If there’s one type of food America is known for, it’s barbecue. Sweet and spicy, smoky and tangy, it’s got all the flavors we love. Traditional recipes, however, often call for beef, pork and other heavy proteins—but those aren’t the only options available. To give you a full taste of America’s best barbecue flavors, we found a collection of regionally-inspired recipes from all different parts of the country. And guess what: all of them feature seafood.
Buckle up and get ready to take a cross-country barbecue tour through the American South. Did someone say recipe road trip?
Grilled Tilapia with Peach BBQ Sauce
There’s only one way to go when you’re learning about barbecue—and that’s south. We’ll start in scenic Georgia, also known as The Peach State. This recipe from Paula Deen, the queen of southern cooking, includes a sweet-and-tangy sauce that pairs beautifully with grilled Tilapia. The best part? It can be prepared with either fresh or canned peaches, so you can capture the essence of the dish no matter where you are.
Try the recipe: Grilled Tilapia with Peach BBQ Sauce from Food Network.
Alabama White BBQ Shrimp
Moving west, you can earn your cooking cred by making a signature Alabama sauce. Unlike a traditional barbecue sauce, this one is made with mayonnaise and vinegar, which means it’s white in color. It’s usually paired with chicken or pork, but we’ve found a spectacular seafood alternative. In this recipe, paprika and cayenne add a layer of spice to the cool mayo base, making a delectable marinade for grilled shrimp.
Try the recipe: Alabama White BBQ Shrimp from Woman’s Day.
We can’t take a tour of the South without making a stop in Louisiana, the birthplace of Cajun cuisine. And there’s no better intro to Cajun food than with blackened fish.
To make this recipe (a copycat dish from the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain), marinate your Tilapia fillets in a homemade spice-and-herb mix for 30 minutes. Once that’s done, place your seasoned fish in a hot skillet and cook until crispy and flaky.
Try the recipe: Blackened Tilapia from Ruby Tuesday at Home.
Southwestern Baked Tilapia
It’s time to pack our ingredient baskets and head to the American southwest. Tilapia is the perfect mild platform for a lively mix of spices—many of which you probably already have on hand. Tone down the heat (or dial it up!) by adjusting the amount of chili powder and cayenne. This allows you to customize the meal according to the preferences of your family or dinner guests.
Try the recipe: Southwestern Baked Tilapia from Whole Foods Market.
Grilled BBQ Shrimp with Citrus Corn Salad
We’ll end our tour on the southern West Coast—and even work in a little Tex-Mex flavor. To make this dish, you’ll need to marinate shrimp in cilantro, lime juice and barbecue sauce for 30 minutes. When that’s done, simply wrap your shrimp in foil and toss ’em on the grill; in just six to eight minutes, you’ll have a saucy, barbecue-infused protein that pairs perfectly with a citrus, corn, tomato and celery salad.
Try the recipe: Grilled BBQ Shrimp with Citrus Corn Salad from Allrecipes.
Once you’ve tried these recipes, you’ll have earned more than your fair share of cooking travel miles—without ever having to leave your kitchen. And who knows? The next time you’re at a traditional, all-American barbecue feast, you may even be able to pass along some seafood cooking tips to the pit masters.
Looking for more regional recipes? Try these West Coast Mexican-American dishes.