As one year of meat smoking and barbecuing comes to a close, a new one is on the horizon.
Looking ahead to what 2024 holds for outdoor grilling and meat smoking, we couldn't be more excited about what we're seeing coming up.
The world of barbecuing and smoking is constantly evolving, with new techniques, flavors, and equipment emerging every year.
So what can we expect to see in the next year?
Plenty! And we've compiled a list of what we're looking forward to in 2024.
9 Meat Smoking & BBQ Trends in 2024 Every Smokin' Ugly User Should Pay Attention to
Gearing up for a new year of BBQ and meat smoking, trends are pointing to chefs of all skill levels getting more creative. Here are just a few of the things to keep an eye out for in the world of meat smoking and BBQ in 2024:
- Adapting to rising food costs
- Personalized meat smokers
- Technology integrations
- Fusion flavors
- Exotic flavors
- Plant-based BBQ
- Smoker wood experimentation
- Fruits & vegetable smoking
- Side dish renaissance
1. Economical Gourmet: Adapting to Rising Food Costs
In response to the escalating food prices, BBQ enthusiasts are redefining gourmet experiences by venturing into less-explored recipes and more affordable cuts of meat.
This trend is not merely a cost-saving measure, but a culinary adventure into the art of making the most of every ingredient.
What meat cuts are meat smokers and BBQ chefs turning to?
- Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt or Picnic Shoulder): This cut is perfect for pulled pork. It's well-marbled with fat, which keeps it moist during the long smoking process. Pork shoulder is generally inexpensive and yields a large amount of meat, making it great for feeding a crowd.
- Pork Belly: While bacon (cured pork belly) is well-known, uncured pork belly is a less expensive cut that smokes beautifully, offering rich, tender meat.
- Chuck Roast (Beef): Also known as "poor man's brisket," chuck roast offers a similar flavor and texture to brisket at a lower price. It's excellent for smoking and then shredding for sandwiches or tacos.
- Chuck Roll: This cut comes from the neck and shoulder area of the cow. Chuck roll is less known but is excellent for smoking due to its rich marbling and deep beefy flavor. It's versatile and can be used whole or sliced into steaks or roasts.
This approach champions the idea that great flavor doesn't have to break the bank; it's about skill, technique, and a touch of creativity. These choices foster a sustainable and economically conscious approach to BBQ, without compromising on taste or quality.
2. The Era of Personalized Smokers
The world of BBQ is increasingly embracing individualism with customizable smoking and BBQ setups. After all, there's nothing more disconcerting as a cook than working in a space that doesn't feel like it was made for you.
This trend goes beyond functionality; it's about expressing personal style and culinary preferences.
Products like those from Smokin' Ugly are at the forefront, offering users the ability to tailor their smokers to their specific needs. Personalization can range from interchangeable cooking surfaces to upgrading the functionality of your cooking implements (motion control hinges for drum smoker lids, anyone?), allowing each user to create a setup that feels uniquely theirs.
3. Technology Integration in Smoking
The infusion of technology in BBQ setups marks a significant trend heading into 2024.
Innovations such as wireless temperature probes, remote smoke control, and automated temperature adjustment are becoming standard.
These technological advancements make smoking more accessible and consistent, appealing to novices, seasoned smokers, and pitmasters alike. They allow for better control over the cooking process, ensuring perfectly smoked meats every time. This fusion of tradition and technology is not just a convenience; it's reshaping the art of smoking into a more precise and reliable culinary practice.
4. Fusion Flavors: The Intersection of Regional BBQ & Global Tastes
The BBQ landscape has always been a melting pot of sorts. Both BBQ and meat smoking have their places in practically every culture in the world – in some cases, going back millennia. It's hard for those with different BBQ and meat smoking traditions to not bump into one another now. This culinary cross-pollination enriches the smoking tradition, adding depth and diversity to the BBQ experience.
During this upcoming year, we'll see the continued trend of regional flavors intersecting. Blasphemous to some, while welcomed by others, think Kansas City BBQ meets Carolina flavors. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the results are hard to argue – unique, stand-out, and delicious takes on meats of all sorts.
5. Global Inspirations: Exotic Flavors on the Rise
Following along with the previous trend – the exploration of international flavors is gaining momentum in the BBQ community.
Influences from various immigrant cultures are being woven into the fabric of American BBQ, introducing exotic spices and ingredients. For instance, we're seeing more BBQ and meat smoking traditions such as:
- Korean BBQ, a style of BBQ that adds a depth of flavor that pairs perfectly with smoky meats.
- Jamaican Jerk, a seasoning blend originating from Jamaica that consists of spices such as allspice, thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers. This blend creates a signature flavor that is uniquely Jamaican and adds a spicy kick to any smoked meat dish.
Argentinian Asado: This style of grilling originated in Argentina and is known for its use of wood-fired cooking methods. Asado dishes typically feature cuts of beef cooked over open flames.
6. Plant-Based Revolution in BBQ
The rise of plant-based options is taking the BBQ scene in a bit of a different direction, but one that still feels familiar.
Moving beyond simple substitutes, the market now offers plant-based products like seitan briskets and burgers that closely mimic the texture and flavor of meat. This trend caters to vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike, offering a sustainable and health-conscious alternative without sacrificing the authentic BBQ experience. It's a significant shift from the token veggie burgers of the past, marking a new era in BBQ where plant-based options are as central as their meat counterparts.
7. Wood Smoking: Experimenting Beyond Tradition
Experimentation with different types of smoking woods is becoming a focal point for BBQ enthusiasts. Each smoker wood variety, from apple and cherry to more exotic choices like pecan and alder, offers a distinct flavor profile.
This trend underscores the importance of wood choice in the smoking process, as it significantly influences the taste of the finished product.
8. Fruits and Vegetables Taking Center Stage
Fruits and vegetables are emerging as main attractions in the BBQ world. Ingredients like smoked cauliflower or grilled peaches are redefining what constitutes a BBQ dish. This trend is indicative of a few changes:
- Being more cost-conscious about what is being smoked or grilled (fruits and veggies are cheaper than meat)
- A shift towards more balanced and diverse menus, where fruits and vegetables are given as much attention as meats.
A move towards healthier, more inclusive BBQ options, offering something for everyone at the table.
9. The Renaissance of Side Dishes
For some, a BBQ meal is only as good as the sides.
Though supporting acts, side dishes can take a meal from good to great.
To that end, we're seeing that side dishes are experiencing a renaissance in the BBQ scene. With meat prices on the rise, sides are being reinvented and elevated to play a more significant role in the meal. Creatively prepared sides like smoked mac and cheese, grilled vegetable medleys, or innovative salads are not just accompaniments but key components of the BBQ feast. This trend reflects a holistic approach to meal preparation, where every element of the menu receives equal attention and care.
Check out some of our side dish recipes:
2024: Another Great Year for Meat Smoking & BBQ
While no two years are the exact same, one thing is for sure: 2024 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for BBQ and meat smoking.
From exploring new flavors and ingredients to embracing technology and personalization, BBQ and smoked meat enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to in the coming year.
Is Your Ugly Drum Smoker Ready for 2024?
Browse our accessories and kits that help you get the most from your ugly drum smoker: