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"The Secrets to Cooking Tender, Mouth-Watering BBQ Foods Revealed"

BBQ SteakHere in Australia, firing up the BBQ is a national pastime. It is pretty much assumed that everyone knows how to do it and do it well. And yet, every year we all go to barbies where the steaks are overcooked, the chicken skewers are undercooked, and the snags are straight up burnt!

On the surface, barbecuing seems pretty simple: make a fire, cover it with a grill, and put food on it until cooked. But like most things, there are subtleties and nuances to barbecuing that separate the good from the great…as well as the good from the utterly terrible.

Let’s go through a few of those basic nuances. And before you get too intimidated, don’t worry: barbecuing is still pretty simple.

Temperature Control

Whether it be the burner knobs on your gas BBQ, or the amount of charcoal used on your kettle BBQ, most BBQs have some form of temperature control. This is essential to cooking a variety of dishes, as different ingredients require different cooking temperatures and cooking times. For example, steaks like is hot and fast, while chickens like it cooler for longer.

Note: It is essential that the BBQ be preheated so that your cooking surface is already at the desired temperature before you throw your food on. For information on what temperature and cooking times to use for whatever it is that you’re cooking, consult recipes, your butcher, or the bloke down the road (that is unless he doesn’t know what he’s doing either).

So how do you tell when your cooking surface is hot enough? Well, there are a couple of different methods, some more accurate than others. There is the old-fashioned “hovering hand test”, which involves placing your hand just above the surface and measuring the amount of time before the heat becomes unbearable. The following can be used as a rough guide:

TIME (seconds)













For obvious reasons, this method comes with risks and is generally not recommended. Much safer and more accurate are surface grill gauges. These thermometers can be placed directly onto the cooking surface to provide a reading of the grill or hotplate’s temperature.

Note: You’ve probably noticed that many BBQs have a thermometer fitted in the hood and may be wondering why you can’t just use that. While the hood thermometer can provide an indication of the surface temperature, it is actually reading the temperature in the space within the BBQ, as opposed to the temperature of the actual cooking surface, which is considerably hotter. Furthermore, hood thermometers are notoriously inaccurate.

Play With Your Food, But Not Too Much

When it comes to touching your food once it’s on the BBQ, there are several schools of thought. Some chefs say that flipping regularly (approximately every 45 seconds to 1minute) and moving your food around to various parts of the cooking surface is essential for ensuring it is cooked evenly throughout. Others swear that the “flip it once and leave it alone” method is the secret to their success.

One thing that everyone seems to be able to agree on though is: don’t play with it too much. You need to allow time for the heat to get through the outer surface of the food and into the centre. So do some experimenting and see what works for you with various ingredients.

Note: Personally, I’m a flip it once chef, as shown by my advice on cooking the perfect steak, which can be found here. However I am experimenting with the "flip it several times" theory and I am getting some good results.I just might be won over!


One reason you may have to move your food around the cooking surface is flare-ups. These are the flames that shoot out of your grill when fat drips through the plate and onto the gas burners or coals. Don’t be afraid of flare-ups. In fact, they are one of the reasons barbecued food have their distinctive smoky taste.

At the same time, your food will end up looking and tasting like a piece of charcoal if subjected to too many flare-ups.

Get Your Roast On  

One of the least utilised BBQ techniques is indirect cooking, which is essentially roasting or baking. This is when the food is cooked by convective heat (the indirect heat around the food), as opposed to conductive heat (the direct heat beneath the food), and is essentially achieved by turning your BBQ into an oven.

In order to do this, simply lower the hood of your BBQ, place your food in the middle on a roasting tray, and turn off those burners or remove the coal that is directly beneath the food.

This is a great method for cooking large foods, such as a whole chicken, leg of lamb or rack of ribs, as it ensures the middle of the food will be cooked without burning the outside. Note however, that it does require significantly longer cooking times than traditional barbecuing.

Note: More detailed instructions on roasting with a BBQ can be found here.


Meat thermometer in roastKnowing when your meat is cooked to perfection is often the difference between good and great barbecued meals. It is also the most difficult aspect of barbecuing to master. Although it can be made easier with a few helpful techniques and tools.

Much like checking the temperature of the BBQ’s cooking surface, there are a couple of different options for finding out how well cooked your meat is. One option is to cut it open and have a look inside! This is not recommended, as it means releasing all of those delicious juices that have been sealed beneath the crispy outer layer.

Another option is to use the “touch test”, which involves knowing how stiff the meat should be when cooked to a certain degree. This method is difficult to master and requires a significant amount of experience.

The easiest and most accurate method for any amateur BBQ chef is a meat thermometer. These provide the temperature inside the meat, which can then be correlated with how well the meat is cooked.

Note: More information on meat thermometers can be found here.  

Cheat Sheet: Top 10 Barbecuing Tips

If all of this information is a bit too much too soon, start with our Top 10 Barbecuing Tips and go from there:

1. Clean your BBQ after every use: Cleaning it 2 weeks after cooking up is no fun, nor is cooking on a dirty BBQ.

2. Cook in a well-ventilated area away from flammable objects: This tip is fairly self-explanatory.

3. Plan first, cook second: This will ensure that your cooked steaks aren’t sitting around getting cold, while you’re just starting to cook the chicken.

4. Oil your food, not your hot plate: Oil on your food will help bring out its natural flavours, while oil on your hot plate will simply burn.

5. Use proper BBQ tools: Long-handled, good-quality tools will enable easy handling of your food, as well as prevent burnt arm hairs.

6. Keep an eye on it: On a BBQ, food can go from perfect to burnt in an instant, so keep an eye on things unless your barbecuing 'low and slow' style. In this case you'll let the heat out if you open the barbie too often.

7. Never spray water on flare-ups: If the flare-ups are too out of control, simply move your meat to a different part of the cooking surface, or trim some of the fat off the meat.

8. Add marinades at the end of the cooking process: Most marinades and sauces contain sugar, which will burn if left on the BBQ for too long.

9. Don’t mix raw food with cooked: Always use two plates: one for your raw food and one for your cooked food. Colour-coding helps.

10. Enjoy it: Cooking outdoors on the barbie is a lot of fun. Try to relax and enjoy it without stressing too much about the outcome – there’s always next time for redemption.


WARNING!! Don't Buy a BBQ until you've read this.. The 7 Most Costly Mistakes People Make When Buying a BBQ
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