A Barbecue and Grill Glossary

BBQ, Barbecue, Barbeque, Bar-B-Q, or just simply Q……

It’s called many things. It means different things to different people. It’s used as a noun, a verb, and an adjective. It has a language all its own.

Want to be able to talk like you really know what you’re doing over that barrel? Like any other types 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 – and there’s no quiz at the end, we promise.


Adobe Sauce – A dark red sauce or paste of Mexican origin made from tomato, vinegar, chilis, and garlic

Armadillo Eggs – A popular BBQ dish of jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, covered in a thick layer of sausage meat, and smoked so they come out looking like large brown eggs

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)

Ahrs – The increments of time used to measure how long a cook takes. Spare ribs take up to 6 ahrs, pulled pork can take up to 14 ahrs, etc.

Atomic Buffalo Turds (Little balls of delight!) – ABT’s are jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, then smoked

Asado – The standard word used to mean barbecue in Latin American countries

Ash Tool – A barbecue grilling accessory used to scrape ashes on a charcoal grill


Barbacoa – The original name Caribbean Indians gave to a wooden rack on which they stored things and cooked meats. This is also an early method of cooking, but it bears little resemblance to what we call barbecue other than that it is done outdoors

Bark – Thick crust filled with intense smoky flavor on a properly prepared piece of meat. You will find coarse pebbles of black pepper and various other spices in this outer layer depending on what kind of rub was used

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

Basting Brush – A barbecue grilling accessory used to apply sauces, marinades, or oil over food that is being prepared or cooked on the barbecue grill

Beer Can Chicken – Also known as beer butt chicken, this is a popular way to grill chicken when 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 (however, many claim it’s just a waste of a good drink)

Barrel 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

Blue Smoke – 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

Brine – A mixture of salt, liquid and other seasonings that’s used to flavor and add moisture to the meat

Brisket – A cut of beef from the breast or lower chest. It consists of two parts: the less fatty side and the point end (or deckie) which is thicker and fattier

Burnt ends – If the bark is often the best part of a good brisket, burnt (not burned) ends are sort of like the entire cut of meat was made out of bark. Also known as meat candy, pitmasters nowadays make them on purpose

Briquettes – Small pieces of compressed charcoal that are ideal for barbecuing


CAB – Certified Angus Beef

Carryover – 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 when cooking in a competition

Chef’s Bonus – Trimmings that get tossed on the grill or smoker by the chef to take a taste and just “see how it’s going”

Cracklings (aka cracklins) – The skin of a pig made crispy and crunchy and scrumptious by frying or roasting. Tradition dictates they either be slow roasted on the barbecue or deep fried in lard. Sprinkled liberally with salt, this is a Southern delight

Chopped Mutton –  A selection of bark and meat from mutton ribs, neck, and shoulders that are traditionally mixed in a liquid in Kentucky barbecue

Cowboy Candy – Candied jalapenos

Crust – The crispy outside layer of barbecue meat


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

Dry Rub – Any mixture of herbs and spices that are applied to the surface of meat to flavor it and create a crispy crust

Dry or Wet – When ordering ribs in Memphis you may be asked if you want them dry or wet: dry has rub only (no sauce), wet has sauce

Dry-aged Beef – Beef that’s been aged in a temperature and humidity controlled environment to dehydrate and create a greater concentration of flavors


EVOO – Extra virgin olive oil


Flat – The lean and thinner side of a whole beef brisket

Fond – 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

Firebox – The chamber of a cooker that holds the fuel and the fire

Fork It Over – Colloquial for pass the brisket, please


Glue – 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

Grill – Also called a brazier, a grill is a common type of cooker where the food is placed on a grate directly over the flame

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


Hardwood – A type of low sap wood such as oak, hickory, or fruit woods that are excellent for smoking

Hot Smoking – Roasting in a smoky chamber at temperatures 130F or higher (in the kill zone of microbes)

Holy Trinity – The New Oeleans traditional mix of onion, celery, and bell peppers


Jiggle – Used to describe how a brisket moves when touched if properly cooked


Kamado or Egg or Ceramic Smoker – Best used as smoker, these egg shaped devices usually have thick walls with good insulation and are very efficient

Knife and Fork – Objects not allowed near ribs

Korean Barbecue – Korean Barbecue is usually thin cut marinated beef, and it is typically grilled by diners on an as-needed basis over a hibachi in the center of the table


Low and Slow – The cooking technique made famous by traditional smokers who use low heat to cook incredibly tender meat over many hours

Lid Prop – A tool that allows you to hold the lid of your grill slightly open at various heights, allowing for finer temperature control


Maillard Reaction – The complex chemical reaction that occurs when the proteins and sugar in food cooked over high heat produces new flavors, aromas, and colors. It’s often called the “browning reaction” but it does a lot more to the flavor of cooked food than just change its color

Marinade – A saucy liquid used to soak meat in to increase its flavor before cooking

Marbling – The thin lace work of fat within a muscle as opposed to the thick layer of fat on top of the muscle. The more marbling, the more tender, juicy, and flavorful the meat

Meateor – A pork butt or beef brisket so dark it looks like it came from outer space

Meat Candy – The delicacy that is the crispy fatty bark pieces of a smoked brisket usually made from the point end; it’s also known as burnt ends

Mr. Brown – The dark and crunchy outside pieces of a whole smoked pig

Mrs. White – The pale and moist inside pieces of a whole smoked pig


Nekkid – Also referred to as “naked,” nekkid meat is barbecued and served unseasoned without sauce


Offset 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


Pellet Smokers/Grills – A cooking device that is best suited for smoking, it burns sawdust that has been compressed into pellets without glues or binders. They are remarkably user-friendly because the better models have precise digital controls

Pig Pickin’ – A meal where a whole hog is served and people can just pluck off whatever part of the careass they wish

Pitmaster – An experienced barbecue cook who watches over the pit and can tell by sight, sound, smell, and touch if its running too hot or too cold, when it needs fuel, when to add wood, when to add sauce, and when the meat is ready

Priss – Someone that eats ribs with a knife and fork

Pig On a Stick – Pork ribs

Planking – 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 are created to flavor the food while keeping it tender

Pork Rinds – The fatty layer underneath pork skin, fried to be crispy and puffy


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

Rub – A mix of spices and/or herbs that’s used to flavor meat

Reverse Sear – A cooking technique where meat is cooked for a long duration over a high direct heat to crisp the exterior

Rib Tips – The very end of a rack of spare ribs after its been trimmed to make St. Louis style ribs


Smoker – A cooker that uses indirect heat and wood smoke to slow cook meat

Smoker Box – A perforated metal box or built-in tray used to hold wood chips and create smoke on a gas barbecue grill

Seasoned pitmaster – A barbecue cooks who spends so much time around the pit he/she always smells like smoke

Shiner – A poorly butchered slab of ribs with bones not covered by meat and shining through

Smoke – A combination of tiny airborne particles, water vapor, and gasses created by the combustion of fuel and oxygen. Smoke is what differentiates barbecue from other forms of cooking

Shiggen – When pitmasters spy on other pitmasters to uncover their barbecue secrets


Texas Trinity – A combination of brisket, pork ribs, and sausage

Tug Mouth – A term used (often in competition) to describe the feeling of gently “tugging” meat off of perfectly cooked ribs 

Tongs – An accessory used to pick up and move food


UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker) – Used to describe a smoker made from a 55 gallon steel drum, usually homemade


Wet Aged Beef – Beef that’s been aged in a vacuum sealed bag to improve the flavor without dehydrating the meat

Wet Rub – 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

Wolf Claws – A barbecue tool that’s used to shred meat, particularly pulled pork

Wood Chips and Chunks – Pieces of wood that are cut or chipped from larger pieces of wood to add a smoky flavor to the meat