Does Texas Earn The Title Of America’s BBQ Capital?

If there’s one thing we like to do in Texas when even a hint of summer sun pops up, it’s breaking out the BBQ and rustling up a selection of our favorite meats and BBQ treats with family and friends.

And seeing as our state along with many others gets weeks and weeks of fantastic sunny, cloudless skies every summer, it’s not a real surprise that people around the world look to the US for BBQ advice. However, this raises the obvious question - which US state is the top dog when it comes to their BBQ skills?

To find out, took a beat from Texas sports betting and analyzed a range of keyword data to determine which states had the most interest in hosting a BBQ and then combined this with government survey data asking respondents which state they felt did the best BBQs. 

We then added other indexable ranking factors, like their BBQ food ranking, and used these to score each state out of 5.

So, without further ado, here are the top 5 US states dedicated to having the best BBQs in America!

1. Texas

It’s official, and let’s face it, you knew it was coming! The number one state for BBQs in America is indeed Texas!

With a total ranking of 4.74 out of 5 and associated with having the best BBQs by 73% of Americans, it would seem that we Texans are the ultimate authority on deciding what goes into grilling food on open coals.

But, naturally, our place at number one is backed up by more than just our reputation. According to our data, Texas boasted a whopping 219,850 BBQ search terms a month and delivered a food index ranking of 83.04, making it the place to be at this time of the year if you want good, honest, outdoor cooking.

2. California

In second place, but fairly behind Texas, we have the Golden State. Delivering a total ranking of 3.16 and accounting for 172,220 BBQ-themed search terms a month, California is certainly a good spot for anyone eager to break out their grill under the sun and cook their favorite meats.

And all of this is in spite of the fact that California seems to only be favored by 16% of Americans when it comes to popular BBQ states – that’s 57% less than Texas! Combine this with 47,630 fewer BBQ searches per month and it’s actually quite surprising that California ranks so high on our list.

However, where California does excel is in its BBQ and food ranking, which sit at 158.97 and 100.15 respectively and are the highest of any US state. So, the next time someone invites you to a Californian-style cookout, you know not to turn it down.

3. New York

Coming in third was a bit of a suprise in New York!

While it might not be everyone’s first choice when it comes to BBQ hotspots across the US, as represented by the 16% of Americans who noted New York as the place they’d go to set up their coals, the Big Apple still achieved a respectable total ranking score of 2.57.

And while New Yorkers might appear to show less enthusiasm for BBQing when compared to Texans and Californians, with just 88,400 BBQ searches made across the state per month, we all know that, when the sun is out, it's hard to beat being down in Central Park or on a rooftop balcony with a BBQ by your side.

Other States of Note

Being nicknamed the Sunshine State, it’s not really a wonder that Florida managed to land a top spot on our list. As a whole, Floridians make 94,210 BBQ-based searches every month, and this prestige is enhanced further by it being the go-to BBQ spot for 12% of Americans.

And while this doesn’t seem too impressive at first glance, much like New York, Florida has a well-earned reputation for having good BBQ food, which resulted in it gaining a score of 67.26 on our BBQ food index ranking.

Last, there’s little to identify New Jersey as a popular BBQ hotspot – after all, Jersey residents make an average of just 37,050 BBQ-related queries every month.

However, we know better, which is why we’re not surprised that Jersey generated as much BBQ interest from Americans as Florida, being a popular choice for at least 12% of those spoken to, though, with a lower food and BBQ index rankings than our other top 5 (40.15 and 22.77 for either score), it makes sense that Jersey didn’t rank much higher.

Rankings That Stood Out

Perhaps you want to know if there were any surprise highs and lows for states you’d expect to see higher up the table.

Well, while we could discuss how Tennessee and Louisiana managed to miss out on a higher spot due to their low BBQ theme and food index quality scores, we can go one better. Because if upsets are what you’re after, then we’ve got a doozy for you!

Let’s face it, when it comes to a good BBQ, Alaska is likely the last state on your mind for a summer grilling session – what with all the snow and cold weather most of the year. But, despite these preconceptions, Alaska actually came 34th in our rankings!

Now, that’s not super high by any means, but it’s certainly a surprise for our most northern state and puts other southern states like Alabama to shame! But which state fell at the bottom for summer BBQs?

Well, sadly, that would be South Dakota, which holds the lowest overall score of 0.2 and is thought of as a good BBQ state by just 6% of Americans, the takeaway being that something as simple as a cold wind isn’t enough to stop some Americans from having a cookout.

Keep tabs on for more fun research like this, plus news around Texas betting apps when the time comes.

Methodology for Identifying the Most BBQ Enthusiastic States

To discover which states have the strongest affinity for BBQ, we gathered data on several key factors: BBQ searches, Government Survey, BBQ Index, and BBQ Food Index. These factors comprised four individually weighted metrics, collectively totaling 100.

• BBQ searches: Using Google Search Data, we were able to identify the states that search for BBQ the most, ranking them based on the highest search volume.
• Government Survey: Utilizing a government survey, we uncovered the locations in the US where BBQ enthusiasts are concentrated, with insights from 1000 respondents.
• The BBQ Index: By employing a Keyword Tool, we assessed the 20 most popular BBQ phrases and words including Barbecue platters, BBQ Competitions, BBQ Gloves, Grill, Charcoal, and smoker to determine the states with the highest search frequencies. Each keyword was divided by the respective state's population and aggregated to create an index in proportion to the state populations.
• BBQ Food Index: Analyzing the popularity of various BBQ foods allowed us to identify states that truly cherish their culinary traditions. This assessment enabled us to rank BBQ food preferences in each state and establish an index highlighting the search intensities relative to the population. Key words included: Brisker, Ribs, Pulled Pork ranking 11 different BBQ foods.
• BBQ restaurants per Capita: Using information from World Population Review, we determined the states with the highest number of BBQ restaurants per capita. The data was ranked from highest to lowest. Source: World Population Review - BBQ by State

By aggregating the weighted scores for each factor across all states, we derived a final index score, scaled from 0 to 5. A higher score indicates a state's stronger suitability as a location for significant events such as weddings.

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