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A Guide to Texas BBQ


Louie Mueller Barbecue
Louie Mueller Barbecue

We love sinking our teeth into prime cuts of beef and fall-off-the-bone ribs that have been smoked low and slow for hours. One of our favorite places to enjoy BBQ is in Texas.

BBQ brisket is synonymous with Texas barbecue, but it’s not the only famous barbecue meat to come from the Lone Star State. Pork, ribs, and sausage are also served on butcher paper across Texas. When it comes to BBQ, don’t mess with Texas. Grab some napkins and get ready to take a tasty tour of Texas BBQ. You’ll thank your lucky stars (and us!).

What is Texas BBQ Known for?

Texas BBQ is known for peppery, smoky beef brisket that is juicy and tender. Simple spice rubs and tomato-based sauces contribute to the unique Texas BBQ experience.

Watch Franklin Barbecue on Goldbelly TV

What Makes Texas BBQ the “best” BBQ?

What makes Texas BBQ the “best” BBQ is its taste and texture. Simple rubs with only a handful of ingredients (or just salt and pepper!) and meats cooked low and slow are the recipe for Texas BBQ’s intense smoky-sweet flavor. Many BBQ lovers claim Texas BBQ is the best, particularly, because its pitmasters have had centuries to perfect it.

Since the 1800s, Texans have been smoking and grilling meats. This started with Czech and German immigrants who settled in Texas and brought their tradition of meat and sausage making to Central Texas.

What is the Difference Between Southern Barbecue and Texas Barbecue?

The difference between Southern Barbecue and Texas Barbecue are the sauces and meats.

Texas is mostly known for its prime cuts of beef brisket, but pulled pork, pork ribs, and sausage are also popular. Texas BBQ is typically served with tomato-based sauces on the side.

Read More: A Guide to Regional American Barbecue Sauces

Southern Barbecue encompasses many states, each with their own regional sauces and meats. Eastern North Carolina is all about whole hog smoked over hardwood charcoal and vinegar based sauces while Western North Carolina is famous for Lexington-style pork shoulder in a ketchup-based sauce. 

South Carolina is all about the whole hogs too but slathers them in a mustard-based sauce. Tennessee is famous for Memphis-style dry-rubbed pork and pork ribs, wet ribs basted with a tomato-based sauce, and, elsewhere in the state, chopped whole hog and pork shoulder doused with vinegar-based sauce.

Kentucky is famous for mutton smoked over hickory that is served with a worcestershire-based sauce while Georgia serves up chopped pork topped with a mustard-based sauce. Alabama has a variety of barbecue sauces for its chicken, but one of the most famous is a mayonnaise and pepper-based white sauce.

Terry Black’s Barbecue
Terry Black’s Barbecue | Austin, TX
Ribs & Pulled Pork Food Gift
Central BBQ | Memphis, TN

The 4 Styles of Texas BBQ

Think all Texas BBQ is the same? Think again! Each region has its own distinct barbecue style. Take a Texas taste-test by trying Texas BBQ from across the great state of Texas.

Central Texas BBQ

The hallmark of Central Texas Style BBQ is dry-rubbed brisket smoked over hickory, mesquite, post oak, and/or pecan. In the Hill Country, which includes Austin and Fredericksburg, barbecue meat is simply served dry with slices of white bread, but If you like, there is a thin, tomato-based BBQ sauce spiced with cumin and chili that you can add to your meat feast.

Exemplary Central Texas BBQ can be enjoyed at barbecue joints such as:

Snow’s “Best of Texas BBQ” Combo
Snow’s BBQ | Best of Texas BBQ
Franklin Barbecue Brisket
Franklin Barbecue | Whole Brisket

Read More: Meet the Maker: Kerry Bexley Snow’s BBQ

East Texas BBQ

East Texas BBQ is influenced by the Southern US with hickory-smoked meats served with sauce and plenty of beloved BBQ sides. Pork, particularly pork ribs and pulled pork, and chopped meat sandwiches doused in a ketchup-based sauce with vinegar, worcestershire, and spices is what you will find in this part of Texas, which includes the towns of Longview and Tyler. 

In northeastern Texas, you may find a brown gravy-like sauce made typically from brisket drippings thickened with flour.

Some of the best East Texas BBQ comes from Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ in Tyler.

Stanley Famous BB | Baby Back Ribs
Stanley Famous BBQ | Mother Clucker

West Texas BBQ

Meats like chicken, ribs, and sausage in West Texas are grilled over an open flame — not smoked — in a pit piled with mesquite wood. In West Texas cities like El Paso and Lubbock, BBQ is served with sides like baked beans and potato salad.

To try West Texas BBQ, get your grill on with Goode Co. Barbecue in Houston and Southside Market & Barbecue in Elgin.

Goode Co. Barbecue Texas Sausage Sampler
Goode Co. Barbecue Texas Sausage Sampler
Southside Market Barbecue Pork Steaks
Southside Market Barbecue Pork Steaks

South Texas BBQ

Brisket and barbacoa are signatures of South Texas BBQ. It’s a nod to the Mexican-American culinary traditions, including the way the meats like cheek and tongue are prepared. Here, in cities like San Antonio, BBQ is made in an underground pit, oven, or steamer and served with a sweet, molasses-based barbecue sauce.

Davila’s BBQ in Seguin makes superlative South Texas BBQ.

Davilas BBQ Party Pack
Davila’s BBQ Smoked Brisket & Hot Links Pack
Davilas BBQ Mesquite Smoked Brisket
Davila’s BBQ Mesquite Smoked Brisket

Don’t mess with Texas. The best BBQ meats plus condiments and sides from Texas are shipping nationwide on Goldbelly!

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