National BBQ Day

Grilling meat over an open flame has been popular since ancient times. In more recent history, BBQ has proven to be a way for people to gather, relax, and enjoy good food and company. Learn more about this time honored tradition here.

Photo of a charcoal grill with a spatula, a pastry brush, and a red checkerboard napkin for national barbecue day

When it comes to America’s favorite past times, barbecuing is one of the all-time favorites. There’s nothing like grilling out on a warm night with friends and family!

National barbecue day is the perfect day to invite your loved ones over for some delicious, homemade barbecue.

Keep reading to find out more about National BBQ Day and why this day is truly a special day to celebrate.

When is National BBQ Day?

We celebrate National BBQ Day on May 16th of every year.

A Brief History of Barbeque

Barbeque in some form has existed ever since humans discovered fire. Whether roasting on a spit above an open flame or digging a hole in the ground and roasting a whole hog in leaves and hot coal, Barbequed meat has been a favorite of humanity.

In the United States, before the civil war, the southerners ate mostly pork because they would hunt the wild hogs and then roast them, inviting friends and neighbors to share in their largess.

As a result, there are some very regional ways the southern states eat their barbeques.

What are the most popular styles of Barbeque You Can Make for National BBQ Day?

  • Memphis
    • Memphis style BBQ is best known for tomato- and vinegar-based sauces. They also often use a dry rub for their ribs and smoke them over hickory wood without sauce.
  • North Carolina
    • The barbecue in North Carolina differs by regions. Eastern North Carolina uses a vinegar-based sauce, the middle part of the state uses a combination of ketchup and vinegar as their base (known as Lexington-style barbecue), and the west part of the state prefers a heavier ketchup base.
  • Kansas City
    • KC traditionally uses a much wider variety of meats: pulled pork, pork ribs, burnt ends, beef ribs, brisket, smoked sausage, smoked/grilled chicken, smoked turkey, and sometimes fish. Their sauce is generally a tomato based with sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors.
  • Texas
    • Central Texas – They love their dry rub smoked over mesquite, oak and hickory woods 
    • West Texas – They cook with mesquite wood in an open pit and love to BBQ with chicken, sausage and ribs.
    • South Texas – Mexican American traditions collide in the south and they smoke brisket in a underground pit.
    • East Texas – They love their sauces! In particular, they favor chopped pork sandwiches .

What Makes BBQ a Uniquely American Pastime

Photo of a charcoal grill with meat grilling on it for national barbecue day

Let’s face it, the world loves BBQ. It always has. It wasn’t invented in America, and we all know that. But what does make American BBQ different is the low and slow process.

Cooking tough cuts of meat for a long time over low temperature results in very tender barbecue. This method of cooking is particularly unique to the United States. However, the true difference comes when you add any of the different regional sauces that have evolved over the years.

Americans love their grills and their smokers and center many of their celebrations around BBQ. From Memorial Day to Independence Day to Labor Day, you’ll find Americans celebrating with barbecue and grilled meats.

Ideas for celebrating National BBQ Day

  • Throw a backyard BBQ party or host a BBQ grilling competition
  • Buy some new grilling accessories
  • Take a friend out to your favorite BBQ restaurant to celebrate
  • Try a new recipe and share your results

What meats and vegetables are best for Barbequing?


Indirect grilling on a charcoal or gas grill:

  • Chicken breasts, thighs, wings, and legs
  • Hamburgers and hot dogs
  • Rib Eye, T-Bone, and NY Strip Steaks

Smoking and slow cooking cuts of meat:

  • Pork Shoulder Roast
  • Beef Brisket
  • Chuck Roast
  • Beef Ribs
  • Tri-tip (this is the small portion of the larger sirloin)
  • Top Round



  • Zucchini in thick slices
  • Eggplant
  • Portabella Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Corn on the cob

On Skewers:

  • Onions
  • Peppers: Bell Peppers of all colors, Poblano Peppers
  • Onions: Red or Yellow
  • Mushrooms: Button, Baby Portabella
  • Tomato chunks
  • Cubed squash: Yellow summer squash, Zucchini

What are some great side dishes for BBQ?

  • Potato Salad
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Coleslaw
  • Baked Beans (with ground beef or sausage, brown sugar and barbeque sauce!)
  • Green Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Waldorf Salad
  • Pasta Salad

FAQs about Barbequing

What is the biggest BBQ day of the year?

The fourth of July!

What are the two biggest grilling weekends of the year?

Coming in behind the number one BBQ day of July 4th, Americans are out in force barbequing at the end of May for Memorial Day and at the beginning of September for Labor Day.

What season is BBQ season?

The BBQ season generally begins in May and goes through the summer months into September. Though some hardcore BBQ lovers are happy to grill and smoke their meats all year long. Rain or Shine, Cold or not!

Interesting Stats about BBQ for National BBQ Day

Photo of a charcoal grill and red checkerboard napkins sitting on a blue picnic table with text underneath that says national barbecue day

There really is not bad time for some delicious BBQ, but National BBQ Day is definitely a day to add to the calendar of special BBQ days.

Is there anything we left out about National BBQ Day? Do tell!

Visit our schedule of National Days for more fun things to celebrate!

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts