Who doesn’t love a good barbecue? It’s a great way to entertain while enjoying the beautiful weather. However, these outdoor events are not easy to plan or nail.
You want to make sure that your guests will remember your barbecue, and not for all of the wrong reasons. If you want your place to be the hotspot this summer, you want to make sure that you throw a killer BBQ.
These are tips that will help to ensure that your event is a big hit with guests.
How To Prepare For Your BBQ
- Take a look at the weather
- Plan what type of food you want to cook
- Have enough fuel for your grill
- Do prep work the night before your BBQ (salads, marinating meat, etc.)
- Have enough seating ready and cleaned
A major part of this is the preparation that goes into the event. One of the biggest parts of this is taking a look at the weather, if you can. If not, do you have a backup plan? This includes extra space inside to entertain or even getting tents to protect guests from the elements. Weather can be unpredictable so having a backup plan can be a big help.
Next, you need to plan the most important part of the event: the food. What type of food will you be cooking? Is it a pot luck or are you providing most of the food? To make things easier for you, you can ask your guests to bring drinks, sides, and desserts so that you can focus on the big dishes of the event. Typical things that you can make include hamburgers, sausages, and hot dogs. However, you can make any great dishes that you want, such as steaks, marinated chicken, and pork. Plan food that your guests are sure to enjoy. Once you get this menu down, you can create a shopping list. Be sure to remember the veggies for sides or even main dishes for those guests who don’t eat meat.
Is your grill ready for guests? Be sure that you have plenty of fuel (propane, charcoal, etc.) for your event. You want to make sure that it is properly cleaned, and parts are replaced, if needed. This is much easier to do if you regularly clean your grill after use. When you think you have enough fuel or wood chips for flavoring, you may want to consider buying a little extra for just in case. You don’t want to run out in the middle of your barbecue.
The night before, do as much prep work as you possibly can. You should marinate any meats that you need to overnight in the fridge. Chop up veggies, and prep salads without putting any dressing on it. If you are making sides like potato salad or macaroni salad, these can also be made the night before. By doing all of this prep work the night before, you can spend more time enjoying yourself at the barbecue. Spend the day before working so that all you have to worry about is cooking great food and entertaining your guests.[i]
You should also be sure that you have enough seating and that the seating you have is cleaned off. You may want to borrow or rent tables and chairs if you don’t have enough for your guests. Also make sure that you have all of the tools and other supplies that you need to properly grill, such as aprons, utensils, and fuel.
Tips For Better Grilling
- Preheat your grill before you begin cooking on it
- After preheating use a wire brush to clean grill rack
- Use a chimney starter to get coals ready quicker
- Use a grill basket for cooking small dishes like vegetables
- Use wood chips from fruit trees to further enhance flavor
- Cooking low and slow can be better than too much heat
- Don’t check on food too often because heat escapes
- After grilling, let the food rest for a few minutes
- Use tongs or a spatula to flip meat
- Start grilling meat in direct heat, then move It to indirect heat area
- Put sauce and glaze on the meat at the end of grilling
While your guests are obviously excited to come to your BBQ to hang out with you and their other friends, the main event of any BBQ is the food. People are going to be much less likely to attend your party or they won’t eat your food, if the grilling isn’t great. Fortunately, you can learn how to become a great grill chef just by following these tips. You may even turn into a grillmaster with enough practice.
First of all, you should always preheat your grill before you begin cooking on it. This will not only ensure that you kill any bacteria that may be in the grill, but this will ensure that you can kill the bacteria on your food. You want the food to get a nice sear on it when it comes into contact with the grill, which is essential for keeping the food juicy on the inside while caramelizing the food on the outside for extra flavor. After the grill has preheated, take this time to use the wire grill brush to clean off any debris on the grill.[ii]
Do you struggle with getting your charcoal to heat up in a timely fashion? Anyone with a charcoal grill should invest in a chimney starter (they sell for only about $15 USD on Amazon). These are simple to use and allow you to heat up your coals in just about 2 minutes, without requiring the use of lighter fuel. To use a chimney starter, you just put some paper at the bottom and fill it with charcoal (on top of the paper). Then, light the bottom of the chimney where the paper is. After about 20 minutes, the coals should be sufficiently heated up for you to spread out evenly in your grill.
Are you cooking vegetables or small pieces of meats? A grill basket can be an essential tool for cooking those items that tend to slip through the grill rack or that may be annoying to flip individually. These can be relatively inexpensive but are made specifically for grilling these items. These come in different varieties based on what needs you may have. Either way, grill baskets are versatile and amazing products to have when grilling these more complicated items.
Wood chips can be a great addition to grilling any dish, offering extra flavor that can really make your food stand out. Wood chips that come from fruit trees tend to offer the best flavor, which is why this is the preferred choice for professional grillmasters. Some of the best options can include peach, cherry, apple, and grape. Why are fruit trees the preferred choice in wood chips? This is because you will get fewer impurities in fruit trees, plus they have a mild flavor but are high in sap. These are great for the best flavor profiles. It is recommended that you soak the wood chips in water for at least an hour before cooking, though some would tell you it would be best to soak them overnight. This will cause the wood to produce more smoke, which further enhances the flavor.[iii]
There are a few things to know about the technique for properly grilling. For one thing, low and slow can be a much better approach for cooking most foods. You don’t want to run the risk of completely charring everything in your grill. You should also resist the urge to constantly check your food, as this can cause your food to not cook as well. Every time that you open up your grill, you are letting heat out. It is best if you leave it closed and check every hour or so, depending on what you are cooking. Things like hot dogs or burgers will cook a lot faster so this doesn’t apply to that.
It can be tempting to want to dig into your grilled meat as soon as they come off the grill, but you should let your food rest before serving it. You only really need to let it rest for a few minutes, though sometimes this can be longer depending on the meat. This will help to seal the juices in and prevent the meat from getting too dry. That being said, it is also recommended that you don’t poke any holes in the meat while cooking. This means that you should stick to using a spatula or barbecue tongs to flip your food. By poking holes into the meat while cooking, you are letting these amazing juices escape from your food.
Cleaning up the grill afterwards can be an unpleasant task, which is why you should consider lining the inside of the grill with tin foil and protecting the grill rack. Some people use tin foil, but this causes you to lose those grill marks that people love on grilled food. There are options like the silicone grill mats, which protect your grill from getting food stuck on it while also preventing food from slipping through the rack. Unlike tin foil, when you use a silicone grill mat, you still get the benefit of grill marks on the food – they also sell super cheap on Amazon.
Grills tend to have 2 zones: direct heat and indirect heat. Direct heat is the area where the food is directly above the flame, the hottest part of the grill. This part of the grill is the best part for you to sear your meats or to get those perfectly delicious looking grill marks. The problem with this area is that if you keep your food on this part of the grill is that you run the risk of overcooking your food on the outside while it is still undercooked in the center. Indirect heat is still very warm due to the grill being preheated, but the food is not in contact with the flame. Ideally, you will start the food off on the direct heat to get your food seared then move your food to the indirect heat.
When do you put your sauces on the food while cooking? While you may be tempted to put the sauce or glaze on the food as soon as you get it on the grill, you should actually wait until the end to do this. By constantly adding sauce to the meat when cooking, you are making it more likely that the food will start to char when cooking. For the best results, brush on about 1/3 or even ½ of the sauce (or drizzle, if you prefer) towards the end of the cooking. Then, put the rest of the sauce on when you are serving out your food.
Another common question that people may have is whether or not they should go with a charcoal or a gas grill. The simplest answer is that this is all based on your own personal preference. Each option has their own advantages to it, such as gas grills offer more convenience and is a greener way to cook while charcoal can be more complicated but has a smokier taste that people love. Charcoal grills are also often cheaper than gas grills.
Proper Temperatures For Grilling
The temperature for cooking will depend on your needs. If you are looking to cook on high heat, the grill should be between 400-450 degrees. For medium-high heat, the grill should be about 350-400 degrees. A medium heat would be between 300 and 350 degrees. Finally, for low and slow heat, you want your grill to be between 250 and 300 degrees.[iv]
While most grills have thermometers so that you can see what the grill’s temperature is, you may not have this tool. Fortunately, your hand can be a good indicator of how hot the grill is. The amount of time that you can hold your hand over the heat will help you determine the heat in the grill. For low heat, you will only be able to hold your hand over the heat for 10 seconds before your body’s burn reflex reacts to the heat. This can take between 4 and 6 seconds on medium heat. At high heat, you won’t be able to hold your hand over the heat for more than a few seconds.[v]
Preheating Your Grill
- Open the lid and light the grill
- Turn heat to maximum and close the lid
- Preheat the grill for 15 to 20 minutes
- Adjust temperature for cooking afterwards
Preheating your grill is important because it allows the grill rack to heat up to the right temperature, allowing you to sear the food and get those grill marks that you want on your food. This is also important because it can help remove debris that has been left behind by previous use. You should preheat your grill for about 15 minutes, though you may want to wait for 20 minutes before you use your grill. The time can actually vary depending on how hot or cold it is outside when you intend to use your grill.
To preheat a gas grill, you need to open up the lid and light it. Turn the heat to its maximum, close the lid, then wait between 15 and 20 minutes. When it’s time for you to get cooking, you can adjust the temperature as needed. For a charcoal grill, it would be a good idea to use a chimney starter to help you heat up the briquettes. If you use a chimney starter, spread the briquettes evenly inside of the grill. If you don’t, light the charcoal up and leave the lid off until the briquettes turn white and ashy. When this happens, cover the grill then wait about 15 minutes.[vi]
Best Foods For Your BBQ
As previously mentioned, the food is the most important part of your BBQ. In order to have your event really stand out, you want to be sure that your food is amazing. You could do the standard options like burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and BBQ chicken, but the options are endless when it comes to grilling. This will give you some ideas on some unique dishes that you can create to make your BBQ a truly great experience.
Grilled pizza can be such a delicious option that can be pretty easy to do especially if you have a smaller gathering. Take some dough out, flatten it, then spread olive oil on both sides of the dough. Grill both sides, then set out the shells and allow people to put the toppings of their choice on them. Then, you can quickly put the pizzas back on indirect heat to melt the cheese.
You can also grilled items like fruit, bread, and seafood. Grilled fruit can make an amazing dessert thanks to the caramelization from the grilling. Seafood is a healthy choice and you can make it in a variety of different ways on the grill. For instance, you can take a filet of fish with lemons, butter, and herbs, and wrap it together in tin foil before putting it on the grill. Then put the wrapped up food directly on the heat.
These are just some of the great ideas that you can try for your next BBQ.
Common BBQ Mistakes
- Not preheating the grill early enough
- Not adjusting temperature after preheating
- Undercooking meats
- Not preparing BBQ foods ahead of time
- Not cleaning your grill
There are plenty of things that can go wrong when you are throwing a barbecue. Fortunately, but following these tips you can learn about these common missteps to avoid those problems in the future. Here are some of the biggest and most common mistakes that people make at their BBQ.
Easily one of the biggest mistakes is that you don’t start preheating your grill early enough. Sometimes it can take up to 30 minutes to preheat your grill, and that doesn’t even count the time that it takes to cook on it. It can be a great idea for you to not wait for your guests to show up to heat up the grill. Instead, you should start the grill early then start cooking so that the food is done not long after your guests arrive. If needed, you can keep the food warm in the grill.
Another common mistake is that people put food on their grill when they have lit it. What this does is make it so that the outside gets charred while the inside remains raw. For most things, you should wait until the flames have died down a little bit before you put the food on the grill. With things like steak or chops, you can still put these items on the grill while the flame is hot.[vii]
Undercooking your meat can be a huge mistake, one that can actually make guests sick. The meat could look done on the outside, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the insides are cooked properly. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your food is cooked to the proper temperatures. Steaks should be at least 145 degrees, while poultry shoulder be cooked to at least 165 degrees. When meats aren’t cooked to the proper temperatures, you can put your guests at risk for food poisoning.
Sometimes people wait until it’s BBQ time to cook certain foods. You can not only save time by pre-cooking some food options, but you can also help keep these foods juicy. Things like marinated chicken and sausages are excellent to partially cook the day before, then finished off on the grill. This will help you get a more flavorful item as well as one with those delicious grill marks.
It is always important to clean the grill. Sometimes you may forget to after the last time that you have used it, but you should always clean it before you start cooking. Not only can this leave a bad tasting residue on your meat, it can also cause your meat to stick to the grill rack. There is also the chance that this can carry bacteria that could make guests sick. If you notice that your grill needs to be cleaned, take advantage of your grill preheating to clean your grill. You can either clean it with a wire grill brush, if you have one, or use aluminum foil balled up and held by tongs. The heat from the preheated grill will loosen up the debris so that you can properly clean your grill.
Barbecues offer an excellent way for you to entertain your guests and enjoy the amazing weather. When you follow these tips, you can blow your guests away with your grilling skills. Patience is everything when it comes to your barbecue, so be sure that you don’t rush anything.
importantly, you need to take the time to interact with your guests. This isn’t just about you cooking for your friends; it’s a way for
you to get together with the people who matter the most to you. You may have
been a grilling novice prior to these tips, but now you can create a memorable
experience for all of your guests.