American BBQ and Outdoor Cooking - the Complete Map

We have put together a list that you won’t find anywhere else - explore our in-depth BBQ and outdoor cooking guide, state by state. See what your local traditions are, and take inspiration from the unique and local traditions of other states and regions! We feature some of our favorite recipes for the grill, smoker, and even your backyard fire pit!

Click on the map to see what they're putting on the grill anywhere in the US!

It’s no secret that when it comes to outdoor cooking America has got it made. From grills and BBQs to lobster boils and smoked oysters. There is no one “American Style” BBQ - American BBQ encompasses a lot of cultures and has been influenced by countless traditions - from German to Pacific Islander. This influence has flowed into America’s cities, states, islands, and wilderness ever since people started to migrate here - and according to a recent article by The Smithsonian, that was about20,000 years ago

There is no one “American Outdoor Cooking Manual” that encompasses everything that the American culture has to offer. There are lots of books published on particular styles of BBQ or grilling but in order to put everything together, you’d probably need something the size of an old-fashioned encyclopedia.

We won’t write an encyclopedia (yet!), but we wanted to write about as many different styles, types, and traditions of American outdoor cooking as possible. And include some recipes while we’re at it! 

How It All Started 

There isn’t a big BBQ creation story, like with potato chips. The story of BBQ is a river, with tiny streams flowing in, meanders, swamps, and lots of flotsam and jetsam picked up along the way. This history started in times unknown and continues to happen now, as more people start examining their relationship with local food, and traditional ways of preparing it. 

There are some amazing historical accounts of the kind of outdoor cooking done in the early United States, and territories that would later become the United States. Here are some of them, to whet your appetite: 

While smoked meats were popular in Europe since the prehistoric times, it was when it met the tradition of barbacoa that things really took off. Barbacoa is said to originate in the Caribbean - a grill made out of sticks was placed close to a fire, in order to dry meat - an invention of the Taino Indians. The traditional path of BBQ is said to have gone from the Caribbean to Virginia, North and South Carolina, then Georgia, and up through the Appalachians into Tennessee, Kentucky, and eventually Texas. It picked up a lot of heat as it traveled closer to the Pacific, mixing with local cuisine and flavors. 

BBQ may come from many places, but all came together as we know it in the Southern States.

Courtesy of theTennessee State Museum

Did you know that butter used to be one of the main ingredients of a good BBQ sauce? One of the oldest recipes we could find was published in a Georgia cookbook called Mrs. Hill’s New Receipt Book for the Kitchen by Georgia cook Annabella P. Hill. This recipe is quoted by many people, and it’s a testament of how things change over time. 

The ingredients of BBQ sauce in 1867 were:

½ lb of butter 

Teaspoon of mixed black and red pepper

Enough vinegar to make the sauce have “strong acid taste” 

This is very minimalistic, but we encourage you to try it. The Tennessee State Museum conducted a taste test, and this was one of the clear favorites. A lot of modern BBQ Sauces today are vinegar based. You can use any vinegar, but we recommend an apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar, as it would have been the most popular one in the early days. They are also the most natural vinegars, and the healthiest. See the recipes below for a home-made apple vinegar recipe. 

Southern BBQs were a social event - they didn’t start out as “restaurant food” - they were community food first and foremost. Church gatherings, community parties, and neighborhood get-togethers were common - as was barbecuing the whole pig, which was considered a cheap meat. Slow roasting and smoking brought out flavors that were better than the most expensive cuts of meat. Mutton was also used in certain areas of the South, and different cuts of pork were more popular than others. But the community and celebration that followed barbecues and a pig slaughter is what made a barbecue into a big event - they were even used to put on political rallies - to bring people of all walks of life together. 

Meanwhile, on theWest Coast, there existed a culture that is now completely gone - long lost to time and history. This was the time of the greatCalifornia ranchos, made from giant land grants given by Spanish and Mexican authorities to settlers and retired soldiers. They were meant to settle this remote land. 

California ranches were huge - they grazed thousands of cattle (beef tallow was known as the California dollar) and they knew a thing or two about community - and a good party. California “neighborhood” parties were known as Fandangos, and they sometimes lasted for days. Most people here were cattle ranchers and farmers - there was simply nothing else to do. 

The cuisine here was more reminiscent of old Spain than Mexico - with olives, oranges, grapes, and nuts grown by early Spanish missionaries - but barbecued beef was one of the most important parts of the culture. This sets the stage for a lot of what we consider classic California cuisine now - using local native plants like mint, bay leaves, or wild anise and grilling wild fish over open flames. A lot of old notebooks with these Californio recipes survive - some are published, with the help of descendants and these rare California natives whose families still remember the forgotten days of the ranchos, cattle farming, and the pre-gold rush era. 

Fact: A 1914 reprint of the “California Mexican-Spanish Cook Book” by Bertha Haffner Ginger contains the first recorded recipe for tacos. 

Take a look at our California section below for modern Golden State traditions.

Califonia's BBQ traditions come from Spanish and Mexican roots. 

Jaqueline Higuera McMahan wrote one of the most authentic books on California rancho cooking - here is her “grandpa”, Frank Cavarria next to a pit barbecue. These types of barbecues can still be seen around California, especially places like Monterey - the state’s first historic capital. 

Southern BBQ 

In the South, BBQ means meat that’s been cooked over a fire - it’s not a word similar to “lunch” or “brunch” - it’s NOT a gathering of people. It’s the thing itself. The meat, the smoke, the juices. People outside of the South use “BBQ” incorrectly - every Southerner knows that. 

The Southern Barbecue Belt is made up of 7 states. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Of course, there are other states that do barbecue - but you have to remember that these states mean business - they have an unparalleled history and tradition of BBQ, and it cannot be done or tasted in any other place. With every mouthful, you get not only a taste of traditional Southern-style BBQ and original seasonings but you get a taste of history and one-of-a-kind heritage that can be felt in the very walls and pits of every Southern BBQ shack, no matter how humble it seems. 

See our individual state-by-state guide below. 

Western Outdoor Cooking 

States like California have a long tradition of putting anything on the grill - from oysters to chicken and local fish. Although there are some great BBQ places here, let’s concentrate on what they’re really good at - fresh and local. 

The West Coast usually refers to California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska - all the way up from top to bottom. Although they are culturally different from each other, they have one thing in common - their history of being on the fringe. They are latecomers to the United States and have kept a lot of the frontier in their cuisines. 

Crabs, salmon, sourdough, open-flame grilling, and fresh produce - but also rich campfire stews, dried and seasoned meats, and wild game are the old inheritance of this area, and increasingly, especially as California became the breadbasket of not only the West but of the world, we have seasonal vegetables, fruits and nuts ready to be seasoned and grilled fresh from the farmer’s market. 

The rich history of these West Coast States makes each unique - California also has its roots in Spanish and Mexican culture, with big parties, Fandangoes, and barbecues being popular during the pre-gold rush Californio days, and in Alaska, there’s a lot of Russian influence to be seen. We’ll take a look at them separately below - although they are grouped together, they more than deserve an individual look.  

Texas - the Lone BBQ Region

We thought that Texas should be put into its own category - when it comes to outdoor cooking and BBQ, it has its own distinctive map of styles. This has to do with who Texas rubs elbows with - and it’s the South, Mexico, and the Southwest. There are distinctive regional influences depending on what part of Texas you’re in. 

First of all, Texas has always been a cattle country - and beef is king. While most other states prefer BBQ pork, here it is mostly beef that hits the grills. 

Home made real BBQ ribs take time to perfect, but they're worth the effort.

East Texas 

Because of the early African-American influences in this part of Texas, the BBQ style here is very similar to that of the South. Fall-apart in your mouth beef, ribs, and sandwiches made with tender cuts of meat are a staple here, as is smoked boudin - an influence from Louisiana as well as pulled pork.

Smoking over indirect heat until the meat is falling off the bone and practically dissolving is a rule in East Texas BBQ. 

Southern Texas 

BBQ here tends to revolve around barbacoa, which is a specialty in these parts. It’s difficult to find a commercial eatery that does this style of BBQ, because of the unique methods used. They are organic, home-made, and today, they’re usually found at family parties and backyard events. It’s the ancient art of cooking meat in a cooking pit with agave leaves. The meat usually means a beef head - so the most tender parts of it, like the cheek or the meaty tongue are made to be so succulent and delicious that you probably won’t find anything like it anywhere else in the whole country. 

Central Texas

Central Texas BBQ is meat-centric. Aren’t they all? Not quite. There’s always some sauce, spices, rituals, and distractions. Here, the seasoning is minimal, and if you buy it at a BBQ joint, you usually order by weight and get your meat on a plate or on butcher paper. Other things that Central Texas is known for are:

  • Spare ribs
  • Smoked sausage

Surprisingly, Czech and German influences can still be seen here - not quite the intuitive cultures you think of when you think “Texas” - but it makes sense. Both of them are heavy on the sausage, smoking, and pork. Smoking was a popular preserving method in Central Europe, and when mixed with local aromatic hardwood, it takes on a uniquely Texan flavor. The Czechs came to Texas in the 1840s, and German immigration began about a decade earlier - they were known for owning meat markets. A classic BBQ plate that holds influences from their cultures is packed full of brisket, sausage, white bread, onions, and pickles. 

Lone Star Das Bier Can

Central European Influences can be seen in Texas BBQ styles to this day.

West Texas

This is more like a grill than a BBQ - no smoking, no indirect heat - but instead, open mesquite wood flame is used for outdoor cooking in West Texas. This is sometimes called “Cowboy Style” - no wonder why. Cowboys moved quickly, ate quickly, and didn’t have time for long, drawn-out smoking and BBQ. They grilled over bonfires and used cast-iron pans. 

Texas Outdoor Kitchen

When making a Texas-style outdoor kitchen, you have to have a place for an open wood fire. Whether you install a whole fire pit or keep it small, you have to try usingmesquitein your BBQ and grills. Mesquite - a tree that used to be considered a weed in Texas is now used in professional kitchens all over the country - and you can easily order it for your outdoor kitchen, no matter where you are.  

Smokers- Smokers are important to Texas BBQ - offset smokers, barrel smokers, and drum smokers are all something you should look into getting if you’re looking for that authentic, meat falling off the bone effect. 

Grills- Both charcoal and gas grills are going to do great, but we do recommend charcoal for some Texas-style action. If not, get some mesquite wood chips to put in your gas grill, so you get the taste and aroma of Texan BBQ without the flames. 

Fire Pits - for some cowboy-style grilling, try an open fire pit. You can roast on a spit here, and put your cast iron pan to use for vegetables, bacon, or even pancakes. 

Southwestern Heartiness 

Chile Ristras are a tradition in New Mexico, and can flavor any outdoor meal.

New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada - these are the states we think of as Southwestern, and they have some of the most unique cuisines in the United States. Most people that have ever visited and eaten local food know that there’s something special about it. 

Southwestern food isn’t Tex-Mex - it has its own unique regional flare. Surprisingly enough, Southwestern food is heavy on the veggies such as chiles, especially roasted chiles - when we think of a good outdoor grill, we always have these at the back of our heads. 

Southwestern cooking is a hearty mix of local, native ingredients and cooking styles from Mexico and Southwestern tribes, mixed with Spanish influences. The Mediterranean, Italian and French influences can also be seen here, but the use of native plants and traditions from New Mexico is solid, and so much different than Texan or Mexican cuisines. It is entirely unique. 

Although Anglo cattle ranching has influenced Southwestern food, it remains steeped in the traditional maize, beans, squash, and chiles. Some of the peoples that influenced the cuisine of this region include the Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo, Apache, and many other Native American tribes that lived in these regions.  

Authentic New Mexico Chiles are grown in Hatch Valley - and they include many locally developed cultivars, with names like Big Jim, Diablo, Sandia, Lumbre, Machete, or Joe Parker. They are roasted on an open flame, developing deep flavors and a taste that is uniquely Southwestern. 

Whether you’re grilling meat or vegetables, Southwestern seasoning with dried chiles, anise, ground coriander, and other spices is a must. Find the recipe below. 

Fresh corn can be put directly on the charcoal for some perfect charring.

Classic Southwestern Outdoor Kitchens

Southwestern outdoor kitchens are beautiful - made with natural, desert-colored sandstone and wood, they blend into the surrounding area with an organic softness. A must-have in these kitchens is definitely a pizza oven or a more classic beehive-shaped oven that is reminiscent of the traditional Pueblo ovens and hornos. 

Another outdoor cooking tool used here - and one that is particular to the Southwest, is a chile roaster - a round drum for roasting large amounts of Hatch chiles. It can be substituted by a grill in any smaller outdoor kitchen - when you don’t mean to feed crowds of people with chiles. 

Southwestern outdoor kitchen must-haves:

  • Horno/clay oven
  • Open flame for roasting 
  • Cast iron surface for more roasting and making tortillas


You can roast chiles in smaller quantities, on your backyard grill or over coals.

Courtesy of the Santa Fe Reporter - Santa Fe Farmers Market 

Midwest Comfort Food 

Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin - can grat BBQ be found here? Or at least an incredible outdoor kitchen tradition? You bet! 

Kansas City barbecue is probably the most recognizable Midwest BBQ style out there, and it includes different cuts and styles of meat including classic pork, but also lamb and beef. Served with french fries and a sweet sauce on the side. 

Grilled sweet corn, pork chops, catfish, local wood flavors - the Midwest is full of surprises. 

Some of the best BBQ traditions come from the Midwest, and in the northern Midwest, it expands into the land of German bratwurst, Polish kielbasa, and other largely porky bits whose traditions reach back to the old continent in Central and Eastern Europe. 

50 Unique Types of Outdoor Cooking - State by State 

Aside from the broader areas of culinary influence, let’s take a closer look at specific traditions, and what we call “unique show-stoppers” - little gems of outdoor cooking and BBQ that are unique to a state or a city within that state. 

We have put together quite a list - it includes both local traditions and locally sourced ingredients. Maybe it’s obvious to some, but it’s truly amazing that every single state in America has its own unique “thing” that could inspire your next outdoor kitchen adventure. 


Focus: Pork shoulder, pork ribs, tomato-vinegar sauces

Influences: Caribbean, African American

Unique Show-Stopper - White BBQ Sauce 

Food Today: Alabama is an important piece in the puzzle of the “Southern BBQ Belt''. With open pits, hickory wood, and pork. But when it comes to sauce, Alabama is special.


Northern Alabama has more vinegar-based BBQ sauces while eastern Alabama - mustard tomato combinations. But Alabama as a whole is known for white BBQ sauce. It was first used as a chicken condiment but it expanded for use as a BBQ sauce - it goes quite well with pork. It’s usually slathered on grilled pieces of chicken that are crispy to perfection. It was first invented in Decatur by Robert Gibson at Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q. The sauce was concocted in 1925 and Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q is still open today. 

What are the secret ingredients of the Alabama White Barbecue Sauce? 

  • Mayo (as base)
  • Vinegar 
  • Mustard
  • Horseradish
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika

Mix them all together - and the proportions? We’ll let you figure it out - most people experiment until the right taste just hits them right in the mouth. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Gas/Charcoal grill -Grilled chicken drumsticks with White BBQ Sauce 

Alabama Department of Archives and History

Courtesy of Selma Depot Museum. Photograph by Mary Morgan Keipp.


Focus: Wild and local, heavy on seafood 

Influences: Native American, Russian, Frontier

Unique Show-stopper - King Crab, Wild Salmon and Lingonberries

Alaska food synopsis: Alaska was inhabited by native tribes who ate a rich variety of cured, fermented, dried and frozen foods - including wildly caught game and fish to berries and other plants. Later, the Russians who came here to trap pelts added to the mix with their own cuisine, but they were also very strongly influenced by local food. 

When Alaska was sold to the United States and gold was discovered, droves of “sourdoughs” flowed in search of fortune - the miners owed their nickname to the sourdough starter they carried with them. It was used for bread, flapjacks and other baked foods - and a lot of Alaskan families keep their heirloom starters to this day - it’s something that remains a strong influence over Alaskan cuisine. You can even get packets of sourdough starter at the airport as a souvenir! Roughing it, and outdoor cooking traditions are probably the strongest cultivated ones - especially when it comes to grilled salmon. Alaska doesn’t have outdoor cooking traditions that take hours and hours to make - it’s all light and easy on-the-go and open flame stuff. Including sourdough flapjacks done on a cast iron griddle! 

Open flame or a simple grill are the best tools to use if you want to cook outdoors “Alaskan style”. If you’re having guests over for a backyard lunch, there’s no better way to go than a grilled salmon or a local fish on a cedar plank. It’s quick, it’s delicious, and it’s simple. 

Try these in your outdoor kitchen - 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled King Crab Legs 

Smoker -Backyard-Hot-Smoked Alaskan Sockeye

Charcoal/Gas grill -Reindeer Dogs 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Sourdough Bread 


Focus: Beans, Squash, Corn

Influences: Native American, Mexican, Spanish and Pioneer

Unique Show-stopper - Native Cactus

The Food -You might have missed it, but Tucson has become UNESCO’s first Creative City of Gastronomy in 2015. This area is incredibly special - it’s not “just desert” by a long stretch. It has been cultivated for thousands of years, and the bounty of this land not only includes the well known “three sisters” (beans, squash and corn) but a harvest of unique cacti. Tucson restaurants today use cholla cactus buds on their menus, and when this tradition is mixed with Spanish and Pioneer cultures that brought in the beef and flour tortillas the result is spectacular, and it’s no wonder that UNESCO took notice. 

Outdoor cooking is a must in this heat, but be careful not to get too much sun! Yes, there are the chimichangas and slow cooked beans to be had, but when it comes to grilling, lighter things do better in this climate. Try thin skirt steak topped with amazing corn, nopales and prickly pear salsa for that Arizona taste in your own backyard! 

Arizona is one of those places where you have to look extra carefully for a truly native dish - of course the tacos and other “fast” food are traditional here, but if you want to see how people have thrived in the Sonoran desert for thousands of years, you still can.Hereis a list of places you can taste chiltepines, Saguaro fruit, Palo Verde, Sonoran Wolfberries and more! 

If you cook AND garden in your backyard, take a look atNative Seeds - a nonprofit that banks and distributes native Southwestern seeds - including a beautiful heirloom variety of the three sisters.

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

On the side -Prickly Pear Salsa

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Nopales

Charcoal/Gas grill - BBQ Quail 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Adobo Sirloin


Focus: Diversity

Influences: Southern

Unique Show-stopper - Purple Hull Peas

The Food - Arkansas is probably the most unique and diverse part of the BBQ Belt. It is considered to be a Southern state, but it straddles the border between the Midwest, Southwest and Northwest - it’s a bit of a melting pot. Or a stew pot, if you will.

There is no “one style” of outdoor cooking or BBQ that can truly define the Arkansas style, and this might leave some visitors wondering what they should focus on. Our advice is - try a little bit of everything and enjoy! The big classics are both beef and pork with a red sauce. 

Of course, there are some things you will probably never get at a roadside barbecue stop, but you will definitely get if you sit down at an Arkansas grandma’s table - purple hull peas. These are a classic summer dish, which means they have seen their share of BBQs and have been included as a side in many a family get-togethers. But how about making them the star of the show and welcoming vegetarians at the community table? How’s THAT for diversity? 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Griddle-Purple Hull Peas Vegetarian Patties

Griddle -Arkansas BBQ Burger 

On the side -Granny Smith Salsa


Focus: Fresh and Local 

Influences: Mexican, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean, Italian

Unique Show-stopper - Santa Maria Style BBQ

The Food - California is probably one of the most foodie states out there. For a long time, they were the breadbasket of the whole country - they still are. But Californians have turned a bit inward these days - from supplying the world with almonds, walnuts, olives, fruits, and grains to focusing on local food production and small farms. 

If there was a California outdoor cooking credo, it would be this - put lots of EVOO on it and stick it on the grill. This can mean local asparagus, artichoke hearts, locally farmed oysters, local trout, calamari, or abalone.

Historically, Santa Maria style BBQ is a style of BBQ that a lot of native Californians don’t know about. While they concentrate on Korean rib tacos (we’re not knocking them - it’s a MUST try) and vegan delights, there is something simmering on the hardwood fire that goes back to the Spanish and Mexican days - Santa Maria style BBQ. With a simple dry rub of garlic and black pepper, it has to be grilled on red oak or live oak. Check out the recipe below.

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

We know that with a state as diverse and populous as California, it’s hard to decide on the one main thing - it was hard to pick just a few recipes! 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus 

Charcoal/Gas grill -California Grilled Oysters

Charcoal/Gas grill -Santa Maria Style BBQ

Charcoal/Gas grill -Los Angeles Grilled Korean Short Rib Tacos 


Focus: Beef and Small Farms 

Influences: Mexico, Spanish, German, Russian

Unique Show-stopper - Colorado Bison, Olathe Sweet Corn

The Food: Colorado is famous for being the state with the highest mean elevation - it’s no wonder that some of us may not associate it with fresh produce. But Colorado may surprise you. It has a rich history of ranching and farming - and with a short summer season, they are serious about celebrating seasonal fruits and vegetables. Colorado is historically famous for sugar beets, apples, cherries, plums, pears, sweet corn and watermelon. Bison meat is also becoming quite a hit here, a fact touted by The Bison Council. You can get natural bison meathere for your outdoor kitchen adventures - this one is a real crowd pleaser, and it’s a meat that’s much healthier than beef. It also supports local farmers and ranchers! 

While you’re out there firing up the grill, throw some Olathe Sweet Corn on the flames, if you can get your hands on it. It’s a locally grown non-GMO corn, known for its sweet flavor and juicy yellow color. Check out the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival if you’re in the area! 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Palisade Peaches 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Colorado Lavender Lamb Chops

Smoker-Smoked Colorado Oysters

Charcoal/Gas grill -Chipotle Garlic Honey Grilled Bison Steak Tacos

Buffalo meat can be ordered online, and land on your BBQ in no time.


Focus: Seafood and Cozy Apple Pie

Influences: English

Unique Show-stopper - Grilled Fish Steaks 

The Food:Ah, New England - apple cider, clam chowder, lobster rolls - but what can you put on the grill? Did you know that Connecticut was famous for its “fat hogs” as early as the 1600s? Pigs were popular in the newly minted colony because they are cheap to upkeep and they made a perfect harvest dish. In the 1700s, they were even exported to England as a superior type of pork. But what about now? You can find roasted pork with apples all around New England - it’s part of the savory fall recipes, with sweet local produce and a Thanksgiving vibe. 

Of course, seafood is probably number one on the list - there are some things that you can’t go without if you’re doing a New England-style garden party. Grilled lobster is probably the tastiest wow-factor, and there are some new recipes that really bring out the best in this long exalted crustacean. While the old seafood recipes involve a lot of cream and butter to make the often light seafood dishes rich and voluptuous, modern recipes go for herbal sauces and light citrusy notes. 

Fun Note- Connecticut is the fabled birthplace of the hamburger (1895) - made at a restaurant that’s still open and ready to welcome you - Louis’ Lunch. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Dutch oven -Fall Harvest Cast Iron Apple Pie - a quick recipe for the fire pit or beach bonfire! 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Swordfish Steak 

Dutch oven -Bonfire Cast Iron New England Clam Chowder 


Focus: Catch of the Day and Turkey

Influences: German, Italian, English 

Unique Show-stopper - Blue Crab, Poultry, Shellfish

The Food:Delaware has some of the most stunning coastlines in the United States. But besides the quite obvious amazing seafood, Delaware is known for its chicken and turkey farms. They grow peaches, apples, and are famous for their harvest and Thanksgiving festivals. We like to say that they are in the “Thanksgiving Belt” of food states - where savory dishes of pumpkins, turnkey and apple pies reign supreme. 

Shellfish are very popular here, and a unique local find is the Blue Crab - easy to spot and fast-growing. Steamed crabs are very popular, but check out the fire-roasted Blue Crab recipe for your backyard barbecue or a portable beach charcoal grill. 

Don’t forget about giving a chance to grilled chicken and turkey! In Delaware, it’s a must. 

Try in Your Outdoor Kitchen

Charcoal/Gas grill -Fire-Roasted Blue Crab 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Perfect Delaware Firemens’ Chicken

Charcoal/Gas grill -Whole Grilled Turkey

District of Columbia

Focus: Comfort food and outside influences

Influences: International and Trans-American

Unique Show-stopper - Half-Smoke Sausage 

The Food:DC has been the epicenter of American politics for a long time - and with politicians, lawyers, petitioners and lobbyists arriving from all corners of the country and the world, it is bound to have developed some amazing traditions. We don’t usually think of DC as a culinary destination, but when you’re there, you can definitely pick up some inspiration for your next backyard get together. 

From amazing seafood and shellfish to greasy burgers - Washington D.C. has it all. There are some things that not even locals know about - and this is mambo (or mambo) sauce, an orange hybrid of different flavors. This is popular in the older, traditionally African-American parts of the city, and it’s a sauce that goes well with just about anything. 

Another D.C. “native” food is a half-smoke - a sausage made with hog casings, pork and beef. Don’t forget the hot pepper and a bit of smoker magic. If you own a backyard smoker or want to try to smoke a sausage in your charcoal grill, this is a great candidate for you. 

Let’s not forget about so-called “Barbecue Democracy” - yes, political barbecues andtête-à-têtes have been influencing our country’s politics for hundreds of years. Maybe these gatherings of people who were both policy and BBQ minded can teach us a bit about coming together? 

Try it in Your Outdoor Kitchen:

On the side -D.C. Mumbo Sauce 

Charcoal/Gas grill -D.C. Style Spicy Half Smokes 

Charcoal/Gas grill -White House “Let’s Move” Grilled Cauliflower

Charcoal/Gas grill -Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch BBQ Sauce 


Focus: Spices and Citrus 

Influences: Spanish, Cuban, Southern, African, Cajun, European, Vietnamese, South America, Caribbean

Unique Show-stopper - Grilled Gator

The Food:Florida is a huge mix of just about everything you can think of that is flavorful, citrusy, spicy and squirted with lime. Grilled alligator, the Cuban sandwich, arroz con pollo, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, conch fritters and ceviche - it’s all at home here. You could probably spend a year in Florida and still not have tasted everything. 

We’ll explain the basics - we love ceviche, although there’s no grilling necessary. It’s such an amazing, refreshing snack or appetizer on a hot day! The amazing mixtures of Cajun, Southern and Caribbean flavors are to die for. BBQ mixed with uniquely Floridian flavors like alligator can leave quite the impression. Thanks to modern shipping methods, you can order a whole gator (or just a tail!) frozen and delivered to you no matter where you live. 

There’s also the incredible seafood - Florida is surrounded by water, and there is an abundance of fresh local fish at any restaurant you visit. If you can get your hands on a fresh fish and some limes, your meal is made - Florida style. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

On the side -Sweet Lime Iced Tea 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Whole Grilled Gator 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Key Lime Grilled Grouper 

On the side -Spicy Florida Grapefruit BBQ Sauce

On the side -Ceviche - Multistyle 


Courtesy of


Focus: Southern Comfort  

Influences: African, Scottish, French, Moravian, German

Unique Show-stopper - Shrimp and Grits 

The Food:Although the legislators of Georgia still hold a traditional annual Wild Hog dinner, the rest of the state isn’t famous for Southern comfort food like fried chicken, grits, or sweet potatoes anymore. Georgia has become a sponge for other cultures, and metropolitan areas like Atlanta are imbued with flavors of Mexican food, Vietnamese cuisine and craft brews. 

Of course, if you want to recreate classic Peach State BBQ at home you can - without spending hours at the deep fryer or trying to recreate Georgia BBQ. Yes - Georgia has its own BBQ traditions too, although it’s not officially part of the BBQ Belt. Georgia places a lot of emphasis on the sides like coleslaw, collard greens and beans. Skip the fried chicken and make some new Georgia traditions on the grill. 

Of course, let’s not forget that Georgia borders the Atlantic Ocean, and there are lots of shrimp to be had here - a grill favorite! 

Try it in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Grits 

On the side -Peach Salsa

Charcoal/Gas grill -Georgia Gold BBQ Chicken

Charcoal/Gas grill -Savannah Peel and Eat Shrimp 


Focus: Earth ovens, fresh and local

Influences: Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino

Unique Show-stopper - Lau Lau

The Food:Hawaiian cuisine can be divided into a few time periods: before contact and after contact. By that, we mean contact with Europeans and the peoples of East and Southeast Asia. Polynesians probably brought their own edible plants to the Hawaiian Islands as they migrated. Botanists say this was about 30 different plants, like taro, sweet potatoes, bananas, coconuts, sugarcane and breadfruit. 

The staple Hawaiian dish remains Poi - pounded taro, cooking banana or breadfruit, with a consistency of a starchy pudding. After Hawaii continued being settled by outside peoples, their dishes continued to blend with local native traditions. Today, Hawaii is a melting pot of styles and foodie trends. But a few things remain the same. 

If you own a backyard kitchen, you can try a classic Korean influenced bulgogi beef or a sweet grilled pineapple which is a fruit that symbolizes hospitality in Hawaii. What better way to welcome guests? 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Hawaiian Bulgogi Beef 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Brown Sugar Grilled Pineapple 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Hawaiian Fish With Papaya Relish 

There is probably no better fruit on the grill than a pineapple.


Focus: Wild harvest, lamb and fish

Influences: Native American, British, German, Mexican, Basque

Unique Show-stopper - Basque Lamb

The Food:We know that those of you who haven’t been to Idaho have trouble imagining what their food is like - and all you might be able to think about are potatoes. You probably haven’t heard of their amazing morel mushrooms or specialty trout dishes. It’s a shame, but nothing that can’t be fixed. We’re here with a short guide to Idaho and everything that can inspire your backyard grilling. 

Idaho has quite a foraging hobby - morel mushroom foraging that is. According to Boise National Forest, people may pick up to five gallons of morel mushrooms per person. Talk about bounty! Idaho is well known to attract foragers and mushroom pickers from across the country. 

Boise is a center of Basque culture - there was a large wave of Basque immigration in the 1800s, and they have a great sheep herding heritage in the state. They have kept their culture alive and vibrant. If you’re in the area in October, you have to visit the Trailing of the Sheep Festival - in Ketchum. This is when the sheep return from their pastures in the winter. It’s hard to believe that this amazing rural old-world sight can still be seen in modern America. 

Last, let’s not forget about the Idaho trout - in fact, Idaho has 38 native species of fish, including three of trout. Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout and Brown Trout are all farmed here and deserve a place of honor on your grill - if you’re thinking of a healthy and impressive lunch. 

And yes - Idaho potatoes do make an amazing side dish. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Charcoal/Gas grill -Butter Grilled Morel Mushrooms 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Basque Barbecue Leg of Lamb 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Crispy Idaho Potato Kebabs 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Lemon and Herb Grilled Whole Trout 


Focus: Home comfort 

Influences: Polish, Italian, Ukrainian, Russian, Southern, 

Unique Show-stopper - Polish Sausage, Smoked Rib Tips 

The Food:Illinois has a lot of unique food traditions - from world-famous deep dish pizza, to Chicago hot dogs, and savory pierogi. Don’t forget about ranch dressing, which is so popular in these parts. Illinois is kind of like America’s mom’s house. It’s comfort food all the way - Chicago doesn’t care about the carbs and the processed meat. It’s all okay. 

Sausage, franks and pork are a staple here - Chicago hot dogs are famous, but so is Polish sausage - this versatile and delicious sausage uses hog casing and has a unique garlicky taste. It’s perfect for roasting over an open bonfire or any type of grill. 

And wait! Chicago does have its own BBQ style - although it is very far from the BBQ belt, in fact, it’s a mix of Southern flavors with an Eastern European punch. There’s nothing else like it anywhere else. There’s the rip tip combination with sausage, sauce and white bread. Smoking is the preferred style here, and you can easily spot “aquarium smokers” with their tall smokestacks wherever “real BBQ” is served. Chicagoans like their tangy tomato based vinegar sauce. Chicago’s history lies in multiple, large meat-packing plants, and their cuisine still reflects that. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Deep Dish Pizza on the Grill

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Chicago Hot Dogs 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Polish Sausage and Cabbage Bonfire Foil Pack

Charcoal/Gas grill -Chicago Style Smoked Rib Tips 


Focus: Farming, Comfort Food, State Fair Food

Influences: Native American, German, Irish

Unique Show-stopper - Sweet Corn on the Cob  

The Food:When Indiana was inhabited by Native Americans, the staples were melons, squash, beans, corn and pumpkins as well as wild game, fish and wild nuts and berries. Many of these things are staples to this day. In fact, Indiana has a thick, meaty chili that is hard to find in other places. 

Indiana is also somewhat of a corn paradise - they produce over 1 billion bushels of corn a year. And not just the industrial kind - try amazing sweet corn that will be a staple of any backyard party. 

Home comfort food is a staple here too - sugar cream pie is like a warm comforter that you want to sink into. Biscuits and gravy, country fried steak and sweet corn and hash: you’re home when you’re in Indiana. How to bring that to your outdoor kitchen? We hope you have your cast iron skillet and Dutch oven at the ready. 

Indiana also does BBQ quite well - pulled pork and other Kentucky-inspired recipes are especially popular in Southern Indiana. 

The Indiana State Fair is a big deal in Indiana - as in any other farming community. It’s a chance for farmers, neighbors and out of towners to get together and share their crafts and produce in a fun atmosphere. This can’t be done without classic Indiana State Fair food, like the classic roasted corn or corn dogs! 

Try it in your outdoor kitchen:

Charcoal/Gas grill -Indiana State Fair Roasted Corn 

Dutch oven-Dutch Oven Hoosier Chili

On the side -Southern Indiana Apple BBQ Sauce 

Deep fry -Indiana State Fair Corn Dog (For those who like to take their deep fryer outside!)

There's nothing better than grilled sweet corn!

Courtesy of


Focus: Pork

Influences: Native American, German, Swedish, Dutch, Polish 

Unique Show-stopper - Pulled Pork and Pork Ribs 

The Food: If you’re planning a back-yard outdoor kitchen potluck, then turn your head to Iowa. If a potluck, your favorite hangover cure and a case of midnight munchies were fused into one, you’d have traditional Iowan food. Here we have the land of taco pizza, puppy chow, scotcharoos, Maid Rites and breakfast pizza. Not to mention chili eaten with cinnamon rolls. 

But wait. Iowa is also the nation’s number one pork producer. It’s also the home of Flory’s Truckle and Prairie Breeze, purely local types of cheddar cheese. 

With this much pork, there’s bound to be some great BBQ. There are plenty of BBQ joints in Des Moines, and Moo’s BBQ recently took the number one place in the state for their ribs. They are also famous for their pulled pork. How can we harness this pork power and bring it into our own backyard? 

It’s time to get back to porky basics - if you can find a great cut of pork and you have some time on your hands, it’s time to smoke it and make it on a charcoal grill. It’s how pork should be done. Sorry vegetarians - you can skip Iowa and move on down to Kansas for a bite! 

Remember, all Dutch oven recipes can be done in a bonfire or a grill. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Pulled Pork on a Charcoal Grill

Charcoal/Gas grill -BBQ Ribs on a Charcoal Grill

Charcoal/Gas grill -Backyard Grilled Cheese With Cheddar

Dutch oven -Dutch Oven Corn Chowder With Bacon


Focus: Farmhouse Goodness

Influences: Native American, German, Mennonite, Russian, Sweden

Unique Show-stopper - Smoked Pork Rib Tips 

The Food:Pemican, beef and buffalo jerky used to be the staple of the Plains Indians - it since has become the favorite of the whole nation. Kansas has a rich culinary heritage that comes from the native peoples as well as the people that came to live, work, and cook here, bringing their traditions with them. Cowboys and chuckwagons, Dutch ovens and campfire roasts are also a big part ofKansas culinary history

Kansas came to be known as the wheat and cattle state - bread and meat. It has some of the best chili, fried chicken and ribs out there. The traditional food is made for farmers and ranchers - a heavy meal for a hard working man. 

Now Kansas City might be in Missouri, but it actually straddles the two states, and represents a large part of Kansas cuisine as well. Kansas City BBQ is popular here, and it can include pork, chicken or beef. Or fish. Or lamb. Kansas City BBQ uses everything it can. 

We are going to cause controversy and state that although Kansas City is the famous BBQ star, Wichita pit masters were getting higher marks by USA Today as early as 2019. 

What to try in your outdoor kitchen:

Charcoal/Gas grill -Farmhouse Grilled Filled Apples

Smoker - Smoked Pork Rib Tips 

On the side - Kansas Cucumber Salad 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Kansas City-Style BBQ Pulled Jackfruit 


Focus: Southern

Influences: African American, German, Irish, Scottish

Unique Show-stopper - Kentucky Barbecue, Catfish

The Food:You know a state has amazing food when it has its own Wikipedia page. But in all seriousness (because Kentuckians take their food extremely seriously), if you find yourself in Kentucky, you have some culinary tourism to take care of. There are classic Southern dishes like grits, cornbread and fried okra. 

But let us get down to business - Kentucky regional BBQ. Kentucky is the only state that uses mutton in particular. Mutton tastes and feels different than any other meat, and this is why there are some unique flavors and feelings that only eating original Kentucky BBQ will give you. Yes, feelings. BBQ can be an emotional business. 

Kentucky is also the home of Bourbon Whiskey, and its historic staples include persimmons, wild turkey and sweet potatoes. Catfish is also a staple, because it’s fatty, tasty and relatively easy to catch. There are three species of catfish in Kentucky. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

On the side -Kentucky Bourbon Glaze (For chicken or grilled fish)

Charcoal/Gas grill -Owensboro Mutton Barbecue 

Dutch oven -Dutch Oven Campfire Burgoo 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Pineapple Bourbon Grilled Catfish

Kentucky Bourbon can be used in many smoky and grilled meat sauces.


Focus: Low and Slow With Cajun Seasoning 

Influences: French, Creole, Southern, Cajun, African American, Caribbean, German, Spanish

Unique Show-stopper - Cajun Seasoning

The Food:Aaah Louisiana - one of the major food centers of the world. We’re not kidding. With so many influences, Louisiana is both relatively isolated, but also the outcome of hundreds of years of the influx of different cultures, traditions and foods. The state dish is gumbo, but truth be told, there is no “right way” of serving it. They say that if you watch a Louisianian make gumbo, you can tell which part of the state they're from and what culture has had an impact on them. 

What is Creole? Creole people are the descendants of the French, African, Native American and Spanish people who were in Louisiana before the purchase of the state from the French. Creole people aren’t only limited to the US - they are in the West Indies as well. 

What is Cajun? “Cajun” is an Anglo name for Acadian people - French speaking settlers from L’Acadie. Most are of French descent. They were recognized as a separate ethnic group with their own dialect of French in 1980. Cajun is also a more of a socioeconomic classification - Creole people of poor standing were also called Cajuns, and so were people of Latin American Origin, and German or Irish origin. Cajuns are a complicated bunch. 

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the food - especially outdoor cooking in Louisiana. The Germans became a part of Cajun culture, and they brought boudin - a sausage stuffed with rice, pork and various vegetables in a pork casing. The sausage is cooked, so if you want to grill it, you can do it in a flash. 

Of course, Cajuns are known to use any meat they can hunt - and they do it exceptionally well. So maybe it’s time to leave that chicken alone and see if you can get your hands on wild game birds, a rabbit or venison. 

Shrimp is also a Louisiana staple - Louisiana Shrimp Creole, Shrimp Etouffee, Shrimp and Grits, Shrimp and Okra Gumbo, Shrimp Chowder… you get our point. 

Try it in your outdoor kitchen:

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Boudin

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Skewers

On the side -Cajun Seasoning From Scratch (For all your outdoor cooking adventures!)

Dutch oven / firepit -Campfire Dutch Oven Gumbo to Feed a Crowd 

Firepit / dutch oven -Open Fire Jambalaya

Charcoal/Gas grill -Cajun Summer Roasted Veggies 

 There are many traditional Cajun recipes you can't find in a fancy restaurant.


Focus: Fresh and Local

Influences: Native American, Puritan, English, Italian

Unique Show-stopper - Bean-Hole Beans

The Food:Back on the East Coast, let’s talk more about getting your bounty from the sea and the woods. The Puritans had a simple diet - but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t refined and delicious. They concentrated on farm-fresh ingredients that they respected - much like we’re trying to today. 

There are a lot of Native American influences that still live in the hearts of local people - like bean hole beans. Why the hole? Because the native peoples used to cook beans overnight in clay pots that were buried in pits and covered with deerskin. If you look at other cultures and traditions of baking a whole pig in a subterranean oven - this is a very similar practice, except with beans. It was taken over by loggers in the area, as it was very hearty. 

What does Maine have to do with Louisiana? More than you think. Acadians lost their culinary traditions when they fled Canada and settled in Louisiana - mostly because of the unavailability of familiar ingredients and a completely different climate. But what Cajun forefathers knew as traditional food survived in the forests of Maine, as some Acadians fled here. This is where Ployes come from - traditional buckwheat pancakes that are sold everywhere in the state. Don’t worry about the Cajuns by the way - they did just fine without their traditional Acadian foods. 

In the end, we have to mention lobster and chowder - because we just have to. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Fire pit -Bean-Hole Beans -for those with a serious fire pit 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Fiddlehead Ferns

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Maine Lobster 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Blueberry Cream Cheese Sandwich 



Focus: Seafood

Influences: Colonial, Northern and Southern

Unique Show-stopper - Crabs 

The Food:Whether it’s steamed crab, cream of crab soup, grilled crab, or deep fried soft shell crab, Maryland has got you covered. Its stunning coastline is beautiful and brings in a bounty of fresh and diverse seafood. 

Oysters are also the stuff of legends here, and it’s worth exploring many kinds of different ways to grill them, stew them and fry them. 

Maryland also has many other traditions that include the ultimate holiday favorite - Maryland Stuffed Ham is something that other states can be jealous of. Speaking of the holidays - Maryland is at the forefront of what we call the “Thanksgiving Belt”.

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Crab Stuffed Peppers

Charcoal/Gas grill -Charcoal Grilled Maryland Crabs (If you have them fresh!)  

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Rockfish

On the side -Sweet and Spicy Oyster Garnish


Focus: Colonial, Seafood

Influences: Puritan, English, Northern and Southern, Native American

Unique Show-stopper - Boston Baked Beans 

The Food:Massachusetts is a historical treasure - it’s also a culinary treasure. Mixing native staples like corn, fish, clams, squash, cranberries and wild game with pigs, tea, rum, citrus and spices made the cuisine what it is today - and new hot trends like Mexican and Asian food just add more flare to this style of cooking - especially when it comes to enjoying yourself outside. 

Massachusetts isn’t only about big sit-down meals of mashed potatoes and turkey with cranberry sauce, at least not anymore. It’s about grilling on a warm summer day and using the amazing local bounty of both wild and farmed produce. 

If anything, Massachusetts cooking reflects the balance between the cultivated and the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that is so much closer to nature than in most places in the urban US. 

Cranberries, pork, catch of the day and wild game - this is all something you can bring to an outdoor party! 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

On the side -Cranberry BBQ Sauce 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Charcoal Grilled Boston Butt (Pork Shoulder)

Charcoal/Gas grill -BBQ Boston Chefs Oysters

Charcoal/Gas grill -Cape Cod bluefish from the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance 


Grilled oysters are just one type of shellfish you can put on the gas or charcoal grill.


Focus: Fresh Produce 

Influences: Polish, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, African, Middle Eastern, English, Irish, Swedish, German, French

Unique Show-stopper - Local Produce  

The Food:Michigan is a complex melting pot of many cultures and influences - from the working class automotive industry to farm workers and growers, people came here from all over the world for factory, farming and construction jobs. It’s impossible to sum up the influences they all had, but we can say what’s popular in Detroit now, and what you can take outside with you. 

Although we think of Detroit as a purely industrial city even today, Michigan is a mostly rural and wild state. There are many family-owned farms that sell fresh produce, livestock and poultry to conscious consumers and chefs. Many chefs in Detroit source locally. Most of the best restaurants pay homage to the many cultures in the area and don’t just serve one style of food but a diverse mix of local tastes and flavors. 

But there is a lot to be said for local urban farms too. Farms like Keep Growing Detroit offer a wide variety of community grown vegetables to both private citizens and restaurants - they grow heirloom tomatoes, poblano peppers, pimentos, jalapenos, heirloom beets, kale, carrots, pumpkins - you get the point. If you’re in the area or a local, check out their community-orientedgardening classes and veggie boxes, because this is a Detroit community project. To celebrate Detroit, here are some veg grilling options straight from the farm.

We know, we know - Detroit is famous for pierogi and golabki. But let’s keep those slow comfort foods to the indoor kitchen, in the winter and get outside grilling fresh produce when the weather allows. Grilling vegetables doesn’t have to be dry and burned - we’ll throw in some amazing sauces for good measure. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Poblano Peppers Stuffed With Black Beans and Cheese 

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad

Charcoal/Gas grill -Roasted Heirloom Carrots With Cashew Ricotta and Carrot Top Puree

Charcoal/Gas grill -Grilled Whole Eggplant With Harissa Vinaigrette

On the side -10 Sauces for Grilled Vegetables



Focus: Comfort, Local 

Influences: Norwegian, Native American, International

Unique Show-stopper: 

The Food:Minnesota doesn’t have a historic BBQ scene - but it does have a fledgeling one. New-school BBQ is becoming a thing in Minnesota, and it’s getting the attention of foodies and culinary experts. They are mostly drawing from Southern traditions, but also sourcing locally: Minnesota has some great livestock to offer. The flavors here are smoky, strong and Minnesotans tend to throw anything on the grill - the seasons are short and it’s best to enjoy the sunshine while you can. No Minnesotan has gone without trying the comforting Juicy Lucy.

Throughout history, the Minnesotan Native Americans have been through a lot. But for all the efforts to drive them out, they are standing proud and reminding people that Native culture and food is here to stay, as it has for thousands of years. There are two tribes in Minnesota: Anishinaabe (Chippewa/Ojibwe) and the Dakota (Sioux). St. Paul Chef Brian Yazzie is an outspoken advocate for Native American recipes and ingredients. Another leader in the Native American food revolution is Sean Sherman - the founder, chef and CEO of the Sioux Chef - a revolutionary catering and education business in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. 

Cornmeal, wild rice, squash, beans, foraged herbs, sumac - these are still available in local communities - it takes a lot of knowledge to know how to use them. If you’re in the area, Native American restaurants are a must-try. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Gas/charcoal grill -Juicy Lucy (for those big backyard get togethers) 

Gas/charcoal grill -Chef Brian Yazzie’s Roasted Acorn Squash (From Intertribal Foodways) 

Dutch oven -Three Sisters Bowl With Maple Roasted Turkey(Ideal for Dutch Oven) 

Smoker/charcoal grill -Sioux Chef’s Maple-Brined Smoked Turkey (for the smoker or charcoal grill!) 


Focus: Southern Comfort, BBQ, and Shrimp

Influences: French, Spanish, Southern, African American

Unique Show-stopper - Gulf Shrimp, Catfish

The Food:Mississippi is about as Deep South as you can get. It’s a state that’s full of contrasting cultures and foods. Whether it’s venison (Mississippi has a large hunting population) to crawdads, fresh Gulf shrimp or fried catfish, it’s all comfort food here. Mississippi is often called the Catfish Capital of the World. A lot of people associate it with images of Magnolias in full bloom and old palatial plantation houses sleeping in dappled shade. 

Mississippi is also one of the nation’s poorest states, with some of the biggest food insecurity in the nation. But having said that, it’s some of the poorest folks that have to make do with what they’ve got that leave their imprint on food cultures around the world. Some of the best food is poor man’s food. The sentiment that is now appreciated and popularized more and more is nose to tail eating, where nothing goes to waste and everything is used. 

Now, back to the BBQ. Perhaps because Mississippi remains largely rural, the best BBQ here is done by family businesses and they are true community centers. They bring families and neighbors together - and this is something that’s becoming harder and harder to find in modern BBQ establishments anywhere else. Mississippi is a place for slow and low pork. Goat BBQ can be found in Lafayette, Tate, and Panola Counties. It’s a tradition that only a few outsiders know about, but it’s worth trying on your own BBQ for the unique sweet and savory taste, not to mention the “wow” effect. 

Don’t forget about Gulf Shrimp - boiling them is a traditional way, but because they’re so delicate and easy to cook, you can smoke them right on your grill. 

Don’t forget to try out condiments - the famous Mississippi comeback sauce, and pickled magnolia flowers that pack a perfect contrast to any BBQ (not a traditional dish, but they definitely have the ingredients for it!). Get your grill and smoker ready for these.

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Gas/charcoal grill -Cajun Blackened Catfish 

On the side -Pickled Magnolia Flowers (Yes, they’re edible!) 

On the side -Comeback Sauce 

Gas/charcoal grill -Grilled Goat 

Smoker -Smoked BBQ Shrimp 


Shrimp are probably one of the fastest and most versatile seafoods for outdoor cooking.



Focus: BBQ, Agriculture 

Influences: German, Spanish, Southern, Italian, Southern, Southwestern

Unique Show-stopper - Kansas City-style BBQ , St. Louis-style BBQ 

The Food:On the BBQ map of the United States, Missouri holds its own - after all, the famous Kansas City-style BBQ is not from Kansas at all but from Kansas City, Missouri. There is also the St. Louis BBQ scene, which is elbowing its way in. Let’s have a short (very short) explanation to explain the differences between the two and try to keep it as simple as possible. Some say that the main difference lies in the cut of meat, because St.Louis ribs are trimmed in a very specific manner. Here are the differences between St. Louis and Kansas City BBQ: 

St. Louis BBQ 

The sauce: Heavy sauce, sweet, tomato based and sticky.

The meat: Pork. Rectangular-shaped rack of ribs with the rib tips and sternum bone removed also called the “St. Louis Style cut. 

Kansas City BBQ

The sauce: Sweet and spicy tomato based sauce.

The meat: Pork, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, sausage, fish - the slower the better, slow-smoked is best. Don’t forget the burnt tips! 

Historically, Missouri has French, African American, Native American, Midwestern, and Southern influences. It has served as a staging area for a lot of expeditions and fur traders back in the day - it really is a gateway to the West. It also has the nation’s seventh-largest Amish population, and we have used this opportunity to include a BBQ recipe from them as well. 

Let’s forget about BBQ for a second and focus on farming. Agriculture has been a big part of Missourian life, and there is a strong local food and local farms movement here. Organizations like The Missouri Organic Association, Urban Harvest STL and Cultivate Kansas City are just a few examples of the many organizations that want to promote not only urban agriculture and access to healthy vegetables, but to educate people about farms, and promote less food waste.This is what farms like Earth Dance grow seasonally. 

We got inspired to try some of the buttery, seasonal summer squashes and zucchinis on the grill, with a perfect mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar - and we hope you’ll try them too!

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/gas grill -Grilled Summer Zucchini 

Charcoal/gas grill -St. Louis Style Ribs 

Charcoal/gas grill -Kansas City Style Ribs 

Charcoal/gas grill -Brined Chicken Grilled With BBQ Sauce - From the Mennonite Girls

Ribs are best done low and slow.


Focus: Wild Food

Influences: Native American, Frontier

Unique Show-stopper - Grilled Bison

The Food:Montana’s name comes from the mountains - it is a wild country to say the least. No white person has crossed this wild state until the Lewis and Clark expedition. Although sheep and cattle ranches soon took over much of this land, Montana is famous for its great outdoors - it’s home to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park. Montana recognizes 12 Native American tribes, each with their own culture, language and identity, they make up over 6% of the state’s total population. 

Let’s concentrate on what the land gives us in Montana - it’s worth it to see what you can find outside of the ranches and big farms. To celebrate the Native American culture in this State, and their history of resistance and struggle to protect their lands, let’s take a look at American Indian Foods (AIF) - a program that began in partnership with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Through this organization, Native American tribes can collaborate on showcasing traditional wild foods and getting them to the market. They are based in Billings, Montana, and support a network of Native American producers from around the country. 

There are also plenty of family run wild game processors that you can call and get the freshest cut of meat as well as wild game sausage, jerky and sausages. They are usually family-run businesses, so you have to talk to a real person to see about their shipping options. But we promise it’s worth it. 

Montana is still very much connected to the frontier past, with a lot of Dutch oven, foraged berries, and sourdough recipes in their repertoire - too many to list. Take a look at the grillable options but also the amazing sides of wild foraged greens that you can add to any outdoor grill party. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Gas/Charcoal grill -Elk Burger

Dutch oven -Montana Homesteader Dutch Oven Monkey Bread

On the side -Huckleberry BBQ Sauce 

On the side-Foraged Greens Salad

Charcoal/gas grill - Grilled Bison Montana Seasoned Steak 


Focus: Corn and Beef

Influences: Sicilian, Southern, Central European

Unique Show-stopper - The Reuben Sandwich 

The Food:Does an Omaha Steak ring a bell? Food processing, agriculture and ranching are huge industries here. Nebraska’s nickname is the Cornhusker State, and it’s one more state on our list where corn is king. 

The Reuben Sandwich originates in Omaha, although it’s not very outdoor cooking friendly, there are people who have taken it outside and made it even more delicious with BBQ brisket - see recipe below. It’s perfect for those quick outside lunches when you want to eat something quick, don’t want to stand in front of the grill all day but don’t want to go inside either. 

In Nebraska, let’s stick mostly to beef. Cows outnumber Nebraskans 4 to 1. This is one of the best places to come for grilled beef - steaks of all types and sizes. Let’s get deep into corn country by trying grilled corn every possible way - be it grilled with bacon, cheese, Cheeto crumbs corn or grilled corn with herbs. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Gas/Charcoal grill-Grilled T-Bone With BBQ Rub 

On the Side-Nebraska’s Best Steak Marinade 

BBQ Brisket Reuben Sandwiches

14 Ideas for Grilled Corn 


Focus: International and Modern, Cowboy and Frontier

Influences: Frontier, Basque, Cowboy, International

Unique Show-stopper - Dutch Oven Cooking 

The Food:While Nevada is famous for extravagant casino buffets, the real face of this state is so full of diversity and uniqueness that it’s hard to pinpoint a specific style. This is the state that is a magnet for the luck seekers - and we don’t mean gamblers. Nevada offers a lot of opportunities in it’s quickly expanding metro areas, and it has become a melting pot of just about all the different kinds of people you can imagine. Nevada is also home to the Great American Foodie Fest, with some of the most amazing food trucks showing up. Let’s explore the crazy, unexpected and creative when it comes to cooking outdoors and outdoor entertaining. 

You will hear just about every language on earth spoken here, and it’s hard to find a Nevadan who is FROM Nevada. No wonder the food here is like an international mix of everything you can possibly think of. Don’t forget that this is a historic frontier state too - Northern Nevada is home to cowboy culture, with events like the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and more - this is bound to produce some amazing outdoor cooking. 

For some amazing outdoor cuisine from Nevada, bring your Dutch oven outside and light some flames. We also have something from the creme de la creme of Vegas restaurants, that involves some grilling - if you’re looking to bring the white tablecloth outside and amaze your guests with complicated and advanced Las Vegas-style fine dining. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Dutch oven -5 Can Chili for the Dutch Oven 

Gas/Charcoal grill -Las Vegas Galbi - Korean-Style Beef Ribs

Dutch oven -Funeral Potatoes (From the Northern Sierra Dutch Oven Group) 

Gas/Charcoal grill -Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Citrus Grilled Escolar (from star chef Vincent Pouessel) 


Courtesy of,Reno Gazette Journal

New Hampshire

Focus: Seafood, Wild Game

Influences: Puritan, English, International, Maritime

Unique Show-stopper - Lake Bass

The Food: New Hampshire is said to be one of the most independent states in America. After all, this is where the Puritans fled in search of religious freedom and this is one of the states to fight for independence. New Hampshire is known for seafood, although its coastline is relatively small - most of the state is tucked back inland. 

Nevertheless, lobster is one of the most amazing staples here, if you’re looking for something “New England-style” - oysters are also rich and creamy in these parts. Because of the rich wilderness and hunting areas like the North Woods, wild game is also something this state can be proud of. If you’re in the area, try some venison or moose at the Rainbow Grille & Tavern, just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border. Lake bass and anything with maple syrup and apple cider is also the perfect summer grilling inspiration for a light grilled lunch in the great outdoors. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Gas or charcoal grill -Grilled Bass With Garlic Butter

Fire pit, gas or charcoal grill -Apples by the Fire 

Gas or charcoal grill-Grilled Salmon With Maple Syrup and Soy Sauce

Charcoal grill or fire pit -Coal Roasted Pumpkin Indian Pudding

New Jersey

Focus: Diverse

Influences: International

Unique Show-stopper - Taylor Pork Roll 

The Food:Did you know that New Jersey has the most diners out of any state in the nation? It’s also home to America’s household-name brands like Campbell’s Goya, M&M’s, Manischewitz and more. When it comes to outdoor cooking, they can hold their own too - the winter weather gets a little out of hand in these parts, so you can’t just have an ordinary grill party in order to celebrate the warm summer months. You have to do it in style. 

New Jersey is influenced by hundreds of nationalities - as well as the two diverse metropolitan areas that are close by: Philadelphia and New York. Anyone who lives here is within one hour of the beach, the mountains, farms, and a major metropolitan area. You get used to having it all. There are a lot of BBQ joints around Jersey Shore, and plenty of places to enjoy the weather and dine outside - but what’s on the grill in a New Jersey backyard get together? 

It’s worth trying the Taylor Pork Roll that got started in Trenton - they make for an amazing breakfast sandwich, and if you're out camping or just having a slow and deliciously lazy weekend morning, it’s a good idea of getting outside and making a grilled one for yourself  and for your family. Or maybe even some guests who stayed over from last night’s party! 

This is something that celebrates this state’s processed food industry and lets us have a delicious and slightly guilty breakfast treat. 

Don’t forget that New Jersey is also a farmland state, producing a lot of seasonal vegetables like sweet potatoes, broccoli and bell peppers! 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Gas/charcoal grill -Taylor Pork Roll Breakfast Sandwich 

Gas/charcoal grill -Jersey Fresh Labor Day BBQ Special

Gas/charcoal grill-Grilled Jersey Swordfish 

Gas/charcoal grill- Grilled Clams Napoli

Beach BBQ atmosphere can be replicated in your backyard.

New Mexico

Focus: Southwestern 

Influences: Mexican, Pioneer, Spanish, Native American

Unique Show-stopper - Chile

The Food:Although New Mexican food stars are mostly slow-cooked, fried, or baked comfort meals like enchiladas, tamales, chiles rellenos, or slow-cooking mole, there are plenty of things to take outdoors as well. New Mexicans pride themselves on having the best chiles in the country, and we think they may be onto something. 

Something that is very unique to this state is the beehive oven or the horno. This is a round oven made out of adobe, and it has been brought here by the Spanish and adapted by Native Americans - you can find traditional hornos in some backyards to this day. If you have a bread oven or a pizza oven outside, then you have your own version of a horno. 

Has your pizza oven been standing out there unused because you just don’t feel like making more pizza? Stand back - thanks to New Mexico, we are going to give you some amazing recipes for your outdoor pizza oven that do not involve pizza at all. Let’s look at some traditional cooking methods used in NM, and you can go on a savory and spicy outdoor oven adventure. These are some ancient cooking methods that not many people know how to use - they can become your new favorites and backyard feast show-stoppers. 

If you are in New Mexico, make sure you go to the historic Old Town in Albuquerque and check out the Green Chile bread sold by the Native American vendors in the farmer’s market - and take a look at the restaurants offering locally sourced Pueblo cuisine. You won’t be disappointed. 

In fact, if you happen to see any Pueblo bread for sale in NM, you should try it. There are a lot of ways of making this traditional bread, and the state’s small rural communities sell their local bread to tourists and neighbors alike. 

Your pizza oven can be used as a horno and used to cook not only delicious bread but other recipes - you just have to use the right clay pots, cast iron pans, use some creative methods to make the food and heat from your wood-fired oven meet. If you have trouble adjusting your wood-fired oven temperature, take a look atthis guide before roasting, cooking, or baking. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Bread/Pizza oven -Pueblo Oven Bread 

Bread/Pizza oven - Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers 

Bread/Pizza oven -Roasted Chile Relleno

Bread/Pizza oven -Wood Fired Elotes 


These traditional horno ovens can still be seen in some backyards.

Credit to Andi Murphy

New York

Focus: Weekend Getaway Grills 

Influences: International, Dutch, European, Native American

Unique Show-stopper - Traditional Shore Dinner

The Food:Ah, New York. The New York state is much eclipsed by New York the city. And when it comes to food, it’s no wonder - there are a few other places that can compete with the richness and diversity of NYC. But since we want to get you outside grilling, barbecuing and sitting around the fire pit, let’s get out of city limits and see what there is to see in the rest of New York state. We’ll leave the bagels, pastrami and cheesecake for some other occasion! 

Let’s go where New Yorkers have been grilling fish, roasting apples and enjoying the outdoors for centuries. Places like the wild shores of the St. Lawrence River, popular for fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts. This is where the traditional shore dinner would happen, after long fishing trips amongst the Thousand Islands. Yes - the islands of the salad dressing fame. We know that most of you thought they were but a legend, but they are right here, nestled between New York and Canada. A shore dinner would incorporate anything that was the “catch of the day”, some French toast and salad (with aforementioned dressing) with strong fishing guide’s coffee to finish off with. 

Let’s not forget about the incredible farms of New York. A lot of the best restaurants in NYC source locally and offer seasonal vegetables and local cuts of meat. But what did New Yorkers google most this year when it comes to grilling? Grilled clams! Did you know that you can grill them directly on the grate? Perfect for those family and friends afternoons out on the beach! 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Gas/Charcoal grill, fire pit -Traditional Shore Dinner

On the side - (The Original!!) Thousand Island Sauce 

On the side -Cranberry and Apple Coleslaw

Gas/Charcoal grill -NYT Grilled Clams 

Gas/Charcoal grill -Upstate Cornell BBQ Chicken 

Gas/Charcoal grill -Grilled Buffalo Wings 


North and South Carolina

Focus: BBQ 

Influences: Southern, African American 

Unique Show-stopper - Whole Hog BBQ 

The Food:Let’s just get down to business - attempting Carolina style BBQ in your own back yard isn’t for the faint of heart because here, the traditional BBQ means whole hog, for up to a whole 24 hours! 

But don’t worry - North Carolina Style means the unique flavors of a long and slow cooked piece of pork, preferably pork shoulder, or pork butt, coated with a sweet and spicy rub, and topped with a classic vinegar and tomato BBQ sauce. 

This might sound straightforward but it’s not. Everyone has their own rub recipe and everyone uses a different BBQ recipe, although the general ingredients are almost the same. There ARE differences across the state when it comes to BBQ sauce - Eastern-style North Carolina has a less thick, sweet and spicy vinegar based sauce that carries characteristic tang, while Lexington-style BBQ sauce is ketchup-based. Of course, this is on top of the cider vinegar - it creates a slightly different flavor. 

Whatever type of NC BBQ you’re making in your backyard, take care to include the classic side dishes like red slaw (with ketchup, just like the BBQ sauce!), hushpuppies, white sandwich bread, or cornsticks, collard greens and mac and cheese. 

If you want to go back in time to the days of EVERYTHING being home-made, then we have a recipe for you: homemade apple cider vinegar. You might want to start well in advance, but it will give your North Carolina BBQ sauce that taste that not even the old pitmasters can remember. But trust us - this was the way it used to be made before store-bought vinegars became the norm. 

South Carolina has a mustard based sauce - it’s less acidic and tends to be served on the side - check out the recipe below. We have to admit that there’s something about this sauce that goes perfectly well with pork - it’s like rum and coke, or peanut butter and jelly. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Charcoal/Wood grill and smoker-Carolina-Style Pulled Pork 

On the side-North Carolina BBQ Sauce 

On the side - South Carolina BBQ Sauce 

Make it from scratch - Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

BBQ Pit -North Carolina Pig Pickin 

Smoker grill -Whole Smoked Suckling Pig 

North and South Dakota 

Focus: Comfort Food, Native American Food

Influences: Russian, German, Scandinavian, Yankee, Native American 

Unique Show-stopper - Walleye 

The Food:The North and South Dakotas are the biggest agricultural states in the nation - they produce not only high-volume cash crops like soy and sugar beets but also lentils, peas and honey. When it comes to honey, North Dakota is the absolute king, and the number 1 honey-producing state. Both states are also prolific meat producers - the plains were home to grazing cattle as soon as settlers moved in. Some of the still-traditional cowboy pickings include pitchfork steak - something worth trying over your backyard turkey fryer. 

In addition to agriculture and honey, the Native American traditional food revolution is heard loud and clear in these parts. The Plains Indians used to hunt bison here, and there are ranches that specialize in bison meats today. Traditional fish like the Walleye are also very popular - and can be found in traditional fisheries, some Native American-run. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Gas/charcoal grill -Grilled Walleye With Citrus Butter

Gas/charcoal grill -Honey Glazed Grilled Chicken Breasts 

Finish on the BBQ -Stuffed Squash With Bison, Apple and Wild Rice (From United Tribes Technical College students)

Backyard turkey fryer -Steak on a Pitchfork (Steak Fondue)


Focus: Comfort 

Influences: German, Italian, Polish, East Coast, Southern

Unique Show-stopper - Grilled Sausage and Clam Bake 

The Food:Perched on the coast of Lake Erie, Ohio has a unique outdoor cooking culture. Historically, it is famous for things like “fried turkeys, fried catfish, roast ducks, fine venison, bear meat” - at least in the eighteenth century. We’re not about to throw any bear meat on the grill anytime soon, but Ohio has new traditions that we’ll be more than happy to partake in. For example, a good clam bake is all the rage in the eastern part of the state. 

Ohio is one of those places that benefit from a lot of traditions - Southern, East Coast, Midwestern - you name it. You can often find a wide variety of grilled and BBQed meats here - from catfish to kielbasa to wings, pulled pork, brisket, ribs or even turkey. There are a lot of Polish and German influences here - and we all know what that means: a sausage fest. We haven’t had a lot of sausages here, but let’s make one thing clear - they are the best for fast grilling and absolutely delicious family and friends gatherings. 

A good sausage has everything you want - it can be smoked, includes many aromatic herbs or even things other than meat. Some traditional Polish or German butcher shops offer sausages with cheese, potatoes - all different kinds of meats and flavors. So if you’re looking for a great grilling sausage, make sure you’re going to the source: a small, local sausage maker or a supermarket with a very well stocked meat section. Sausages can be eaten in solitary form, but they enjoy the company of good crusty sourdough.

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Gas/Charcoal grill -Grilled Sausages, Peppers and Potatoes

Gas/Charcoal grill and smoker -Smoked Pork Chops

Gas/Charcoal grill-Grill-Baked Bread 

Gas/Charcoal grill-Easy Grilled Clam and Sausage Bake 


Focus: Comfort Food, Local Specialities

Influences: Native American, African American, Southern, Midwest, Great Plains

Unique Show-stopper - Wild Onion Dinners 

The Food: Many people don’t know that Oklahoma is actually a melting pot of cultures - Native American cultures. It’s home to both the Native Oklahoma tribes who were here before the first contact and those who were relocated here from other states.  They have settled here after a long time of being resettled, only to be forcibly moved again. 

When they finally came to Oklahoma, they mixed their food culture with traditional Deep South African American traditions. It’s this kind of clashing of cultures and geography that makes Oklahoma’s culinary heritage unique. 

One of the things that we’d love to share with you, if you don’t already know about it, are Wild Onion Dinners - something that’s quintessentially Oklahoman. If you’re in OK from February to April, be on the lookout for these community food gatherings organized by the Five Tribes of eastern Oklahoma. Community is welcome! 

This is the time of gathering wild onions - and they are cooked with eggs or hash browns, but be on the lookout for other unique local specialties like poke salad, blue bread, sour fermented hominy, and hickory nut soup. Fried chicken, crayfish, and sassafras tea are also a must here. How can you celebrate all this richness in your backyard? Even if you live far away, try grilling spring onions and sharing where you got the idea from! Many people don’t know about these traditions, and sharing knowledge can lead to support of local communities whenever your friends or neighbors happen to be in the area. 

Let’s not forget that Oklahoma is also big on monumental comfort food that finds its roots in the Deep South. Things like Chicken Fried Steak and endless types of casseroles are a local must.  

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Gas/charcoal grill -Grilled Spring Onions 

On the side -Oklahoma BBQ Sauce 

Gas/charcoal grill - Grilled Casseroles

Gas/charcoal grill -Oklahoma Brisket 


Courtesy of Oklahoma Historical Society - Chickasaws cooking chickens over an open-pit fire


Focus: Seafood

Influences: International, Slow Food

Unique Show-stopper - Seafood, Mushrooms 

The Food:Oregon is one of those unique places on the map of the United States that is a foodie’s paradise for a lot of reasons. Relatively remote until quite recently, it has been a raw and wild place until gold was discovered here in 1850 - a year after the Marshall’s Mill discovery not far off in California. Because of its varied climate and growing regions, Oregon has quite a farming scene. It’s number one in the US for hazelnut production, and also produces a significant amount of cranberries, wine and cattle - it also has one of the world’s biggest salmon fisheries. 

If you’re actually in Oregon, you have to check out their Cheese and Food Trail - you’ll be amazed, and take a lot of supplies home. See if they ship to your state, and you’ll be set! Check out the Oregon Food Trail onGoogle Maps

Oregon has a ton of incredible local foods you can use on the grill - and lots of it includes things like cheese (Oregon has TONS of creameries), grass fed Oregon lambs, and tasty wild-foraged foods as well. This state has thousands of miles of pristine woods, and the forest bounty is ready to be harvested (with all the proper permits, of course!) - mushrooms like Chanterelles, Boletes and Slippery Jacks are easy to find here during the fall, and they’re some of the best vegetarian options when it comes to a savory grilled treat. 

Abalone is also on the menu here; it’s local and delicious. There are a few abalone fisheries on the Pacific coast, one of them in Oregon. The wild abalone season opens when conditions permit. Don’t forget about other local Pacific treasures like Halibut, Sturgeon, Salmon, Steelhead, a variety of clams, Dungeness Crab, Oysters, Scallops, Squid, Urchins and other sea creatures. This is truly a treasure trove, and if you’re looking to put something healthy on the grill, look no further than Oregon’s ocean bounty. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Gas/charcoal grill - Grilled Salmon with Hazelnut Butter 

Gas/charcoal grill -Herb Crusted Racks of Lamb 

Gas/charcoal grill -Grilled Porcini Mushrooms with Mint and Garlic 

Gas/charcoal grill - Grilled Halibut with Herb Pistou and Walnut Butter 

Gas/charcoal grill -Lemon Herb Grilled Scallops 


Bonfire cooking isn't only for camping.


Focus: Heirloom and Working Class Favorites

Influences: Amish, Mennonite, Polish, Italian, Greek, Puerto Rican

Unique Show-stopper - Local Organic Produce 

The Food: Pennsylvania is a rural state, dotted with Amish communities, farms and small towns - and its metropolitan areas like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are well established on the culinary map of the US. Being a mostly rural state, Pennsylvanians are returning to the roots by making the organic movement grow and prosper. There are a ton of organic farms here, and it seems like they’re sprouting up overnight. CSAs and local farms are finding customers everywhere - so if you’re grilling Pennsylvania style, it’s best to pick the freshest heirloom veggies you can get your hands on. It also means eating seasonally - things like mustard greens, okra, rhubarb, or asparagus can’t be gotten all year round. 

Pennsylvania is an old state and it has its share of old favorites. There are some great family grilling and food traditions that come from the coal country and city traditions - things like Pennsylvania Coal Region Barbecue or the famous Philly Cheese Steak. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Cast iron skillet -Pennsylvania Coal Region Barbecue

Gas/Charcoal grill -Grilled Heirloom Tomatoes with Parmesan and Garlic Topping 

Cast iron skillet -Grilled Philly Cheesesteak 

Gas/charcoal grill -Marinated Grilled Vegetables 


Rhode Island

Focus: Seafood

Influences: East Coast, Puritan

Unique Show-stopper - Stuffies 

The Food:Rhode Island is the smallest state in the nation, but it packs a big taste. No, it’s not a part of New York, as a lot of people seem to think. This is one of the oldest states in the nation, with its culinary roots going deep into the Puritan times and finishing up with clam chowder in the modern times. Since we can’t grill or BBQ chowder, we looked for other things unique to this state, and were quite surprised to find that grilled pizza is on this list. 

Yes - we’ve been told that grilled pizza is so uniquely Rhode Island, that you can’t find it anywhere else, and if you do find it, it’s just not good enough. Rhode Islanders also have an affinity for “stuffies”, or stuffed baked clams. They can also be put on the grill and fired up to perfection.

Try this in your outdoor kitchen

Gas/Charcoal Grill -Grilled Pizza with Peaches and Prosciutto

Gas/Charcoal Grill -Grilled Stuffed Quahogs 

Gas//Charcoal Grill -Grilled Figgy Pies 


Focus: BBQ

Influences: Southern

Unique Show-stopper - Memphis Style BBQ 

The Food:Whole hogs and vinegar sauce migrated from the Carolinas to Tennessee - and they settled all over the state, but Memphis is the place that can stake a claim to their own style of BBQ - the Memphis style. It’s all about the pork shoulder and ribs, both wet and dry. The Memphis wet ribs have starred in just about any BBQ sauce commercial we can imagine - they are basted while they smoke and come out sticky and finger-licking good. 

Aside from ribs, pulled pork is very big here. And we mean everything - from nachos to tacos and even lasagna. If you plan on traveling to Memphis in May, make sure to catch a glimpse of the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. You might learn a thing or two, and taste some amazing stuff! 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Prep - Meathead’s World Famous Memphis Dust Rub Recipe 

Charcoal grill or smoker - Real Memphis Style Dry BBQ Ribs 

Charcoal grill or smoker -Wet Ribs 


See above! We covered it in the beginning! 


Focus: Comfort Family Food 

Influences: Mormon, Spanish, Native American

Unique Show-stopper - Funeral Potatoes 

The Food:Utah is a state known for its mountains and expansive views - we can get lost in this impressive landscape and forget that it also has over 18,000 farms and is a huge agricultural and livestock producer. Where there’s farms, there’s amazing food - and apart from grains, there are peaches, cherries, apples and apricots grown here.   

Some of the most popular foods here are Utah tomatoes (they have a very distinct flavor), raspberries and Utah corn. What makes us incredibly happy is that a cast iron Dutch oven is Utah’s official cooking pot (we didn’t know that states had these!) but it’s a testament to many amazing and delicious things you can prepare with charcoal or around the firepit. Casseroles are also a hit in Utah - especially ones like Funeral Potatoes. 

Why funeral potatoes? Because in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, they are often served as a side dish at funeral luncheons. Perhaps it’s a good idea to make up your own name for them? 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Smoker - Smoked Funeral Potatoes 

Fire Pit/charcoal -Dutch Oven Dutch Baby with Berries

Fire Pit/charcoal -Dutch Oven Vegetarian Lasagna 


Focus: Farm to Table 

Influences: French, British 

Unique Show-stopper - Cheddar 

The Food:Known for its forested hills, wood bridges and fall colors, Vermont is America’s comfort state. It also has the second-smallest population in the country, but you’d be surprised to hear that given how much they influence the rest of us. Vermont is all sugar and spice and everything nice - but what about their outdoor cooking traditions and recipes? 

The major local produce includes sweet corn, apples and maple syrup. This is an incredible base for any outdoor gathering, especially in the fall. 

And for heaven’s sake - don’t forget about Vermont cheese. It’s a MUST here - Vermont makes some of the best cheddar in the world, and if you’re making burgers, it’s going to be the sharpest, melty goodness you have ever tasted from the grill. Especially if you actually stuff your burger patty with cheddar cheese. Check out the recipe below.

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Gas/charcoal grill - Maple Rosemary Grilled Chicken 

Gas/charcoal grill -Grilled Apples with Cheese and Honey

Gas/charcoal grill-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers



Focus: Seafood, Beef 

Influences: Southern, Colonial, Appalachian 

Unique Show-stopper - Crabs 

The Food:Virginia is for lovers - lovers of food, of course. If you love smoked Smithfield hams, BBQ, soft shelled crabs, apples, Appalachia and a bit of magic - you have come to the right state to get inspired. 

Virginia is very diverse. It touches the Atlantic as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachia. It’s a surf and turf state, with a lot of beef culture but also some of the country’s best seafood. 

Local farm offerings include artichokes and peanuts - in fact, this is the state that has the most creative recipes for peanuts. 

The amazing thing about Virginia is that it is said to be the birthplace of BBQ - but at the same time, they didn’t get their traditions from the Caribbean. Many historians say that the Caribbean influences came later. First Virginians learned from the Powhatan tribe that slow roasted meat over a grill and a slow burning fire is the best method for any domesticated or wild caught meat. There is no defined style here, rather, Virginians take what’s best and make it even better, whether it’s smoking pork, beef, chuck or chicken. In Chesterfield, you can find some peanut butter in the pork rib glaze - the sauces change with location. It’s almost like Virginia was more diverse than all of the South put together. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

On the side -Appalachian Honey BBQ Sauce 

On the side -The Other 4 Virginia BBQ Sauces 

Gas/charcoal grill-Grilled Soft-Shell Crabs 

Gas/charcoal grill - Grilled Garlic Artichokes 


Focus: Wild Caught 

Influences: Colonial, Northern, and Southern

Unique Show-stopper - Crabs 

The Food:Washington is nestled between Oregon and Canada - raw and beautiful. If you’re here in the spring, you’ll see orchards full of blooming Rainier Cherries shedding their petals gentle snow flurries. Rainier Cherries, huckleberries, raspberries, apples, and anything wild caught straight out of the Pacific are the Washington staples. Well - and Walla Walla sweet onions. 

Speaking of sweet onions, did you know that you can just stick them on the grill all by themselves? Or at least grill them with bouillon and butter until they’re like savory French onion soup bites. 

Salmon is worth mentioning when talking about grilling with the locals - Washington has five species of Pacific salmon - Coho, Chum, Sockeye, Chinook and Pink salmon all can be caught here. You can also find three subspecies of trout in Washington. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen:

Gas grill -Grilled Sweet Onions 

Gas/charcoal grill -Grilled Coho Salmon 

Gas/charcoal grill -Cedar Plank Trout 

Smoker-Simple Hot Smoked Salmon 

West Virginia

Focus: Wild Game

Influences: Southern, Italian, Appalachian, African American, Scottish 

Unique Show-stopper - Pepperoni Roll 

The Food:West Virginia, not to be confused with Virginia has a ton of traditions in their own right when it comes to food - the diverse influences create a mix of cuisine that is hard to resist. West Virginia is a mountainous state, still rugged and wild - it’s the third most forested state in the United States. 

The traditional food is simple but hardy - buckwheat, molasses, honey, wild game. The capital of Charleston has become a truly international place, but restaurants that concentrate on local cuisine like buckwheat pancakes, trout (the state fish of WV), and root vegetables. There’s also BBQ, Italian Sausages and plenty of fish. 

WV is coal country, and they have their own version of a Cornish pasty - and dare we say, it is even better. Invented by Italian immigrants in the 1920s, the coal miner lunch of choice is the pepperoni roll. 

If you’re planning a visit to West Virginia, make sure to check out the Roadkill Cook-off and the Buckwheat Festival. Don’t worry - no road crossing critters are used - mostly amazing meats like venison, deer, alligator and even bear meat can be found here. If you can’t make it, at least try to check out a local farmers market. WV has one the best cottage food laws in the US, and you can find some home cooked local treasures being legally sold. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Gas/Charcoal Grill -Grilled Tailgate Pepperoni Roll 

Gas/Charcoal Grill - Grilled Venison Steak 

Smoker -Smoked Trout 

Gas/Charcoal Grill -Grilled Ramps 


A freshly caught fish belongs on the grill.


Focus: Dairy and German Food 

Influences: Scandinavian, German

Unique Show-stopper - Dairy

The Food:Wisconsin is a land that flows with milk and cheese, and every other dairy product imaginable - ice cream, cheese curds and butter. Cheese comes in all forms in this dairy state, and what’s amazing is that cheese is also incredible on the grill. 

Wisconsin has a large German population, and things like bratwurst are very popular here. Bratwurst is a long forgotten and underappreciated grilling staple, but once you try it you’re not going to go back. Sausage is great, but there’s nothing like a good brat. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Griddle/Skillet/Grill -Every Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the World 

Griddle/Skillet/Grill-Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream 

Gas/Charcoal Grill/Heavy Pot -Wisconsin Beer Brats 


Focus: Frontier, Camping 

Influences: Midwestern 

Unique Show-stopper - Wild Game, Lamb

The Food: Wyoming is the state of breathtaking nature -Yellowstone, Old Faithful, seven national parks in total. There’s a lot of good old school camping going on here. For the final state, let’s see what we can fix up around the fire - even if it’s around our backyard fire pit, and not in the great wilderness or a campground. 

Some Wyoming favorites include Rocky Mountain Oysters, which are calf bull testicles served with a delicious red dipping sauce. You can purchase the raw material for these online, almost anywhere you live. This delicacy is popular anywhere where ranching is prevalent - bulls are very often castrated. This means that the animal from which you are enjoying your rocky mountain oyster is still roaming the plains somewhere out there. We are still arguing about the eternal question - are they vegetarian? They’re certainly not vegan… 

Beef, lamb and bison are a great grilling option here, whether you’re interested in the low and slow means of grilling or a rare steak. 

Try this in your outdoor kitchen: 

Skillet -Bison Steaks with Fig-Balsamic Sauce 

Skillet -Campfire Hash 

Deep dutch oven -Campfire Berry Cobbler

Fire pit -Bonfire Fish 

Buffalo is a traditional meat that is experiencing a comeback.

Final Word 

We will end on a somber note. The fascination and interest in BBQ traditions is growing - the sponsored competitions, the younger people getting into it and trying out old and new BBQ places and joining the conversation about who has the best BBQ anyway. 

But sadly, that’s not enough. Real traditional BBQ seems to be dying. This is like someone starving in the middle of a huge feast - why is this happening? The answer is: community. BBQ was a community affair from the very beginning. BBQ clubs, neighborhood get-togethers and volunteers are what made incredible BBQ possible in the first place. Why are these private get-togethers better than restaurant BBQ - even better than the most old-fashioned and tradition-steeped BBQ joints?  

There are two answers to this question. 

First - there’s the company. Making BBQ is an all day event with neighbors and like minded individuals. It’s a chance to connect with people who are right here and right now. The younger generation don’t join social clubs and have these kinds of events anymore. At a restaurant, you order, you pay, you eat, and you leave. At a community barbecue you linger, the kids play with each other and make connections, you gossip and share recipes over a cold beer. This is probably why having outdoor kitchens that you can invite your family, friends and community to is more important than ever. If you are building an outdoor kitchen, don’t forget about a large table to bring everyone together. 

Second - rules. The health department would probably scoff at most of the food produced at home - and same is true for barbecue. There are no permits, no correct number of sinks and the dishes aren’t washed, rinsed and air dried in the correct order. In short, bureaucracy has killed a lot of BBQ traditions already, and it seems to be getting worse. Some of the best food out there is made with no gloves, but with lots of love and tradition. We hope that you’re inspired to try some old traditions at your home, and make some new ones that your community can continue. 

The same goes for any traditional outdoor cooking technique in any state - in order for it to continue, you have to bring in your friends, neighbors and community into the fold. While doing research (it was quite a bit!) for this article, we found a food blog that stated that “people think that BBQ is food reserved for restaurants only - it’s actually simple to make at home”. This made us want to scream. 

We are taking BBQ back - we’re taking grilling back - we’re taking it all back. To the backyard that is - where it belongs. Not in some fancy restaurant, but right here in your outdoor kitchen, no matter what state you’re in.