How to BBQ at home – 8 essential tips and common mistakes to avoid

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This "how to make great BBQ at home" guide is sponsored by Bull’s-Eye.

If you’re eating the best barbecue, you want the best barbecue sauce. Next time you’re tucking into a Texas brisket or preparing a pulled pork shoulder, make sure you treat it with respect.

Don’t settle for any old sauce. Choose the best.

Learning how to make great BBQ at home is never as easy as it looks. Between the weather, naked flames and the potential for food poisoning, there are plenty of things that can and do go disastrously wrong.

READ MORE: Best BBQ restaurants in the world serving the top barbecue food revealed

In partnership with Bull’s-Eye barbecue sauce, we’ve brought together some top tips for brilliant barbecuing in the comfort of your own kitchen.

How to BBQ at home

Informed by expertise from the Twisted team, this guide will be the only thing you need to transform your slightly sorry burnt burgers into magnificent, flame-kissed masterpieces.

It might not beat Franklin’s brisket, but it’s a whole lot better than using the oven. Here are our eight essential tips for how to make great BBQ at home.

wood fire bbq A wood fire creates a better flavour than a gas cooker (Credit: Pixabay)

1. Avoid The Gas

Unlike cooking in an oven or on the hob, proper barbecuing isn’t just about applying heat. Any pitmaster will tell you that wood and smoke are a barbecuer’s secret weapons - adding a world of flavour, way beyond what you could ever get with gas.

Whether you’ve got a top-of-the-range setup or are cooking on corrugated iron, it’s impossible to understate the importance of wood and charcoal. 

how to bbq at home Keeping the grill clean is an essential part of barbecuing (Credit: Pexels)

2. Keep It Clean

There are few things worse than coming back to an old grill after months of inactivity, only to find it covered with a thick, impenetrable layer of slimy mould. Fortunately, working with fire has its advantages.

Before cooking anything, it’s best to build a fierce, roaring fire to purify your kit. After burning for 30-45 minutes, any nasty bacteria will have been killed and you (hopefully) won’t get chronic food poisoning from your pulled pork. 

Bbq coals It is best to barbecue over glowing coals rather than an open flame Credit: Pexels)

3. Let It Burn

A common mistake for newbies is to start cooking as soon as you see the first signs of fire. Counterintuitively, cooking when the flames look at their fiercest is a surefire way to ruin dinner, as your food will not cook evenly and you won’t achieve a consistent temperature.

Instead, wait for the flames to die down and the charcoal to be burning white-hot before you begin. This will better guarantee a constant temperature and produce a tastier result.

Bbq tools Having the right tools makes barbecuing a breeze (Credit: Pexels)

4. The Right Tools

Plunging your hand into an open flame is, obviously, ill-advised. To make your next cookout relatively risk-free, and hopefully reduce the likelihood of an impromptu trip to A&E, it’s vital that you take the time to tool up properly.

No barbecue should be attempted without two pairs of tongs for fresh and cooked food, and accessories like tin foil and aluminium trays make clean-up infinitely more straightforward. It might be tempting to just get stuck in, but kitting up properly makes the wait worth it.  

how to bbq at home Seasoning is arguably the most important part of barbecue (Credit: Alamy/Brent Hofacker)

5. All About The Seasoning

Barbecue is all about big, bold flavours. If you don’t get the balance right, your delicate chicken breast can easily wither under the ferocity of smoke and fire.

To make sure what you’re serving can stand up to the heat, it’s essential to season everything to the max. Whether you opt for a salty, spiced dry rub, or decide to let your meat sit in a juicy marinade, imbuing your barbecue with as many punchy flavours as possible is an essential shortcut to barbecue bliss. 

Bull's Eye BBQ sauce Bull's-Eye BBQ sauce is a great option to have on the table (Credit: Bull's-Eye)

6. The Right Sauce

Whether you’ve spent days tending a slowly smouldering shoulder or have spent a happy half hour quickly sizzling wings, you want to enjoy dinner with a sauce worthy of your handy work.

For maximum meaty enjoyment, we recommend the inimitable taste of Bull’s-Eye. Whether you’re after the sticky sweetness of Tenessee or the smokey heat of Texas, the Bull’s-Eye range has got the lot. Apply generously.

Check out Tom's incredible recipe for Bull’s-Eye BBQ Rib Tacos:

7. The Side Show

Meat might take centre stage, but it’s not the only thing on show at a barbecue. No cookout is complete without a sumptuous selection of carefully chosen and respectfully treated side dishes which can, as any connoisseur will tell you, make or break a meal.

Whether you’re serving crunchy coleslaw, fire-roasted potatoes or fresh green salad, making sure you’re paying just as much attention to the rest of the table as to the main event is perhaps the most effective way of delivering on dinner. 

Resting beef Resting whatever you decide to cook helps make it significantly more tender (Credit: Alamy/Valentyn Volkov)

8. Rest Up

With barbecue, as in life, patience is a virtue. After you’ve spent countless hours staring balefully at a cheerfully smoking cooker, the temptation to tuck in as soon as your food’s been pulled from the flames can be overpowering. If you can, resist.

Leaving your meat to rest post-cook helps it to relax and become extra tender, making the world of difference to the end result. It might sound like a waste of valuable munching time, but the rewards are definitely worth it. 

READ MORE: How to prepare pork – 7 incredible methods from around the world

With everything that’s going on, it can be easy to neglect the things that make us most happy. If barbecues are good for anything, it’s for bringing us together in the celebration of something delicious. It might be an unusual atmosphere, but that’s all the more reason to make BBQ at home.