According to MCA, barbecuing cooking methods are set to increase on menus by 76% over the next 2-3 years. However, throwing a few burgers and bangers on the barbie simply won’t cut it anymore. A new generation of ‘dude food’ is taking barbecuing to the next level with new techniques from around the world becoming part of restaurant theatre. 

“Everything from the hot, sesame flavours of Korean cuisine to the sweet tang of Moroccan spicing will complement the smokiness of barbecued meat and brushing marinades onto meat towards the end of cooking, means that you can give your customers a choice of flavours, in turn increasing uptake,” says Fergus Martin, foodservice development chef at Major International. “That being said, consumers are also becoming increasingly concerned with healthy eating and this has to be considered when planning your barbecue menus. Offering a range of fish dishes is an excellent way to entice health-conscious diners and you could mix things up a bit by using Mediterranean or Asian-inspired flavours on your meats and adding super-seeds and other health-boosting ingredients to your sides.” 

Healthy options For customers looking to indulge themselves on the rich flavours of a barbecue, but not the calories, thinly cut pork steaks could be the order of the day. Not only are they leaner and a great alternative to red meat but they also readily absorb any marinades or rubs. 

To keep things fresh, create an Asian- American flavour fusion by marinating the pork steaks in a rich sweet and sour sauce before sizzling off on the grill, advises Alison Smith, product developer for Mars Food Europe. “Once cooked you could slice into tender strips and place on the house salad, or add it to a ramen noodle soup.” 

Handheld flavour fusion by McCormick executive chef Kevan Vetter 

Look to new eating experiences that invite sharing, are globally inspired and pack a flavourful punch, such as: 

Sizzling Egg Crepes: Called jianbing in China and dan bing in Taiwan, these thin pancakes are griddled, filled and rolled up like a burrito. Stuff with regional American tastes like smoky pork, crisp slaw and tangy sauce for a Southern twist 

Arepas: A taco-sandwich hybrid. Split and fill these crispy corn cakes with sliced meat (hot off the barbecue is perfect!), veggies and spicy tzatziki sauce 

Berbere spice blend: Ethiopia’s most popular seasoning contains an array of spices like paprika, allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and red pepper. Its hot, sweet and citrusy flavour lends richness to whatever it touches. 

Tanzanian BBQ: Meat skewers, called mishkaki, are similar to shish kebabs. The traditional marinade blends lemon, tomatoes and green papaya to tenderise the meat, while curry, garlic, red pepper and ginger add bold flavour. 

Miso Sake Yakitori Glaze: This tangy, sweet and savoury sauce adds excitement to grilled chicken and seafood skewers. 

The Plant Pound Don’t ignore the spending power of vegans and vegetarians who now expect as much choice, flavour and excitement as carnivorous customers. 

“Make your BBQ menu a veggie heaven,” advises Ben Bartlett, BBQ expert and development chef for Lion Sauces, “with classics like the halloumi and mushroom burger taken to a new level with the taste of BBQ smoke. Serve in a brioche or pitta, with crisp salad, chargrilled red peppers and toppings such as sweet chilli sauce.” 

A vegan alternative to pulled pork is jackfruit slow-cooked with onions, peppers and garlic in Maple & Bourbon BBQ Sauce, then shredded and served in vegan tacos, wraps or buns. 

“BBQ avocado makes great use of this trendy superfood,” continues Ben. “Simply place avocado halves on the grill for a couple of minutes, turning regularly to create nice char lines. Fill with hummus mayonnaise and dress with a little Middle Eastern Hot Sauce. Serve with some crusty bread for an exciting, vibrant and indulgent side.” 

Dishes that can be wrapped or cooked in a parcel, such as tofu, mushrooms, peppers, roasted vegetables and nuts, work really well on barbecues, says Fergus Martin. “Similarly, tempeh, which is really good at absorbing flavour when marinated, can be used to create a range of different high protein, vegan-friendly options and lends itself to Oriental flavours or even something a little different, like spicy fajita.” 

No Hassle Barbecued Hasselback potatoes (originally from Sweden) are the perfect addition to either a vegetarian menu or to serve as a side. 

Simply sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative) and drizzle with Hickory smoked barbecue sauce before letting them grill on the barbecue, advises Alison Smith. Serve with homemade slaw and crunchy green salad leaves. 

A bit on the side An interesting selection of side dishes is absolutely key to complement your barbecue offering. “An example of this which pairs perfectly with BBQ classics is ‘dirty’ or loaded fries,” says Nigel Phillips, of Lamb Weston. “BBQ slow cooked and smoked pork, served over Connoisseur Fries, or Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries topped with slow-smoked pork and kimchi are two sumptuous options that cater to this trend. 

“Fries served poutine-style with Raclette cheese or CrissCut fries topped with a mountain of guacamole make perfect side orders or for all sorts of BBQ dishes.” 

For a chipper dessert, try Sweet Potato Crispy Fries with Cinnamon-Sugar and Honey -Espresso Dip (pictured above) by Lamb Weston. For the full recipe visit www.stiritup 

A key ingredient to summer salads that will enhance the flavour of the searing delicacies from the grill is rice, adds Annette Coggins, head of foodservice, Tilda UK. 

Visit www.tildafood for suggestions ideal for the barbecue season including Feta and Broccoli Basmati Salad, Summery Feta and Avocado Rice Salad and a Fruity Rice Salad. 

Clever carriers With more premium barbecuing methods set to make an appearance this year, operators are looking for artisanal carriers, such as Kara’s Sourdough Seeded Bun. 

Kara’s Beer Bap is also a favourite amongst summer festival goers, containing real beer and topped with malted flakes and a flour dusting. 

Vendors can go beyond a traditional Black & Blue by serving the beer bap with a chuck steak, iceberg lettuce, Monterey jack cheese and a homemade burger sauce for a more gourmet burger offering. 

Spice and safe Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when meat and fish are cooked using high-temperature methods. Studies have shown that certain marinades, spices and seasonings are packed with antioxidants that will help to eliminate HCAs in the grilling process. 

For more tips and information on barbecue food safety visit

Saucy ideas Operators need to ensure they are covering all bases, particularly when it comes to sauces. A recent survey by Mizkan shows there is still a strong demand for the classics, with over two in three consumers preferring traditional sauces such as tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and BBQ sauce. 

Lorna Kimberley, head of marketing, Mizkan, claims: “We are also still seeing a strong demand for hot BBQ sauces, with our recent research showing that consumers feel hot sauces, such as chilli, are often missing from burger menus.” 

Say cheese “The robust flavour of traditional Blue Stilton is perfectly suited to the BBQ, whether grilled directly on top of a burger, or crumbled into a dipping sauce for spicy wings or a sizzling steak.” – Billy Kevan, dairy manager Colston Bassett