American Barbecue Recipes You Should Be Grilling Right Now – Discussed Per State!

The U.S. is probably one the countries in the world that are so obsessed with barbecue. We have tons of recipes and each state has a taste of its own. If you own a grill, you’ll never run out of new things to try. So aside from your usual skewers and burgers, I suggest that you give the sumptuous American barbecue recipes we have here a nice try. I’m a self-confessed grill enthusiast myself, and I assure you that these juicy picks are for the books.

US States and their BBQ Specialties

MissouriSignature rib rub
CaliforniaBottom sirloin tri-tip
AlabamaBig Bob Gibson’s White BBQ
New YorkCornell chicken
KentuckySmoked ewe with black dip
The CarolinasPulled pork
TexasTexas-styled brisket
New JerseyOriginal dry ribs
WisconsinBeer-simmered bratwurst

To give you an idea about how big of a thing grilling is here in America, about $1.47 billion worth of barbecues and grills are sold back in 2016. According to CNN, 75% of all Americans own at least one outdoor smoker or grill (count me in!). That’s about 80 million people grilling in this country in the past year. However, about 63% of these people just cook burgers and boring steaks. If you’re one those, it’s definitely time to level up your menu.


Let’s start with the state where the so-called ‘grill capital’ of the U.S. is located: Kansas City.

A trip to Kansas City won’t be complete without a taste of their signature rib rub.

It’s a spare rib cut that’s trimmed to a neat rectangular shape and rubbed with various spices. You can include paprika, cayenne, onion powder, salt, black pepper, brown sugar, and more. The rub tastes heavenly that I even tried it on baby back, barbecue wings, and other best American BBQ recipes.

When applying the rub, make sure that the rib is dry to touch. Use paper towels if need be. After that, gently apply the rub. Take note that only the amount that sticks to the meat should be used. Too much will the flavor overpowering.

As for the signature spare rib from Kansas City (and St. Louis too), the cut has a generous layer of fat. This makes it juicy even after cooking it on a high heat, dry grill.

For this recipe, I like dipping it on a tomato barbecue sauce. It never gets old on most family gatherings although you may want to reduce the burnt ends on this one.


The Golden State isn’t just about its Hollywood vibe; it also has major contributions to the barbecue world.

Someone who has visited California, especially the Santa Barbara area, probably had a taste of the famous tri-tip.

This meat cut is usually intended to be ground for burgers. It’s usually a triangular cut sourced from the bottom sirloin.

Tri-tip is also famous in the Santa Maria area where lots of barbecue joints are located. It usually uses a spicy rub, mostly a simple combination of pepper, salt, and garlic powder (sometimes I add cayenne). The rub will be applied by rolling the meat cut into it (as if you’re applying breadcrumbs).

But unlike the usual low-and-slow method of many BBQ purists, the tri-tip is cooked in an open-pit BBQ fire. Fast and hot, that’s how they do it in California. It’s less smoky, though, but that doesn’t mean the flavor isn’t a feast for the taste buds. A good tri-tip should be cooked for 20-45 minutes with a charred outside layer.

You may find some innovation for the best American BBQ recipes like this, with grillers adding paprika, dried mustard, and other spices.

American barbecue recipes


If there’s one barbecue recipe that put Alabama in the grill world, it would be their Big Bob Gibson’s White BBQ recipe.

It’s a singular dish that uses half chickens that are heavily seasoned with pepper and salt – nothing else if you want to follow the original recipe. After rubbing the salt and pepper on the chicken, set it aside.

Next, you’ll create a sauce made of 1-quart mayonnaise, horseradish, ½ cup corn syrup, lemon juice, and ¾ quart white vinegar. If you love spicy food like me, add a ¼ tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Blend this well until you achieve a smooth consistency.

After that, you can start grilling the salt-and-pepper laced half chicken. Just when the chicken is about to cook, brush a portion of the sauce you just made. The remaining sauce can be used as a dip.

If you want to achieve the signature Alabama smoke flavor, use a hickory-fired pit. Anyway, a typical charcoal grill did the trick on my cooking.

New York

If you’re diversifying your American barbecue recipes, it’s almost a sin to miss this the Cornell Chicken from Ithaca.  It’s a recipe of a poultry science professor named Bob Baker who was teaching at Cornell University at that time – the story behind the recipe name.

Indeed, the little town blues are melting away with New York’s own Cornell chicken.

It’s basically grilled chicken with crispy, golden skin. This recipe uses the drumstick chicken cuts marinated in a mixture of egg, vinegar, and salt whisked until it ballooned. Make sure that you stab the chicken a few times so the mixture will seep in. I prefer soaking the chicken for 24 hours in the fridge, but purists can go as long as 3 days. No need to worry about spoilage since the vinegar and salt will stop the formation of bacteria.

After that, you can now grill it for 60-90 minutes under 150F temp. Baste the chicken as it cooks. Once the meat is done, place the chicken on the hot side of the grill without direct fire. With the skin side down, let it crisp this way for 10 minutes.


I love the countryside which is why I fell in love with Kentucky. And aside from their green stretches, one thing you shouldn’t miss is their smoked ewe with black dip. They don’t use chicken, pork, lamb, or beef. For this recipe, we’re going to grill mutton.

You’ll never get enough of Kentucky-style smoked ewe with black dip.

When preparing this, you need a shoulder cut with fat layers removed together with the tough silverskin. It will be rubbed with the famous Dolly Lamb mixture. It’s basically a blend of crushed rosemary leaves, bay leaves, mustard seeds, black pepper, paprika, and minced garlic.

Set this aside then mix distilled vinegar, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, water, salt, and lemon juice. Let this simmer in a pan for 10 minutes. This will be the black dip.

Cook the treated mutton in a smoker low and slow, just how traditional grillers do it. Take note that taking the stall into account, cooking this recipe can take 8 hours. I suggest that you start early if you want to be in time for dinner. But once it’s done, every minute is worth for American barbecue recipes like this. The sauce is more vinegary which adds more spice to the smoky mutton.

The Carolinas

Carolina is synonymous to the most delicious pulled pork you can ever taste.

It’s actually a way for the locals to utilize the hog industry and leftover cuts. However, for the high-end recipes, they use whole pork shoulders which I also prefer. You can also opt for pork butt.

You have to brine it first together with apple cider vinegar, pepper, basil leaves, and other spices. Refrigerate the brine-soaked meat overnight before patting it dry with paper towels. Once the whole chunk of pork is dry to touch, rub it with a mixture of Kosher salt, smoked paprika, and coarse black pepper. Make sure that you get each side seasoned.

After that, put it on your smoker. Since this is a large cut, you may need an offset type or anything with a large lid. Carolina locals usually use hickory wood, but you can also opt to a blend of oak, cherry, and maple.

Once it’s done, shred the pork then drizzle it with soy sauce that’s mixed with a little ketchup and brown sugar. Boy, it’s smoking good for burgers! You can also incorporate in on other best American BBQ recipes.


When we talk about Texas, there are two things that will pop into my mind: Alamo and briskets.

Texas is the home of pit masters where the so-called “brisket gods” compete in making the best BBQ out of these large chunks of meat.

You might have tried making briskets before, but cooking it Texas-style will up the ante. First, you have to get a fresh veal beef cut. Usually, it should be around 10 pounds with the trimmed fat of up to quarter an inch. You can order this on meat shops ahead of time.

Also, soak wood chips in water overnight then mix it in the firebox with dried pieces. This will produce a heavy cloud of smoke which is good for brisket cooking.

Next, rub the beef cut with salt and pepper while avoiding being too cakey with the coverage. Let the rub sit for at least an hour. Once you have the grill smoker prepared and the rub has settled, place the brisket inside the smoker with a sealed lid. Make sure that the fatty side is up and you won’t open the lid often. This can take about 4-6 hours.

American barbecue recipes

New Jersey

Of all American barbecue recipes, I love wet ribs the most. The sticky, sweet sauce dripping from the meat is packed with bursting flavors.

If you’re heading to Memphis, you will be treated to its original dry ribs. Although I have doubts, I never regretted having a taste of it before.

For this, you need 3 rack baby back ribs with the papery skin at the back pulled out. Once the meat is prepared, mix black pepper, paprika, celery, salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, and dry mustard. Rub two-thirds of this mixture on the ribs then set aside the remaining amount. Let the meat cure for at least 4 hours in the fridge. While you wait, create a mop sauce by blending salt, cider vinegar, and mustard in one bowl.

Once the ribs are ready, preheat a charcoal grill in medium heat then arrange the ribs on the grate. Smoke this for at least an hour. After that, open the smoker and baste the ribs with the mop sauce you made. Let it continue cooking until the meat is tender enough to shrink back from the ends of the ribs. After that, sprinkle the remaining rub and enjoy your Memphis-style dry ribs. You can also try the rub on other best American BBQ recipes.


Now, if you’re a fan of sausages, you shouldn’t miss Wisconsin’s Brats or Bratwurst. It’s actually a German food but the Badger State locals have a unique way of cooking it.

And as far as I know, Wisconsin style is the only best way of cooking Bratwurst. 

So to have a taste, prepare about 2 pounds, or a pound of bratwurst if you’re a small eater. Prick each of the sausages with a fork so it won’t explode while cooking. Place it in a pot together with two sliced onions, a cup of butter, black pepper, and 12 ounces of beer. Let this simmer in medium heat for 15 minutes.

After that, fish the bratwurst out of the mixture and grill it on lit charcoal for 10 minutes. In my experience, it’s best to dab a small amount of oil in the grate to avoid the sausage skin from sticking. You can serve this hot with thinly sliced onions and fresh hoagie rolls.

If you’re new to cooking sausages, I suggest that you use a sheet of aluminum foil instead of placing the food straight on the grate. This will maintain the juiciness of the sausages while preventing it from getting burned. The only downside is you’ll miss the full spectrum of the smoke flavor.


If I have the time, I would have tried all 50 states’ special BBQ recipes. Nevertheless, these nine states offer a lot of delicious food which you can add to your menu for Thanksgiving or the next family gathering.

I love the idea that there are tons of ways to cook a single BBQ meal. This makes grilling more exciting as a hobby and a form of cooking. From sausages to briskets and ribs, you have a lot of catching up to do if you’re a newbie. The good thing here is that it’s never too late to get into the American barbecue recipes.

What do you think of these recipes? Let us know below!

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American Barbecue Recipes You Should Be Grilling Right Now – Discussed Per State!

by George Miller time to read: 8 min