Fire Up The Grill: What Does Illinois Love Eating Most at Cookouts?

Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

One thing that emerged after the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was a thirst to reconnect with nature. A lot of people wanted to turn off technology, get back outdoors and re-connect with themselves, friends and family.

And it doesn’t have to be something more sophisticated like wellness retreats or forest therapy programs. Camping and hiking is back with a force because people simply want to connect with nature again – at least sometimes; the popularity of Illinois sports betting apps proves that a lot of folks don’t stay unplugged for long.

The pending arrival of summer also means cooking outside. It’s a pillar in this reconnection. Americans love cookouts, for many reasons.

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Why Are Cookouts So Popular?

There are social benefits. Cookouts are a great social platform to reconnect with family and friends, especially in many parts of the country such as Illinois, where people have been cooped up indoors over the winter. Zoom calls can’t replicate the one-on-one social experience.

Plus there’s fresh air and the sunshine and the health benefits that come with those. Cookouts are often associated with key days and holidays on the calendar – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day. Cookouts are burrowed into the country’s history and culture. 

And there’s nothing that beats the taste of cookout food., your home for information about Illinois sportsbooks, used Google Trends to determine the most searched main meal for cookouts in each state of the United States.

We combed through online search history to determine the top five most popular meats to grill: Ribs, wings, burgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken.

After compiling the trends from the past five years during some of the warmest months each year (April 1 to Sept. 1), we arrived at a list of top cookout foods for each state by averaging the results.

Favorite Cookout Meat By State

  • Ribs (19 states): Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
  • Hot Dog (10 states): Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia
  • Hamburger (10 states): Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma
  • Wings (6 states): Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania
  • Grilled Chicken (5 states): Hawaii, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont

Naturally, Illinois Chose Hot Dogs

According to the data, the favorite cookout food in Illinois was the hot dog – not at all surprising in the home of the Chicago-style dog, or the “red hot,” from the city with Chicago sportsbooks.

The Land of Lincoln joined Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia in choosing frankfurters on the grill.

Ribs are the favorite cookout meal in the most states, 19. That includes Illinois’ northern neighbor, Wisconsin. Tied for second with 10 states, along with hot dogs, was the hamburger. Among the states choosing hamburgers were Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri, three states bordering Illinois. 

Wings are most favored in six states and grilled chicken was the choice in five, including Indiana.

Bon appetit, as we finally head into the warm weather months. And don’t forget to check back with IllinoisBet for real money Illinois sportsbook promos all year round.


Mark Keast has recently covered the sports betting industry in Canada for The Parleh, and is a long-time sportswriter and editor, most notably with the Toronto Sun.

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