2023 Grilling Trends That Are Totally In (And 3 That Are on the Way Out)

Try these protein and flavor-boosters to ensure your menu is on 🔥.

Margarita Grilled Corn
Photo: Andy Lyons

Cooking over a live fire is nothing new. In fact, it’s exactly how early civilizations made protein safer and more delicious to consume. While the invention of grilling took place an estimated 780,000 years ago, your grilling recipes and techniques need to stay stuck in the dark ages.

For our 2023 grilling trend report, we tapped pitmasters, cookbook authors, and top chefs who have a pulse on the scene to share what al fresco cooking ingredients, tools, and styles are on the rise. Then, to ensure we’re not getting stuck in a rut, we asked them to also share what grilling trends might be going up in smoke soon.

The Top 2023 Grilling Trends, According to Culinary Experts

Read on to learn more about how to add more flavor and flair to your grilling or barbecue menu this season. 

Tri-Tip Roast with Grilled Avocados

Unique Cuts of Beef

For those who are keeping a keen eye on their grocery budget, especially amidst recent food shortages and inflation, more at-home grillers will feel more inspired to explore less popular cuts of meats that are more affordable, suggests David Guas, author of Grill Nation and proprietor at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, Virginia.

“From a beef standpoint, this could be less prized cuts from chuck to flaps or tips. This is a great time to get to know your local butcher who can help advise you on new cuts to explore without breaking the bank,” he says.

Related: How to Choose a Steak That Has Guaranteed Delicious Flavor 

Want to keep prices low by eating a little less of the best? Dominique Leach, chef and co-owner of Lexington Betty Smokehouse in Chicago, Illinois is keen on prioritizing quality over quantity, and recommends F1 American Wagyu for those who want to follow her lead. 

“This is a cross-breed between Japanese and American Holstein cattle developed for rich flavor, tender meat, and generous marbling. Companies like Vander Farmers in Michigan have made acquiring this type of beef more accessible to the everyday consumer,” she adds.

Grilled Fruits and Vegetables

“Cooks today know that there’s more to the grill than just burgers and hot dogs,” Garces says. “The kiss of flame can add great flavor to vegetables as well.”

About 35% of Americans are “making a conscious effort to eat less meat,” according to a 2021 survey conducted Morning Consult for Bloomberg News. Instead of as many (or any) meaty barbecue mains like beef, pork, or poultry, more and more people are grilling vegetables, says Matt Horn, an Oakland California-based pitmaster, chef and owner of Horn Barbecue, Kowbird, Matty's Old Fashioned. Large mushroom caps and summer squash planks are particularly popular and great over grates, Horn says, but he plans to grill a wide variety of vegetables and fruits over live fires both at home and at Horn Barbecue this year. (Pineapple, watermelon, peaches, peppers, onions, and sweet potatoes are among BHG Test Kitchen favorites.)

“I love the Maillard reaction that occurs with vegetables and fruits, or, in other words, the char that develops as the natural sugars cook,” Horn says.

Guas is keen on grilling greens, and is looking forward to charring petite greens over a flame to showcase in a Grilled Little Gem Salad. 

Related: 18 Grilled Vegetable Recipes for the Best Way to Eat Your Veggies

Beyond-Salmon Seafood

Shrimp, salmon, and canned tuna are far and away the most-commonly consumed fish and seafood in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. When pescatarians or fish fans consider a main dish for grilling, most turn to that second staple. But rather than standard grill star salmon, Leach says many grill cooks will be reeling in more branzino.

“Branzino is a white fish native to the western and southern coasts of Europe, as well as the northern coasts of Africa. The light, flaky white flesh has a delicate, slightly sweet taste that lends itself well to a variety of flavors. Foodies are crazy about branzino,” Leach says.

Jose Garces, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based chef, admits that a lot of cooks he meets are “nervous about fish on the grill, but with proper preparation, it’s a great option for a light meal. Depending on the cut and style of fish, I will either use a grill basket, the plancha, or a bit of foil,” says Garces, who is also an Iron Chef, James Beard Award Winner and owner of 12 restaurants including Hook & Master and growing national franchise, Buena Onda. “My wife and I recently bought a house in Maine, so I’m looking forward to grilling a lot of fresh fish and seafood this summer.”

If seafood is more your style, lobster, prawns, and other shellfish will continue to increase in popularity on the grill, Leach believes. For an interactive, casual dinner party idea, consider hosting a seafood boil grill-style. Set out seafood, sliced sausage, baby potatoes, quarter cobs of corn, onion wedges, lemon wedges, garlic, and herbs, then allow everyone to assemble their favorite combination of ingredients inside foil packets, which you can toss on the grill.

“Party-goers love to build their own meals. I think this will be a favorite for entertaining,” Leach says.

Related: 6 of the Healthiest Fish to Eat (And 4 to Avoid) 

Sweet and Spicy Mango-Sauced Ribs with Smoky Slaw
Carson Downing

Global Flavors

“I anticipate an increased interest in global flavors,” Garces says, and the other pitmasters echo that sentiment.

For Leach, now is the time to try adding soy, gochujang, ginger, and garlic to your barbecue and grilling recipes and meat marinades

“I love to play with these Asian flavors particularly on pork ribs, but they work well with all proteins and vegetables,” she says.

Rodney Scott, a Charleston, North Carolina-based James Beard-winning pitmaster and the author of Rodney Scott's World of BBQ says summer 2023 might just be the biggest yet for seasoning blends. In fact, he’s so sure barbecue rubs are a growing grilling trend, he just launched his own line of blends with Spice House

“Spice rubs are a great way to get that extra infusion of seasoning and experiment with different flavor profiles, like Caribbean- and Korean-style blends,” Scott says. “I've been loving these on everything from chicken to brussels sprouts cooked on the grill.”

Mayo > Butter

In the last couple generations, butter has gotten nearly all of the glory as a ubiquitous grilling menu element to slather onto corn bread or toast, brush over corn on the cob, or to crown a steak just before serving. While those golden sticks will never go out of style, 2023 might just start the return of mayo as a mainstay on your grilling line-up, Guas says.

“I’m a longtime fan of Duke’s Mayonnaise, and I’m looking forward to brushing it over some fresh corn before placing it on the grill this summer,” Guas says. (Psst…we’re totally going to try this Mexican street corn-style and add Parmesan or Cotija cheese and hot sauce, too!)

Mayonnaise also makes for a terrific tool to help spice blends adhere to proteins or vegetables. You can also feature mayo in a marinade recipe, spread it inside barbecue sandwiches, or transform it into an aioli to use as a condiment, dressing, or dip.

A Digital Revolution

Your phone, TV, and computer aren’t the only tech tools that are getting smarter.

“Technology is taking over, even in the barbecue world,” Scott says. “The latest high-tech advancement I’m seeing become more popular recently is Bluetooth temperature gauges that can connect to your phone. People are taking it digital because of the ease of use and convenience for those who don’t want to watch their smoker all day.”

Invest in a probe-style thermometer like this Taylor probe BHG editors swear by, or seek out a smoker or grill that has this technology built in, such as the Weber Genesis EPX-355 Smart Gas Grill or the Traeger Ironwood 885 with “WiFIRE Technology.”

Related: 9 Tools That Are Must-Have Grilling Essentials (Plus 2 We Love) 

3 Grilling Trends Are on the Way Out

Now that you know “what’s in,” and your grill is preheating to bring a trendy, tasty meal to the table, study up on a few grilling trends that might soon be falling in popularity:

  • Classically-Coveted Cuts of Beef. Generally, people are moving away from heavier, more expensive proteins, Garces says. The costs of ribeye, filet mignon, tenderloin, and porterhouse are likely to continue to rise, Guas predicts, “making it more difficult to procure at a reasonable price to use in the at-home grilling space.”
  • Basic Burgers and Dogs. “Gone are the days of the basic frozen hamburgers and hot dogs,” Horn declares. Instead, people are becoming more ambitious and innovative with their home grill game. The pandemic helped usher in a new era of culinary confidence and interest. “As people have been cooking at home more, they are craving new experiences and menu items overall, and this has been true with home grilling as well,” Horn adds. (The aforementioned grilling trends can help you break out of your burger, brat, and hot dog routine!)
  • Standard Charcoal Grills. Gas grills are picking up steam, Scott says, especially among those who live in urban areas. (Many locations have more strict rules about using these on balconies or patios, for example.) He also sees wood pellet grills on the rise, as pitmasters want to savor the “same smoky flavor of burning real wood, but without the risk of an open flame.” Horn sees even more creative cooking options booming, including mobile grills (Blackstone FTW) and planchas. “This is such a fun trend, as it offers more of an experience at your backyard barbecue,” Horn says.

With more spice, produce, and seafood on the horizon, summer 2023 is shaping up to be a scrumptious and sunny season. Now that you’re well-versed on all of the biggest grilling trends, check out these 19 grilling tips from the pros to make you a pitmaster and start planning your next al fresco fête with these easy 8-ingredient grill recipes.

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