Best Countries in the World for BBQ, Ranked
Ahhh, barbecue, one of life's greatest pleasures!
Around the world and since the beginning of time, people have come up with ways to grill meat. And they've perfected that art over centuries to give modern-day people both mouth-watering dishes and traditions of gathering around grills to socialize and strengthen social bonds.
But not all BBQ is created equal, and certain countries definitely do it better than others. Here are the top 15 countries in the world for juicy BBQ, ranked from great to out-of-this-world, will-travel-just-for-the-meat, to best-thing-you’ve-ever-eaten delicious.
India is not exactly known for having a strong BBQ game, but it earns a spot on here for its tandoor culinary style.
Tandoors are clay ovens in which marinated meat is cooked at very high temperatures, giving it a deep, rich taste that have made tandoori dishes popular outside of the country.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Tandoori Chicken
This delicious dish has a chicken seasoned in masala, spices and yogurt cooked in a tandoor. It is usually served with sauces, rice and/or naan.
Tandoori chicken is a staple of Indian restaurants internationally.
Most people head to Fiji for its gorgeous beaches and are pleasantly surprised with how good the country’s food is.
Fijians cook different kinds of BBQ, both above and below ground. Meat and chicken can, of course, be found, but fish is also abundant and grilled to perfection.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Lovo
This unique Fijian-style BBQ is done by wrapping meat and vegetables, stuffing them in banana leaves and then burying them in a hole for hours. The island’s volcanic stones do the cooking and give the dish a deliciously distinct flavor.
Lovo gets extra points for using renewable geothermal energy to barbecue.
Japan has a long tradition of grilling meat and vegetables in several different ways. Don’t expect the large quantities and over-indulgence of other countries. Here, dishes are small yet absolutely satisfying.
Try different kinds of grilled meat like irori, rototayaki and sumibiyaki in street food stands or specialty restaurants around the country. Whatever you decide to try, pair it with sake or local beer.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Yakitori
One the most famous and delicious Japanese barbecue dishes, yakitori consists of grilled skewers of meat, fish or vegetables.
It is usually cooked with binchotan, a kind of white charcoal that does not produce indoor air pollution and gives the meat a signature flavor.
Often-ignored Georgia has just as much meat-grilling and wine to offer as other more famous countries.
Barbeque, or shashlik, here usually happens by grilling marinated meat over hot coals in skewers. It tends to be accompanied by bread, salad and local white wine.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Mtsvadi
If you’re lucky enough to attend a Georgian shashlik, make sure you try the grilled pork skewers.
Everything else will also be delicious, but this dish is particularly succulent.
11. The Philippines
Filipinos love their BBQ and do not discriminate against any type of meat. You’ll find delicious dishes in almost any restaurant, but the absolute best way to try Filipino barbecue is in the street.
Street food stands offer everything from pork and chicken skewers to pork fat rinds and pig’s feet.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Lechon
A dish that Spain forcefully brought into the Philippines, Lechon is now one of Filipinos' favorite dishes. It is usually reserved for special occasions like Christmas and festivals.
The dish consists of a whole pig on a stick roasted over charcoal. The process is laborious and takes hours, which gives the end result its crispiness and deep-grilled flavor.
In Turkey, a barbeque is a large social event that brings families and friends together. Getting invited to one means that you have been accepted as part of the group.
Turkish BBQs have an abundance of delicious food, with lamb or beef being the main dishes — expect fish in the coast. The food is savored better with raki, a traditional drink, and, of course, beer.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Shish Kebab
This is one of Turkey’s gifts to the rest of the world since this version of the kebab is now popular in many countries, particularly in Western Europe.
If you’re unfamiliar with the dish, it consists of a skewer with large chunks of lamb meat and vegetables. The dish may be simple, but that only makes it even better.
Another place where kebabs reign, Iran has practiced the art of grilling juicy meat for thousands of years. The country does not get the attention it deserves from tourists, which means most people have yet to realize that, when it comes to meat, Iran rules in the Middle East.
You’ll find kebab sellers practically anywhere in the country.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Koobideh Kebab
Minced lamb seasoned with sumac fruit to gain a tangy, citrusy flavor is served with soft tomatoes and saffron rice.
The smell alone will have you salivating.
Jamaica is known for its music, its native religion, its beaches and its jerk. Large chunks of meat are bathed in a mix of spices and barbecued to get the strong, often spicy flavor that Jamaicans swear nothing can compare to.
The meat is also poked so that the flavor can seep inside and no part of it is left to the clutches of blandness.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Jerk Pork
Try this charcoal-grilled dish to get a true taste of Jamaica.
Just beware: Unprepared foreigners have been known to shed tears due to its sheer spiciness.
Many people are unaware of Colombian’s absolute obsession with BBQ. Meat dishes vary by region, but in large cities like Bogota and Medellin, the Sunday family tradition is to go to asaderos on the roads just outside of the city and stuff yourself with every kind of meat imaginable.
The best region for BBQ is the Llanos, or plains, where life often revolves around cattle ranching.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Chicharron
“Waste not, want not,” they say, and Colombians have taken this to heart by taking pork fat and deep frying it into one of the most delicious meat dishes you will ever try.
Let's just say it's not for the faint of heart.
6. South Africa
Braii is the word South Africans use for the beautiful feast of barbecuing. If you visit the country and don’t attend at least one braii, you should start planning a second trip as soon as possible.
Meats you’ll find in a braii are deliciously varied. Pork and beef are included along with meats that foreigners would deem exotic, like ostrich.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Boerewors
These spiral sausages are made with beef and sprinkled with all kinds of spices.
Once they finish grilling, they’ll provide a feast of flavor for your mouth.
The best thing about Australian barbecues is how laid back and unpretentious they are — kind of like everything else in the country.
Go to a barbecue to enjoy good company and even better food that includes everything from chicken wings to beef to lamb chops, grilled onions and corn on the cob.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Squid
You’ll likely have tried all the other regular features of an Australian barbecue, so go ahead and try some delicious grilled squid if you get the chance.
4. South Korea
Korean BBQ is a whole experience. You’ll first have to decide which dish you want to get — kalbi, bulgogi, samgyeopsal, etc. — and then head to a restaurant that specializes in it.
Once there, you’ll sit around a grill with a large tube hanging over it and grill the meat yourself as the tube sucks up the smoke. Grilling the meat the right way is an art that all Koreans have mastered.
The meat is accompanied by banchans, or side dishes, which can include kimchi, spicy radish salad, steam vegetables and more. You can also ask for rice and soup. To go all the way, order soju and beer, and mix it to make delicious somek.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Samgyeopsal
Korean pork belly is certainly one of the best BBQ dishes in the country. You’ll find restaurants for it in almost every corner in Korea, especially in big cities like Seoul.
If you’re traveling around the country, try different varieties. For instance, the green tea fields of Boseong have specialty samgyeopsal that comes from pigs exclusively fed organic green tea. Trust us, it really does change the taste.
Brazilian churrascos have become a worldwide phenomenon and cemented Brazil’s reputation as one of the best countries for barbecue.
Go to a churrasqueria when you want to eat so much meat you’ll feel like exploding. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but the beef is so tender, juicy and delicious and you will be so full that you’ll have no room for regret.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Chicken Heart
Many people feel squeamish about trying this dish, but it’s actually delicious.
The texture is a little rubbery, which is to be expected since it’s a muscle, but the flavor is rich.
2. United States
Only one country can barbecue better than the U.S., where meat often reigns supreme.
What kind of barbecue you get depends on where in this gigantic country you are. Go to Kansas City, “the Barbecue Capital of the World” for slow-smoked meat slathered in sauce; to South Carolina for pulled pork; and to Texas for, well, basically everything.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Brisket
It’s hard to choose just one dish to try in the U.S., but if you were absolutely forced to do so, make that one dish brisket. Cooked for hours, the meat is so tender that it will practically melt in your mouth.
Don’t be surprised if you are immediately converted into a brisket preacher who begins telling anyone who will listen that their life will never be the same after trying this dish.
The competition is hard, but Argentina is the obvious BBQ champion of the world.
Grilling meat is so intrinsically tied to Argentine culture, that barbecue is the country’s national dish. (There are actually more cattle than people in this South American country.)
Argentinians are also very serious about the tradition of asados, usually gathering every single Sunday with families and friends to grill all kinds of salted meat and serve them with chimichurri sauce. Beef is, of course, king, and you can expect to eat the best steaks of your life here.
Pair it with a good glass of Mendoza wine and you'll be set.
Must-Try BBQ Dish: Matambre
Literally “hunger killer,” this dish includes a very thin cut of steak that's rolled and stuffed with ham, vegetables and hard-boiled eggs.
Matambre is then oven-roasted or boiled and cut into slices at barbecues.