Nothing beats celebrating Fourth of July or Labor Day weekend like having fun in the sun. We at Treetopia have been firing up the grill all summer long. Folks across the country usually default to the most popular BBQ food in their area. But there are also unique menu items that don’t immediately come to mind when you think about a classic, all-American barbecue.

Top Searched BBQ Foods in the U.S.

We were curious about how these food preferences might differ by region. What do you serve at a Southern BBQ? What is “West Coast style BBQ?” These are some questions people usually ask. That’s why we decided to look into the most popular BBQ foods across the country. We dove into Google Trends data to determine the most-searched-for classic BBQ food in each U.S. state.

So, if you’re planning a barbecue, cookout, or picnic, take a look at the most popular BBQ foods below. For a menu that’s a surefire hit, include a few or more of these to your list.

The Most Popular BBQ Food by State

U.S. map showing most searched BBQ food per state

From kebabs in Virginia, to ribs in states like Alaska, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wyoming—boy, do these results make us hungry! It’s clear that the country’s most popular BBQ foods include meat. Think hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, and grilled chicken. Some non-meat options also made the list. Among those, the ones you’ll most likely find in many gatherings are potato chips, fruit salad, and watermelon.

Eaten on their own, these foods would make a good and simple BBQ menu. Start with the main meat dish. Then, complement it with a savory side or salad and fruit for dessert. Serve cold and refreshing drinks to go with the meal.

The Most Popular BBQ Food by Region

U.S. map showing most searched BBQ food per region


Location plays a huge part in the preferences, especially when you get down to BBQ techniques. But when considering simple BBQ foods, there are clear regional differences, too.

As you can see on the map, the West Coast is particularly fond of hamburgers, while the South and Northeast regions of the U.S. are fans of watermelon. Midwesterners, on the other hand, seem to have an affinity for ribs. If you have any leads on the juiciest, fall-off-the-bone recipe, please don’t keep it to yourself!

The Most Popular BBQ Food in America

Bar graph showing top searched BBQ foods in the U.S.

So, what BBQ foods in the U.S. have the most loyal fanbase?

According to our research, the most popular BBQ food in the U.S. is watermelon. The refreshing treat is too sweet to resist, and it’s certainly an easy addition to any barbecue menu. Meanwhile, hamburgers come in second, followed by ribs. Grilled chicken, pulled pork, and kebabs, all tie for fifth place.

Other Unique BBQ Menu Ideas

If you want to be adventurous, make your menu as unique and colorful as your personality! Spice up your next summer gathering with these fun BBQ food ideas and themes:

Let’s Taco ‘Bout Southern or Tex-Mex BBQ

Southern style ribs with beer for a barbecue party

Tex Mex tacos as menu items for a BBQ

Southern style BBQ burger

What goes with Southern BBQ ribs? Besides beer and fruity drinks, serve up appetizing sides or salads. Baked beans, mac and cheese, and coleslaw are crowd favorites. For a Tex-Mex twist, serve tacos or spicy turkey burgers. Whip up some homemade guacamole if you can get your hands on fresh avocados. These melt-in-your-mouth fruits are typically in-season from late spring to early summer.

Keep Calm and Try Korean BBQ Food

Korean BBQ cooking on a round grill with different kinds of side dish

Korean BBQ food menu with different kinds of meat

Infuse your summer gatherings with Asian flavors and traditions. Stop by the nearest Korean mart or grocery store for special meat cuts and marinades. Cook these on your trusty grill or oven. But for an authentic experience, look for a K-BBQ grill. Once you get hooked, you’ll start firing it more often, trust us. Prepping the colorful side dishes aren’t a walk in the park, but well worth the effort.

Vegan BBQ Menu Ideas That Are Veggie Good

Vegan jackfruit sandwich and fries

Vegan BBQ food ideas

Pulled mushroom burger as vegan BBQ food idea

Looking for healthier food options or expecting vegan friends? Search for recipes that are so good, your guests might not believe they’re 100% plant-based. If you’re feeling adventurous, how about faux BBQ pulled pork sandwiches made from jackfruit or mushrooms? Or start with foolproof grilled veggies like tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers. Slice and lightly season these, then give them a nice char.

Red, White, and Blue BBQ Party Theme

Patriotic decor for a BBQ party

4th of July barbecue party

Independence Day backyard BBQ party

Getting ready for your Fourth of July bash or Labor Day weekend party? We’ve got several decorating tips and other party ideas for your All-American celebrations. Read more in the comprehensive guide below:

A Merry and Bright BBQ Menu

Christmas themed BBQ food with red, green, and gold vegetables

For Christmas in July, give your grilled dishes a holiday makeover. The easiest way to pull this off is by serving them on green, red, and gold tableware. Get creative with spices and garnish them with vegetables in festive colors. Accent your tablescape with a festive Christmas wreath or garland for a festive vibe. Warm up your winter with barbecue dishes cooked on your indoor grill.

Make Your Christmas Tree a Yummy Feast for the Eyes

No matter the season or celebration, put up your tree to make things extra special. Decorate a holiday centerpiece to go with your menu. How about lemonade inspired décor like Making Over a Mansion? You can also use other kinds of summer eats as inspiration. Take your pick from watermelons, pineapples, ice cream, and more. Here are refreshing ideas, featuring our traditional artificial trees and colorful Christmas trees.

Lemonade-themed traditional Christmas tree

green tree decorated for Christmas in July

Yellow artificial Christmas tree decorated with black yarn, pom poms, and a green tree pick to make a pineapple tree

Red Christmas and green ornaments stand out on a white tree

Next time you’re planning a backyard barbecue, let this serve as the ultimate grocery store and party planning list. We’re sure your family and friends won’t be disappointed. Go outside and get grilling!

1 Comment

  1. I don’t feel like watermelon was a fair option to include to many searches related to one recipe. How to pick a watermelon, how to cut a watermelon, watermelon recipes, watermelon drinks ect. Meanwhile ribs/ brisket/ pulled pork searches are related to recipe for grilled/smoked (insert meat). There’s next to no other includes searches.

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