Barbecues are an easy and fun way to spend time alfresco with friends and family... if you're a guest rather than a host. If you've never been in charge of a BBQ before, the prospect can be a bit overwhelming. We consider ourselves to be grilling enthusiasts and we've picked up a few BBQ tips for beginners. To help you, we've put together a barbecue for beginners guide that'll take the pressure off novice grillers this Spring.
Choosing your grill
Buying your first barbecue can be tricky, especially if all your experience has been on the silver tray disposable ones! There are a few things to consider before making your purchase, and perhaps the most important is how often you plan to use your grill. If it's a one-off event, it might be worth borrowing one or even going back to the disposable kind, but if it's going to get regular usage it can be worth investing a bit more.
The two main choices for domestic barbecue grills are gas and charcoal. They both have their fans and it often comes down to personal preference. Gas barbecues offer instant heat and can be ready to cook on within 10 minutes. The control is similar to a gas cooker, allowing you to regulate temperatures more easily than when cooking over charcoal. They're low maintenance, with minimal cleaning needed and no charcoal ash to dispose of. Gas barbecues are powered by propane, and you'll need to buy a cylinder. When it runs out, you can have it refilled. Charcoal barbecues cook your food with heat from the glowing embers. They give your food the classic charred flavour and appearance. The temperature is controlled by raising and lowering the grill, and it takes a while to get the coals glowing white and ready to cook on.
How big does my barbecue need to be?The answer depends on how many people you cook for on a regular basis.
- Up to 4 people: you'll need a smaller cooking area (up to 1800 cm²)
- Up to 6 people: a larger area of 2000 cm² to 2500 cm² is enough
- Up to 8 people: the largest gas barbecues (over 2500 cm²) will be enough
If you think you'll need to be cooking in shifts, you can use a low oven to keep food warm until serving time.
How much food will I need?
I suppose it depends how hungry you are... but it's always better to have more than too little. As long as it's stored correctly, lots of barbecue food can be frozen or cooked in the oven later on. We found this handy barbecue calculator to give you some ideas on how much people are likely to eat, but you know your friends and family best! One of the biggest mistakes at a barbecue for beginners is underestimating quite how hungry your guests are!