Want to be able to talk like you really know what you’re doing over that barrel? Like any other type of experts, smoking pros have their own sort of language. Get clued up so you know what’s really going on with this complete guide to barbecue slang.
All barbecue terms are listed alphabetically.
A method of barbecuing that involves knowing and using the different heat zones of a barbecue to gain more control over the temperature.
A method for cooking ribs that involves smoking for 3 hours at a low temperature, wrapping them in foil and continuing to cook for another 2 hours, then unwrapping to cook for a final hour at a higher temperature while basting.
Atomic buffalo turds (ABT)
Little balls of delight! ABT’s are jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon then smoked.
American chili powder
This original chili con carne seasoning consists of a blend of chilis and other spices and herbs, usually oregano, garlic, black pepper and paprika.
Jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, covered in a thick layer of sausage meat then smoked.
The standard word used to mean barbecue in many South American countries.
Baby back ribs
Also known as back or loin ribs, these come from the top of the rib cage between the spine and spare ribs. Baby back ribs are shorter, curvier and often meatier than other ribs.
Banking the coals
The act of pushing charcoal to one side of the barbecue.
The outer layer of flavorful, seasoned crust on a brisket or other type of smoked meat.
A smoker made from two sealed but connected boxes or tubes; one for the fire and the other for the smoke to flow through for cooking. To learn more about barrel smokers, click here.
Beer can chicken
Also known as beer butt chicken, this is a popular way to grill chicken where an open can of beer is placed inside the cavity. The idea is that the beer steams to flavor the meat and keep it moist but may claim that it’s just a waste of a good drink!
A recipe that’s easy enough to cook while drinking beer.
Big Green Egg (BGE)
Also known as an egg, the BGE is a popular kamado barbecue.
Black and Blue
Also called Pittsburgh, black and blue is a way to describe any type of red meat that’s been grilled to a char on the outside while the inside is still ‘blue’ (very rare).
A method by which very thin cuts are made in the fiber and connective tissue of otherwise tough cuts of meat to tenderize them.
Used to refer to the time when the smoke is tinged slightly blue due to its heat. It’s often considered the best time to put meat onto the smoker.
Not from your nose! Boogers refer to the milky, thick, protein laden liquid that oozes from the surface of salmon, burgers and some other meat while it’s cooked.
A cut of pork from the upper, front part of the leg that’s often used for pulled pork.
Bottle o’ red
Slang for ketchup.
A mixture of salt, liquid and other seasonings that’s used to flavor and add moisture to the meat before cooking.
Small pieces of compressed charcoal that are ideal for barbecuing.
A cut of beef from the breast or lower chest. It consists of two parts: the less fatty flat side and the point end or deckle which is thicker and fattier.
A cooking method by which a flame is used to directly heat the food from above or below. It’s like grilling and often called char-broiling when done outside.
A drum shaped barbecue with a dome lid that makes it resemble a bullet. It’s usually made from lightweight metal and feature a water pan to add moisture to the cooking space and keep the meat from drying out.
A Kentucky classic stew that’s cooked in a cast iron pot over an open flame.
The delicacy that is the crispy, fatty bark pieces of a smoked brisket usually made from the point end. Also known as meat candy.
A method used to safely open a kamado barbecue by slowly lifting the lid a very small amount, closing it, opening it a bit more, closing it and continuing until you open it the whole way. Because of this type of barbecues design, opening it in one movement can cause a rush of oxygen which ignites the hot gases inside, creating a large fireball or flash-over.
Butt over brisket
A cooking technique where a pork butt is cooked on top of a brisket so that it’s juices flow down over the brisket, basting it in pork fat.
Certified Angus beef.
Also known as a competition cut, this technique is often used in competition to cut ribs and other bone-in meats right along the adjacent bone so that the tasting piece is left with extra meat.
Barbecued goat – grilled or smoked.
The natural process that occurs as food continues to cook for a while after it’s been removed from the barbecue due to residual heat. It’s useful to consider the carryover when cooking a rare piece of meat or in competition.
The gush of juices that should come out of a brisket when first sliced after being cooked right.
Broiling over the direct heat of charcoal.
Combustible chunks of sawdust and other binders that’s made into logs, branches and briquets for barbecuing.
Extra trimmings or pieces of meat that get cooked with the sole purpose of being able to test how it’s going. You should give these to your wife.
The art of coating any type of meat in a seasoned flour mix before deep-frying.
Chili con carne
Also known just as chili, this traditional American stew is usually made from meat and beans in a tomato-spiced liquid. It can be eaten as a meal or served as a side.
An excellent way of lighting a charcoal fire that involves creating a ‘chimney’ from newspaper to heat and ignite charcoal. It’s preferred over using starter fluid as the chemicals will soak into the charcoal, adding a bad flavor to your meat.
A Kentucky barbecue tradition that involves serving the crispy, diced edges of smoked pork and mutton with a thin, vinegary, spiced sauce called dip.
A selection of bark and meat from mutton ribs, neck and shoulders that are traditionally mixed in a liquid in Kentucky barbecue.
The 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th beef ribs from the upper front of the rack.
A method of cooking where food is infused with a smoky flavour but isn’t cooked. Cold smoking is usually done at or below 140°F.
The art of cooking over open coals, often with cast-iron cookware.
Well-cooked, crunchy pieces of pork skin and fat that are made by roasting or deep-frying.
Crash in the smoker
The barbecue slang used to refer to the situation where the meat in a smoker loses its balance, falls over or off hooks to collide in a smoker crash.
A natural but sticky, bitter tasting, carcinogenic substance that can form on the surface of meat if wood isn’t burned properly.
The crispy outside layer of barbecued meat.
A method of preserving meat that involves applying a substance or mixture of substances such as salt, sugar, sodium nitrate, sodium phosphate and smoke to prevent bacterial growth.
A dry seasoning that consists solely of salt and black pepper.
The temperature range of 41-135°F where microbes are able to grow rapidly.
A term that’s used to refer to any secondary or smaller muscles featuring in a cut of meat e.g. the point end of a brisket or the rip cap of a rib-eye.
A cooking technique where the meat is placed on a grill plate directly over the heat source.
A cast-iron pot with a lid.
Beef that’s been aged in a temperature and humidity controlled environment to dehydrate it and create a greater concentration of flavors.
Also known as country ham, this type of pork is preserved by covering it in salt that’s often mixed with sugar, pepper and other spices and left to air-dry in a cool temperature to enhance its flavor.
The process of salting meat well ahead of cooking it to help with moisture retention and enhance the flavor.
Dry glazed ribs
A type of cooked ribs which have been coated in sauce, smoked to thicken the consistency and then finished with a generous coating of dry seasoning.
A type of cooked ribs which have been lightly seasoned, smoked and then finished with a generous coating of dry seasoning without sauce.
Any mixture of herbs and spices that are applied to the surface of meat before cooking to flavor it and create a crispy crust.
Anyone who really loves Big Green Eggs.
Extra virgin olive oil.
The thick layer of fat that lays between the skin and flesh on some cuts of meat. It flavors and adds tenderness to the meat but is often suggested to be trimmed down to ¼ inch.
A separate chamber in a barbecue that’s purpose is to hold the fuel and fire.
Any type of heat-resistant brick that’s designed to absorb heat to create even, radiant heat that’s less subject to rapid temperature change.
The lean, thinner side of a whole beef brisket.
The browned meat juices, fat and spices that are left at the bottom of the pan after cooking some dishes. It’s delicious and is a great base for making sauces and gravies.
A binding mixture that holds a dry rub or seasonings to the meat before smoking. The glue shouldn’t leave much, if any, flavor on the meat after cooking.
Any piece of freshly cut wood that’s used to add a distinctive flavor to meat when smoking. Green wood produces a lot of smoke and if used incorrectly, leaves a bitter flavor in food.
Also called a brazier, a grill is a common type of cooker where the food is placed on a grate directly over the flame.
The method of cooking whereby food is cooked with direct heat over a flame.
The connective tissue that holds muscle to the bone and is tough to chew.
A type of low-sap wood such as oak, hickory and fruit woods that are excellent for smoking. Click here to learn about the best types of woods for smoking.
Used to refer to cooking at a high temperature, usually around 450°F (230°C).
The New Orleans traditional mix of onion, celery and bell peppers.
Hot n’ fast
An instruction to cook over direct, high heat (often an open flame), turning more often to prevent burning.
The art of cooking food with hot smoke at a temperature of 130°F or more.
A cooking technique where the food is placed away from the heat source to cook in a part of the barbecue that is less hot.
A technique used to infuse extra flavor into meat by injecting a syringe of marinade.
Used to describe how a brisket moves when touched if it’s been properly cooked.
Low and slow
The cooking technique made famous by traditional smokers who used low heat to cook incredibly tender meat over many hours.
Used to refer to cooking at a low temperature, usually between 150°F (65°C) and 225°F (100°C).
Raw salmon that’s been brined.
The complex chemical reaction that occurs when the protein and sugars in food cooked over high heat produce new flavors, aromas and colors. Its often called the ‘browning reaction’ but does a lot more to the flavor of cooked food than just change its color.
The thin ribbons of fat that are situated within the muscle instead of the thick layers that often lay on top of it. To learn more about marbling, click here.
A saucy liquid that’s used to soak meat in to increase its flavor before cooking.
The delicacy that is the crispy, fatty bark pieces of a smoked brisket usually made from the point end. Also known as burnt ends.
Used to refer to cooking at a moderate temperature, usually between 225°F (100°F) and 300°F (150°C).
A piece of pork that comes from the high point on the shoulder that’s usually very moist and flavorful. It gets its name from the fact that it often wins in barbecue competitions.
Anything that’s used to brush or baste meat as it cooks to add a burst of flavor, keep it moist and/or caramelize it. Also known as a sop.
The dark, crunchy outer pieces of a whole smoked pig.
Mr Brown goes to town
Refers to the Memphis tradition of putting crunchy pieces of pork (Mr Brown) inside pork sandwiches.
The pale and moist inside pieces of a whole smoked pig.
Also referred to as ‘naked’, necked meat is barbecued and served unseasoned without sauce.
Nova Scotia Lox
Salmon fillets that have been salted and smoked.
A smoker made from two sealed but connected boxes or tubes; one for the fire and the other for the smoke to flow through for cooking. To learn more about offset smokers, click here.
A type of barbecue sauce that’s made from tomato paste.
A barbecue that burns compressed sawdust to smoke or grill food.
Pig on a stick
A meal of whole hog where people are encouraged to pull meat off any part they wish.
Generic term for a barbecue but that was traditionally used to refer to a hole in the ground barbecue.
Also known as a pitmaster, a pit boss is the head barbecuing chef.
Also known as a pit boss, a pitmaster is the head barbecuing chef.
A method of cooking by which meat or seafood is placed on a thin piece of wood, soaked in water so that when heated, steam and smoke is created to flavor the food whilst keeping it tender.
Also known as short plate ribs, these are the 6th, 7th and 8th beef ribs from the lower center rack.
Also known as the deckle, this is the smaller of the two muscles of a brisket that’s more fatty and marbled.
The fatty layer underneath pork skin when it’s fried to be crispy and puffy.
The situation where the heat is increased to speed up cooking once the pitmaster has fallen behind schedule.
A slab of ribs. Sometimes the term is also used to refer to a barbecue grate.
A cooking technique where meat is cooked for a long duration over a low heat then finished by searing over a high, direct heat to crisp the exterior.
A scotch steak with the bone left in.
The very end of a rack of spare ribs after it’s been trimmed to make St. Louis style ribs.
A mix of spices and/or herbs that’s used to flavor meat.
Santa Maria barbecue
A type of barbecue where food is cooked on a grate over an open, uncovered, charcoal or wood flame. Tri-tip beef is usually featured and served rare or medium rare.
A method of cooking where meat is placed over high heat for a short period of time to brown and crisp the surface.
Wood that’s been properly dried after cutting. Seasoned wood holds less moisture so it burns more efficiently and creates a great smoky flavor.
Any method by which salt, herbs, spices or sauces are used to flavor food.
Seasoning a smoker
The process of coating the inside of a smoker with oil to protect it from rust and reduce food from sticking to it.
When pitmasters spy on other pitmasters to uncover their barbecue secrets.
The situation where the bones ‘shine through’ the meat when too much has been butchered off.
Side firebox smoker
A smoker made from two sealed but connected boxes or tubes; one for the fire and the other for the smoke to flow through for cooking. To learn more about side firebox smokers, click here.
The thin, non-porous membrane that covers the inside of a rack of ribs. This needs to be removed before cooking so that the flavors from a rub or marinade can penetrate the meat.
Skinning the brisket
The process of trimming the fat off a brisket. Some people prefer to do it before seasoning and cooking while others like to do it after smoking.
A low and slow cooking method where charcoal is placed around the inner edges of a barbecue and only the first few are lit so that the others catch fire as the heat naturally reaches them.
The sound and feeling that’s created when you bite into a smoked sausage.
The temperature at which cooking fat begins to let off smoke. The smoke point is unique to the particular type of oil or fat.
When meat is smoked, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide from the smoke combines with a protein in the meat called myoglobin to create a pink layer underneath the bark. It’s often used a sign of well-smoked meat and has a strong, smoky flavor.
A method of cooking where smoke is used to flavor and/or preserve food. It’s usually done using wood.
Anything that’s used to brush or baste meat as it cooks to add a burst of flavor, keep it moist and/or caramelize it. Also known as a mop.
St. Louis Ribs
Pork ribs that have had the rib tips trimmed off.
A large smoker that burns logs.
The method of wrapping meat in aluminum foil during cooking after the meat has absorbed enough smoke but still isn’t fully cooked to preserve moisture.
A combination of brisket, pork ribs and sausage.
A period of time when the temperature of a piece of smoking meat plateaus or even falls although it’s still well below the ideal temperature.
A term used to describe the feeling of gently ‘tugging’ meat off perfectly cooked ribs that’s often used in competition.
Fat that hasn’t been fully cooked but is nicely melted with a hard, caramelized crust.
A type of smoker that features a separate water pan that’s placed close to the heat source to reduce the temperature and create moisture to stop food from drying out.
Beef that’s been aged in a vacuum sealed bag to improve the flavor without dehydrating the meat.
Pork that’s been cured by soaking or injecting a curing mixture.
A salty solution that’s used to soak meat to improve flavor and increase the moisture content of the meat.
A type of cooked ribs which have been brushed with sauce before, during and after cooking.
Any mixture of herbs, spices and water or oil that’s then applied to the surface of meat before cooking to flavor it and create a crispy crust.
An Alabama specialty sauce made from a zesty mayonnaise that’s typically served with smoked chicken.
A barbecue tool that’s used to shred meat, particularly pulled pork.
Webber Smoky Mountain (WSM)
A popular type of bullet, water smoker.
Are there any other terms or barbecue slang that you’d like to know or think we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!