Last updated: June 19, 2022
Often, when it comes to backyard barbecues and cook outs, people look to make some of their best dishes. Barbecues can be a time to meet up with old friends you haven’t seen in a while and family you’ve started to miss. As a result, barbecues have become a chance to connect and spend time with others, all while having fun together. So, with the chance to have fun comes the opportunity to eat good food and have cool drinks.
Though, sometimes, ordinary burgers and steaks can make a backyard party a little more boring than it could be. That’s why using unique ingredients in marinades and sauces has started to become more common for cookouts. The different and unique flavours can add a new taste to a dish that, in turn, makes it far better than expected. With these kinds of dishes, you can get new things to talk about at cookouts, adding a new level of excitement.
Click here if you’re looking for new equipment or rubs to try out at your next cookout. If you’re looking for new and unique ingredients to add a twist to your classic barbecue dishes, we cover some of the best and most useful ones in this article.
One great option to add a unique type of heat to your steaks and burgers is a Tunisian spice paste called harissa. If you can’t find a shop nearby to buy harissa, many of the ingredients can be found at home as well. Simpler versions of homemade harissa use dry red chilis, garlic, citrus, olive oil, cumin, coriander and caraway.
Primarily used in North African cuisine, the spicy flavours are great for adding heat to marinades for both meats and vegetables or it can be mixed into homemade burgers and hotdogs. It can also be a good addition to dips and soups, in case you’d rather keep your main dish milder.
Lemon juice, though a common ingredient, has a number of great qualities to it as an ingredient. The sourness of the juice allows it to reduce the heaviness of fattier and creamier foods, effectively making them much easier to eat. When it comes to juicer steaks and cuts of meat, a little lemon in a side dish or even in the marinade can make the main dish easier to eat.
Lemon juice can also freshen up a dish, like pastas or even salads. However, it’s important to use a little, since the sourness and acidity of the juice can easily overpower many other seasonings and flavours. When used in sweeter dishes, a dash of lemon juice can even enhance the overall flavour.
In a similar way to spicier seasonings, horseradish can be a great addition to most dishes. Whether it’s used as a paste or freshly grated into dishes and marinades, the vegetable can add a spicy kick to whatever you add it to without the lingering afterburn. When added to salads, relishes and sauces, the horseradish can add spiciness. However, when used together with roasted meats, fat heavy or oily dishes, it can instead provide a fresh crispness that cuts through the meat’s taste.
Primarily a Japanese fruit, yuzu is a great alternative to lemon juice. The citrus fruit has a floral tanginess that has started to grow in popularity outside of Japan, especially in dipping sauces and desserts. If you want to add more than just a tanginess to a dish, you can also try yuzu kosho, a Japanese paste mixed together from salt, chilies and the yuzu’s fruit. Overall, yuzu is a great option to try on steaks, fish and vegetables, as well as tofu for more vegan friendly alternatives.
Another more common addition to marinades and seasonings, vinegar’s acidity can be used to liven up a wide range of dishes. Though primarily used as a way to get marinades deeper into meats, vinegar can also be added to coleslaw and mac ‘n cheese as well as some fruits for the more daring individual. What makes vinegar a great option for your backyard cookout is the range of different types that you can use.
Though all vinegars can be incredibly acidic to some people, rice vinegar can be used to add a sweeter taste while cider vinegar can give a milder, more apple hints to a dish. Depending on what you need and how bold of a flavour you want, choose your type of vinegar accordingly.
Today, greek yogurt has become more of a staple in many dishes and restaurants, now more than just a quick healthy snack. Greek yogurt can be used as a base in a marinade, adding a creaminess to meat while also acting as a tenderising agent. The yogurt can also be used for dips and can be added to cakes and mac ‘n cheese to provide the dairy content to the dish.
Using maple syrup for something that isn’t a topping for waffles and pancakes can seem a little outlandish at first. However, substituting sugar for maple syrup for the sweeter ingredients in main dishes can add a unique taste without the need for any additional smoking chips. The maple syrup can harden and help from a crust when mixed into marinades, providing a crunch that may not have been there otherwise. Additionally, when put into coleslaw or non-leafy salads, it can act like a sweeter dressing, especially when combined with a splash of balsamic vinegar.
A lesser known ingredient that can make a barbecue even better is a bit of ground coffee. Beyond its usual use in drinks and desserts, coffee can also be used to enhance roast and other barbecued meats. It can also be directly added to rubs to add a slight bitter note.
There are many different ingredients you can add to a dish to add a unique flavour that no one would expect. Whether it’s adding a splash of vinegar to a fruit salad or a tablespoon of maple syrup to your steaks’ marinades, these secret ingredients can make your cookouts an event to remember.
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