July 4th BBQ Gets Pricey as Chicken Wing Prices Soar 54%

Friends grilling and celebrating U.S. Independence Day

M_a_y_a / Getty Images

If you’re planning to fire up the grill for the Fourth of July—or any other time this summer—be prepared to pay a lot more, especially if you like chicken wings. 

Rising prices of barbecue meats, such as chicken wings, and propane fuel means you can expect your Fourth of July celebration to cost nearly 7% more this year, according to The Balance’s analysis of the latest inflation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI), and USDA MarketNews Retail data. 

Prices are rising at a pace not seen in the past 40 years, and after making summer plans like travel and weddings more expensive, inflation is now taking a big bite out of Fourth of July festivities.

Chicken wings had the largest price hike among barbecue essentials on the list. Wings cost an average of $4 per pound now—a price increase of almost 54%, which makes them 1.5 times more expensive compared to last year. 

And at about $3.08 per gallon, the cost of propane fuel used to power gas grills is up 26% compared to last year, the second largest year-over-year percent increase among all items. 

Other meats have also gotten more costly, with the price of steak rising 12% over last year to $9.69 per pound. Prices for both hot dogs and hamburger meat jumped 10% since last summer, to $5.32 and $4.03 per pound, respectively. Ribs were the only meat on the list that saw the price decrease to $2.90 per pound, down 2% compared to last year. 

Drinks served at your barbecue (alcoholic and otherwise) will also add to the growing expenses. Soft drinks cost about $1.90 per 2-liter bottle, up over 9% from last year. Alcohol is also pricier this year, though the increase is less steep compared to the other items on the list. Averaging the price you’d pay at a supermarket and a hotel bar, an 11-ounce bottle of beer costs about $4.94, which is 5% more than last year. Distilled spirits and wine are both up nearly 2% year over year, at $28.29 and $13.31 per bottle, respectively. 

If you’re feeling the pinch of inflation, you’re not alone, though you may still have options to make the most of this Fourth of July without blowing your budget. 

Consider alternatives to chicken wings such as hot dogs and hamburgers that have seen less of an increase in prices. Another way to save may be to refill your propane tank or participate in a tank exchange instead of buying a new one. In a tank exchange, you swap your empty tank for a full one at your nearest hardware store or distributor and that could save you some money before firing up that grill.

If food is the most important part of celebrating this holiday for you and your family, think of ways to scale back expenses on other items such as decor, accessories, or fireworks.


Percentage changes in price for all items are from the most recent BLS Consumer Price Index data as of writing (May 2022), except for hamburger meat, chicken wings, and ribs which are percent changes in May 2021 to 2022 monthly medians from USDA MarketNews Retail data. Price amounts are all in May 2022 dollars and were sourced from May 2022 BLS CPI Average Price data for soft drinks, steaks, wine, and hot dogs. Hamburger, chicken wings, and rib prices were sourced from USDA MarketNews Retail data monthly median for May 2022. Propane prices were sourced from EIA Residential Propane Monthly Heating Oil and Propane Prices from March 2022 adjusted to May 2022 via seasonally adjusted propane BLS CPI. Beer price per bottle was sourced from the Expensivity 2021 World Beer Index. Distilled liquor price per bottle was sourced from the Best Wine Importers U.S. Market Price Structure for Spirits.

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Research and analysis by
Adrian Nesta
Adrian Nesta, Research Analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash

Adrian Nesta is a Senior Data Reporter on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash, the digital publisher that owns and operates The Balance. His work includes data collection, cleaning, analysis, and visualization for stories in the data journalism portfolio across every vertical at Dotdash.

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  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Economic News Release: Consumer Price Index Summary.”

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