What Makes Owensboro’s BBQ So Famous?

While there is a huge variety of barbecue to be enjoyed in Owensboro, our city is world famous for a couple of barbecue staples that you just can’t find anywhere else. 


Barbecued mutton and burgoo are two things you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world. And even if you happen to stumble across it somewhere, nobody does it quite like Owensboro. 


Mutton refers to the meat from a sheep that is over a year old. Here in Owensboro, you can find chopped, barbecued mutton at several local establishments that have become famous for it, including Moonlite Bar-B-Q, Old Hickory and Ole South Bar-B-Q. 


It’s not just the fact that the mutton is chopped and barbecued, but how it’s cooked is what makes it such a standout dish. Restaurants that serve mutton use hickory wood and an acidic basting combination of water, vinegar, salt and peppers that breaks down the meat. A slow cooking process of 22 hours helps turn the meat into the tender meals diners enjoy. 


Meanwhile, Owensboro’s famous burgoo is made by both restaurants and locals alike, with several different recipes having been created over the years. However, all burgoo contains a mix of meats including mutton, chicken and pork, as well as a handful of vegetables ranging from carrots to potatoes to lima beans, and more. 

Owensboro’s become so well known for its barbecue, we’ve had more and more barbecue restaurants open up here in recent years. You can try delicious meats at Lure’s Smoke Shack, Jamaican Yard Vibes, Brew Bridge and Sassafras. 


And while you can find traditional barbecue here in Owensboro as well – everything from ribs to pulled pork to brisket can be ordered at any of our barbecue establishments – it’s that world-famous, slow-cooked, hickory-smoked mutton and burgoo that sets our city apart from the rest. And that’s as good a reason as any to be called the “BBQ Capital of the World.”