Ultimate Guide to Kentucky Mutton


Nowhere like Kentucky Mutton

Following the barbecue trail west of Louisville along the Ohio River and south towards the Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky Mutton is king of the pit. Unlike the subtle elegance of smoke-laced pork that is more typically southern, mutton packs a wallop, its sharp sheep tang only minimally tempered by hours of smoke. The result is succulence to the max. Mutton can be found elsewhere – it’s the must-eat dish at Perry Foster’s BBQ in Augusta, Georgia; but nowhere does it get the respect given by Western Kentucky pitmasters.

Best of the Best

Subtleties of local nomenclature and service are dizzying. In Owensboro, at the Moonlite Bar-B-Q, it is offered chopped, sliced, and as ribs; and by the time you travel west twenty-five miles to Thomason’s Barbecue in Henderson, and out to Peak Bros. Bar-B-Que in Waverly, another presentation appears on menus: chipped. Chipped is like chopped, but extreme, yielding a fine hash that is moist and mellow. Instead of sauce, you get dip, which is the consistency of natural gravy. Mutton served without any sauce is labeled “off the pit.”


Moonlite Bar-B-Q

Owensboro, Kentucky considers itself the BBQ capital of the world. Among the best restaurants in town is the Moonlite, where mutton is king on a vast buffet.


Thomason’s Barbecue

Thomason's of Henderson, Kentucky, barbecues all meats: pork, mutton, beef, etc. Beans are magnificent – rich and smoky, laced with shreds of BBQ.


Peak Bros. Bar-B-Que

Peak Bros. is is a longstanding western-Kentucky source for BBQ, especially mutton. But don't ignore ham: it may be the best meat in the house.