6 common barbecuing mistakes – and how to fix them

11:59am, Tue 30 Mar 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Not all barbecues are created equal: some feature an array of perfectly marinated meats and sides all cooked to perfection, and others offer dry burgers and a distinct lack of condiments.

Presenter Gregg Wallace has been to his fair share of disappointing cookouts – he told the Radio Times: “Every barbecue I have ever been to was rubbish. I turn up and find the same lump of uncooked meat on a paper plate and I have to try to cut it with a plastic fork in one hand and a drink in the other.”

The MasterChef judge admitted a successful barbecue is “one of the most difficult techniques known to man” – but that doesn’t stop us from attempting outdoor feasts at home.

As the weather starts to heat up and we look forward to a bank holiday weekend, many of us will be breaking out the barbecue for the first time this year. If you don’t want your food to be deemed “rubbish”, it could be worth avoiding these common mistakes…

Mistake 1: Bland food

Solution: Marinate everything

If you want your food to be packed with flavour, it’s worth marinating your meat and veg the night before.

It doesn’t have to be overly elaborate – a mix of garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper will go a long way – but it’s also the perfect opportunity for you to really push the boat out with mouth-watering flavour combinations.

Mistake 2: Food sticking to the barbecue

Solution: Make sure you oil the grill

We’ve all been there: desperately grabbing a spatula and trying to scrape off food that’s stuck to the grill. This panic can be easily averted by oiling your barbecue – but make sure you do it before lighting up, as you don’t want to get oil on an open flame.

Mistake 3: Burnt skewers

Solution: Soak them beforehand

Kebabs are a staple of any good barbecue, but nothing is worse than wooden skewers burning before the meat and veg has had time to cook. There’s an easy fix for this: soak your skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before sliding your veggies on, so they don’t catch on fire.

If you always forget to pre-soak your skewers, it could be worth investing in metal versions instead.

Mistake 4: Food that’s burnt on the outside, raw on the inside

Solution: Watch your flame

It’s easy to fall into the trap of nurturing as big a flame as possible, but this will likely result in overly charred food you can’t guarantee is properly cooked all the way through. Instead, slow and steady wins the race – you want white hot coals and to build up the heat gradually for better control. Pro tip: stop unnecessarily opening the lid of your barbecue – oxygen feeds the flames, giving you less control. Also, investigate bbq ‘zones’ – YouTube will sort you out on this front.

Mistake 5: Making it a meat fiesta

Solution: Really consider veggies and sides

When many people think of a barbecue, their mind immediately turns to meat. While you really can’t go wrong with a good grilled burger or steak, you’re missing a trick if you forget about vegetarian options and sides.

Even if you don’t have any veggie friends coming over, meat-free options will elevate any barbecue. Corn on the cob is always a great shout, and you can kick things up a notch with jerk marinated aubergine or barbecued feta and pesto.

Mistake 6: Not resting your meat

Solution: You guessed it – rest it

This one’s a very easy fix. Instead of serving your meat fresh off the barbecue, let it sit off the heat for a few minutes so the juices can redistribute, the heat can level out and it’s as tender and juicy as possible.

Sign up to our newsletter