Cooking food on a barbecue is the perfect way to enjoy cooking and dining. This blog reveals how to cook on a charcoal and gas barbecue.
If you simply want to see which are the best barbecues for grilling great-tasting food, head straight to Buying the Best BBQ.
How to light a charcoal BBQ
Pile the charcoal into a mound under the centre of the grill, placing a few natural firelighters at easy-to-reach points. Light the charcoal and open the vents in the basin - this will allow air to circulate, which will help the fire to burn hotter.
Leave the charcoal to burn for around 20 - 30 minutes, or until the flame has died and the charcoal is glowing and covered in a layer of white ash.
Use a metal rake or pair of tongs to spread the coals evenly across the charcoal grate – this will help deliver an even heat across the grill above.
Use the vents on a charcoal BBQ to adjust heat levels.
How to barbecue over charcoal
Close the vents and place food at the centre of the grill. Start with items that will take the longest to cook, such as chicken pieces. Grill meat – turning it continuously – until it has browned evenly.
If the barbecue has a hood, move food to the edges of the grill and put the hood on. This traps heat inside and helps cook food all the way through. It will also help food cook more quickly.
Exact cooking times will vary depending on the food you’re cooking and how much heat your barbecue generates. As a rough guide, sausages and burgers will need around five minutes to cook through; chunkier meat, such as chicken thighs, will need about 10 minutes and larger cuts and joints of meat will take 20 minutes or longer.
Barbecues without hoods may have height-adjustable grills which allow you to adjust the cooking temperature. You can move the grill towards charcoal for more heat, or move it away to lower the temperature.
How to barbecue over gas
Light the burners and turn them up to full power. If there’s a hood, close it – this will help the barbecue heat up more quickly.
The temperature needs to reach 200-250°C before you start cooking. Depending on how powerful the barbecue is and whether or not it has a hood, it will take around 10 – 20 minutes to heat up.
Turn the heat down a little and place food at the centre of the grill. Cook meat until it has browned evenly on all sides, then lower the heat and close the hood to help food cook through.
Top gas tips:
Some gas models come with lava rocks – these vaporise meat and marinade juices dripping from the grill which infuses food with a deliciously char-grilled flavour.
Choose a powerful gas barbecue that can generate a high heat so food cooks through quickly. This will help meat retain its moisture and flavour.
Warming racks on gas barbecues are ideal for resting quick-cooking food away from the heat while meat is finishing off on the grill.
If you want to buy a gas grill and find the best one for your budget, see our Best BBQ Buys Section.