Art of BBQ


A guide to BBQ greatness.

The Sonny's way of smokin' and servin' Southern BBQ.


There are tons of different BBQ styles and techniques. And while we appreciate ’em all, we have a certain way of doing things that’s given our BBQ its signature flavor since 1968. We call it The Art of BBQ, and below you’ll get a taste of how it’s done.

Meat Matters.

BBQ begins and ends with meat. So selecting the right cuts is key. As is knowing how to smoke 'em. Here are a few tips for some of our top meats.


Pork Point

Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs come from the top portion of the rib cage below the loin muscle. They have meat between the bones and on top of the bones and are shorter, more curved and often meatier than spare ribs. Once completed, baby back ribs should have an internal temperature between 190-195°F.

Cooking Time
3 hours
Cooking Temp
250

Pork Shoulder

There are two cuts of meat in a pork shoulder—the Boston butt and the picnic ham. The Boston butt comes from high on the hog above the shoulder blade. The picnic ham comes from below the Boston butt and contains the shank or hock. We only use Boston butts in our restaurants for our Pulled Pork. It has a generous amount of marbling, which, when slow smoked for hours, makes it extra tender, moist and perfect for pullin’ apart by hand. Once the pork shoulder has been cooked, the internal temperature should be 195 °F.

Cooking Time
8-12 hours
Cooking Temp
210

Pork Collar

The upper portion of the pork shoulder that runs from the neck to the loin, pork collar is the cut we use for our Sliced Pork. It’s a tougher cut of meat with an internal fat content that’s perfect for smokin’ low and slow. Once complete, pork collar's internal temperature should be 165°F.

Cooking Time
3.5 hours
Cooking Temp
250

Spare Ribs

Spare ribs extend from below the baby back ribs to the belly side of the rib cage. They typically have less meat than baby backs, but greater fat content, which makes them more tender when smoked. Our Sweet & Smokey and House Dry-Rubbed Ribs are spare ribs trimmed “St. Louis Style” with no rib tips. Once completed, spare ribs' internal temperature should be between 200 and 250°F.

Cooking Time
3 hours
Cooking Temp
250

Smoke fuels our flavor. Oak fuels our smoke.

We smoke with oak because it's a hard wood that burns slow and gives our BBQ that famous smokey flavor you love.

At the heart of every Sonny's is a fully loaded smoker.

Our smokers are always filled with meat and burnin' oak embers. So we always have freshly smoked BBQ ready when you get here.


Main Chamber

The area where the meat is smoked.

Temperature Gauge

Used to monitor the temperature of the cooking chamber, the temperature gauge helps you know when to to increase or reduce heat levels.

Smokestack

The smokestack channels smoke from inside to outside of the smoker. It can be opened and closed to varying degrees to help control the draft of the heat and smoke.

Firebox & Dampers

The firebox is where wood and embers or charcoal are burned to produce smoke that is distributed to the main chamber of the smoker. Dampers control airflow to the firebox to help regulate the heat.

The proof is on the plate.

After slow-smokin' for hours, meat is tender, juicy and unbelievably flavorful. Here are some telltale signs of BBQ perfection.


Plate Point

Brisket

Plate Point

Ribs

Plate Point

Sliced Pork

Plate Point

Pulled Pork

Brisket

Whether sliced or chopped, beef Brisket has a high concentration of connective tissue as well as a fat cap layer that both tenderizes and helps maintain moisture while smoking. The end result is a super tender, moist meat with a robust smokey flavor. Look for a dark outer edge called bark, a bright pink or red band beneath the bark called the smoke ring, and a light tan interior meat.

Ribs

No matter the style of ribs, if smoked correctly they will share similar physical characteristics. The meat should not just fall off the bone. The meat should come clean off the bone when you bite it, but there should be a little resistance or tug. There should also be a slight chew, but the meat should not be tough.

Sliced Pork

Sliced Pork has similar characteristics to Pulled Pork, only Sliced Pork comes from the pork collar, which is cut from the Boston butt. Its color variations are also more clearly defined. Each slice should have a dark outer edge called bark, a bright pink and red band beneath the bark called the smoke ring and a white, tan or light grey color to the rest of the meat.

Pulled Pork

When Boston butt is smoked properly and pulled apart by hand, you end up with tender, moist meat that has a rich, smokey flavor and colorful appearance—dark brown and black outer bark, with a pink and red smoke ring just below the bark, and tan, light grey and white interior meat.

Sauce is the proverbial icing on the BBQ cake.


All great BBQ is finished with great sauce. Whether it’s added by our Pitmasters, like in our Pulled Pork, or added by you at our table or yours, sauce lets you fine-tune the flavor of BBQ to your exact liking.

Shop Our Sauces

We keep our knives, and skills, sharp at all times.


Our Pitmasters are constantly perfecting their craft and puttin’ their skills to the test. Both in our restaurants and in BBQ competitions across the nation.