Texas dominates the United States’ list of places for good barbecue

Linley SandersData Journalist
August 15, 2022, 6:06 PM GMT+0

There are many different styles of barbeque across the United States, with cities and states laying claim to specific types of BBQ sauce and methods of cooking. But not every state or city that claims a BBQ style is associated with good BBQ by Americans.

A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adult citizens that asked which states are associated with good BBQ finds that Texas sweeps past all other contenders to earn the overall title. (Fittingly, several Texas cities are among the top local spots for associations with good BBQ.) After Texas, the runner-up for associations with good BBQ is Tennessee (37%), followed by Louisiana (34%), South Carolina (32%), and Kansas (31%). But the share of Americans who think of Texas when they think of good BBQ — 73% — is around or more than double the share of any other state.

Respondents who named more than one state as being affiliated with good BBQ were asked to choose — from among all of the states they selected — the state they most associate with good BBQ. When accounting for respondents who only picked one state to begin with, the finding is the same: Texas still comes out on top. The Lone Star State (most associated with BBQ by 40% of Americans) is followed by North Carolina (5%), Louisiana (5%), Missouri (5%), Tennessee (4%), and Kansas (4%).

Since some BBQ styles are known more by their association with a city than with a state — think: Kansas City BBQ or Memphis BBQ — YouGov also asked people to select any city they associate with good BBQ, from a list of well-known styles of BBQ or places known to claim their own style of BBQ. Texas cities top the list: Dallas (No. 1), Austin (No. 2), and Houston (No. 4) are the only Texas cities included in the poll, and all make the top four.

Memphis, Tenn. — which is known for its sweet sauces — took third place (38%) on the curated list, and Tennessee’s capital city of Nashville took sixth (28%).

Kansas City, Kan. (29%) and Kansas City, Mo. (26%) are narrowly separated on how many people associate them with barbecue, with both laying a claim to the sweet, thick sauces that accompany KC BBQ. Interestingly, Kansas is chosen by 31% of Americans as being a place for good BBQ, while only 23% chose Missouri — possibly due to some confusion about Kansas City being located in both Kansas and Missouri. (We asked the state question first, before respondents would have seen the question about Kansas City, Mo.)

Americans who associate more than one city with good BBQ were asked to choose from all of the cities they selected which one they most associate with good BBQ. When forced to choose, people are fairly equally split between Dallas (13%), Austin (12%), Houston (11%), and Memphis (11%). About one in 10 selected Kansas City, Kan. (10%), and 7% chose Kansas City, Mo.

No matter where they get it, Americans like their BBQ. Most Americans who eat meat (58%) say they like eating BBQ “a lot,” and another 38% say they like it “a little.” Just 5% of American meat eaters said they don’t like BBQ at all. Among meat eaters who like BBQ a lot or a little, the preferred barbecue main dishes are ribs (32%), pulled pork (19%), and brisket (16%).

— Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

Related: America’s favorite BBQ style

This poll was conducted on July 28 - 31, 2022 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this poll.

Image: Adobe Stock

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