Barbecue is growing moderately in restaurants, with overall barbecue menu items growing 11 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2019, according to Chicago-based Mintel International's Menu Insights (MMI). In menu dishes featuring barbecue sauces, among the quickest growing are boneless chicken wings (up 32 percent), chicken wings (up 13 percent), barbecue pizza (up 13 percent) and bacon burgers (up 4 percent).
People who follow diet trends such as the Keto diet are gravitating toward grilled, fire and roasted cooking processes, says Phil Butler, vice president of company stores and culinary at Dickey's Barbecue Restaurant, based in Dallas. In turn, hickory-smoked chicken breasts have been popular for Dickey's 500 locations along with hickory-smoked turkey sandwiches. On the other hand, fried chicken items still remain popular too.
As a Texas barbecue operator, brisket remains the big seller for Dickey's. The chain continues to innovate, though, with two new sandwiches, the 'Cueban, a citrus pulled pork with jalapeno cheddar sausage, mustard and pickles, along with the Double Dip, sliced smoked brisket, caramelized smoked onions, cheddar cheese and a smoked beef au jus. Additionally, Dickey's is offering burnt ends in targeted markets and a Texas-style chili featuring its chopped smoked brisket.