Ultimate BBQ Slang: What A Real-Life Pitmaster Should Know

Last Updated on August 5, 2021


Annabelle Watson

Annabelle is an experienced food writer and editor. She focuses on common sense, easy to replicate recipes formulated to help keep things fresh and exciting while fitting into her day to day life as a wife and mother.


You may have all the tools and know every BBQ sauce recipe front to back, but to impress your guests, learn to speak BBQ slang.

There are tons of words and phrases to describe meat, heat, cooking temps, post-grill wraps, and more. As your skills progress, add some slang to explain what you’re doing to sound like an ultimate pro.

Whether you want to swap grilling stories with pitmasters at your first BBQ competition or want to learn BBQ terms from around the world, learn these ultimate BBQ slang words. You can use them to wow your guests with your grilling know-how and cooking skills.

1. Methods of Cooking


Barbeque is a cooking method lauded all over the world. From China to South America to the American South, each place puts its spin on sauces, techniques, and reliable barbeque tools. Here are slang words to describe ways of cooking.

3-2-1 Ribs

This is when you smoke the ribs for three hours, leave them wrapped in tinfoil for two hours, and then smoke them for the final hour. The 3-2-1 method creates delectably soft ribs.

2-Zone Cooking

This is one of the most crucial cooking methods for anyone who enjoys grilling. The two different zones give you more control over both the temp and what you’re cooking. 

The direct heat zone is perfect for searing and charring, while the indirect heat zone is perfect for slow-roasting large cuts like brisket or a whole chicken.


Pitmasters often inject a marinade or a mixture of fat and spices under the skin of the meat they’re cooking.

Read morebest meat injectors for home cooking

Butt Over Brisket

A method in which you cook a fatty pork butt above a brisket to give the lower meat a dousing of grease and juice, making it more delicious.

2. Parts of the Food

meat and onions

Pitmasters also use slang to describe parts of the meat they love to grill. Here are some choice words to describe your favorite cuts.


This part of the brisket is also called the point and is the smaller muscle on the brisket. The marbled, fatty, tasty portion makes the deckle sought-after by brisket-lovers.

Fat Cap

This slang phrase refers to the layer of fat between the skin and the meat of your cut. Its presence lets the pitmaster know that the final result will be flavorful and juicy. It’s a long-standing debate whether you should grill with the fat cap on or off.


A shiner isn’t a good thing — it’s when bare bones are exposed on a rack of ribs, meaning too much has been butchered off. The word refers to the way the white of the bones shines through the meat in ultimate BBQ slang.


Cracklings are the crispy, delicious bits of skin from slow roasting or frying pork. Especially in the American South, these pieces of crunchy skin are adored.

3. Parts and Tools


There’s shorthand language for the tools you use to grill, smoke, broil, or slow-roast your meats over a grill.


This is a baster in the shape of a brush. Using a mop, pitmasters sop meat with marinades, vinegar, or BBQ sauce.


When you’re done grilling, many recipes advise letting your meat rest. Many types of meat finish cooking off the grill, mostly when covered with something like butcher paper, which in BBQ slang is a crutch.

Texas Crutch

In Texas barbeques, they use a crutch made of tinfoil. When you hear a pitmaster refer to a Texas Crutch, they’re talking about a tinfoil cover.

4. BBQ from Other Places


When you’re traveling abroad, you may want to sample the local barbeques. Using slang may help you get a place at the table.

Arni Kleftiko or Bandit’s Leg

Maybe you’re traveling to Greece this year and want to brush up on the local terminology for BBQ. If you have a chance to take part in a feast of Bandit’s Leg, try using the local term arni kleftiko

In a clay oven, pitmasters burn a lot of wood and then place a seasoned goat inside, sealing up the mouth of the oven and letting it cook for hours or days. Traditional spices are lemon, salt, olive oil, garlic, and oregano.


All BBQ fans visiting South America need to try asado. In Brazil, Uruguay, and Brazil, meat is cooked over a grill or an open fire by an asador, a South American version of a pitmaster to create asado. The term refers to both the grilling technique and the gathering. Most asados feature wine and delicious salads to accompany the grilled meats.

Char Siu

If your expeditions bring you to the far East, to China, for example, you can wow your hosts by referring to a classic Chinese BBQ as a char siu, in which a duck, ribs, or marinated pork loin cook. Chinese grillmasters don’t lay their meat on the grill; they suspend it inside the grill, which leads some to question whether or not this is BBQ. 

Most contend that it is undoubtedly the Chinese method of BBQ. They traditionally use charcoal in char siu, but some modern pitmasters use propane.

5. Grilling Situations

Grilled Meat

Different stages of the grilling process produce particular circumstances; pitmasters use ultimate BBQ slang to describe everything from a lull in the temperature or the color of the smoke. Here are some more phrases to explain what’s happening under the lid.

Blue Smoke

When the smoke coming off the flames is tinged blue, it’s the perfect time to throw your meat in the smoker.


When a pitmaster has a blowout, they’re referring to a split skin that lets the juices burn off the cut of meat, so it’s not a beneficial situation.


When you’re smoking a piece of meat low and slow, the temperature stalls for a period even when you’re trying to increase it. This is because the meat hasn’t yet formed a crust; once that happens, the temperature will rise again.


Annabelle Watson


Grilling is a lot of fun and mostly produces delicious results, but even more fun than doing the actual grilling or smoking is talking about it with the right vocabulary

Next time you’re at a big BBQ competition, you’ll be able to converse with the best of them, using the ultimate BBQ slang.