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What is Mesquite BBQ?

Many people think mesquite BBQ is something you get out of a bottle in their local grocery store, pour on their meat, and then eat. However, there is a distinct difference between BBQ sauce and the meat itself, which is usually referred to as simply BBQ with no “sauce” word after it.

Willow Ranch Restaurant in Buttonwillow offers the best BBQ, including mesquite BBQ in the region. We offer a full lineup of mesquite BBQ offerings, including ribs, chicken, and steak. Below, we’ll dive into a bit more detail about mesquite BBQ. Stop in today for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!


Mesquite BBQ is given its distinctive flavor from being cooked over a fire using mesquite wood. There are over 40 different types of mesquite trees (they are trees even though they are quite small). Mesquite trees are a desert tree, growing from South America, up through Mexico, and into the southwestern United States. Native Americans have used the mesquite tree for centuries as fuel and as food, since these trees produce beans that are very delicious. In fact, the name mesquite comes from the Native American tribe, the Nahuatl word mizquitl. Another fun fact about the mesquite tree is that the honey mesquite variety produces flowers that attract bees.

Thus, if you have been to the desert or the Southwest, then you know that there are no trees per se. Hence, like all resourceful people, you use what you have to cook. Thus, the mesquite tree was used to cook all food, including meats. This tree gives meat a very distinctive flavor, which has come to be known as mesquite BBQ.


Luckily, mesquite wood grows everywhere in the Southwest. It burns quickly, which is good when you need to cook a lot of meat for hungry folk, like at Willow Ranch Restaurant in Buttonwillow. Mesquite wood produces a lot of smoke when it burns, which gives mesquite BBQ a very smoky flavor. Because it does burn so fast, it’s best to cook meat over it that cooks very quickly, such as steaks and ribs. Mesquite also adds color to meat when it’s smoked, but it is much lighter than hickory or oak.

Cooking BBQ can be challenging since most BBQ requires indirect heat over long periods of time. This means in order to get the best mesquite BBQ, you need an experienced pitmaster who either closely watches the meat while it cooks or they only use mesquite for part of the cook. Other tips that pitmasters offer for the perfect mesquite BBQ include:

  • Using a blend of woods while cooking. Medium-flavored woods, such as hickory wood, oak or pecan, won’t overpower the mesquite flavor, so using these woods in conjunction will help to make mesquite wood burn longer. If you wanted a bit of sweet flavor, you could add in cherry or apple wood.
  • Vary your mesquite wood by type of smoker you are using. For offset smokers, try using whole logs. For electric smokers, try using mesquite chips. These different types of smokers will help prolong the mesquite wood.
  • For slow-cook meals, add in mesquite wood sparingly. Some people love the taste of mesquite BBQ, but don’t want the hassle of watching the meat or of dealing with the wood. One trick pitmasters recommend is just adding in mesquite chips at the beginning or the end of your cook, which will still give you a good, robust mesquite flavor for your meat.
  • Opt for no wood at all. Nowadays, there are other products that will give you a mesquite flavor without having to use wood. This includes liquid smoke that uses mesquite flavor or even salts.


Willow Ranch Restaurant in Buttonwillow offers a wide variety of mesquite BBQ meals for your enjoyment. These home-cooked meals are prepared in our wood-fired smoker that makes them tender. We top our meats off with our special BBQ sauce for the ultimate flavor. The kids have BBQ meals as well. While you’re in enjoy our delicious mesquite BBQ appetizers and wonderful desserts and leave feeling incredibly satisfied.

Willow Ranch Restaurant has been serving up the best BBQ for over 20 years. Stop on by for breakfast, lunch, or dinner today!