Barbecue Vocabulary Every Southerner Should Know

Would you like it chopped, sliced, or coarse chopped?


In the Piedmont of North Carolina, chopped pork isn't dressed with sauce but with a thin, tomato-tinged vinegar concoction that the locals call "dip." (Folks in parts of Kentucky call their sauce "dip," too.)

Burnt Ends

No, they're not actually burnt. It's just what folks in Kansas City call the thin,crisp edges of beef brisket that get trimmed away and doused in thick barbecue sauce as a barbecue sampler.

Outside Brown

The Piedmont North Carolina term for the outer bits of pork that turn dark and crisp during their time on the pit, adding texture and bursts of smoky flavor to a pork tray or sandwich.

Pork Steak

A specialty of St. Louis barbecue joints and found a lot down in Texas, too, it's simply pork shoulder sliced an inch or two thick and slow cooked over indirect heat until tender and smoky.

Hot Slaw

That's spicy hot, not temperature hot—an unusual variety of cole slaw dressed in bright yellow mustard with lots of hot peppers, found only in a small region in northern Alabama and eastern Tennessee.

Barbecue Spaghetti

In this classic Memphis side dish, it's not the spaghetti that's cooked on the pit but the sauce—a blend of tomato and the city's tangy barbecue sauce that's used to dress a plate of shredded pork and spaghetti noodles.

Juicy Links

(a.k.a "Beaumont-style links," "garlic bombs," or "grease balls") A specialty of East Texas barbecue joints, these sausages are made from beef trimmings ground with garlic and spices like cumin and paprika that are stuffed into beef casings and smoked.

Chipped Mutton

Found only in two Kentucky counties—Union and Henderson—"chipped mutton" means the smoky outside bits of slow-cooked mutton chopped into tiny shreds and soaked in Kentucky's thin, vinegar-based "dip." Perfect with pickles and onions on rye.


A St. Louis speciality similar to cracklins: pieces of pig's nose and cheek that are deep fried or grilled till crunchy and brown, then served on a sandwich or by themselves with hot sauce.

Chopped, Sliced, or Coarse Chopped

There are three ways to order pork shoulder in the Piedmont of North Carolina: sliced, chopped (small bits or shreds), or coarse chopped (bite-sized chunks)

Lean or Fatty (or Moist)

When ordering brisket In Texas, you'll often be asked if you want it "lean" (sliced from the leaner "flat" side) or "fatty" (from the point, which has lots of intramuscular fat and beefy flavor). In this age of fat-phobia, a lot of joints use the term "moist" instead of "fatty."

Long End or Short End

When ordering ribs in Kansas City, you ask for "long end" or "short end" to specify the side of the rack with the longer bones or with the shorter ones. (The short end has an extra rib or two and usually costs a buck more.)

Wet Ribs or Dry

In Memphis, "wet" ribs are basted in sauce while they cook, while "dry" get only a coating of spice mix.

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