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BBQ styles around the world
Destinations & Inspiration

BBQ styles around the world

Suzie Dalton
By Suzie Dalton - 18 minute read

Here in the UK, we love to fire up the BBQ at the first sign of sun­shine. But many of the top food des­ti­na­tions in the world ben­e­fit from much milder (or hot­ter) cli­mates than we do, so cook­ing out­doors isn’t just a sea­son­al treat – it’s a huge part of life! With that in mind, we set out to explore the many bar­be­cue styles around the world, includ­ing plen­ty of options for our veg­gie and veg­an friends. Warn­ing: this arti­cle will make you hungry… 

Vegetarian and vegan

Sweetcorn and vegetable kebab on the grill.

Grilled corn on the cob is an essen­tial part of an Amer­i­can barbecue.

Before we get crack­ing with talk­ing about meat, we want­ed to acknowl­edge the many veg­e­tar­i­ans and veg­ans who are part of our friend­ly com­mu­ni­ty. Attend­ing a BBQ as a veg­e­tar­i­an or veg­an can under­stand­ably be frus­trat­ing if your host hasn’t con­sid­ered (or realised) that you’re not a meat-eater. As a veg­e­tar­i­an him­self, Love Home Swap’s Prod­uct Man­ag­er Ben knows these frus­tra­tions all too well. He says: Lib­er­ate your­self! There has nev­er been a bet­ter time for the veg­e­tar­i­an BBQer. Gone are the days of the wet Porta­bel­lo mush­room burg­er – I’m par­tial to some squeaky Hal­lou­mi! So many new and inter­est­ing veg­gie burg­ers, hot dogs, and things-which-look-like-meat-but-aren’t are now avail­able. Many of which taste more like meat than actu­al meat (or not at all like meat if that’s your pref­er­ence). Bonus: you don’t have to keep cut­ting it open to see if you’ll get food poisoning!”

Mushrooms on a chopping board

Josh’s veg­an mush­room steaks should make it onto every BBQ.

Treat yourself to some vegan options...

Com­mit­ted veg­an Josh (one of Love Home Swap’s Tech Leads) couldn’t agree more. He says: There are plen­ty of meat alter­na­tives in the super­mar­kets these days, and Beyond Meat is wide­ly renowned as one of the best options. 

I am always a fan of sim­ple mar­i­nat­ed veg, but if you want to see some real­ly rogue veg­an BBQ options, take a look at Wicked Kitchen’s videos on YouTube. Their mush­rooms steaks are amaz­ing, or you could try mak­ing brisket’ which is made of some­thing called sei­tan’, which is a very pop­u­lar home­made meat alternative.”

Ben and Josh are onto some­thing here. The great news is that veg­e­tar­i­an and veg­an BBQ options are incred­i­bly deli­cious, and many coun­tries have great ani­mal-friend­ly alternatives. 

In the UK, meat is just part of the cel­e­bra­tion, as we love to add a wide range of sal­ads to the table (while grilled hal­lou­mi is prac­ti­cal­ly a nation­al obses­sion) while the Amer­i­cans almost always offer up grilled corn and pota­to sal­ads. Many Indi­ans are veg­e­tar­i­ans, so you’ll find an excep­tion­al array of veg­etable and cheese-based dish­es, while Spain cel­e­brates grilled veg­eta­bles and side dish­es as an essen­tial part of their BBQ cul­ture. And let’s not for­get that fish makes it onto just about every BBQ around the world, with par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on coun­tries that have lengthy coast­lines includ­ing Japan, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Turkey and Croatia.

But in truth, home swap­ping is the ide­al way to embrace a veg­an or veg­e­tar­i­an lifestyle. Sim­ply vis­it the local food mar­kets to pick up the fresh­est pro­duce, then head back to your accom­mo­da­tion where you can make the most of your host’s out­door cook­ing facil­i­ties. If you’re not famil­iar with using a smok­er, an open-fire grill or even a gas bbq, then don’t for­get to ask your host for tips on get­ting it to the per­fect tem­per­a­ture. For lots of meat-free ideas, take a look at this blog on the best veg­e­tar­i­an BBQ recipes, while the BBC’s selec­tion of veg­an bar­be­cue recipes is mouth-watering! 

BBQ styles in Africa

BBQ and flames.

Make sure you opt to cook over wood in South Africa.

Africa is a huge con­ti­nent, and the sheer vari­ety of BBQ styles is immense. In Kenya, a BBQ is known as nya­ma choma (which means bar­be­cued meat’ in Swahili). As the country’s unof­fi­cial nation­al dish, cuts of goat (though beef can also be used) are put onto skew­ers, then roast­ed sim­ply while being occa­sion­al­ly bast­ed in salt water. Expect to enjoy this sim­ple plea­sure with plen­ty of local beer and ugali, which is a polen­ta-like side dish. Head north to Tunisia and you’ll find Méchoui, which is a shar­ing approach to a BBQ. As a whole lamb that has been slow­ly spit-roast­ed on a bar­be­cue, this impres­sive sight is great for spe­cial occasions. 

And while Africa is heav­ing with amaz­ing del­i­ca­cies, we sim­ply have to devote the main bulk of this sec­tion to South Africa which is world-famous for the braai. 

Native South African (and Love Home Swap’s Head of Mar­ket­ing) Chris is a pas­sion­ate advo­cate of hav­ing a braai. He says: It’s some­thing that cross­es cul­tures and regions, and dif­fer­ent places will have their own takes on what goes on the braai and what goes with it. The best braai is always on wood, typ­i­cal­ly a hard­wood like kameel­dor­ing or rooikrans. Old grape vines are also great. Just don’t men­tion a gas BBQ, char­coal or bri­quettes in the same breath as a braai!”

Two glasses of brandy and coke.

What you add to your Coke is entire­ly up to you!

Enjoy a braai in South Africa...

Par­ty-lov­ing South Africans even have a solu­tion to keep­ing the hunger at bay while they whip up a storm, by offer­ing Braaibrood­jies to their guests before dinner. 

These cheese and onion toasties (which are grilled over the braai) ensure the par­ty doesn’t fiz­zle out for those who are used to eat­ing ear­li­er. Chris says: Typ­i­cal­ly you always end up eat­ing late if some­one invites you round for a braai. So the sarnies help to keep the hunger at bay, as well as soak up the beer and brandy and cokes that are typ­i­cal­ly con­sumed around the fire.” Sign us up for a home swap in South Africa immediately!

What goes onto the braai will depend on where you’re from. Chris reveals: Assum­ing you’re not from the coast and poten­tial­ly doing a fish braai, there’s always got to be boere­wors (lit­er­al­ly farmer’s sausage). It gives that clas­sic smell and siz­zle. Then lamb is great due to the high­er fat con­tent which pre­vents it get­ting too dry, and it has long been farmed in the inte­ri­or of SA (the Karoo area). Then there would be steak of some form, usu­al­ly mar­i­nat­ed in your per­son­al favourite recipe or rub. But real­ly you can do any­thing. Sosaties (a bit like a kebab), chick­en (but that needs a low­er heat to avoid acrid black chick­en skin) and fish such as snoek, yel­low tail or kabeljou are all great too. Just don’t pitch up with pork bangers or burgers.”

BBQ styles in Europe

Hand with bbq tongs.

A BBQ in France wouldn’t be com­plete with­out bro­chettes and Toulouse sausage.

With so many coun­tries packed into Europe, it’s fair to say that BBQ styles vary huge­ly. In France, you’ll find many fam­i­lies love to have a game of petanque while grilling meat and veg­eta­bles bro­chettes (which is mar­i­nat­ed chick­en or beef on skew­ers) – all served with sal­ads and rice. Spi­rals of Toulouse sausage are a huge favourite, and mer­guez (sausages flavoured with papri­ka, spices and lash­ings of gar­lic) often make an appear­ance on the BBQ too, and with their bright red colour­ing, they have to be tried! Make sure you wash this down with a local Rosé. 

Bowl of salad

Sal­ads are the per­fect accom­pa­ni­ment to a Euro­pean BBQ.

Europe's BBQ styles are staggeringly different

Brits will hap­pi­ly serve up any­thing from juicy Welsh lamb chops through to Cum­ber­land sausages, hal­lou­mi and home­made burg­ers. You’ll usu­al­ly find some kind of pota­toes on the tables (jack­et pota­toes, new pota­toes drenched in but­ter and pota­to sal­ad are always pop­u­lar), while coleslaw and a vari­ety of sal­ads are the fin­ish­ing touches. 

Back to main­land Europe, and you can expect to find a joy­ous sausage-fest! There are sim­ply incred­i­ble sausages in Ger­many and Aus­tria (the smell of siz­zling Bratwurst per­me­ates every sum­mer BBQ and fes­tive fair), while in Croa­t­ia, home­made sausages (ceva­pi or cevap­ci­ci) are made from a mix­ture of ground beef and pork which has been sea­soned with lots of gar­lic and papri­ka, before being grilled. For the ulti­mate sum­mer meal, serve with rice and shop­s­ka, which is a sal­ad made from toma­toes, cucum­bers, pep­pers and feta cheese. 

In Spain the par­il­la (grill) is often laden with fish, shell­fish and veg­eta­bles – mak­ing Spain an unex­pect­ed veg­e­tar­i­an delight! Sar­dines and red bream are sim­ply grilled, while escali­va­da, com­bines aubergines, pep­pers, onions and toma­toes that have been grilled until their skin is charred, then skinned and dressed with olive oil.

Two hands holding glasses of red wine.

An Ital­ian BBQ is the per­fect excuse for a glass of red.

Italians love a good BBQ!

A quick whistlestop tour of Europe’s BBQ styles wouldn’t be com­plete with­out a diver­sion to Italy. Tus­can local Benedet­ta (and our Senior Prod­uct Man­ag­er) describes Italy’s bar­be­cu­ing style as a red meat extravaganza!” 

She says: Some­times veg­eta­bles make a minor appear­ance, but truth­ful­ly we’re not real­ly that both­ered about grilling veg. The main things you’d grill are steak (par­tic­u­lar­ly bis­tec­ca alla Fiorenti­na), ros­tic­ciane which are pork ribs (which are also known as ros­tin­ciane depend­ing on who you ask), and Ital­ian sausages. Chick­en might make an appear­ance if we’re feel­ing in a healthy mood, but that basi­cal­ly almost nev­er hap­pens! And if you’re seen drink­ing water instead of red wine you get dishonoured!”

BBQ styles in North America

Hamburger.

Amer­i­ca is home to the best burg­ers you’ll ever eat.

The great north-south divide has nev­er been more pro­nounced that it is in Amer­i­ca! And that’s before we even con­sid­er the east-west divide in some states! In truth, it’s a high­ly com­plex busi­ness, that revolves around their love affair with cuts of pork and beef. For exam­ple, in east­ern Car­oli­na, you’ll find whole slow spit-roast pigs, while in west­ern Car­oli­na, the empha­sis is on the tangy sweet sauce that’s driz­zled over pork shoul­der and pork rib. In Kansas you’ll enjoy smoky meat that’s enhanced by toma­to and molasses-based sauces, while Mem­phis cham­pi­ons ribs with both sticky sauces and dry ribs. Head to Texas and the empha­sis is on slow-smoked brisket, plus pulled pork and ribs – while their friends in Alaba­ma think the flavour should come from the meat and not the sauce – plus they’re huge fans of chick­en too. 

We sim­ply can’t do these com­plex dif­fer­ences jus­tice, so if you’re inter­est­ed in learn­ing more, then you should take a look at this excel­lent blog on America’s vary­ing styles of bar­be­cue or Delish’s arti­cle on the region­al bar­be­cue styles of Amer­i­ca!

And let’s not for­get that the burg­er reigns supreme in the US of A. As the country’s unof­fi­cial nation­al dish, a hearty burg­er fea­tures on near­ly every bbq menu. Can’t be both­ered to fire up the grill and make your own? Then take a look at TimeOut’s blog on the best burg­ers in Amer­i­ca for every state.

Last but by no means least, a spe­cial men­tion of Soda Can Chick­en’ (also known as Coke Can Chick­en and Beer Can Chick­en) needs to be made. Admit­ted­ly it might not be some­thing that Amer­i­ca is exact­ly famous for – and we weren’t even aware of it our­selves until our Head of Sales Louisa sug­gest­ed it for this arti­cle – but this inven­tive approach to cook­ing a whole chick­en (in which a half-full can is insert­ed into the cav­i­ty of a chick­en) was first devised in Amer­i­ca, and it’s so bril­liant­ly bonkers that we sim­ply had to share a men­tion of it. Fan­cy giv­ing it a go? BBQ spe­cial­ists Weber offer up their own step-by-step guide in this recipe.

BBQ styles in Australia and New Zealand

Cricket on the beach.

Bring your bat and ball to an Aus­tralian barbie.

Aus­tralians could lay claim to being some of the world’s biggest BBQ fans – and let’s not for­get that it’s a bar­bie’ in the south­ern hemi­sphere! Ben­e­fit­ting from great weath­er, Aus­tralia is so com­mit­ted to out­door cook­ing that near­ly every home will have some kind of bar­bie, while parks and beach­es often have free or coin-oper­at­ed BBQs. Food tends to be sim­ple but deli­cious – lamb chops, beef steaks, and sausages (which the Aussies some­times refer to as snags’) are often first on the grill, while veg­eta­bles, squid and giant prawns are pop­u­lar options too. If your host has a gas BBQ hot plate, you might even ben­e­fit from bacon and eggs first thing in the morn­ing that have been flash-cooked over the grill. The main thing to remem­ber about an Aus­tralian bar­bie is that it will almost cer­tain­ly be a very laid-back affair, with every­one dressed down, and there will usu­al­ly be some kind of game hap­pen­ing in the back­ground. Be pre­pared to play bare­foot foot­ball (soc­cer) or crick­et, or if you’re by the pool or beach, bring your bathers. 

Across the water, New Zealan­ders cook the most incred­i­ble lamb on sim­ple grills, but it’s the Maori ver­sion of the BBQ that real­ly steals the show. Much loved by the indige­nous peo­ple of New Zealand, this sim­ple way of cook­ing has been passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, in which fish and sweet pota­toes are steamed to per­fec­tion in earth­en ovens called han­gi. Food is wrapped in flax leaves, alu­mini­um foil or cloth sacks before being placed on hot stones that have been cov­ered in damp leaves. The result­ing rich smoky flavour is sim­ply beautiful. 

BBQ styles in Asia

Lady in hat with grilled fish

Head to Thai­land to find incred­i­ble grilled street-food.

The con­ti­nent of Asia is a BBQ-lovers delight. Let’s start with India, and the home of tan­doori cook­ing. Skew­ers are insert­ed into a char­coal-heat­ed clay oven, where the intense heat pro­duces the tra­di­tion­al smoky flavours. Many locals are veg­e­tar­i­an so you’ll find loads of veg­etable options, while meat-eaters ben­e­fit from cuts of meat that have been mar­i­nat­ed in yoghurt. 

There are two approach­es to cook­ing a BBQ in Japan. Tep­pa­nya­ki sim­ply means food that has been grilled on an iron hot plate (purists would argue that this isn’t real­ly a BBQ, but that’s down to your per­son­al opin­ion) but the ben­e­fit of this approach to bar­be­cu­ing is that small items such as rice and veg­eta­bles can be incor­po­rat­ed into dish­es. Hibachi’ is prob­a­bly bet­ter recog­nised as a form of bar­be­cu­ing, as this fire bowl or bra­zier is designed to hold burn­ing char­coal, which can main­tain its heat for hours. Thin cuts of meat and veg­eta­bles are thread­ed onto bam­boo or met­al skew­ers, while yak­i­tori skew­ers of chick­en are immense­ly pop­u­lar, with a great deal of vari­ety depend­ing on which part of the chick­en has been used.

Thai­land is incred­i­ble for bar­be­cued street food. Pick up chick­en satay skew­ers or bam­boo skew­ers heav­ing with sim­ply bar­be­cued meats and fish, and don’t for­get to try Mu Kratha. Cooked over char­coal, the meat (which is often pork) is grilled while a pot of broth and veg­eta­bles sit over the embers. 

Neigh­bour­ing coun­try Viet­nam then takes this up anoth­er notch, with char­coal bar­be­cues fea­tur­ing heav­i­ly in rooftop restau­rants. Meat and fish are mar­i­nat­ed in fish sauce, lemon­grass, gar­lic and sug­ar, and you’ll be encour­aged to stuff rice paper wraps with your cuts of choice. Dip­ping sauces are an essen­tial part of the meal, and the flavours are quite unfor­get­table – from mắm nêm, which is a com­bi­na­tion of anchovy and pineap­ple, through to nước chấm (a sweet and tangy fish sauce) or even a sim­ple tamarind dip, these flavours are absolute­ly stunning. 

Man with beef.

Cook your meal to per­fec­tion in South Korea.

A South Korean BBQ is a social event

Last, but by no means least is the South Kore­an BBQ, which is a high­ly social event (and as home swap­pers, we think we can all agree that being social is so impor­tant!) Din­ers gath­er around a grill in the mid­dle of the table.

Small side dish­es (called ban­chan) are brought to the table to be shared, along­side a selec­tion of raw meat that you can cook your­self. Like your meat rare or par­tic­u­lar­ly well done? Then this is the per­fect way to ensure that it’s grilled to your per­son­al tastes! Beef gal­bi (short ribs) and bul­go­gi (thin­ly sliced sir­loin, rib­eye, or brisket) are pop­u­lar, while spicy pork dwae­ji bul­go­gi is absolute­ly deli­cious. Top it all with sesame-based ssam­jang sauce. To find out more (and to try out some incred­i­ble recipes) this guide to Kore­an bar­be­cue is well worth a read. 

BBQ styles in South America

Meat on the grill.

Toast­ed mar­ra­que­ta with chori­zo is the per­fect start to a Chilean asado.

The South Amer­i­cans know a thing or two about a BBQ. In fact, that’s an under­state­ment. This is a con­ti­nent of seri­ous BBQ extrav­a­gan­zas, and their styles couldn’t vary more. 

In Chile, you can expect a dose of heat, with spicy cuts of meat that are grilled over a par­ril­la or asa­do (always based on wood and char­coal, and nev­er a gas grill). Lon­ga­ni­za or chori­zo sausages are served in toast­er mar­ra­que­ta (which is a local bread roll), while lamb is com­mon­place. Chick­en skew­ers are also pop­u­lar – called pin­tx­os’, the chick­en is mar­i­nat­ed in sweet papri­ka, olive oil and lemon juice before being served with the spicy, her­by pebre’ sauce. Made with cilantro (which many of us know as corian­der), onions and gar­lic, Chileans tend to make a big jar of this sauce and keep it in the fridge to serve with a huge vari­ety of dish­es. Which is frankly sen­si­ble, as it’s out­ra­geous­ly tasty. 

Head to Argenti­na and a sim­i­lar sto­ry exists. Cooked over an asa­do or enjoyed in a par­il­la (which is a steak­house that cooks over hot wood embers rather than open flames), huge steaks are dressed with chimichur­ri, which is a punchy (but deli­cious) com­bi­na­tion of vine­gar, oregano, olive oil, pars­ley, gar­lic, pep­per, and often a good pinch of chilli flakes. Achuras – which is offal – is also pop­u­lar in Argenti­na. Be brave and give chinchu­lines (cow intestines), mor­cil­las (blood sausages), and molle­jas (sweet­breads) a go – and wash the lot down with plen­ty of Men­dozan malbec.

The Brazil­ians are also huge fans of a bbq, but their pre­ferred way to cook meat is on a chur­ras­co, which is a giant rotis­serie. Lamb, chick­en and beef are bast­ed in rich mari­nades overnight, before being placed on long skew­ers and roast­ed over an open fire – the ulti­mate cuts are baby beef, top sir­loin, filet mignon and pork loin. If you’re enjoy­ing a chur­ras­co in a restau­rant, wait­ers will bring these giant skew­ers to your table and carve you some slices, so you don’t need to lim­it your­self to just one type of meat. The only lim­it is just how big your eyes (and stom­ach) are! Lin­guica (which are pork sausages that have been sea­soned with chili, gar­lic and papri­ka) are also immense­ly pop­u­lar, while veg­e­tar­i­an kebabs, grilled pineap­ple, pota­to sal­ad and gar­lic bread are a wel­come addi­tion for non-meat-eaters. 

Peru offers some­thing alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent to the red-meat heavy options offered by its neigh­bours – name­ly deli­cious chick­en that has been mar­i­nat­ed in gar­lic, herbs and spices before being spit-roast to crispy per­fec­tion. If you fan­cy some­thing a lit­tle alter­na­tive, then seek out Pachaman­ca which is cooked in an under­ground oven! Most BBQ styles involved grilling over hot flames or coals, but the Peru­vians cook over hot stones in a hua­tia’. This is an earth oven – lit­er­al­ly a big hole in the ground that has been lined with bricks – and the hole con­tains vol­canic rocks that have been heat­ed over a fire. Pota­toes go in next, fol­lowed by your pre­ferred meats which are then topped with damp banana leaves to cre­ate steam, and any oth­er addi­tions such as veg­eta­bles. The hole is cov­ered over, and up to four hours lat­er, the most unbe­liev­ably ten­der meats and veg­eta­bles are revealed. Seve this with Aji Verde Sauce (a spicy green chili sauce) for the most incred­i­ble meal. 

And there you have it – a whis­tle-stop tour of BBQ styles around the world. We know there are prob­a­bly many more BBQ styles that we could have includ­ed, and we’ve almost cer­tain­ly missed out your per­son­al BBQ favourites, so please do get in touch to let us know your thoughts. We’d love to keep adding to this blog with your per­son­al com­ments, so if you’d like to be quot­ed in this arti­cle, then don’t hes­i­tate to get in touch via our Feed­back tab above, or share you swap snaps via our social chan­nels using #welove­home­swap.