February 24, 2016

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Although die-hard grilling enthusiasts never let cold weather get in the way of outdoor cooking, spring often heralds the barbecue season. Here are a few trends in backyard BBQs to look for in 2016.

Smokers: A growing number of consumers are taking up the hobby of smoking meats at home. Small-batch artisan bacon, smoked fish, and slow-smoked BBQ have taken the culinary world by storm, and along the way have grabbed the attention of the home cook.

Pellet smokers and grills: Along with the increased interest in home smoking, more people are looking at smokers and grills that utilize pelletized hardwood, such as those sold by Traeger (www.traegergrills.com). Pellet grills use an indirect cooking method, thus reducing the formation of carcinogenic chemicals on food and making the food tastier and healthier, according to manufacturers.

Technology: As with most other things in the modern world, smart technology has made its way into the category of grilling and smoking. Charbroil Simple Smoker with SmartChef technology (www.charbroil.com) keeps home cooks notified of temperatures and when food should be checked, and iGrill thermometers let cooks close the grill and visit with guests until food is done (www.idevicesinc.com).

Pizza on the grill: This trend from 2015 should continue to experience interest as more consumers desire the artisan quality of wood-fired or hearth-baked pizza. A growing number of stand-alone outdoor pizza ovens are available, as well as portable units that utilize grills for their heat source (making them great for tailgating). Check out Fontana Ovens (www.fontanaforniusa.com), Alfa (www.alfapizza.it), KettlePizza (www.kettlepizza.com), and BakerStone Pizza Oven Box (www.bakerstonebox.com), among others.

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