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Cooking Inspiration

BBQ essentials and styles you need to know about

11 July 2023

BBQ spices, condiments and rubs

Supercharge your BBQ skills with these rubs, sauces and styles…

Are you known as the BBQ king or queen in your group? If not, would you like to be? We’ve rounded up a throng of top tips to launch your BBQ game into the big leagues. To get started, make sure you read our BBQ Guide first. And when you’re salivating sufficiently, come on back here and we’ll continue with your free barbeque degree.

Depending on how many you’re cooking for, your BBQ shopping list can differ quite a bit. We’ll leave the protein choices up to you, but what about all the things that go with your BBQ mains? The sauces, the rubs, the sides…

What’s in a BBQ glaze?

Ribs, pork and some kinds of fish go very well with a sticky BBQ glaze, which will caramelise when left to cook over a low heat for a long time. Baste the protein of your choosing, and let the sticky mix sink in. If you’ve got time to do this the night before, that’s even better. Stick this lot on your grocery list if you’re thinking about making your own.

  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar (always helpful for reducing the acidity of tomato-y stuff)
  • Cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mustard powder
  • Worcestershire sauce

What’s in a US-style BBQ spice rub

In America, meat rubs are mixed a little bit differently depending on where you are. And we’ll go over a few of our favourite styles below from various states. But if you’re looking to whip up your own golden BBQ rub at home, it’s likely you already have most of the ingredients in the spice rack. This lot should cover you, depending on how you want to approach it…

  • Cayenne pepper (chilli or original)
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt (look out for a hickory variety)
  • Brown sugar
  • Ground cumin
  • Sweet or smoky paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Celery powder
  • Mustard powder

Best BBQ sides

And what about those sides we mentioned? Of course, you could always go for corn on the cob, garlic bread or a salad, but what about some flavoured rice? Make sure you take a look at our ready-to-heat rice packs, which could perfectly complement your next BBQ. It’s hard to pick favourites, but our top recommendations would be Lime & Coriander; Sweet Chilli & Lime; or the Spicy Mexican. Check out the whole range right here.

BBQ on the grill meat and veg

Tennessee-style barbecue

Let’s start in Tennessee – birthplace of Elvis, Dolly Parton, and some very tasty bourbons (American whiskey, not chocolate biscuits). This style of barbecue is often associated with pulled pork, which is slow-cooked until tender. It’s typically seasoned with a dry rub, made with paprika, chilli powder, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. The meat itself is cooked over a low heat, allowing the flavours to meld together and the fat to render, for a moist, flavourful finish. And it wouldn’t be complete without a tangy tomato-based sauce on the table, right next to an ice-cold beer.

Texas-style BBQ

Down in the Lone Star State, barbecue is all about the beef. The Texas style is characterised by its emphasis on large cuts of beef, like brisket and ribs. The meat is cooked over indirect heat for hours to tenderise. They don’t go wild with seasoning in Texas, relying on the likes of salt, pepper, and perhaps a bit of chilli powder, so the natural flavours of the beef can do their thing. The smoky flavour is typically achieved using oak or mesquite wood, resulting in a robust taste that complements the meat beautifully.

Kansas-style BBQ

Kansas City-style barbecue boasts a portfolio of meats including pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken, and burnt ends, slow-cooked over hickory wood and infused with a rich smokiness. Meat is coated in a thick, tomato-based barbecue sauce while cooking, to give the flavour some extra oomph, caramelising into a sticky, delicious glaze in the heat. The result is a tender, sweet and smoky flavour profile.

Georgia-style barbecue

Last but by no means least is Georgia, also known as Southern barbecue – even though all four of these states are in the South. Taste generally leans towards a balance of sweet and tangy flavours, with pork, beef, and chicken likely sights on the grill. Meat is marinated or basted with a tangy mixture of vinegar, mustard, black pepper, garlic, and brown sugar, cooked low and slow for a smoky finish.