5 Exciting BBQ Trends for 2022
A New Year already?! It seems like just yesterday I made my barbecue trend predictions for 2021. Many of these came to pass. For example, in 2021, we finally started to honor the enormous African American contribution to the United States of barbecue properly—in books like Black Smoke by Adrian Miller; through nationally acclaimed restaurants, like Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston; and at the Barbecue Hall of Fame, which paid long overdue tribute to Ollie Gates and Arthur Bryant. We certainly smoked more, grilled more, and grilled greener over the past year. And comfort food on the grill reigned supreme!
So what do I see in my barbecue crystal ball for the coming year? Lots more smoke, lots more fire, killer grilling, and epic eating. Here—is part 1 (and part 2) and in no particular order—my predictions for 2022!
BBQ Trends for 2022
1. Influential ’cue: When I started in barbecue in the early 1990s, social media didn’t exist. Influencers were better known as lobbyists—charged with swaying the minds and purse strings of politicians. Today, some of the world’s most cutting-edge barbecue takes place on social media. Scroll through the images on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, and you’ll find grilled and smoked dishes of astonishing ingenuity. Among the influencers I personally follow are Over the Fire Cooking, Live Fire Republic, Hey Grill Hey, Grillin’ Fools, Grilling with Dad, Girl Carnivore, Max the Meat Guy, and Grill Girl. Of course, I hope you follow me on Instagram @StevenRaichlen, or at stevenraichlen.com, where you can access the recipes from my shows, including all seasons of Project Fire and Project Smoke.
Susie Bulloch and Derek Wolf
2. Wagyu everything: When I wrote my first barbecue book, The Barbecue! Bible, wagyu was an esoteric cattle breed found exclusively in Japan. Today, it’s everywhere—from restaurant menus to online butcher shops—across America and around the world. Wagyu (“Japanese cow,” literally) refers to several cattle breeds developed in Japan over the centuries for their tender meat, rich flavor, and generous intra-muscular marbling. More affordable are American and Australian wagyu—meat from descendants of Japanese steers brought here and Down Under in the 1970s. More affordable still is ground wagyu beef, and I assure you, it makes a hell of a smash burger.
Wagyu Steer and Farmer
3. A5 is the new Prime: The highest rating for Japanese beef is A5—meat so extraordinarily well-marbled, that when raw, it looks like white lace over a red cloth. (It makes American prime beef seem downright lean.) It’s special occasion steak—sold by the ounce or gram and eaten in small quantities in a way that resembles our approach to foie gras. The best way to cook A5 beef is on a plancha or in a cast iron skillet, so you don’t lose all that luscious fat to the flames. The city of Kobe in the Hyogo Prefecture in southeastern Japan is famed for its A5 wagyu (basketballer Joe Bryant loved eating it so much, he and his wife named their late son Kobe). Other fabled Japanese beef locales include Saga, Tajima, and Kagoshima Prefecture.
Left – Typical U.S. cuts / Right – A5 Wagyu Steaks from Japan
4. St. Louis barbecue: Quick: Name America’s great barbecue cities. Austin. Kansas City. Dallas. Memphis. I bet you didn’t think of St. Louis. But this metropolis at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers gave us America’s first bottled barbecue sauce (Maull’s—introduced in 1926) and a distinctive cut of sparerib called the St. Louis rib. St. Louis boasts a host of unique local specialties—from pork steaks (cut from the shoulder and direct grilled with tomato-based barbecue sauce) to turkey ribs (really—think clavical) to snoots (barbecued pig snouts). The Gateway City is currently experiencing a barbecue renaissance, with sizzling new live fire restaurants, like Beast by David Sandusky and the Balkan Treat Box (specializing in Bosnian grilling), alongside such classics as Pappy’s Smokehouse and Salt + Smoke. And St. Louis barbecue is about to get more love on my Project Fire TV show on Public Television, taped at St. Louis’ Union Station and launching in May, 2022.
Beast by David Sandusky
5. Ground meat kebabs: Shish kebab. Spiedini. Satay. Cubed, skewered grilled meat is common currency on the world’s barbecue trail—prized for its convenience (cooking implement and serving stick rolled into one) and for its in-your-face flavors. Equally popular, but somewhat less familiar in the U.S., are ground meat kebabs. Like India’s seekh kebab (minced chicken blasted with ginger, coriander, and chiles). Or Uzbekistan’s lula (lamb buzzed with onions, cilantro, and cumin). Or kubideh, Iran’s peppery minced beef and onion kebabs. Or Turkish adena kebab (ground lamb fired up with Aleppo peppers and garlic). Or Japan’s tsukune, sancho- and togarashi-spiced ground grilled chicken skewers. The list goes on and on. Sounds exotic, but all the recipes can be found in my The Barbecue Bible or Planet Barbecue link. Think of these as meatballs grilled on a stick and don’t think of your next grill session without trying them.
Want more? Here are 5 more predictions for 2022!