17 of Our Best Barbecue Recipes

Apple-Glazed Barbecued Baby Back Ribs
Photo: © Quentin Bacon

There’s something inherently magical about barbecued food — the smokiness, the charred flavor, the crispy edges and crusts that form while you grill. In this roundup, you’ll find all of the classic recipes: sticky glazed ribs, tender and juicy brisket, chicken wings, pulled pork, and some shrimp and salmon dishes too, for good measure. Plus, if you haven’t found your signature barbecue sauce yet, we’ve included a few different spins, from Alabama’s signature white sauce to a sweet and smoky maple-chipotle version. Read on for those recipes and other essential barbecue recipes you should master.

01 of 17

Maple-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Maple-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

© Wendell T. Webber

This sweet and smoky barbecue sauce is the perfect gift for die-hard winter grillers. Brush it on chicken, beef, lamb, pork, or ham during the last few minutes of grilling, broiling, or roasting. Or, dilute with a little chicken stock and use to deglaze pan drippings.

02 of 17

Red Wine Barbecue Chicken

Red Wine BBQ Chicken
© Con Poulos

Leftover red wine gets repurposed into a sweet, sticky, and luscious barbecue sauce in this easy chicken recipe from Food & Wine culinary director at large Justin Chapple.

03 of 17

Grilled Chicken with Sweet Mustard Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Sweet Mustard Barbecue Sauce
Reed Davis

A sweet mustard glaze gives chef John Currence's grilled chicken a crisp coating. The juicy marinated birds are also delicious without the glaze. The chickens need to marinate overnight, so plan accordingly.

04 of 17

Hill Country Smoked Chicken Wings with Texas Ranch Dressing

Hill Country Smoked Chicken Wings with Texas Ranch Dressing
© Peden + Munk

Rubbing chicken wings with a variety of sweet and spicy seasonings before smoking gives them a double dose of delicious flavor.

05 of 17

Big Bob Gibson's Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce

Big Bob Gibson’s Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce. Photo © Marcus Nilsson
© Marcus Nilsson

At Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Alabama, chef Chris Lilly butterflies a whole chicken, smokes it, then dunks the bird into a vat of tangy white barbecue sauce. Home cooks can grill pieces of chicken until crispy and nicely charred, then serve them alongside Lilly's terrific white sauce.

06 of 17

Sticky Barbecued Beef Ribs

Sticky Barbecued Beef Ribs

© Tina Rupp

These beef ribs — leftovers from the giant rib roast — are incredibly luscious. Chef Tim Love douses them in his sweet and tangy homemade barbecue sauce, then cooks them on the grill until they're crusty, sizzling, and outrageously good.

07 of 17

Perfect Smoked Pork Ribs

pork ribs
Victor Protasio

Smoking then baking ribs yields meltingly tender, deeply flavored ribs that are incredibly satisfying to eat — moist and meaty, with a texture that’s tender but not falling off the bone. To make them, begin with a dry rub of warm red spices and gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes), which adds peppery heat that’s the perfect partner for the natural sweetness of pork.

08 of 17

Apple-Glazed Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

Apple-Glazed Barbecued Baby Back Ribs
© Quentin Bacon

These sticky, apple-scented ribs are cooked in the oven, then finished on the grill. Use a thermometer to keep the temperature at a steady 250°F and wrap the ribs in foil after adding the apple cider mixture.

09 of 17

Sweet-and-Spicy Spareribs with Korean Barbecue Sauce

Sweet-and-Spicy Spareribs with Korean Barbecue Sauce
© Christina Holmes

Top Chef winner Mei Lin slow-roasts these ribs in the oven until they’re super tender; then she glazes them on the grill with a sweet, spicy sauce spiked with gochujang (Korean chile paste). She also stirs the sauce into pulled pork, serves it with french fries instead of ketchup, and mixes it with melted butter to toss with fried chicken.

10 of 17

Carolina Pulled Pork

Carolina Pulled Pork
© Antonis Achilleos

Traditional Carolina barbecue begins with a whole hog smoked over coals; here, chef Sean Brock cooks pork shoulder for 12 hours in a 275°F oven before smoking it for about one hour in a backyard grill.

11 of 17

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Barbecue Sauce

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Barbecue Sauce

© Con Poulos

Roasted garlic seasons this pork shoulder, which slow-cooks until tender and deeply flavorful. Shred it and top with barbecue sauce, coleslaw, and a spicy habanero vinaigrette for the perfect sandwich.

12 of 17

Barbecued Brisket and Burnt Ends

Barbecued Brisket and Burnt Ends
© James Baigrie

Ten hours on the grill with a slather, a rub, and a mop give this brisket an extraordinarily robust flavor. Pitmaster Paul Kirk's recipe calls for a whole packer brisket, which includes both the flat (the larger, leaner portion) as well as the point (the smaller, fattier part for the burnt ends). When slicing the brisket, cut perpendicular to the grain to keep the meat juicy.

13 of 17

Robb Walsh’s Texas Barbecue Brisket

Robb Walsh’s Texas Barbecue Brisket. Photo © Hector Sanchez
© Hector Sanchez

Slice the brisket thinly across the grain and serve it with its cooking juices. along with sliced white bread, chili beans, coleslaw, and pickles.

14 of 17

Burnt Honey Barbecue Sauce

Burnt Honey Barbecue Sauce
Jen Causey

You’ll never buy barbecue sauce again after you stir up this sophisticated twist. All the classic smoky characters show up to the party — tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and chili powder — but they get a tasty transformation courtesy of the just-burnt honey. Save your special farmers market honey for something else; honey from the classic plastic bear is perfectly fine for this recipe.

15 of 17

Jerk-Smoked Duck with Peach Barbecue Sauce

Jerk Smoked Duck with Peach Barbecue Sauce
Greg DuPree

2019 F&W Best New Chef Bryan Furman’s method of smoking the duck over a drip pan is quick and efficient, infusing it with intense smoky flavor in only 30 minutes without toughening the meat. The combination of jerk seasoning and peach-sweetened barbecue sauce is also a great match for grilled chicken halves.

16 of 17

Barbecued Shrimp with Cheese Grits

Barbecued Shrimp with Cheese Grits
© Brown W. Cannon III

By happy accident, chef Amber Huffman combined leftovers of two low-country staples — barbecue and cheddar cheese grits — for a quick Southern fusion meal. Here, Huffman tops her grits with grilled shrimp slicked with a tangy, bourbon-based barbecue sauce.

17 of 17

Barbecue-Spiced Hot-Smoked Salmon

Barbecue Spiced Hot Smoked Salmon
Greg DuPree

Homemade barbecue spice seasons both a dry brine and pineapple-based mop sauce for a double dose of flavor. Hot-smoked salmon makes a showstopping buffet centerpiece any time of day.

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