Holy Smoke! Incorporating BBQ flavours in your menu

Don't let the Americans have all the fun

American cuisine is experiencing a resurgence in Australia as chefs begin experimenting with the traditional flavours of American BBQ. Of course, old recipes, techniques and processes are still important but savvy chefs know to keep an open mind and add a modern touch. There are no longer set rules for designing menus, as flavours blend and cuisines hybridise, chefs are becoming more experimental and consumers more adventurous.

Keep in mind, American fast foods and BBQ foods appeal to the masses, so unlike other food trends (like veganism for example), this one has much wider potential for growth and lots of room for experimental freedom.

So, is it time for BBQ 2.0? Let’s explore some of the best ways to incorporate the popular flavours in to your menu.

Smoke and mirrors

It’s all about the smokey flavours with American BBQ. Smokey flavours add a real comforting and decadent feel to food (so much so that regular restaurants are beginning to offer smoked infused brisket dishes on their menus). The smell also adds to the ‘vibe’ of a place, making it feel more authentic to customers. So don’t cut corners with added smoke flavours, do the real thing and smoke and slow-cook your meat yourself.


Not all American BBQ joints have succumbed to the novelty-factor, but those that have are experiencing huge success. Think: oversized bibs for eating messy ribs with your hands, buckets of chicken wings with dipping sauces and ‘Get it for free’ deals if you finish in a certain time. All provide much-needed social media fodder for venues and create entertainment for diners.

Flavour combos

Smoke isn’t the only flavour in BBQ. With sauces, marinades and glazes there is no shortage of room for experimentation with BBQ flavours. The best venues are incorporating paired flavours like sweet and tangy, Asian-BBQ or honey and mustard to keep customers’ tastebuds guessing.

Low and slow and sloppy

If you’re doing American BBQ right, your customers shouldn’t need teeth to eat your meat. Okay, maybe this is an overstatement, but it is something to keep in mind. Cook your meat low and slow – some venues do it for up to 24 hours – until the meat is so tender it falls right off the bone if you so much as stick a fork in it.


If you’re encouraging diners to eat with their hands keep in mind that some diners won’t want the full messy experience. Make sure you offer some meals that are slightly less hands on. Think: burgers, chilli dogs, BLTs, Philly cheesesteaks and reubens. The bread you choose is important here, don’t just go for classic Australian buns instead experiment with brioche, potato and milk buns.


Don’t forget the sides! If meat is the hero of American BBQ, sides are the trusty sidekick. Mac and cheese, chilli cheese fries and jalapeno poppers are classics, but don’t be afraid to incorporate some international flavour with croquettes or elote (Mexican corn on cob). Classic no-frills sides like Super Thick (or Texas) Toast, pickles, slaw and beans are also popular and keep the focus on the meat.


Are you considering adding some American influence to your menu? Or thinking of launching an all-American BBQ joint? Get in touch with our team to see how we can help with your menu.

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