What is Barbecue?

BBQ Sauces

With summer in full swing, everybody is all about barbecue. What is Barbecue or BBQ or Barbeque or Bar-B-Que? Depends on who you ask and in what part of the county you asked the question. But, one thing is for sure if you are from the south: Barbecue is not a verb.

There are four basic types of BBQ sauces:

  1. Vinegar
  2. Mustard
  3. Light Tomato
  4. Heavy Tomato

Vinegar is the simplest and oldest form of BBQ Sauce, perhaps hundreds of years old. Anyone from South Carolina will tell you that they “own” Mustard BBQ sauce and those same folks take credit for the Light Tomato based BBQ Sauces. Although South Carolina takes credit for “inventing” Light Tomato BBQ Sauces, it is North Carolina where this type of sauce seems to be more popular. Last, but not least, are the heavy tomato sauce which are the most prevalent throughout the U.S. Of the four basic sauce types, Heavy Tomato is the sweetest.

Of course there are multiple variations of these four basic groups depending on what region of the country that you might be visiting. An up-and-coming BBQ sauce type is “Alabama”. Unless you are from Alabama you might find it difficult to believe, but they have a “white” BBQ Sauce (with a vinegar base). Recently, featured on such media outlets as the Food Network, White BBQ Sauce is gaining more interest.

So, what actually is BBQ? Perhaps, it’s best interpreted by Rhett and Link and The Homestead Pickers. They explain it more eloquently that I could ever hope to do.


For more on regional variations, refer to Regional BBQ Sauces.

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