What Is A KCBS BBQ Competition ? Your Questions Answered



Who/What is KCBS?

THE KANSAS CITY BARBEQUE SOCIETY (KCBS),  is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbeque, is the world’s largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts with over 25,000 members worldwide.

KCBS sanctions over 500 barbeque contests worldwide. From volunteering to actual event production, their members also offer assistance to civic and charitable organizations who organize events.

What do I have to cook?

There are 4 mandatory meat categories.

Chicken includes Cornish Game Hens (poule de jeu de Cornouailles)


Pork Ribs (traverse de porc)


Pork Shoulder (epaule de porc)



Brisket (gross poitrine de boeuf)

kcbs brisket box


What are the rules?

1. Barbecue is defined by KCBS as uncured meat/fowl prepared on a wood and/or charcoal fire, basted or not as the cook sees fit. (NOTE: NO GAS)

2. All meat must start out raw. No pre-seasoned meat is allowed.

3. Meat must be inspected by the meat inspector on duty at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. Once meat has been inspected, it must remain at the contest site.

4. No cooking or preparation of any kind may begin until the following meat holding conditions are met: All meat must be on ice or refrigeration before being cooked. Holding temperature must be 40 degrees F or less. After cooking, all meat must be maintained at a temperature of 140 degrees F or above in a covered container.

5. Cleanliness of the cook, assistant cooks and contest area is required. Sanitation of work area should be implemented, i.e., with the use of a bleach/water rinse (one cap bleach per gallon of water).

6. Fires must be wood, pellets, or charcoal. No electric or gas grills permitted.

7. Propane wands are permitted as fire starter only. Electric accessories such as splits, augers or forced draft are allowed.

8. No in-ground pits may be dug and no fire may be built on the ground. Burn barrels or similar coal creating devices must be above ground.

9. If burn barrels are used to make coals they should be screened or otherwise set up NOT to send sparks and smoke on fellow cookers.

10. Each team should bring a fire extinguisher to keep near the pit ~ 5 pounds ABC minimum.

How will I be judged?

1. KCBS sanction allows for blind judging only. Entries will be submitted in an approved KCBS numbered container provided by the contest organizer, and then wil be re-numbered by judging officials.

2. Scoring is on a scale of 9 (BEST) to 1 (WORST) in areas of appearance, tenderness/texture and taste.

3. Taste score is doubled. The low score will be dropped, but will be used to break ties.

4. Judging times will be posted and sufficient time will be given between rounds. An entry will only be judged at the time posted by the contest organizer. The allowable “turn in” time will be five minutes before until five minutes after the posted time with no exceptions. There will be no advance calls for an item. If beef brisket is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., plan to submit it then.

5. Each contestant MUST submit at least six to eight separate and identifiable portions of meat in a container. If not enough meat is sent in, the judges will be instructed to do the best they can. This in no way will penalize the other contestants who have properly submitted their entry. Poultry entries, if not cut or portioned into at least six pieces, may be penalized.

6. KCBS sanctioning allows for blind judging only. Entries will be submitted in an approved KCBS numbered container provided by the contest organizer, then may be re-numberedby judging officials. The number must be on top of the container at turn in. Entries will be judged by a judging team of six (6) judges that are at least 16 years of age. Entries are scored in areas of APPEARANCE, TENDERNESS/TEXTURE and TASTE. The scoring system is from 9 (Excellent) to 2 (Bad). All numbers between two and nine may be used to score an entry. 6 is the starting point. A score of one (1) is a disqualification and requires approval by a Contest Rep. The weighting factors for the point system are as follows:




7. Garnish is optional. If used, garnish is limited to chopped, sliced, shredded or whole leaves of fresh green lettuce (no kale, endive, red tipped lettuce and no core) and/or common curly parsley, flat leaf parsley or cilantro. Any entry not complying with this rule will be given a one(1) on APPEARANCE.

8. Marking or sculpting of any kind of the meat or con-tainer will not be tolerated. No aluminum foil or stuffing is allowed in the container. No toothpicks, skewers, foreign ma-terial or stuffing is permitted. Any entry not complying with this rule will be given a one (1) in APPEARANCE, a one (1) in TASTE, and a one (1) in TENDERNESS/TEXTURE.

9. To simplify the judging process, no side sauce containers will be permitted in the meat judging containers. Meats may be presented with or without sauce as the contestant wishes. Sauce may not be pooled or puddled in the container. Chunky sauce will be allowed.

Does the contest organizer provide my cooking equipment?

No, Contestants must provide all needed equipment, supplies and electricity, except as arranged for in advance.


So load up your gear and come on out to a compettion near you!






  1. dragonfly

    very good explanation, the rules seam overwhelming but once you get out there and talk to other bbq guru’s and do a couple of events it’s really not that hard. the hard part is getting every thing done at the right times, that is where practicing at home really helps, the main thing is go out with some friends and have fun just don’t do it for the placement or the money that comes with experience. oh don’t worry about the guys with the custom hi dollar rigs there have been plenty of first places taken with an old trusty webber grill. just use what you have and have fun. dragonfly

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