If 2020 was the year of the barbecue and outdoor dining, 2021 is when the nation plans to upskill their grill, according to new research from Weber, the world’s leading barbecue brand.

More than half of people polled said they have improved their grill skills since lockdown 1.0 and a quarter are now better at it than ever before. A third also confirmed that taking their barbecuing skills to the next level is their main goal for 2021.

And, with one in 10 taking to the grill daily during the pandemic and 48 per cent making it a weekly ritual, there’s plenty of opportunity to turn the tongs to something new. Not only did people wait for the warmer months to light those flames or turn on the gas - one in 10 weathered the cold on a weekly basis during winter too. 

Dan Cooper, Head Grill Master at Weber, said: "The increased frequency of barbecuing over the past 12 months is a signal that the barbecue has been a centrepiece for many households. It’s a place where people have been able to get together and enjoy good food with good company, safely.

“It seems people have dared to get a bit more adventurous with their meals and step out of their usual comfort zones - there is clearly an appetite for upskilling our grilling which is great to see.”

Before the pandemic, the most popular barbecue dishes included classic chicken drumsticks, corn on the cob, sausages, and burgers. This year, most people say they plan on going bigger and better (28 per cent). A fifth say that the barbecue has allowed them to be more experimental with their food – with a third cooking whole fish and meat joints.

And what better time to do it, with restrictions being lifted and entertaining up to six people in your garden being allowed this month, 37 per cent have already started planning their barbecues for the year ahead with a further 21 per cent planning on having friends and family over for a barbecue every weekend. On top of that, a fifth plan on buying a new barbecue in the coming months.

However, those who still lack confidence with a spatula put it down to lack of experience (35 per cent), worrying they’ll burn it (27 per cent), fear they’ll undercook it (53 per cent), or dread it’ll be overcooked (26 per cent). And a quarter said they feel nervous about not having control over the temperature.

Chris Trewhitt, Marketing Director at Weber, added: “As restrictions begin to lift, people are planning ahead for all the things they’ve missed doing.

“Gathering friends and family for a barbecue whether in the garden or on a beach, is one of the simple outdoor pleasures we can enjoy this summer, and it’s clear from the results this is something people are really looking forward to.

“Last year we saw a huge rise in barbecue purchases, and it follows that Brits appear to be barbecuing more frequently and have an increased appetite for upskilling their grilling.

“At Weber we have launched a range of innovative products and accessories to help boost the nation’s grill skills.

“We have recently launched Weber Connect; a virtual barbecue assistant that helps you get it right every time. And for summer 2021 we will be introducing the world’s first smart gas grill using the Weber Connect technology, leaving no excuse for burned bangers and boring burgers!”

The Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub takes the guesswork and stress out of barbecue cooking thanks to its advanced grilling technology. Turning any barbecue into a smart grill, the Weber Connect provides step-by-step instructions and sends push notifications straight to a smartphone on everything from barbecue setup, to when food is ready to season, flip, serve, and eat. So, whether you’re looking to perfectly roast a chicken, sear a steak or create stunning vegetable kebabs you can get the perfect result every single time.

And, with nearly half of people surveyed agreeing that food tastes better cooked on the grill than it does in the oven, now is the time to get your tongs, fire up the grill and try something new.