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Is it the year of the BBQ? Top tips and trends for the best outdoor cooking in 2021

By LLM Reporters  |  April 25, 2021
beef steaks BBQ

It is safe to assume that 2020 was not the year that anybody had planned, in fact, many people will want to write it off. There have however been some positive side effects, including a willingness to try new things as we all learnt to adapt. Over the endless stretch of days, into weeks, into months spent at home, without visits to pubs or restaurants, outdoor cooking and al fresco dining became an increasingly popular trend, so much so, that according to research, it actually boosted the UK barbecue market year-on-year by £12.4 million and saw a 391% increase in the amount of barbecues Brits had during April 2020 alone compared to the previous year.

Brits have certainly had the time to experiment. Gone are the days when the burger and sausage reigned supreme. From global twists and funky formats to plant-based feasts – there are loads of new barbecue trends out there.

With this sudden surge in barbeque popularity in mind, MEATER has teamed up with Marcus Bawdon, editor of UK BBQ Mag, author of best-selling outdoor barbecue cookbook, Food and Fire, and his latest book, Skewered, and UK barbecue blogging guru at CountryWoodSmoke, to provide top tips and trends for outdoor cooking in 2021.

Marcus Bawdon is the editor of UK BBQ Mag

Top tips and the most popular outdoor cooking trends by Marcus Bawdon

Outdoor cooking in the UK is evolving and changing all the time. Lots of Brits still cook the simple barbecue essentials, burgers, sausages, steaks, and skewers, but in recent years the American smokehouse style is becoming increasingly popular, with ribs, brisket and pulled pork being favourites of this style.

However, another popular trend that we have seen over the last year or so, is wood fired oven/pizza oven cooking, which has seen huge growth. Pizza ovens are definitely worth your ‘dough’, they provide a quick and easy way to bring Italian cuisine to your garden.

Let’s talk meat

The most popular meats people are looking to cook in 2021 are briskets (the Mt Everest of barbecue) and big Tomahawk steaks, which are fun, tasty, and bring a bit of barbecue theatre.

A top tip when sourcing meat is to get sustainably raised, local meats – they have a far superior taste than their industrial farm counterparts. Buy the best you can afford. Also, when getting your brisket from the butcher, ask for a neat-shaped whole packer cut brisket, trimmed of any excess fat on the side. The more uniform your piece of beef, the better it will cook.

Outdoor cooking in the UK is evolving and changing all the time

Cooking gadgets are hot and here are the hottest for 2021

Small portable pizza ovens are big news and tabletop grills are also proving popular as people are having smaller cooks due to Covid restrictions. You can also cook far more then just pizza in them.

Lots of people are definitely waking up to cooking food to specific temperatures and so I am seeing a lot of people picking up digital thermometers such as the Meater Plus.

Using a meat thermometer is the only way to accurately tell if your food is safe to eat. You can kill harmful organisms in most foods by cooking them to the right temperature. Not only does a thermometer ensure your meat is safe to eat, but it also ensures you cook your meat to perfection. No one wants a dry, over cooked piece of steak.

The year of the barbecue. What else could be popular in 2021?

I think the whole outdoor cooking scene is going to see huge growth over the next few years – lots of people are building outdoor kitchens and shacks to enable them to barbecue more, no matter the weather. My own shack CountryWoodSmoke HQ is now 10 years old.

As far as cooking trends come, I think the Argentine open fire and hearth cooking is going to become increasingly popular as people hanker for something more than the traditional barbecue style of food.

More people are now using high tech thermometers like the Meater Plus

Top five outdoor cooking tips for 2021:

1. Try moving away from the standard burgers and sausages and challenge yourself to different barbecue recipes such as pulled pork, barbecue ribs, or the king of the barbecue steaks, the tomahawk steak.
2. Outdoor cooking doesn’t have to be just about the traditional barbecue, why not bring a taste of Italy to your garden and invest in a pizza oven?
3. Be fussy when picking your ingredients and source locally if you can.
4. Make sure your meat is cooked to perfection by using a wireless meat thermometer.
5. Accompaniments are important too. Take time to research what flavours complement your main dish.