The BBQ Staples Gracing Britain’s Grills This Summer

It’s taken its time, but summer is finally here – and there are few things that conjure up the image of a sunny summer’s day better than a sizzling BBQ. A new study from food experts Tropical Sun Foods has uncovered the foods and flavours favoured by the Great British public, and the results reveal that the nation’s palate may be more cultured than you might think.

Despite the decline of meat consumption the UK has experienced over the past few years, sausages (62%), burgers (59%) and chicken (29%) are still the most popular choices of BBQ mains. Aside from the ease with which these things can be cooked on a grill, chicken breast and lean beef are excellent sources of lean protein, and the process of preparing and barbecuing these items can contribute towards mindful cooking and eating.

Vegetarian and vegan options, while less popular overall, seem to have a dedicated fanbase among the younger generation. According to the study, Millennials and Gen Z are the most inclined to reach for something plant-based – and this may have a knock-on effect on the future of British BBQs, as these generations are the people who will be doing the bulk of the food shopping and cooking now and for the immediate future.

While meat remains the main event, side dishes are the change for leafy greens and fresh vegetables to shine. Coleslaw (17%), salad (17%) and potato salad (16%) are the most popular choices. In the heat of summer, these cool, crisp side dishes are not only refreshing and nutrient-rich, but also infinitely customisable. This is always a benefit when cooking for large numbers of people with differing tastes.

When it comes to condiments, the most popular sauces can probably be found in most British households – tomato ketchup (84%), mayonnaise (75%), and BBQ (69%) sauce to name a few. However, many people are choosing to embrace the heat, with 1 in 4 people using hot sauce at their BBQs. Hot sauces are found in a wide range of cuisines around the world, with different cultures using spice to enhance flavour, provide health benefits, and act as natural preservatives and antioxidants. 

The nation’s top 10 BBQ seasonings hail from locations around the world; the list has offerings from Nigeria (suya), Japan (teriyaki) and Argentina (chimichurri) just to name a few. This information goes against the UK’s stereotypical aversion to spice, and instead suggests that not only are people being more adventurous with their cooking, they’re also willing to risk their taste buds for new BBQ experiences.

In terms of specific cuisines, Greek, Caribbean and Indian are the styles most often replicated at British BBQs. All countries with hotter climates than ours, it isn’t surprising that people use these dishes and flavour profiles to embrace the sunshine – perhaps even seeking to experience the taste of an international holiday from the comfort of their gardens.

Why are summertime BBQs such a huge part of British culture? The fact is, communal eating is a huge part of the human experience, no matter where you come from. Communal eating evolved as a mechanism for social bonding – which means that sharing a meal with friends, family and neighbours not only strengthens community bonds, but also reinforces individual health and wellbeing. Maybe this is why 1 in 10 Brits admit to firing up their BBQs no matter the season.

Whatever your favourite BBQ foods, use the good weather to your advantage (before it vanishes again) and take this summer as an opportunity to try some new flavours in the company of family and friends.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.