Items Added

Our Blog

BBQ Trends in the UK Study

Posted on

With the clouds finally clearing, BBQ season is nearly upon us, and we’re dishing out some fresh insight into the ongoing love affair between Brits and their BBQs. New research suggests that British BBQ inspiration is becoming more global, and that bad weather doesn’t necessarily mean the end for your outdoor event. 
In our study, it was revealed that nearly 1 in 5 Brits (17%) prefer to play host for a BBQ instead of attending one, while nearly half (47%) are happier as guests. Those that favour hosting are more likely to be men (20%) than women (14%), and the lads are also slightly more likely to make new friends at a BBQ than the ladies (17% vs 10%). 
Love is often in the air at BBQs, with nearly 1 in 20 people reporting to have met their significant other at a BBQ, proving that there’s still potential for making connections organically and away from the dating apps. Of the sexes, men (8%) are 4x more likely to make romantic moves at BBQs than women (2%). 
While BBQs are usually associated with summer months and sunshine, 1 in 10 Brits will brave the elements no matter the season and host BBQs year-round. When it comes to who’s doing the hosting, it’s Gen Z-ers and Millennials aged 25-44 who are most likely to want to put on a spread, making up a combined 39% of BBQ hosts.  

Where and How Often are Brits BBQing?  

The results of the study show that 42% of Brits are hosting or attending 2-3 BBQs a year. It’s not often all the stars align for the perfect BBQ opportunity, but when they do, Brits get grilling! 

When it comes to BBQ frequency, Gen Z are putting up big numbers, with 22% of 18-24 year olds attending an average of 6-10 BBQs a year. For younger adults, many of whom still live at home or in shared properties, an outdoor get together such as a BBQ can be a cost-effective way to be social with large groups, no matter the restrictions of their living situations.  
When it comes to where BBQs are held, a relatively high proportion of the top locations - such as Aberystwyth and Brighton - are coastal areas, perhaps due to favourable weather, or surroundings that inspire outdoor gatherings.  

The Most Used Sauces at BBQs 

It won’t come as a surprise that tomato ketchup can be found at the majority of BBQs held in the UK (84%). Looking past the obvious familiar faces, it seems like a healthy proportion of Brits are looking to turn up the heat at their BBQs, with roughly 1 in 4 reaching for the Hot Sauce (26%) and Peri Peri Sauce (24%). As well as Hot Sauce, the presence of Jerk BBQ Sauce on the list of favourites hints at the huge influence the Caribbean has had on British BBQ culture - especially when looked at in relation to the number of Brits with Caribbean heritage, which is less than 2% of the population. 

Favourite BBQ Staples in the UK 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, meat products dominate the grill at British BBQs, with sausages, burgers and chicken proving to be the most popular food choices. Likely driven by their inherent suitability to being cooked over a flame, there are also almost certainly some cultural explanations for why meats are such a popular choice at BBQs. Over the last few years, protein intake has become a big conversation on social media, with health influencers like Eddie Abew and Bear Grylls promoting meat consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle.


When it comes to veggie options, the younger generation appears to be leading the charge, with Gen Z and younger Millennials being more likely to pick vegan and vegetarian options than their older counterparts. 25-34 year olds are more likely to opt for a vegan burger than any other age group, closely followed by 18-24 year olds, suggesting shifting attitudes towards meat consumption, be it for ethical, health-based, or ecological reasons.

UK’s Favourite BBQ Sides

When it comes to BBQs, side dishes are no small concern, particularly for vegan and vegetarian guests who may not be eating meat-based main dishes. Just under half of the most popular side dishes are potato-based, with people looking for sweet and starchy accompaniments to their main meals in the form of potato salad (16%), chips (12%), jacket potatoes (10%) and sweet potatoes (3%). When it comes to potato salads, the perfect recipe will likely always be a point of contention, as many cultures have their own specific ideas on how to prepare the dish.
Coleslaw (17%) and salad (also 17%) top the list, likely owing to the fact that their freshness and high fibre content make them a great complement to meat dishes.


Seasoning Selections

As regular grillers know, there’s a lot more to a BBQ than throwing things onto a grill and hoping for the best. A lot of time and thought goes into selecting the right seasonings for your food. Outside of the UK, it is often joked that Brits are allergic to seasoning their food. Our data shows that nearly 1 in 5 don’t use any of the seasonings suggested in the survey – so maybe there is some truth behind the banter! 

BBQ seasoning comes out on top with just over a quarter of Brits (28%) citing it as their favourite. Flavours such as Peri Peri and Cajun, popularised by well-known food chains, are also high on the list, and while Chipotle may be a household name in the US, it’s still finding its footing in UK palettes. Only 4% claim it as their first choice. 

Also making the list is the lesser known suya, a smokey, nutty Nigerian spice mix, which is iconic across West Africa and becoming increasingly popular in the UK, speaking to UK’s love for new and exciting international flavours.  

International Inspiration

When looking to add some international flavour to their BBQs, there are a few cuisines that Brits are more inclined to recreate than others. The three most popular options with only 1% difference between them are Greek (21%), Caribbean (20%) and Indian (20%).  

BBQ budgets

Funding a BBQ can depend on a lot of factors – how many mouths you’re feeding, the kind of food you want to cook, and whether or not you expect guests to contribute (more on that later). Just over a third of the population (35%) spend under £100 on a BBQ, with 4% of those spending less than £20, which is perhaps a reflection of the impact of the euphemistically named ‘cosy livs’.
Nearly 1 in 5 Brits (19%) aren’t aware of how much they usually spend on a BBQ. This perhaps suggests that the social benefits to a good BBQ can outweigh the cost considerations. 
Budget is another area in which a slight gender divide can be observed. 1 in 5 men are willing to spend between £101-£151 on their BBQs, whereas only 1 in 8 women would pay the same amount. 

Why Host a BBQ?

British weather is a powerful force, with Brits often using its unpredictable nature to excuse their needs – whether that’s staying in, going out, hitting the pub, or indeed having a BBQ. Good weather is the number one factor in choosing to host a BBQ, with 73% Brits citing the sun being out as a good enough reason. Celebrations such as birthdays and positive exam results are also popular (58%), as are bank holidays and other public holidays (49%).  
A cheeky 1 in 10 will host a BBQ as an excuse to show off a new home or renovations, while 16% of 25-34 year olds admit to hosting BBQs as a source of social media content, which speaks to the perceived importance of social media in our lives. And when it comes to showing off, men are more likely than women to organise a BBQ to flaunt a home renovation (12% vs 8%), and likelier to make a show of their grill skills on social media (8% vs 2%)
As a nation of sport-lovers it’s not surprising that nearly a third of men (32%) will host BBQs specifically to celebrate and watch sporting events, many of which coincide with our warmer seasons. With this summer already being labelled as the ‘Summer of Sport’, with events such as the Paris Olympics, the Euros, and the T20 Cricket World Cup giving sports fans plenty to get stuck into, we can look forward to an array of amazing smells coming from grills across the country.

BBQ Etiquette

Are there unspoken rules of BBQ behaviour? It appears so, as many survey respondents have similar ideas about what should and shouldn’t be done when attending a BBQ. A quarter of BBQ regulars would expect guests to bring some kind of food as a contribution to the overall spread, and an even higher percentage (44%) would want guests to bring drinks. This isn’t surprising, as the communal nature of BBQs (not to mention the variations in modern dietary requirements) lends itself to group participation and sharing.  
Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) people think that men should be the ones wielding the tongs and fanning the flames of the barbecue. Whether it’s due to it involving playing with fire or handling meat, there seems to be a lingering belief that barbecuing is a man’s job – though 1 in 20 think that this role should now be held by women, a number that may well grow in time. 
When it comes to differing BBQ opinions between genders, the trend seems to be that men will look for more support from their guests than women. 20% of men expect guests to help clean up, compared to only 12% of women, and 12% of men think guests should contribute towards the overall costs, whereas only 5% of women agree.  

Who’s on the guest list?

One of the main benefits to BBQs has always been that they’re a particularly accessible event, ranging from family-friendly afternoons to music and punch-fuelled parties that can last well into the night. But as with every get-together, there are always going to be people you don’t want to put on your guest list. 
More than a third of Brits (35%) agree that bad behaviour at a previous BBQ is enough to get you uninvited from the next one - being too drunk, aggravating the neighbours, or making a mess might land you on the list of banned attendees. Speaking of the neighbours, only 7% of people would consider inviting their neighbours to their BBQ - and the majority of that 7% are of the Boomer and Gen X generations. Even if you happen to have friendly neighbours you can’t expect them to do all the work - another thing likely to get you taken off the guest list is failing to extend BBQ invites yourself, with 17% of men and 11% of women thinking this is a fair trade.  
Interestingly, over 1 in 5 people (22%) wouldn’t want any pets in attendance at their BBQs, which might be frustrating for dog-lovers looking to make the most of an outdoor event. Pampered pooches will have a better chance of being welcomed at a BBQ hosted by a woman, as only 20% of women would turn away dogs, compared to 25% of men. 
Speaking of mucky pups of a different nature, 1 in 10 (12%) hosts wouldn’t even want children at their BBQs, shirking the concept of BBQs being for the whole family and looking to enjoy some child-free fun in the sun. Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) of 25-34 year olds feel this way – possibly because they are a demographic whose children are likely to be younger and more in need of time and attention. Not too far behind, 15% of 18-24 year olds would also want to avoid kids crashing their BBQ. 
However, the most popular option in this section of the survey, chosen by 37% of respondents, was that everyone would be welcome at their BBQ. 42% of women and 31% of men would happily offer anyone a plate and a place at their BBQ, underscoring the important communal function of such events.  

More from our blog

Get recipes, discount codes and more!

Sign up to the Tropical Sun newsletter!