The best barbecue is a culinary masterpiece. It does not need a lot of hard-to-get ingredients, but it does require a lot of time. Southern Living looks at what goes into making the best barbecue.

Although Southern Living only looked at barbecue restaurants in the American South, you can still find pitmasters at a barbecue near me and you. Although most Americans disagree about almost anything, they can agree that nothing beats barbecue for lunch or dinner.

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Pitmasters often learn their craft from family members. Some are even born into the business. No matter the meat used, or if the meat is covered in sauce or given a dry rub, there is one thing all great barbecues have in common: time. The meat needs to be slow-roasted or grilled for hours.

The type of cooking material needs to be chosen with great care. Each type of wood imparts a different flavor to the food. Hickory is most commonly used, but other popular woods include mesquite, applewood, cherry wood, and red oak. This wood can be expensive for the everyday cook, so using charcoal is a more affordable option. However, many people argue that barbecue cooked over charcoal does not taste as good as barbecue cooked over wood.