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Beginner’s Guide To BBQ Cooking [Easy Even for Dummies]

There is nothing quite like a good old-fashioned BBQ cooking. Surrounded by family and friends, sitting around under the stars or sun. There’s just something about cooking outdoors, while enjoying a few drinks, the sound of laughter ringing out amidst happy conversation.

However, barbequing can also be disastrous, if you’re not sure what to do.

The Safety Rules

Before you even put anything on the flames, you will need to observe the following safety rules:

  • Keep the barbeque level at all times

  • If you have a kettle style barbeque, remove the lid while lighting and getting the coals started.

  • Never touch the charcoal, cooking grate or barbeque, when they are hot

  • Use proper tools, with long, heat resistant handles.

  • With the kettle type barbeque, control flare-ups by covering the flames.

  • Keep electrical cords away from the hot surfaces of the barbeque.

Helpful Hints

1. For Cooking with Charcoal

  • Allow 25-30 minutes for the coals to burn properly, before you start cooking
  • Use a good brand of charcoal and store it in a dry place
  • If using liquid fire starter, allow the starter to soak into the charcoal before lighting in several places
  • Coal should have a light coating of grey ash before you start cooking

2. For Cooking with Kettle Barbeque

  • When using charcoal lighter fluid, check if the fluid has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. If so, use a lit match to burn it off before you cook.  
  • Top and bottom vents should be open while cooking. Remember to use mitts when adjusting vents
  • When removing the lids during cooking; lift to the side and not straight up. Lifting straight up can cause a suction and the ashes will be drawn up onto the food

3. For Cooking on an Open Wood Fire

  • Ensure that the wood is good and dry, so it burns easily and doesn’t cause excessive smoke
  • Wait until the flames have burned down and the wood is red hot, before cooking on it – unless flame grilled steaks are the order of the day!
  • Always use extreme caution around open flames

Easy Grill Care

To make sure your grill lasts, some extra cares need to be implemented. Ensure it is cool and the coals are totally extinguished after each use. Clean off all ashes, and brush off with a grill brush or crumpled aluminium foil after each use. Give it a thorough wash once a year.

Cooking Instructions

For the usual grilled meat, before you place your meat on the grate, you should be able to comfortably hold your hand 10cm above it for 10 seconds. This will ensure that your meat doesn’t catch and burnt.

Grilled Steak

BBQ cooking

If You Love Your Meat Rare:

2-3cm thick should be cooked for 2 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes of the second side.

4cm thick should be cooked for 5 minutes on the first side and 6 minutes on the second.

5cm thick (for the really hungry!), do 7 minutes on the first side and 8 minutes on the second.

If You Prefer It Medium:

2-3cm thick; four minutes on each side.

4cm thick, cook for 7 minutes of the first side and 8 minutes on the second side.

5cm thick, cook for 9 minutes on each side.

For Well Done:

2-3cm thick should be cooked for 5 minutes on the first side and 6 minutes on the second side.

4cm thick should be cooked for 9 minutes each side

5cm thick, cook for 10 minutes on the first side and 11 on the second side.

Season with your preferred choice of herbs and spices and enjoy!


One of the best tips, when cooking meat on any type of barbeque, is that when the meat stops sticking to the grate, it’s ready to be turned. This means the side exposed to the heat is “sealed”, making it easy to turn. This is true of all types of meat

Kettle Barbeque

Kettle barbeques are very versatile, and you can do almost anything in them. One example of this is

Chilli Sauce Meat Loaf

You will need

  • 1kg of lean minced/ground beef

  • 25cl of chilli sauce

  • 2 medium chopped onions

  • 100g of quick-cooking oats

  • 2 eggs

  • 3 – 4 teaspoons of horseradish sauce

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper

  • 3 tablespoons mustard

Mix minced beef, chilli sauce, onions, oats, eggs, mustard, salt and pepper. Pack mixture evenly into a 22 x 12cm loaf pan. Spread chilli sauce over the top of the meatloaf.

Place meatloaf in the centre of the cooking grate and cook at about 160 degrees Fahrenheit (you can use a meat thermometer) for about an hour. Remove from the grill and leave to stand for fifteen minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Final Thought

On open fire, you can grill beef steak, lamb cutlets, hamburgers, chicken pieces, sausage and even fish! The smoke gives your meat a unique flavour that can’t be compared to any other. Experiment with different seasonings and braising sauces, as well as marinades.

A gas barbecue is invaluable for impromptu gatherings, when you haven’t got charcoal or cut wood. At the click of a button, you can have flames ready to whip up the tastiest meals. Want to know which models win our hearts? You definitely should check out here.

Of course, if you’re going to be travelling, and you don’t want to lug the kettle- or gas BBQ with you, the simplest way to barbecue is on an open fire, made with whatever dry wood you can find in the vicinity (but be careful not to burn the wood from noxious plants, as this could poison your meat). Light the fire, place some small rocks around it; balance the grate on that, and you’re ready to grill. This is especially useful if you’re fishing and you want to eat your catch there and then!

Likewise, an electric grill is also an absolute option for travelers. All you need is look for the power source, plug in and start grilling.

Barbecues are also great for making baked potatoes, roasted vegetables (or kebabs), toasting bread rolls, pretty much anything!

A good ol’ BBQ cooking is the tastiest way to bring friends together for some fun!

    Verner Ellen

    Hi, my name is Verner Ellen. I am a homebody whose interest is in getting the best home tools and equipments to help with the the everyday house chores. I also love fitness, cooking and grilling. Maintaining a clean and comfortable home is my lifelong passion.