This is our ever-growing glossary of outdoor cooking, grilling, and BBQ terms. Be in the know. Learn the slang here so you can start talking like a bonafide pit-/grill master.
3 2 1 Ribs
3 2 1 ribs is a technique to cook ribs — first 3 hours with no wrap, next 2 hours wrapped, and last 1 hour with no wrap again. Learn more.
2-zone fire is a setup where you divide the cooking area into two zones: one with direct high heat and one with indirect low heat. This setup gives you flexibility and more control in your cooking. Master it and you’ll be the best outdoor cook in the neighborhood in no time. Learn more.
Ash tool is an accessory that allows you to scrape out the ash through the bottom vent of a kamado grill. You can also use it to stir the coals for a hotter fire.
Short for Atomic Buffalo Turd. ABT is a hollowed out jalapeno pepper, stuffed with cream cheese, pulled pork and wrapped in bacon. Best appetizer ever!
AmazingRibs is an authoritative website in the BBQ world. The author, Meathead Goldwyn, even published his own book. I own one and it’s a great read. Learn more.
Asado is a grilling method that is popular in South America, especially Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Afterburner method is a technique of cooking food on top of a charcoal chimney starter. All you need is a cooking grid, a chimney, and some charcoal. Ignite the coals using the chimney as usual. Place the grid on top once the coals are ready. Then proceed to cook. The heat from the chimney is extremely hot so this method is great for searing and grilling hot n fast. Learn more.
A.k.a barbeque, BBQ, ‘cue, ‘que, and barbie. It’s a method of outdoor cooking which involves smoke, low heat, and quite a bit of time. The end result is tenderly soft and deliciously succulent meat that just melts in your mouth (surprisingly, some consider barbecue different from grilling). It also means the device where you barbecue or the food that you barbecue. Learn more.
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Bark is a dark brown layer that forms on the meat surface after many hours of smoking. It’s crunchy and tasty. Learn more.
Burnt ends are cut from the thin edges of the brisket. Those edges got crispy from being overcooked.
A.k.a bounce test. Bend test is a way to check the doneness of a rack of ribs. Grab it with a pair of tongs on one end then shake lightly. The rack will bend down and you’ll see the meat starting to break away. Learn more.
Another name for pork butt.
There are two types of brine: wet and dry. Wet brine is pretty much salt water, whereas dry brine is a salt application on the meat surface. That said, these two types serve the same purpose — allowing salt to penetrate the meat, preserving moisture and enhancing flavors.
Brisket packer is an untrimmed beef brisket, with the point and the flat still together.
A.k.a deckle. Brisket point is the smaller part of a beef brisket. Yet, it has more fat marbling than the flat.
Brisket flat is the bigger and longer part of a beef brisket. It has less intramuscular fat (or leaner) than the point.
Short for Big Green Egg.
BBQ Guru is a temperature controller manufacturer. They also sell other accessories along with the European Monolith ceramic grills. Learn more.
Beer Can Chicken
Beer can chicken is a unique technique to cook chicken. As the name suggests, the chicken would sit in a can vertically and you just cook it that way.
Briquettes (or Briquets)
Briquettes are charcoal dust plus other additives pressed together into these small pillow-shaped black bricks. Kingsford is the biggest briquette manufacturer to this day. Learn more.
Baby Back Ribs
Baby back ribs are pork ribs that come from the loin back of a hog. They’re leaner than spare ribs yet more expensive. Learn more.
Bear claws resemble bear feet. It’s used to shred pork butt or pork shoulder into pulled pork.
Braai is Afrikaans for grill or barbecue.
Bullet smoker is shaped like a bullet. It features a water pan in between the fire and the cooking grate. The Weber Smokey Mountain is the best example of a bullet smoker.
Burping is the act of slowly opening up a kamado grill before opening it all the way. The purpose is to prevent sudden influx of air which can cause a flashback fireball.
Brazier is another name for a grill.
Short for British Thermal Unit. BTU is a measure for heat output. It’s used to determine how hot a gas grill can get. You’ll find this number in the specification of any gas grill.
Short for Certified Angus Beef. Learn more.
Crackling is the crunchy and crispy skin of a hog. Real yummy!
Cambro is a brand of insulated food storage box. BBQ professionals use it to keep their cooked food warm for many hours before turning in. Learn more.
Chimney starter is a device used to ignite charcoal, whether lump or briquettes. Learn more.
Circuit is a host of BBQ competitions throughout the year.
Contest is another term for a BBQ competition.
Charcuterie (pronounced “shahr-ku-ter-ree”) is a method of curing and preserving ham, sausage, and bacon. The word originated from France. And yes, it’s quite popular in France as well.
Country-style ribs are the 4 to 5 ribs cut near the front of the baby back ribs (close to the shoulder of the hog). They have more meat than other rib cuts, but harder to chew because of the extra cartilage. Learn more.
Ceramic Grill Store
Ceramic Grill Store is a retail store that sells accessories for kamado grills such as Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, Primo, and more. Based in Denton, TX, they also have another store that sells everything BBQ and grilling. Learn more.
Charcoal is a cooking fuel. It has two types: lump and briquettes. Learn more.
Connective tissues are tough parts inside large cuts of meat. You need time and low heat to really melt them. Otherwise, they’d be a pain to eat.
Carbonization is a process used to make lump charcoal.
Carryover cooking is a phenomenon in which the hotter food exterior continues to cook the interior even though you already removed the food from the grill. Learn more.
Caramelization refers to the non-enzymatic browning of sugar under high heat. This chemical reaction produces a nutty sweet yet slightly bitter flavor in your food. You’ll find caramelization happening a lot in food with high sugar and low protein, such as bread or cookies.
Chine bone is part of the spine. It’s where the baby back ribs start. In other words, the chine bone connects the baby backs to the spine.
Conduction means heat transfer via direct exposure to the heat source. Think skillet or grill grate.
Convection means heat transfer via fluids. It can be oil, air, or water.
Cooker is a general term for a grill, a smoker, a griddle, and so on. Any device that is used for cooking.
Cooking chamber is where you cook food on the grill.
Cold smoking is a method of imparting smoke flavor to food without cooking it. It’s done at the temperatures below 140F. Examples of cold smoked food are egg, fresh fish, cheese, and so on.
Deckle is another name for the brisket point
Daisy wheel is a cast-iron cap found in many kamado grills. Its purpose is to act as the top vent to help regulate the internal temperature of the grill.
Direct cooking is meat cooking directly over the fire. Sometimes it’s referred to hot n fast.
Dry rub is a combination of various spices and herbs. It’s applied on the meat surface to help with the bark formation. Learn more.
Dalmatian rub is just salt and pepper.
Dry-aging is a process of letting meat, usually large cuts, age in a controlled environment. You can dry-age meat for months, but 30 days old is usually the norm. Learn more.
Danger Zone is from 40F to 140F according to USDA. It’s the temperature range where bacteria grow most rapidly. Avoid the Danger Zone at all costs. Learn more.
Egg is an affectionate term for the Big Green Egg.
Eggheads are Big Green Egg fanatics. They do take this whole BGE thing seriously.
Fat cap is that thick layer of fat in between the meat and the skin.
Faux Cambro is a technique where you wrap your cooked meat with aluminum foil. Wrap it again in clean towels. Then proceed to place everything in a cooler or an ice chest. Shut the lid and your meat will stay warm for many hours to come. For many amateur backyard cooks, this is the way to go instead of spending money on a more expensive Cambro unit. Hence the name faux Cambro. Learn more.
Fall off the bone
Fall off the bone is to describe overcooked ribs. The meat just falls off the bone when you bite into it. Some folks prefer it this way, while other folks like it chewier.
Ferrari is a nickname for Komodo Kamado. It’s the highest quality kamado grill out there. Man, if I got the money, I’d buy me one of these bad boys. Learn more.
Firebrick can withstand extreme heat. They’re used in many cooking setups to divide the coals across the cooking surface. Please don’t substitute regular bricks for firebricks. They ain’t the same.
Flame Boss is another temperature controller company. Learn more.
Flashback happens when you open the lid of a tightly-shut kamado grill without burping it first. It’s a fireball that will burn away all your facial and arm hair. Be careful! You have been warned!
Firebox is where your fuel goes. For example, the offset smoker has its firebox on the side. It’s where you can burn wood or charcoal for heat and smoke.
Grilling is a method of outdoor cooking in which food is cooked directly over the heat source. Some consider grilling different from barbecue even though the two terms are used interchangeably. Learn more.
Green wood is freshly-cut wood. This type of wood still contains a lot of moisture, therefore not the best kind for cooking.
Grate lifter is a tool used to lift the hot cooking grate off a grill.
Grill Dome is a kamado grill manufacturer. Their grills are known for the glossy and shiny finish. Learn more.
Short for golden brown delicious.
Gelatin is the final product of melted collagen. It’s silky like jello. This is what you want in your smoked meat.
Gasser is another name for a propane/gas grill.
Glaze is that glossy and shiny coating when you brush BBQ sauce on your smoked meat.
Grill (or brazier) is a cooking device where food sits directly over the heat source. Think the Weber kettle.
Hot n Fast
Hot n Fast is another term for grilling.
Short for heavy duty aluminum foil.
Heat flux is a heat output measure for propane grill. It’s calculated by dividing the total amount of BTU over the entire cooking grate (minus any warming rack or secondary grate). Heat flux is a better and more accurate number than BTU to determine how hot a propane grill can get. However, it still isn’t the end-all be-all. Keep it in mind when you’re out shopping nonetheless.
Hardwoods have seeds with covering and shed leaves every year. They also don’t have a high amount of sap so are great for smoking. Examples of hardwoods are hickory, oak, cherry, and so on.
Hot smoking is a method of cooking food and imparting smoke flavor to it at the same time. It’s done at temperatures above 140F.
Injection refers to pitmasters using a syringe and injecting brine into the meat. They do it before smoking the meat. Learn more.
Indirect cooking is placing the meat away from the hot fire. Because of that, low convection heat will slowly cook the meat instead of high radiant heat. Sometimes, it’s referred to low n slow.
Internal temperature usually means the temperature at the core of the meat. However, folks do sometimes refer to it as the ambient temperature of the grill depending on the context.
When properly cooked, the brisket will jiggle when you touch it.
A.k.a egg or ceramic cooker. Inspired by the Japanese rice cooker or “mushikamado”, Big Green Egg was the first one to introduce this type of cooker to the US. Kamado is made of ceramic and, in some cases, insulated steel. It holds heat very well and is better at smoking than grilling. Learn more.
Short for Kamado Joe. Besides BGE, KJ is another popular kamado grill company. Learn more.
Short for Komodo Kamado.
Short for Kansas City Barbeque Society. Learn more.
Kansas City Style Ribs
Kansas City style ribs are similar to St. Louis style ribs. However, butchers trim them more which in turn makes the ribs less meaty.
Kosher salt is a coarse salt without additives. I use it when I make my dry rubs.
Kick Ash Basket
Kick Ash Basket is a company that sells ash baskets for different types of charcoal grill. Their products make it easy to clean out the ash after cooking. Learn more.
Kalbi is another name for Korean short ribs. They taste good when you grill them hot n fast.
Kingsford is the biggest briquettes manufacturer. Learn more.
Low n Slow
Low n Slow is another term for barbecue or smoking.
Lollipop is a cool way to prepare chicken drumsticks. You start by removing some of the skin on the thin end of the drumstick. Then wrap that area with foil. Season your drumsticks and smoke them until they’re good. Don’t forget to apply a wet glaze on the meat after you’re done. Remove the foil and what you have is some delicious meat lollipop.
Lump (or charcoal) is the end product when you carbonize wood. Many people think of briquette when they talk about charcoal. But lump is the real charcoal. Briquette is merely an engineered product of charcoal. Learn more.
Looftlighter is an electric charcoal starter. It will light your charcoal fast, clean, and safe. Invented by Richard Looft, this thing is one hell of a device. I call it a hairdryer on steroids. Learn more.
Short for liquid propane.
Money muscle is the most desired part of the pork butt. It’s tender, delicious, and tastes like pork loin. Competition teams often cut it out for their pork turn in. Learn more.
Mop is a mixture of liquids and spices. It’s used to add moisture and extra flavor to the meat during cooking. You can brush it onto the meat or pour it into a foil wrap.
Maillard reaction is another non-enzymatic food browning similar to caramelization. But unlike caramelization, the Maillard reaction happens more often in food with high protein and low sugar. Learn more.
Minion method is a charcoal setup used for low n slow cooking. You start by piling up charcoal in the firebox. Ignite some more using a chimney then pour those hot coals over the pile. Named after Jim Minion — a BBQ competition cook, this method can produce a long and stable burn for many hours (up to 20 hours). Learn more.
Membrane refers to the thin and stretchy skin on the bone side of a slab of ribs. When cooked, it gets tough and chewy, making it unpleasant to eat. Membrane removal is recommended, but it’s optional. Learn more.
Mr. Brown is another name for bark, which is that crusty dark brown outside layer of smoked meat.
Mrs. White refers to the meaty inside of smoked meat.
Marbling means intramuscular fats. Those are the white strips in between the meat. The more marbling a cut of meat has, the more flavorful and delicious it is. In fact, USDA uses marbling as a criterion to grade beef.
Myoglobin is a protein that binds iron and oxygen. When myoglobin is mixed with water, you have myowater. It’s that pink liquid that oozes out when you cut into meat. Keep in mind that myoglobin/myowater isn’t blood.
Nakes means meat with no seasoning or sauce on it.
Short for natural gas.
Offset refers to a type of horizontal barrel charcoal grill. The fire starts at the smaller fire box on one side. The smoke then travels across the main cooking chamber, flavoring the food, then escapes through the top vent on the other side. Learn more.
Pit is another term for a smoker. Pretty much any cooker used for barbecue.
A.k.a pit boss. Pitmaster is a person who knows their way around a BBQ pit. They know when to add fuel, when to adjust the vents, and when it’s ready to eat. Think Aaron Franklin, Tootsie Tomanetz, Malcolm Reed, etc. And you.
Prime means the highest quality beef with the most marbling according to USDA.
Probe can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it means the meat thermometer. As a verb, it’s an act of inserting the thermometer into the meat to check its internal temperature.
Probe tender is when you slide your thermometer into the meat with no resistance at all. It just slides right in. You know the meat is ready. It’s a beautiful feeling (Ok. Get your mind out of the gutter!).
Pork butt is the upper portion of the shoulder of a hog. It’s rectangular and more expensive than pork shoulder. It also has a fat cap with no skin on it. Learn more.
Pork shoulder is the lower portion of the shoulder of a hog. It has a tapered shape and is less expensive than pork butt. It also has a skin still attached. Learn more.
Picnic is another name for a pork shoulder.
Plate setter is a heat deflector used in kamado grills to create indirect heat.
Plateau is another name for the stall.
Primal cut means a portion of meat that is initially cut from the carcass of an animal during butchering.
Primo is another brand of kamado grill. Their grills are proudly made in the USA. Learn more.
Pulled pork is a slow-smoked BBQ dish. Pork butt or pork shoulder is cooked low n slow until it’s tender. Then it’s “pulled” or shredded using bear claws. Learn more.
Pellet grill is a new type of cooker in the BBQ world. It uses pellets as fuel and features a digital controller to regulate its temperature. You don’t have to adjust anything at all. It’s pretty much a set-and-forget sort of thing. Learn more.
Pellets are the fuel used in pellet grills. Folks refer to this type as smoking or wood pellets. There is also heating pellets. They look identical to smoking pellets, but aren’t safe for cooking. Learn more.
Rack is used to describe a section of ribs.
Rutland gasket is a fiberglass gasket used to replace the original gasket for some kamado grills. Learn more.
Reverse sear is a cooking technique where you slow-cook the meat first to a desired internal temperature. Then turn up the heat inside the grill. Wait and let the meat rest. Once the grill is ready, cook the meat hot n fast to get that golden brown deliciousness on the exterior. Learn more.
Resting is allowing the meat to cool after cooking. Some say doing so will make the meat juicier, whereas some begs to differ. Learn more.
Rib tips are the end of spare ribs. They’re quite meaty and tasty if cooked right. Learn more.
Radiation means heat transfer via heat and light waves. Think infrared burner or microwave.
Shiner is an exposed bone of a slab of ribs. You’d want to avoid ribs with shiners because there isn’t much meat left. When you cook these ribs, the shiners will just fall off during cooking.
The stall is a phase where the internal temperature of meat stops rising during a low n slow cook. It happens because the cold inside the meat wants to get out, but is stopped by the outside heat trying to get in. These two fights each other, resulting in a stall that lasts for many hours. But once the cold gives up, the heat takes over and everything is back to normal. Learn more.
Smoke ring is that pinkish red ring underneath the bark of smoked meat. It’s the result of a chemical reaction between the nitrates and nitrites in the smoke and the myoglobin in the meat. Learn more.
Seasoned wood is wood that has been dried out for a while (6 to 12 months) to reduce the moisture content inside it.
Skin n Trim
Skin n trim means preparing a rack of ribs. It usually involves removing the membrane, trimming extra fat, and cutting off loose meat.
Spare ribs are below baby back ribs. They’re bigger, fattier, and cheaper than baby backs. Butchers can trim them further to make St. Louis style or Kansas City style. Learn more.
St. Louis Style Ribs
St. Louis style ribs are spared ribs with the rib tips removed. They have a uniform rectangular shape. You’ll find them more often in BBQ competitions than at your local grocery store. Learn more.
Short for Steak Cookoff Association. Learn more.
Spritz (or spritzing) means spraying smoked meat with water or other liquids during cooking. It helps moisturize the meat and slow down the cook. Learn more.
Stick burner is a barbecue that burns wood. The old school way.
Short for Snake River Farms. They focus on selling Wagyu beef. Their slogan says “The Pioneers of American Wagyu beef”. Learn more.
Sub-primal cut is a portion of meat that is cut from a primal cut. So we start with a carcass, then down to primal cuts, and finish with sub-primal cuts.
Slab is another term for a rack. It’s used for ribs.
Sear means cooking food with high heat for a short amount of time. The purpose is to create that browning or Maillard reaction on the food surface. Learn more.
Spatchcock is to flatten a poultry. You start by cutting out the back bone and spread the bird out on the cooking surface.
Snake method is a charcoal arrangement for low n slow cooking. You start by making two parallel lines of charcoal along the inside edge of the grill (like a snake). Light some charcoal up then pour those hot coals over one end of the snake. Its concept is similar to the Minion method. In fact, many folks refer to the snake method as an elongated minion. Learn more.
Softwoods have uncovered seeds and remain evergreen all year long. They contain a high amount of sap therefore aren’t great for smoking. Examples of softwoods are pine, fir, etc.
Silverskin is another term for the membrane on the bone side of a slab of ribs.
Smoke is those tiny particles in the air created by the burning of fuel and oxygen. When the smoke particles land on the food surface, they impart a smoky flavor to the food. To increase that flavor, pitmasters keep the food surface moist so the particles can adhere to it better.
Smoking means to barbecue or to cook food low n slow in the presence of smoke.
Smoker is a cooking device where you can create indirect heat and smoke to barbecue meat.
Sous vide (pronounced “sue vee”) is cooking food in a tightly sealed plastic bag submerged in water. The food will come out evenly in terms of color and texture. Throw it on a hot grill grate to sear and you’ve got yourself a tasty meal, friends.
Texas crutch is a technique where you wrap your smoked meat mid-cook, with either foil or butcher paper, to power through the stall. Learn more.
Thermoworks is one of the best thermometer manufacturers out there. I own the Thermoworks Smoke and it’s great. Learn more.
Thermapen is the industry standard for instant-read meat thermometer. It’s produced by Thermoworks. Learn more.
Turn in means the time when competition cooks have to give their final product to the judges.
Traeger is the company that starts the whole pellet grilling thing. It’s one of the best pellet grill manufacturers on the market. Learn more.
Thin Blue Smoke
Thin blue smoke is what you want when smoking meat. It indicates that your fuel is burning nice and clean.
Tri-tip is a subprimal cut that comes from the sirloin. You can either roast or cut it into steaks for cooking.
Short for ugly drum smoker. It’s a smoker that is built out of a 55-gal oil drum. The Pit Barrel Cooker is a good example of an UDS.
Umami means rich, savory, and meaty. It’s often used to describe the flavor of cooked meat. However, folks also use it to describe other foods as well.
Short volatile organic compounds.
Vortex is a cone-shaped charcoal holder with the top cut off. You can use it to create direct or indirect heat inside your grill. The Vortex is a great tool to cook chicken wings. Learn more.
Weber is one of the largest BBQ companies. They make almost every grill, from gas to charcoal to electric to pellet. They’re famous for the Weber kettle grill. Learn more.
Short for Weber Smokey Mountain. It’s the best water/bullet smoker out there. Hands down. Learn more.
Wagyu is a Japanese beef breed. It’s known for the high amount of intramuscular fat or marbling. Tasty yet expensive.
White Billowing Smoke
White billowing smoke is what you don’t want when smoking meat. It indicates that some of the volatile organic compounds left in your charcoal are burning. Those aren’t great for taste, so wait until the white smoke turns into a thin blue one. That’s when you start putting your meat on the grill.
Water pan refers to either the one that comes with water smokers or the foil pan you find at the grocery store. They both serve a similar purpose, which is to maintain the temperature inside a smoker and provide some level of humidity. They can also act as a drip pan if you position one underneath the meat. Learn more.