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BBQ Essentials

Author: Becky Sappor

What a glorious bank holiday weekend we had! I don’t know about you but as soon as the sun shines the barbecue is on at our house. Al fresco dining brings me utter joy. A big jug of iced water (with a cool beer to chase) and all the barbie classics make for perfect summer dining in my book. So I thought today we could chat all things BBQ essentials.

I’m always amazed at how much food our circular 18 inch BBQ manages to cook. A couple of weekends ago we had 3 sets of neighbours over (so that was 6 extra adults and 3 extra kiddies mouths to feed) and it managed perfectly with a steady stream of food coming off it to satisfy everyone. We have a classic charcoal barbecue though I’ve recently been made aware of their high carbon footprint. The fuel is often taken from non-sustainable hardwood sources and so we’re considering a change to gas. I will miss the smokey flavour from a charcoal grill although I have seen that you can buy smoke boxes for gas BBQs to try and achieve a similar taste. I guess gas is much more convenient too, there’s no real waiting time for it to get up to temperature and unlike charcoal it won’t lose its heat quickly. Have you switched from charcoal to gas? Or has anyone tried the solar grills which are a much more eco-friendly option? Did you find it more expensive to run? The ease of cleaning a gas BBQ does massively appeal to me though because what a nightmare it can be to scrub those 18 inches!

So what about the essentials. What do you need for the perfect BBQ? Once you’ve read all of today’s comments about types of BBQs people have you can choose the ideal one for you. You can then get the right fuel, be it your charcoal, fire lighters or your gas. Now there’s even the solar powered option too. Most BBQs come with a bunch of utensils but my top four recommendations are a sturdy set of tongs and a spatula, a grill basket and a BBQ brush for cleaning (this one has excellent reviews). We also use an electronic instant read meat thermometer. I’m always very conscious of making sure any meat is thoroughly cooked through and because of the nature of the BBQ it can appear more cooked than it is from it’s lovely charred outside so using this thermometer gives real peace of mind that you aren’t serving anything undercooked.

There are two ways of approaching the food you cook on your barbie – a little bit of everything or a more put together meal. We tend to do a bit of both. With a big gathering, everyone brings a bottle and a choice of meat. That way you usually end up with agreat selection of meats. Which is great and often leads to epic gluttony but once in a while, I love that. For a smaller BBQ we tend to stick to one, sometimes two types of meat and treat it like a ‘normal’ dinner. Without fail whatever the meat it is always accompanied by a big bowl of crunchy salad, rice, wedges (because one carb option is obviously not enough) and then a selection of smaller accompaniments (coleslaw, couscous, potato salad etc) and of course, all the necessary sauces.

What about if you have a non meat eater in your midst? You obviously can’t cook their veggie burger on the same grill that you’ve just disintegrated your pork loin on. But what you could do is get a disposable BBQ for them. They cost about £4 and that way they still get the same smokey flavour but obviously then there’s all the waste. Alternatively I use my oven grill on a high setting to try and emulate the barbecue heat intensity.

You’ll need somewhere to sit. You can find some great tips from Lauren’s post a few weeks ago about how to get garden ready for Spring. There is such a choice of outdoor furniture it can be really difficult to know where to start but my advice would be to go with a size of table and number of chairs that would be used most frequently (a rectangular shape table might give more actual table space that a round one as we have recently discovered) and then perhaps get yourself an additional folding table for when guests come and a couple of foldable chairs that way you’re not taking up any unnecessary space day to day. We also love a picnic blanket for the kiddos and their friends. A waterproof backed one is great for if the ground is a little damp. We also have a couple of giant beanbags because sometimes there’s no better place to eat your burger than in the comfort of a beanbag.

And the most important ingredient for a successful barbecue is of course, the people you’re sharing it with. There’s nothing like getting some good summer tunes on, cooking up a storm (and playing burnt-sausage-roulette) and chatting and laughing with your nearest and dearest.

What else do we need to know to have the perfect summer BBQ? Please let us know as always.




Author: Becky Sappor

13 thoughts on “BBQ Essentials

  1. Hi! As a veggie my suggestion is to make a little tray with a lip out of a double layer tin foil and cook the veggie burgers on there on the grill. This also works well for softer veggie burgers that tend to break up on the bbq.

    For me a bbq is all about the sides. This is my favourite one to take

    Sometimes I just do boiled new potatoes in a dressing of wholegrain mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. So much nicer than heavy processed mayo potato salads.

    We’re really into flatbreads for our burgers instead of baps – Sainsbury’s do the best ones. If just doing a bbq for two, I sometimes cheat and open a pouch of Aldi’s mixed grains with other bits, I think it’s Mediterranean with lentils and olives.

    We are desperate for a Webber bbq as they seem to be king, but only have a tiny garden in our first house so making do with disposables until we trade up 🙂

    P.S. Jug of iced water!!!! Em make that Pimms/sangria!

    1. Also a veggie and I make the same recommendation – if you have the space for it.

      And yeah – all about the sides for me too, and the grilled veggies like corn and peppers and things. I was discussing with my husband the other day (as he has only recently gone veggie) and he was saying that barbecues have zero appeal for him now, because they are so much about the meat…

      Bunny, that potato dressing sounds perfect! Hugh F-W has a recipe for a deconstructed potato salad in his veg book which involves capers, dill and boiled eggs, and (if those are flavours you like) it is amazing!

      But my recommendation for veggies and halloumi that’s to be cooked on the barbecue is to think about marinades. I quite often to halloumi and veg skewers in oil with herbs like oregano, and chilli/lime is perfect for corn.

      1. I had a corn on the cob on Sunday (wrapped in tin foil for ten mins and turned fairly frequently) and it was so delicious! Smothered in butter too obviously. Great recommendation for the halloumi 🙂

      2. Oooh I am crazy aboout dill! A friend made a divine dill and sour cream dip to serve with hassleback potatoes in the oven to accompany little pot pies made in white/blue enamel mugs and cooked on their Webber BBQ with the lid on. Loved how adventurous that was! I have both of his Veg recipe books so I’ll look for it and give it a try.

    2. Webber does seem to be the daddy of the BBQs doesn’t it! Great tip to use the foil for veggie burgers. DOn’t forget my ice water was followed by a beer chaser 😉 x

  2. I brought a metal dish/tray that has holes at the bottom to cook veg in, I need a few more practices to get timing and quantities right as the veg turned up after everything else was eaten!

    We moved to gas last year, I much prefer it. Easier to fire up on any given day, I’m less worried about making sure everything is cooked as it doesn’t depend on where the coals are. Haven’t tried marshmallows on it yet as that was always a favorite thing at a BBQ as a kid.

  3. My dad also has the basket with holes to do roast veg, it’s great!

    My sister was a veggie as a child and as such my dad cane up with so many great veggie bbq items that we still do even if we have meat – stuffed mushrooms, long red peppers or chillis stuffed with a soft cheese (goats cheese or cream cheese usually), aubergine slices spread with pesto and rolled around some mozzarella and sundried tomatoes… so so good. Also ainsley Harrison has a great veggie burger recipe with chickpeas, courgette and curry paste (

    Aldi do great brioche buns too!!

    1. Some of these veggie options sound amazing! I especially love the idea of the chillis stuffed with cheese – think that might be one to try for our next barbecue 🙂

  4. Can anyone recommend a (not too expensive) small (ish) gas BBQ please? The one I have at the moment is huge and a right pain to clean, hence I’ve not even used it for the last three years! Thanks in advance

    1. Yes!! I’m about to break the hubby after about 10 years of insisting he needs to build me one!!

      We had a gas bbq for 2 weeks then realised it was crap and went back to charcoal. Like most things that require a bit more effort (wood windows, real lawns!!) I know they have become less popular as alternatives have taken over but with me it’s the real deal or nowt! I just found the food tasted like it had been cooked on a grill inside.

  5. Veggie here too!!
    We do lots of veggies, and definitely recommend the tin foil tray to keep them separate.
    We always have Halloumi (it’s not a BBQ with it, for me!) and we parcel a block of feta in foil with olive oil, olives, sundried tomatoes and a bit of black pepper. It is honestly one of the most amazing sides ever! People actually scrape the foil to get the last of it off! X

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