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BBQ Slang 101: Understand the Fundamentals & the Absurd

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 and there’s a lot of terms that might leave you baffled (yes, that’s a bbq pun in case you missed it).

Get clued up so you know what’s really going on with this complete guide to bbq slang.

We have listed this bbq glossary in sections, alphabetically. Scroll to the section you’re after, or grab a coffee and read them all.

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Table of Contents

BBQ Slang About Cooking & Technique

A method of barbecuing that involves setting up two distinct ‘heat zones’ inside a barbecue. This might be done to cook two different things at two different temperatures. Or, as a way to reverse sear, cooking at a lower temperature first before transferring to a high-heat for grilling.

2-zone cooking is most often done on a charcoal, kamado, or offset barbecue when you’re cooking more than one thing, and it’s more difficult to suddenly change the temperature.

A method for cooking ribs that involves smoking for 3 hours at a low temperature, wrapping them in foil cook for another 2 hours, then unwrapping for one final hour to dry out the crust for a crispy, flavorful bark.

The act of pushing charcoal to one side of the barbecue.

A recipe that’s easy enough to cook while drinking beer.

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).

This Black and Blue Steak recipe describes the technique perfectly.

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 mixture of salt, liquid and other seasonings that’s used to flavor and add moisture to the meat before cooking.

Meat can be soaked in a brine, or injected using a meat syringe (buy one because they’re also great for filling cupcakes with frosting… it’s the best and your kids will love you for it!.

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.

Burning a bbq in is the process of running your smoker with nothing in it for the first time. Sometimes, it’s also oiled to protect if from rust. But, it’s main purpose is to burn off any residue leftover from manufacturing to make it safe to cook in.

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.

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. It’s really good…

The natural process that occurs as the internal temperature of any piece of meat continues to rise and cook for a short while after it’s been removed from the barbecue.

This happens because of the residual heat that’s left in the meat and can make a huge difference in how well your meat turns out, especially if it’s something more delicate like a fillet of salmon or a rare steak.

The MEATER wireless thermometer takes the carryover cook into account for you by telling you to remove your meat just before it reaches it’s optimal internal temperature.

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.

An excellent way of lighting a charcoal fire that involves creating a ‘chimney’ from newspaper to heat and ignite charcoal.

A lot of people prefer it over using starter fluid as it doesn’t use any chemicals that would soak into the charcoal, adding a bad flavor to the meat.

A method of cooking where food is infused with cold smoke for flavor without the heat.

Cold smoking is usually done at or below 140°F.

The art of cooking over open coals, often with cast-iron cookware.

A crash in the smoker is exactly what you’d think it is. The bbq 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.

Yep, it’s a dire situation.

A natural but sticky, bitter tasting, carcinogenic substance that can form on the surface of meat if wood isn’t burned properly.

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.

The temperature range of 41-135°F where microbes are able to grow rapidly.

A cooking technique where the meat is placed on a grill plate directly over the heat source.

The process of salting meat well ahead of cooking it to help with moisture retention and enhance the flavor.

The method of cooking whereby food is cooked with direct heat over a flame.

Used to refer to cooking at a high temperature, usually at 450°F (230°C) or above.

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.

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).

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.

Used to refer to cooking at a moderate temperature, usually between 225°F (100°F) and 300°F (150°C).

Refers to the Memphis tradition of putting crunchy pieces of pork (Mr Brown) inside pork sandwiches.

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.

The situation where the heat is increased to speed up cooking once the pitmaster has fallen behind schedule.

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.

Read our guide on everything you need to know about reverse searing.

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.

Any method by which salt, herbs, spices or sauces are used to flavor food.

You don’t need to rub salt and pepper on your barbecue.

Seasoning a smoker is bbq slang for 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 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 temperature at which cooking fat begins to let off smoke. The smoke point is unique to the particular type of oil or fat.

A method of cooking where smoke is used to flavor and/or preserve food. It’s usually done using wood.

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 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.

BBQ Slang for Meats & Other Food

ABT’s are jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon then smoked. They’re little balls of delight! 

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.

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.

The outer layer of flavorful, seasoned crust on a brisket or other type of smoked meat.

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, many claim that it’s just a waste of a good drink! If you want to try it, check out this beer can chicken recipe by Traeger. It talks about cooking it on a pellet smoker but can be adapted for any type of bbq.

A cut of pork from the upper, front part of the leg that’s often used for pulled pork.

They’re not talking about wine. Bottle o’ red is bbq slang for ketchup.

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.

Brisket is considered to be one of the more difficult and iconic cuts of meat to smoke. It is, of course, what this site is named after.

A Kentucky classic stew that’s cooked in a cast iron pot over an open flame.

We’ve made this Kentucky Burgoo recipe before and rate it.

The delicacy that is the crispy, fatty bark pieces of a smoked brisket usually made from the point end. Also known as meat candy and it is my all-time favorite thing about barbecue.

Burnt ends are great fresh off the smoker, or can be used in so many leftover brisket recipes.

Certified Angus beef, a well-marbled cut of beef from an Aberdeen Angus cow that’s very popular for both grilling and smoking.

Rastelli’s is a great place to get CAB from.

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.

Extra trimmings or pieces of meat that get cooked with the sole purpose of being able to test how it’s going. You should absolutely give these to your wife.

The art of coating any type of meat in a seasoned flour mix before deep-frying.

Also known 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.

This smoked Johnny Triggs adaption is really good.

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.

Candied jalapenos.

Well-cooked, crunchy pieces of pork skin and fat that are made by roasting or deep-frying.

The crispy outside layer of barbecued meat.

A dry seasoning that consists solely of salt and black pepper.

Dalmation rub is what a lot of professionals and competitors use and is a bbq basic that works with every single cut of meat.

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.

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.

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.

They’re my absolute favorite version of smoked ribs and what you’ll see in pictures of our smoker reviews.

Any mixture of herbs and spices that are applied to the surface of meat before cooking to flavor it and create a crispy crust.

Check out our dry coffee rub recipe.

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.

The lean, thinner side of a whole beef brisket.

The flat is usually sliced after smoking whole.

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.

The connective tissue that holds muscle to the bone and is tough to chew.

The New Orleans traditional mix of onion, celery and bell peppers.

Raw salmon that’s been brined.

The thin ribbons of fat that are situated within the muscle instead of the thick layers that often lay on top of it. Check out our guide on the best types of meat for smoking to learn more about marbling.

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.

The dark, crunchy outer pieces of a whole smoked pig. Also, one of the owners of Burning Brisket.

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.

Salmon fillets that have been salted and smoked.

A type of barbecue sauce that’s made from tomato paste.

Pork ribs.

A meal of whole hog where people are encouraged to pull meat off any part they wish.

Also known as short plate ribs, these are the 6th, 7th and 8th beef ribs from the lower center rack.

We talk about them more in our best meats for smoking guide.

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.

A slab of ribs. Sometimes the term is also used to refer to a barbecue grate.

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.

The situation where the bones ‘shine through’ the meat when too much has been butchered off.

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.

The sound and feeling that’s created when you bite into a smoked sausage.

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.

Any liquid or sauce 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.

Pork ribs that have had the rib tips trimmed off.

A combination of brisket, pork ribs and sausage.

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.

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.

BBQ Slang for Types of Barbecues & Gear

Otherwise known as an offset smoker, a barrel smoker is a smoker made from two sealed but connected boxes or tubes. One is the firebox where charcoal or wood is burnt and one is the cooking chamber where the smoke and heat filters through.

Learn more about offset barrel smokers.

Bear paws, wolf claws, or meat claws, are a barbecue tool that’s used to shred meat, particularly pulled pork.

Also known as an egg, the BGE is a popular kamado barbecue.

Made by and specifically for Bradley Electrical Smokers, bisquettes are compressed hardwood sawdust that’s used to automatically feed into Bradley smokers to create more and better smoke than you get on other types of electric smokers.

Check out what the Bradley bisquettes look like on Amazon.

Small and uniform lumps of compressed charcoal that are used for grilling and smoking.

Briquettes burn steadier than lump charcoal, but often contain additives.

Read more about the lump charcoal vs briquettes debate. Or, check out our favorite charcoal briquettes.

A bullet is a drum shaped barbecue with a dome lid that makes it resemble a bullet.

It’s usually made from lightweight metal and has a water pan to add moisture to the cooking space and keep the meat from drying out.

Combustible chunks of sawdust and other binders that’s made into logs, branches and briquets for barbecuing.

A cast-iron pot with a lid. This Lodge one is great quality and value for money.

A separate chamber in a barbecue that’s purpose is to hold the fuel and fire.

Fireboxes are most often found on offset smokers.

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.

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.

A type of low-sap wood such as oak, hickory and fruit woods that are excellent for smoking.

Read about the best types of hardwoods for smoking.

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.

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. Read more about offset smokers.

A barbecue that burns compressed hardwood sawdust pellets to smoke and grill food. Learn more about pellet smokers.

Generic term for a barbecue but that was traditionally used to refer to a hole in the ground barbecue.

Wood that’s been properly dried after cutting. Seasoned wood holds less moisture so it burns more efficiently and creates a great smoky flavor.

We talk about why using seasoned wood is important in our guide on selecting the best wood for smoking.

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.

They’re more commonly known as offset smokers.

A large smoker that burns logs.

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.

A popular type of bullet, water smoker.

BBQ Slang to Call People

Anyone who really loves Big Green Eggs.

Learn more about offset barrel smokers and reverse flow barrel smokers.

Also known as a pitmaster, a pit boss is the head barbecuing chef, or you if it’s your barbecue.

Pit Boss is also one of the most well-known manufacturers of pellet smokers.

Also known as a pit boss, a pitmaster is the head barbecuing chef, or you if it’s your barbecue.

Rounding Up BBQ Slang 101

I hope you’ve learnt a thing or two from reading this bbq slang guide.

But, if there’s any other bbq terms you’d like us to translate, or if you’ve got your own word you want added to the list, contact us, we’d love to chat!

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Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is committed to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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