Eastern Style vs. Lexington (Western Style) Barbecue

Eastern Style Barbecue:

  • Known as “America’s original barbecue”.
  • Prepared from whole hogs.
  • Usually cooked outside of a restaurant.
  • Some grills use burning coals both under and above the hog.
  • The hog is first cooked skin side up, then rotated to meat side up.
  • During the cooking process the meat is covered with the restaurants sauce continuously (this is because in the 17th and 18th centuries colonists thought tomatoes were poisonous).
  • Sauce used today consists of black and red pepper, cayenne (both finely crushed and dried crushed forms).
  • Tastes like hot and spicy vinegar with thousands of variations.
  • Dryer than Lexington style because it contains white meat.
  • Most barbecue is machine “chopped” which adds to the dryness.
  • Usually paired with Brunswick Stew and fried cornbread, called corn sticks.

Lexington (Western) Style Barbecue:

  • Located in the Piedmont area rather than the mountains.
  • Only made from pig shoulder, rather than the whole pig (shoulders are said to be easier to handle and produce meat that is more moist).
  • Produces less waste than an entire pig.
  • Cooked wrapped in foil to protect the meat from the ashes for 9-12 hours.
  • They are rarely basted like Eastern style.
  • The barbecue is cooked inside more commonly than eastern style.
  • Served chopped, coarse chopped, or sliced (Eastern style is always chopped).
  • Contains ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar in addition to the basic ingredients.

  • Restaurants serving both styles are beginning to turn from cooking over coals to cooking in electric or gas indoor grills.
  • Both are almost always made with pork, rather than chicken like in some areas.
  • Can be found served chopped.
  • Basic ingredients include: red and black pepper, cayenne, and vinegar

Watch a video comparing both styles of NC barbecue!!

By: Chas Welch and Emeline Preston