15 Unique BBQ Traditions from Around the World To Try This Summer

In America, we’re accustomed to ribs, pulled pork, burnt ends, flavorful barbecue sauces, zesty dry rubs, and smokey flavors. However, there’s more to barbecue than most Americans realize.

Barbecue is any meal where people cook food (usually meat or fish) outdoors over a grill. This broad definition leaves room for interpretation, and almost every culture has its own version.

These are some of the most unique and interesting barbecue styles and traditions from all over the globe. From German rotisseries to West African skewers, these traditions can open up a new world of barbecue food.

1. Indian Tandoori

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Tandoori is easily one of the most flavorful types of barbecue. All Indian food is loaded with flavor (in a good way), but tandoori takes that flavor profile to a new level.

It’s made in a clay or metal pot over a charcoal or wood fire, which creates a deep flavor. Tenderized meat is marinated in spices and dairy, like yogurt, for a soft, juicy texture and taste. Newcomers to Indian food may want to try tandoori first since it’s not usually too spicy.

2. Jamaican Jerk

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If you don’t have a jar of jerk seasoning in your kitchen, we recommend making a jerk blend to have on hand. This blend includes spices and seasonings like garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne, brown sugar, cilantro, thyme, and allspice.

These ingredients create a rich taste that balances sweet and spicy. Jamaican jerk food, often chicken or steak, is rubbed with the blend and slow-cooked for a tender texture.

3. Korean Gogi-Gul

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Many Asian countries have delicious barbecue traditions, but few are as globally well-known and loved as Korean barbecue, called gogi-gul. This type of barbecue is special because it’s traditionally cooked directly at your dining table.

You sear and cook the meat on a charcoal or gas grill built into your table, so you eat fresh food off the grill. Bulgogi is another popular Korean barbecue item. It’s marinated beef tenderloin with bold and balanced umami flavors.

4. Mexican Barbacoa

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Many Mexican dishes are light and use raw onion or fresh cilantro leaves. However, Mexican barbecue is the epitome of meaty richness. Barbacoa is the process associated with Mexican barbecue.

Barbacoa is wrapping meat in maguey leaves (a type of agave) and slow-cooking it in an underground firepit. The maguey leaves seal in moisture to prevent the meat from drying out, offering a juicy texture and taste.

5. Brazilian Churrasco

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Churrasco is a bold barbecue style emphasizing large portions and several meat choices. Brazilian steakhouses serve grilled meats on giant skewers. They slice pieces of the meat off the skewer tableside, allowing you to enjoy a variety of meat in one meal.

The flavors are straightforward but deep, as the meat is slow-cooked. While the flavors, preparation, and texture are important, the heaping portion sizes are just as integral to the churrasco tradition.

6. Australian “Barbie”

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We all know the stereotypical phrase, “throw some shrimp on the barbie.” However, Australian barbecue is more than that. It’s a barbecue style that uses open-flame grills for a charred, fiery flavor.

Aussies also grill a lot more than shrimp. They use prawns, steak, lamb, fish, and other proteins. Barbie food is simple. It uses little seasoning and marinades, allowing the fire and meat to shine in the taste of the meat.

7. German Spiessbraten

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Germany is known for its crispy schnitzel, but spiessbraten is just as mouthwatering. Spiessbraten is the German version of rotisserie, which uses a long solid rod to cook meat slowly over a fire.

It’s typically made with pork and is ideal for family gatherings and large dinners. The seasonings are usually simple — black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and smoked paprika — but the slow roasting method creates a deep, irresistible flavor.

8. Japanese Binchō-Tan

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Binchō-tan is the Japanese cooking style involving a special charcoal grill crafted from premium Japanese oak trees. This grill is used for all Japanese barbecue food, including hibachi, robata, and teppanyaki dishes.

Yakitori is one of the best-known Japanese barbecue traditions. It’s skewered chicken grilled over a charcoal fire. The seasoning here is simple but strong — usually a healthy dose of tare sauce or salt.

9. Chinese Char Siu

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Chinese char siu is a Cantonese barbecue dish. It uses fatty cuts of pork, such as pork shoulder or pork belly, and red bean paste or red yeast rice powder, which gives the char siu its distinctive red color.

Chuanr is similar to char siu but comes from the Northwestern province of Xinjiang. This type of Chinese barbecue skewers lamb coated in a cumin spice blend. Both barbecue styles are mouthwatering and delicious but offer unique flavors.

10. Turkish Shish Kebab

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The humble kebab is a barbecue food that has become widely loved. People put their own spin on this Turkish dish, but its origins are undeniable. People love kebabs because they’re easy to make and encompass a balanced meal on a stick.

Like most Mediterranean dishes, shish kebabs feature vegetables as well as protein. Kebabs are squarish chunks of meat, such as lamb, chicken, or beef, skewered with vegetables and cooked on an open grill. So, you get hearty meat as well as nutritious veggies.

11. English Hog Roast

Image Credit: By Hog Roast, Borough Market, London SE1 by Christine Matthews, CC BY-SA 2.0, WikiCommons.

The UK might be best known for its fish and chips or meat pies, but it has its own barbecue tradition. In England, people roast whole pigs for special occasions. They cook the whole pig in a large roasting oven.

A hog roast is unique because once the pig is ready, there are many cuts to choose from. You can enjoy the fatty belly, the tenderloin, the shoulder, or everything on one plate.

12. Argentinian Asado

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Asado is a South American barbecue tradition most closely associated with Argentina. However, countries like Paraguay and Uruguay also use this barbecue technique comparable to Brazilian churrasco.

Asado doesn’t involve skewers or tableside slicing but takes the same family-style approach. These feasts typically include beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, and morcilla (blood sausage) cooked over an open fire and served with various sauces, such as chimichurri.

13. West African Dibi Hausa

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Dibi hausa is a lesser-known barbecue tradition that everyone should try. It’s a street food with a long history in West Africa, making it an important part of the culture.

This barbecue features lamb marinated in a spice blend called suya, which includes peanuts, ginger, cayenne, garlic, cloves, and allspice. They skewer the meat and cook it on a grill, creating a nutty, umami taste that is comforting but bold.

14. Southeast Asian Satay

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Satay is a popular barbecue tradition across Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Java, and the Philippines. It’s another flavorful, skewer style of barbecue.

Satay resembles shish kebabs but doesn’t include vegetables. It can be chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, goat, or almost any other protein. It’s usually served with a dipping sauce, like peanut sauce or yellow turmeric sauce.

15. South African Braai

Image Credit: By Thulani Godfrey Timba – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, WikiCommons.

South Africa’s most popular barbecue style is braai, which is similar to a traditional American cookout. It’s a reason to spend time with loved ones and eat hearty, filling food. There’s even a national Braai Day and anthem.

This barbecue features fish, steak, chicken, sausage, and other meats. The meat is grilled over local wood as everyone gathers around the fire. Using local wood is important since braai should have a community vibe.

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