With summer upon us, it’s time to wipe the dust off the barbecue, top up the tan and get cooking al fresco

Image: Up your BBQ game with these cheffy touches

Photo: Jun Seita / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: jseita

We all love a good BBQ but let’s face it, truly mastering the art can be a challenge. So I’m going to show you how to be king of the grill with some cheffy flourishes.

First things first, choose your BBQ wisely. Gas is convenient but traditional charcoal imparts a wonderful, slightly smoky flavour and should be used over its modern counterpart Every. Single. Time!

It does require patience, so light your coals, kick back and only start cooking when flames are no more and your coal is grey.

1. Add wood for incredible flavour

Across the pond our American friends have been barbecuing over wood for centuries, which gently smokes the meat, imparting incredible flavour. Pick up some apple or cherry wood, soak it in water, place it on your coals and keep the lid shut for a whole new world of flavour.

Logs of wood burning

Photo: Patrick McFall / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: ruanon


2. Marinade, marinade, marinade

This is a fundamental factor in the success of the BBQ. Simple marinades like this​ work really well, or if you’re feeling adventurous spend a little longer with one like this. Put the time in in advance and you’ll reap the rewards on the big day!


3. Make up a herb marinating brush

Why not slather your meat or veg in your marinade using a herb brush? Tie a big bunch of rosemary together with a little string and baste continuously to subtly flavour your meat whilst cooking

Herb Brush


4. Cook ‘indirectly’

Push your coals to one side and put the meat on the other, pop the lid on and leave to cook gently. This allows your BBQ to behave like a smoky oven through long and slow cooking. This will take your food to new levels, trust me! 

Cook Indirectly

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: quinnanya


5. Pre-cook your chicken and sausages

If you find yourself with burnt skin but raw meat every time, pre-cook your chicken or sausages in your oven and finish them on the barbie. This will guarantee success, but maybe don’t let your mates in on the secret.

Pre-cook chicken

Photo: Elsie Hui / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: elsiehui


6. Don’t neglect the sides

Big platters of delicious sides bring the BBQ together so make sure you get them right. Wrap potatoes in tin foil with the same butter used here and cook ‘indirectly’ (see above) until soft alongside the sweetcorn. A classic coleslaw and a tomato and mozzarella salad always goes down a storm.


7. Keep the lid on

Fire thrives in oxygen so once you’ve started cooking, close your vents and pop on the lid to prevent fats causing flames and turning your garden party into a fire show.

Keep Lid On

Photo: Matt Baume / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: mattymatt


8. Create BBQ ‘beer can chicken’

Simply pop an open can of beer up a whole chicken’s backside, sit upright on the BBQ and cook indirectly with the lid closed for about an hour for something truly unique!

BBQ Beer Can Chicken

Photo: Jamie McCaffrey / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: Jamie McCaffrey


9. Grab yourself a meat thermometer

Answer those ‘is it done yet?’ questions with science. Simply probe with a meat thermometer – aim for above 70 degrees C for chicken and sausages, 60oC for medium beef or 56oC for medium rare.

Meat Thermometer

Photo: Naotake Murayama / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: naotakem


10. Brush a very thin layer of mayo onto fish to stop it sticking

Emulsified fats (ie mayo) form a thin layer on the fish surface during cooking and prevent your favourite fish from sticking. 


Photo: jules / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: stone-soup


11. Surprise with seafood and shellfish

Pop your mussels straight onto the BBQ, wait until they open and drizzle in a simple garlic butter for a seafood special. Alternatively slice squid, griddle quickly and in less than a minute they’ll have curled up and will be perfect to eat.

BBQ Seafood

Photo: Chris / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: cr01


12. BBQ your fresh fruit for dessert

Chargrilled fruit such as pineapple and peaches are wonderful brushed with a mixture of lime juice and sugar; sweet, sticky and unctuous.

BBQ Pineapple