Thirdwave Cafe

The key Australian BBQ and American BBQ Difference

Barbecue, or BBQ, is a beloved pastime in both the United States and Australia. However, the two countries have distinct styles of BBQ that have developed over time and are influenced by their unique histories and cultural traditions. Here, we’ll explore the difference between American BBQ and Australian BBQ.

One of the most notable differences between American and Australian BBQ is the type of meat that is typically cooked. In the United States, BBQ often revolves around slow-cooking cuts of pork, such as ribs and shoulder, as well as beef brisket. These meats are often seasoned with a dry rub of spices and then smoked over low heat for several hours. In contrast, Australian BBQs tend to focus more on grilled meats, such as lamb, pork, and beef sausages, as well as seafood like prawns and fish. These meats are often marinated in a mixture of herbs and spices and then grilled over high heat.

Australian BBQ and American BBQ Difference
A stack of American BBQ meats and sides from Third Wave

Another difference between American and Australian BBQ is the sauces and condiments that are used. American BBQ typically involves the use of thick, sweet sauces, such as tomato-based sauces or vinegar-based sauces, which are applied to the meat during the cooking process or served on the side. Australian BBQ, on the other hand, often relies on simple seasoning and marinades, rather than sauces, to add flavor to the grilled meats. Condiments like tomato sauce (similar to ketchup) and barbecue sauce (similar to American BBQ sauce) may be offered on the side, but they are not typically used as liberally as they are in American BBQ.

In terms of the overall atmosphere and style of the BBQ, there are also some notable differences between American and Australian BBQs. American BBQs are often more laid-back, with a focus on socializing and enjoying the outdoors. They are often held in backyard settings or at public parks, with picnic tables and outdoor seating areas for guests to enjoy. Australian BBQs, on the other hand, are often more formal and may be held indoors or in a covered outdoor area. They may also be more focused on the presentation of the food, with an emphasis on serving a variety of dishes and side dishes.

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Overall, American BBQ and Australian BBQ may share some similarities, but they also have many distinct differences that are influenced by their respective cultural traditions and histories. Whether you prefer the slow-smoked, saucy ribs of American BBQ or the grilled, marinated meats of Australian BBQ, there’s no denying that both styles of BBQ are delicious and worth trying.

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Third Wave has become a religious experience on the Melbourne restaurant scene. Since opening in 2010, we have cemented a reputation as a great neighborhood cafe with a loyal breakfast and lunch crowd. People come from far and wide to enjoy our exceptional coffees and vast breakfast & lunch menu. Then by night, we transform into a bustling BBQ joint, inspired by the classic American smoke houses of the deep south. Today we are proud to be recognised as one of the best American BBQ experiences you’ll have outside of the US.


Third Wave Cafe started as a trendy inner Melbourne café with an aim to grow and so we did. After 9 years, we are one of Melbourne’s favourite American BBQ restaurants with a huge emphasis on slow-smoked meats and burgers.