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Summer is the perfect time for a cookout. Whether it’s for a weekend gathering or a holiday, such as the 4th of July or Labor Day, the warm weather, sunshine, and hopefully some time off from work or school makes it an ideal time. It’s the season of the year that many look forward to, partly because of the classic food you’ll always find on someone’s grill: hamburgers or cheeseburgers.
With this in mind, as well as National Cheeseburger Day being September 18th, we decided to take a closer look at how the cost varies across the country. We conducted a study to find the average cost of one home-cooked burger or cheeseburger in each state — read on for our full methodology and findings.
We gathered local prices from national or regional retailers to find the average cost of each ingredient necessary for a standard, home-cooked hamburger. This includes price data for 85% lean/15% fat ground beef, Heinz ketchup, French’s mustard, a sweet onion, hamburger buns, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, a tomato, pickles, lettuce, and Kraft American singles (for the cheeseburger only). We calculated the price for each ingredient in the quantity required for one burger, then summed these costs to find the overall cost of one burger. The breakdown of the serving sizes for each ingredient is as follows:
While each person has their own preference on toppings and serving sizes, this selection provides us with a standard means of comparison between states.
The prices come from Walmart retailers in up to 10 zip codes in each state. The zip codes chosen are a mix of urban and rural areas to get a representation of different parts of each state. The numbers reflect prices only, taken from the retailers, and do not reflect any additional taxes or fees. These also do not account for the cost of cooking or other preparation.
Our analyzed data revealed notable differences across the nation. Luckily for all 50 states, none of the prices are catastrophic. However, these results illustrate how small price changes can add up to significant differences in total cost, especially if you’re cooking for a large group.
Arizona comes in as the cheapest state for a cheeseburger overall at $2.34. This is still pricier than a burger at many fast food restaurants, but at least you’re getting a higher quality meal that you can cook exactly how you want. The next four cheapest places are Maryland and Delaware (tied at $2.37), Pennsylvania ($2.38), and Idaho, Utah, and Washington, D.C. (tied at $2.42).
The most expensive cheeseburger overall comes from Hawaii, totalling $2.95 on average. This is logical, considering the added challenge and cost of transporting food to the islands. The next four priciest states are Minnesota and Alaska (tied at $2.92), South Dakota ($2.84), and Ohio ($2.79).
We also noticed some notable regional trends in our data. Apparently, the Midwest isn’t the best place to be if you want to make a cheap cheeseburger. On average a burger will cost you $2.65 in this region, which is higher than what it would cost in the West ($2.58), Northeast ($2.536), or South ($2.50).
Earlier this summer, we looked at the price of a hamburger without cheese. Overall, the results showed that a cheeseburger costs on average $0.19 more than a regular hamburger. Here are the results by state:
Arizona comes is also the cheapest state for a burger without cheese at $2.16. The next four states on our list are Maryland ($2.18), Delaware ($2.18), Pennsylvania ($2.21), and Idaho ($2.23).
Most expensive state for a hamburger is Hawaii, totalling $2.75 on average. The next four most expensive states are Minnesota ($2.74), Alaska ($2.71), South Dakota ($2.66), and Ohio ($2.60).
Regionally, the Midwest is the most expensive region, just like for a cheeseburger. The average cost of a hamburger in the Midwest is $2.46. The West is the next priciest at $2.39, followed by the Northeast ($2.36) and the South ($2.32).
If you live in one of the states or regions that is more expensive for hamburgers, there are still many ways you can save money when shopping or budgeting. Follow these tips to save money or get some back from your purchases:
A great, home-cooked burger doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re careful about your spending you may end up with extra money if you make a gourmet batch at home rather than a basic order from a fast food joint.
John • September 4, 2019
A portion of your article was circulated on CNBC (hopefully, they asked for your permission).
A few of us noticed that the map showed Alabama having the lowest cost but the article mentions Arizona as the lowest.
I searched for the original article (your article) because I wondered if there was additional information regarding Alabama/Arizona discrepancy. Overall, I liked your article better as it mentioned where the prices were derived from and now I know it’s National Cheeseburger Day on 9/18/19.
Emily Jones • September 17, 2019
Hi John- Thanks for your comment. Yes, we were quite pleased that CNBC highlighted our study. Good eye! I’ll make sure the map and article match up.