Summer 2021 BBQ Flavor Trends

Spring is here and that means grilling season is quickly approaching. Nothing signifies summer quite like the taste and smell of BBQ flavors. It’s time to prepare for summer 2021 BBQ flavor trends and get ready for May, which is National BBQ Month. According to the NPD Group’s summer 2020 research, 56% of US adults cook outdoors at least once a week while 20% cook outdoors 2+ times per week.a

The terms barbeque and grilling are used interchangeably. However, the two terms are technically different and refer to two separate cooking techniques. According to, barbecuing is cooking meat low and slow either on a grill or a smoker while grilling is cooking food quickly over direct heat at high temperatures.b BBQ flavors are popular and used by consumers for both cooking techniques. American barbecue is traditionally associated with Southern cuisine and varies by region. Carolina, Texas, Memphis, and Kansas City are known as the “barbecue belt” and each state offers their own regional style and flavor. Driven by the pandemic and limited-travel, regional cuisines and flavors are trending. According to IBIS World, the BBQ sauce production industry is worth $1.9 billion in 2021 and is expected to increase 2.4%.c Innova Market Insights’ data shows that BBQ as a flavor has been a growing trend over the past four years with a 19% average annual growth of BBQ flavored food & beverage launches tracked (Global, 2015-2019).d


BBQ flavors are varied and run the gamut from sweet to spicy to smoky to savory. European countries commonly look to the US for BBQ inspiration. When asked to create their ideal menu item, Mintel found that spicy, smoky, and savory flavor combinations lead as the most desirable combination for any sauce or dip for US consumers.e The below chart shows the top 5 flavor combinations.

US Most Popular Flavor Combinations – top combination analysis, July 2019

RankFlavor combination
1Spicy and smoky and savory
2Smoky and savory
3Sweet and fruity
4Spicy and savory
5Sweet and salty
Base: 1,876 internet users in the US aged 18+ who have dined out in the past three months
Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

Barbeque is not strictly American, it is culinarily diverse and regional. Regional cooking styles range from American to Asian such as Korean and Mongolian. Availability of ingredients and taste preferences are the foundation of regional foods from around the world. According to Datassential, barbecue is found on nearly 60% of restaurant menus with specific flavor varieties growing.f

During the past four years:

  • Korean barbecue increased 56%
  • Bourbon barbecue grew 44%
  • Honey barbecue rose 22%

Trilogy Flavors offers a wide array of culinarily diverse Summer 2021 BBQ flavors such as honey and bourbon as well as Asian-inspired flavors like Korean BBQ and Teriyaki. Request free samples here.


Grilling is a traditional summer activity that is synonymous with barbeques and family gatherings. Classic summer 2021 flavor trends for grilling include barbecue, garlic, onion, peppercorn, and bourbon BBQ flavors. Trilogy Flavors’ portfolio includes all of these classic BBQ flavors plus more. Peruse our BBQ product offerings or request free samples here.

Mintel’s research of 2,000 internet users aged 18+, revealed that 32% of US consumers agree that they enjoy experimenting with different flavors/foods for grilling.g According to Mintel’s data, there is an array of meat, fish and poultry pre-seasoning or marinade flavor launches with a focus on ingredients in the US and Europe between June 2020-Sept 2020.

  • 6% of launches highlighted barbeque
  • 6% of launches featured garlic
  • 2% of launches included onion
  • 4% of launches showcased Pepper/Peppercorn while 2% contained Black Pepper/Peppercorn
  • 1% of launches spotlighted Whiskey (bourbon)


In recent years, smoky flavors have been trending in a variety of foods and beverages. According to Innova Market Insights, “smoke” was one of the fastest growing savory flavors with a 26% increase in a range of foods tracked across market categories (Global, CAGR 2015-2019).h In 2016, market research from Technomic reported a 61% rise in use of the word “burned” and a 19% rise in use of the word “smoked” on restaurant menus.i Chipotle, a smoke-dried hot chili pepper made from a jalapeño, is a prevalent smoky flavor appearing on menus and in packaged foods. In 2018, Datassential reported that in the last ten years, chipotle has moved onto menus at a growth rate of 72% and is currently represented on nearly 30% of menus.j Summer 2021 BBQ flavor trends include smoky BBQ flavors such as applewood, chipotle, hickory, and mesquite, all of which Trilogy Flavors offers. Request your samples here.


BBQ flavors are not just reserved for meat, pork, chicken, or fish. Vegetables and plant-based protein are en vogue.  According to Facts and Factors, the global plant-based meat market was estimated to be $3.77 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $9.43 billion by 2026, with a CAGR of 14%.k Mintel’s data of 2,000 internet users aged 18+, found 54% of US consumers agree meat alternatives should closely mimic the taste of meat.g The research firm suggests that vegan barbecue is still an untapped market. Vegetables and plant-based products are no longer side dishes; they will take center stage and get grilled this summer. Barbecue Bible named “Vegetables 24/7” and “Plant-Based Charcuterie” as two of the top ten Barbecue Trends 2021.l Similarly, Bay Area BBQ Islands highlighted “Veganism Lives” and “Meatless Revolution” as Top 2021 BBQ Trends To Try in the New Year.m


According to Mintel, celebration fuels new purchases and 46% of US sauce users primarily buy sauces for specific occasions (e.g. family party, holidays).e The “State of the Barbecue Industry” 2020 report, discovered that taste, convenience, and social engagement were cited as key reasons US consumers grill.n With grill season approaching, it’s time to get grillin’ and explore Summer 2021 BBQ flavors regardless of the protein source. Whether you’re looking for Classic BBQ flavors such as barbeque, Smoky BBQ flavors like chipotle or culinarily diverse Asian-inspired directions such as Korean BBQ, Trilogy Flavors has a plethora of BBQ flavors. Browse our BBQ product offerings or request samples.  Don’t see a BBQ flavor you are looking for? We have more! Contact us.






e Bergen, Edward. “Cooking sauces should prepare for the barbecue season” June 2020, Mintel


g Pasco, Martin. “What Flavours Will Be Trending For BBQ Season 2021?” 18 November 2020, Mintel








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