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Chasing BBQ - BBQ Headquarters

Barbecue Slang


Want to be able to talk barbecue like the pros? Of course you do. From 'cue glue to smoke rings, we've got all the barbecue vocabulary you need to know before becoming a true 'cue expert.


3-2-1 Ribs An easy-to-remember method for cooking ribs. Three hours in the smoker at 225 degrees; followed by two hours wrapped in foil with a little liquid in the smoker; and cooking for one hour, unwrapped at a higher temperature like 300 degrees, with optional basting.
Baby Back Ribs (a.k.a Back ribs or loin ribs) Taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle of a pig. They have meat between the bones and on top of the bones; baby back ribs are curved, shorter and often meatier than other ribs.
Bark The chewy, jerky-like crust that forms on seasoned meats that are smoked.
Bend Test (a.k.a. Bounce Test) A method for checking the doneness of ‘low and slow’ smoked ribs. Pick up the rack of ribs with a pair of tongs by the center bones and bounce them slightly. If they are ready, the slab will bow until the meat starts to break away.
Boston Butt Most often used for pulled pork. This cut comes from the upper part of a front leg of the pig.
Bounce Test A test for checking the doneness of low and slow smoked ribs. Using a pair of tongs, pick up the rack of ribs by the middle/center bones and bounce them slightly. If they are ready, the slab will bow until the meat starts to break away. Also called the bend test.
Brine A mixture of liquid, salt, and seasonings used to enhance a piece of meat prior to cooking. It adds moisture, as well as flavor, to the meat.
Brisket A cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of a steer or cow. It consists of two parts: the flat or lean side (which has less fat) and the deckle or point side (which has more fat).
Burnt Ends Usually from the point of the brisket. The cubed, crusty, chewy edges of the beef brisket.
CAB Certified Angus beef.
Chip Kentucky barbecue term referring to crispy, chewy, diced pieces from the outer edges of smoked mutton and pork. These pieces are combined and served with thin, vinegary, allspice-flavored barbecue sauce called dip.
Chuck Ribs Beef ribs from the upper front of the rack of the steer or cow; ribs 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Cracklings (a.k.a Cracking) The crispy, crunchy skin of a pig; traditionally made by slow roasting on the barbecue or deep-frying in lard. The skin can include the subcutaneous fat layer that rinds are made of or just the skin.
Deckle An inexact term referring to secondary or smaller muscles in a cut of meat. Sometimes refers to the rib cap on the ribeye or the point on the brisket.
Dip A thin, vinegary barbecue sauce.
Dry Glaze In Memphis, a finish you can request for ribs. Ribs are topped with a barbecue sauce that has been smoked to thicken its consistency; that sauce is then topped with a generous coating of seasoning.
Dry Ribs In Memphis, a finish you can request for ribs. Pork ribs are smoked first, lightly seasoned, then finished and served with a generous coating of seasoning—without sauce.
Fat Cap The thick, white layer of fat on top of meat. Best trimmed to a ¼ thickness. It serves many purposes, including adding flavor and protecting the meat, keeping it tender.
Fatty Side (a.k.a Moist Side) Refers to the fattier side of a beef brisket.
Flat (a.k.a The Flat) Refers to the lean side of a beef brisket, which has more meat and less fat.
Glue Used in preparing meat for smoking, a binder to hold the dry rub or seasonings to the meat. For example: a 60/40 mixture of yellow mustard and pickle juice. The flavor of the glue will be non-existent after cooking.
Green Wood Freshly cut, aromatic wood. Sometimes used in combination with dry wood for smoking meat; can add a bitter flavor to the finished barbecue if not used correctly.
Hot n' Fast Refers to cooking over direct, radiant high heat (usually an open flame) at temperatures over 350°F. Cooking at these temps requires you to turn the meat more often, to prevent burning.
Indirect Cooking A method of cooking where the food is not placed directly over the heat source.
Lean Side (a.k.a The Lean) Refers to the less fatty side of a beef brisket.
Low n' Slow A method of barbecuing where food is cooked at a low temperature for a long time, sometimes up to 18 hours. The food is not placed directly over the heat source. The heat doesn’t exceed 275°F and usually is closer to 225°F.
Maillard Reaction A chemical reaction between amino acids and foods which results in the surface browning. It begins at low temps but picks up intensity as the heat surpasses 300°F. Many new compounds form in the process, creating richness and depth of flavor as well as a crunchy, chewy texture.
Meat & Cheese A Memphis barbecue appetizer consisting of smoked bologna, smoked summer sausage, cheddar cheese, crackers, and a side of barbecue sauce.
Mop (a.k.a Mop Sauce) A thin sauce brushed or sprayed onto the meat’s surface while it cooks. A classic mop is vinegar based and mixed with black pepper, red pepper flakes, and hot sauce.
Necked (a.k.a Naked) Barbecued meat served unseasoned and without sauce.
Offset A smoker with two sealed boxes or tubes connected on one side. One for a charcoal or wood fire; the other is the oven, which is offset by being a little higher.
Outside Brown Refers to the outer bark of smoked pork—which turns dark, crispy, and smoky while on the pit.
Packer's Cut A less expensive beef brisket with all of the fat still on it.
Paste Sauce A barbecue sauce made from tomato paste or sauce.
Pit A generic term for any device used to cook barbecue.
Pit Boss An experienced barbecue craftsman, who watches over the pit. Based on experience can tell by sight, sound, smell, and touch if the pit is running too hot or too cold, when it needs fuel, when to add wood, when to add sauce, and when the meat is ready.
Pit Master (a.k.a Pit Boss) An experienced barbecue craftsman, who watches over the pit. Based on experience can tell by sight, sound, smell, and touch if the pit is running too hot or too cold, when it needs fuel, when to add wood, when to add sauce, and when the meat is ready.
Plate Ribs (a.k.a Short Plate Ribs) Beef ribs from the lower center rack of a steer or cow; ribs 6, 7 and 8.
Point (a.k.a The Point) Refers to the fatty side of a beef brisket.
Pork Rinds In a pig, the subcutaneous layer of fat (underneath the skin) fried to a puffy, crispy texture.
Rib Tips The very end of a rack of spare ribs. When a rack is trimmed horizontally to make St. Louis style ribs, there is a thin strip of rib ends (or tips) left behind.
Seasoned Wood Wood that has been properly dried after cutting. Drying takes approximately 6 to 12 months. This wood burns much more efficiently due to its reduced moisture content.
Skinning the Brisket The process of trimming fat on a brisket. Traditionalists do this after cooking while modern pitmasters prefer to do this prior to seasoning and cooking.
Skin n' Trim On the underside of ribs, the process of removing the membrane, which can become tough when cooked. Removal is optional.
Smoke Ring The coveted pink hue that appears just underneath the bark when meat is smoked. Smoking leads to a release of nitric oxide and carbon monoxide that combine with myoglobin, a protein found in the meat, to form a ‘smoke ring’.
Snake Method A method of cooking low and slow. Briquettes are laid around the inner edges of the pit; the first few are lit and the others catch fire as the heat reaches them naturally.
Snap The sound and mouth feel you get from biting into a smoked sausage link.; more prevalent in handmade sausages.
Stall (a.k.a The Stall) The time when the internal temperature of the protein you are smoking can plateau or even drop. To combat the stall, stay the course and resist the temptation to increase the heat.
St. Louis Style Ribs Pork ribs that have had the rib tips trimmed off.
Texas Crutch Refers to a method of wrapping the meat tightly in foil during the cooking process. This step occurs after the meat has been sufficiently smoked but isn’t cooked though. Typically used when smoking ribs, beef brisket, and pork butt; will often include adding a small amount of liquid, which helps to tenderize the meat.
Texas Trinity sausage, brisket, and pork ribs
Tug Mouth feel when biting into a perfectly cooked rib. The rib meat shouldn’t slide right off the bone; rather, it should need a gentle tug. Important to judges when scoring competition barbecue.
Wet Ribs In Memphis, a finish you can request for ribs. Pork ribs are brushed with sauce before, during, and after the cooking process.