dry" styles. Wet ribs are basted with a tangy and slightly sweet tomato-based sauce during cooking. Dry ribs are coated only with the dry rub, allowing the flavors of the meat and spices to shine through.

Texas bbqTexas Style BBQ

  • Flavors: Texas barbecue is known for its robust and smoky flavors, with an emphasis on the natural taste of the meat. The flavors are bold and savory, with a touch of spiciness.
  • Techniques: In Texas, pork is less prominent than beef, but pork ribs are popular. The meat is slow-smoked over post oak or mesquite wood, resulting in a deep smoky flavor and tender texture. Pork shoulder or "pork butt" is also used for pulled pork.
  • Sauces: Traditional Texas barbecue relies more on the meat's natural flavors and dry rubs than heavy sauces. However, you can find some tangy and spicy tomato-based sauces in some areas of Texas, especially in East Texas.

Hawaiian bbqHawaiian Style BBQ

  • Flavors: Hawaiian barbecue is renowned for its tropical and exotic flavor profile, which combines sweet and savory elements. It features a blend of flavors that include the sweetness of pineapple, the richness of soy sauce, the subtle nuttiness of sesame oil, and the umami depth of garlic and ginger.
  • Techniques: Hawaiian barbecue primarily involves marinating meats in a flavorful sauce before grilling or cooking. The meats, often chicken but also pork or beef, absorb the essence of the marinade, creating a tender and succulent texture. The grilling process adds a smoky note that complements the sweet and savory marinade.
  • Sauces: At the heart of Hawaiian barbecue is its signature sauce. This marinade typically features a soy sauce base, providing a savory foundation. Pineapple juice is added to this, infusing the marinade with natural sweetness and a hint of tanginess.

Alabama bbqAlabama Style BBQ

  • Flavors: Alabama barbecue boasts a unique and distinctive flavor profile characterized by its creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet taste. The combination of mayonnaise and vinegar creates a creamy yet sharp contrast that sets it apart from other barbecue styles.
  • Techniques: Alabama barbecue is particularly renowned for its application to chicken, although it can also be used to enhance the flavor of other meats. When preparing BBQ in the Alabama style, it is often grilled or smoked, allowing the meat to absorb the flavors of the creamy sauce and the smokiness of the cooking process.
  • Sauces: The hallmark of Alabama barbecue is its white barbecue sauce, which serves as the centerpiece of this regional culinary tradition. This sauce is crafted by combining mayonnaise with vinegar, resulting in a creamy, tangy base. Various seasonings are introduced into the mixture to achieve a well-balanced flavor profile.

Related link: Pork Dishes Served Worldwide

BBQ rubs ingredients and flavors.

BBQ rubs are a blend of herbs, spices, and seasonings that add flavor to the meat when applied before grilling or smoking. While specific BBQ rub recipes vary widely based on regional preferences (i.e., NC style dry rubs) and personal tastes, BBQ rubs typically contain some of these common ingredients.

  • Brown sugar: Provides sweetness and helps to caramelize the meat's surface during cooking.
  • Paprika: Adds color and a mild, smoky flavor to the rub.
  • Salt: Enhances the overall taste of the meat.
  • Black pepper: Adds a savory and spicy kick to the rub.
  • Chili powder: Contributes heat and depth of flavor.
  • Garlic powder: Adds a flavorful and aromatic element to the rub.
  • Onion powder: Imparts a sweet and spicy flavor.
  • Cumin: Adds a warm, earthy flavor to the rub.
  • Mustard powder: Provides a tangy and slightly bitter taste.
  • Cayenne pepper: Adds extra heat and spice (optional or adjusted according to preference).
  • Thyme, oregano, or other herbs: Can be included to add complexity to the flavor.
  • Ground coriander: Contributes a citrusy and slightly sweet taste.
  • Celery seed: Adds a hint of bitterness and complements other flavors.

Some popular variations include smoked paprika, ground ginger, allspice, or even coffee grounds for a unique twist. The key is to balance sweet, savory, spicy, and smoky flavors to enhance the meat and create a delicious BBQ experience.

Patrick's BBQ Tips:

Got soda?
Soda can be used to add flavor to meats. Some BBQ enthusiasts and pitmasters use soda as a marinade, baste or steaming liquid for meats like ribs and pulled pork. The acidity and sweetness of soda can help tenderize the meat and add a distinct caramelized flavor.

I like to add soda to my pork before tightly wrapping and transferring to the oven. It helps lock in moisture and flavor!

Pork Cooking Resources


Here are some regional styles of pork barbecue, including Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis, and Texas BBQ.

Patrick's Pork recipes feature a simple "smoker to oven" BBQ cooking method.

 Pulled Pork •  Pork Ribs •  Pork Loin •  Hot Dogs •  BBQ Dry Rub •  Deep Fried Pork Tenderloin

 Mac and Cheese