What’s summertime without the scent of smokey charcoal on a sizzling afternoon? When you’ve waited all year for barbecue season, few things are more satisfying than prepping the backyard grill for an outdoor feast. Almost any ingredient looks good wearing grill marks as a badge of honor. Burgers, fish, veggies, pizza—you name it, chances are you can grill it. While no three letters are more American as U-S-A, BBQ comes pretty close. Though exploring grilling traditions from around the world can inspire a fresh take on our favorite summer pastime. Discover new ingredients, techniques, and flavors with these five grilling cultures from around the world.
Indian cuisine is usually characterized by its library of spices, but cooking tandoori-style is all about technique. This centuries-old barbecue custom originated in Central Asia when cooking meat inside a clay oven was a necessity for nomads of the region. Considered to be a cousin of the charcoal grill, the tandoor oven is still used to create some of India’s most iconic dishes, like tandoori chicken and naan bread.
South African Braai
Braai, South Africa’s version of barbecue, is so ingrained in the country’s culture that it has its own holiday—on the same date as South African Heritage Day. But this grilling tradition is certainly not saved for one day a year. Translating to barbecue in Afrikaans, a braai often includes soasties (skewers of lamb and chicken), boerewors (beef and pork sausages), and biltong (South African jerky). Instead of beer, this BBQ is best paired with South Africa’s famous wines.
Pork lovers rejoice the world over for lechon, a grilled specialty from the Philippines. Adapted from the Spanish word for suckling pig, this national dish includes split-roasting the entire animal over high, open heat. Lechon is almost always found at celebrations, birthdays, and anniversaries, accompanied by noodles and a sweet gravy made of vinegar and bread crumbs.
Korean barbecue, known as gogigui, has taken the world by storm as the ultimate choice for a supremely interactive group dinner. Using a tabletop grill, guests will typically cook their own thin-sliced cuts of marinated beef like bulgogi (sirloin), chadolbaegi (brisket), and galbi (short rib). Just be sure not to fill up on the steady stream of veggie-based side dishes (banchan) in between juicy bites of meat.
This South American nation is famous for its cattle ranches, as well as their special way of cooking meats over open fire. Asado is Argentina’s most iconic dish, and just like American BBQs, is often a social affair. Traditionally, whole animals are stretched, skewered, and smoked for hours near piping hot wood coals. Served with chimichurri—a garlicky herb sauce, this technique lets the high-quality protein shine with minimal seasoning.