Study shows that North Carolina is among the Nation’s ultimate BBQ destinations – OBX Today

Study shows that North Carolina is among the Nation's ultimate BBQ destinations - OBX Today
(Courtesy Christian Geischeder)

In a nation known for its diverse culinary traditions, the BBQ culture is a stand-out that brings people together across the nation. From coast to coast, backyard gatherings and bustling BBQ joints have solidified their place in the American way of life. But which US States are among the best for BBQ food? Emo

With National Eat Outside Day landing on the 31st of August, The team over at took a deep dive into the world of BBQ. Through a comprehensive analysis of key factors, researched crafted the ultimate BBQ Index that ranks states based on their BBQ obsession.

To discover which states have the strongest affinity for BBQ, 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, and 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

The study ultimately found that North Carolina, known for its titular style of pulled pork, is the #6 best barbecue destination in the United States with a barbecue index rating of 47.91 out of 200, overall food index rating of 27.96 out of 110, and total index rating of 1.67 out of 5. The Tarheel State trails behind the states of New Jersey (#5), Florida (#4), New York (#3), California (#2) and Texas (#1).

With several establishments located across the Outer Banks alone dedicated to the state’s staple dish, including Pigman’s Bar-B-Que, Carolina Bar-B-Que Company, Sooey’s BBQ and Rib Shack, and High Cotton Barbecue to name a few, there’s no doubt that North Carolinians take pride in the delicious delicacy.

To review the full methodology and list, click here to be redirected to the study by