Barbecue or barbeque (with
abbreviations BBQ, Bar-B-Q and Bar-B-Que) is a
method and apparatus for cooking meat, with the heat and hot gases of a fire,
smoking wood, or hot coals of charcoal or a propane gas grill, and may include
application of a marinade, spice rub, or basting sauce to the meat.
Left: Chicken wings cooked over charcoal ashes.
The term as
a noun can refer to the meat, the cooking apparatus itself, or to a party that
includes such food. The term as an adjective can refer to foods cooked by this
method. The term is also used as a verb for the act of cooking food in this
Barbecue is usually cooked in an outdoor environment heated by the smoke
of wood or charcoal. Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large brick or metal
ovens specially designed for that purpose.
Barbecue has numerous regional variations in many parts of the world. Notably,
in the Southern United States, practitioners consider barbecue to include only
indirect methods of cooking over hardwood smoke, with the more direct methods
In British usage, barbecuing and grilling refer to a fast cooking process
directly over high heat, while grilling also refers to cooking under a source of
direct, high heat—known in the U.S. and Canada as broiling. In US English usage,
however, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat, while barbecuing
refers to a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke (very similar to
some forms of roasting). For example, in a typical U.S. home grill, food is
cooked on a grate directly over hot charcoal, while in a U.S. barbecue, the
coals are dispersed to the sides or at significant distance from the grate.
South American versions are the southern Brazilian
churrasco and the Argentine
Alternatively, an apparatus called a smoker with a separate fire box may be
used. Hot smoke is drawn past the meat by convection for very slow cooking. This
is essentially how barbecue is cooked in most U.S. "barbecue" restaurants, but
nevertheless, many consider this to be a distinct cooking process called hot
Left: Chicken, pork and corn cooked in
a barbecue smoker.
The slower methods of cooking break down the collagen in meat and tenderizes the
tougher cuts for easier eating.