Summer is a special time of year. Grey clouds are replaced by blue sky. Longer, lighter and lazier days beckon. Sunny scenes (fingers crossed) provide the perfect backdrop for some BBQ fun with friends and family.
Just picture it – the aroma of something sizzling and succulent on the grill, mellow tunes playing in the background, a cool drink in hand. There’s nothing better than a BBQ to bring together your nearest and dearest.
But, BBQs can be tricky to pull off. You’re only ever five minutes away from a blackened chargrilled catastrophe. Ok, we might be slightly exaggerating, but the point is that we want your BBQ to be perfect. So, you need to know all the basics.
We’ve cooked up a 5-step guide just for you. Follow these tips to ensure that your summer BBQ goes off without a hitch.
1. Plan ahead and prepare
A wise man once said ‘by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’. We don’t think he was talking about your BBQ, but the idea definitely applies here. There’s no doubt that one of the key aspects of a great BBQ is preparation. Of course, you’ll need to set a date and get your invites out, but after that there’s still a lot of things to get ready. From setting your menu to organising ingredients, you’ll want to make sure you’re on top of every part of your BBQ.
The first stage of planning your BBQ is all about basic logistics. First thing’s first, get a good idea of how many people will be coming to your BBQ. This is important as the number affects all the other parts of your planning, so it’s important to get a rough estimate before you start.
Once you’ve got a clearer picture of the attendees, you can start to plan your summer BBQ menu. Pick which meats or veggies you’re going to grill, choose the recipes, and think about the accompaniments. If you’re marinating meat or cooking slightly more complicated recipes, get as much ready the day or evening before your BBQ. The more prep you do beforehand, the more time you’ll have on the day to focus on your guests and enjoy the event.
2. Set your summer BBQ theme
When you’re getting ready for your BBQ, it’s a good idea to set out the general theme and atmosphere that you’re aiming for. For example, are you looking to create a casual event with a relaxed feel, or a more stylish BBQ party?
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you can get started on decorating and organising the event. For example, if it’s a casual event, you could use paper plates and napkins, and if the event goes on late, consider a small campfire if it’s safe to do so. If you’re going for a more stylish or formal event, you’ll want to use real plates, perhaps even with tablecloths. For the evening, think about setting up some fairy lights or other decorative lighting to create the perfect atmosphere.
3. Choose the right barbecue and charcoal
Yes the vibes, decorations and table settings are important. But ultimately people are coming to your summer BBQ to enjoy the food. In other words, flavour reigns supreme. This means that one of the most crucial aspects of your BBQ is ensuring that you have the right charcoal and the right barbecue to cook on. Different kinds of charcoal and barbecues are ideal for different tastes and textures, which is one of the reasons why it’s important to set your menu early on in your planning.
If you’re cooking a simple menu of burgers and sausages at your BBQ, a basic barbecue for direct cooking will be ideal. However, if you’re smoking or cooking other recipes, you may need to look at a different kind of smoker barbecue, for example. Find out more about the different kinds of barbecue in our blogpost here.
Getting the right charcoal is vital. It really can make or break your BBQ. Different kinds of charcoal have different burning characteristics, and will be more suitable to different kinds of barbecue and styles of cooking. Take traditional direct cooking, you could choose Big K’s Premium Grade Lumpwood Charcoal FSC®, or our Chilla-Grilla restaurant grade lumpwood. If you’re smoking or cooking for a longer period of time, try Dura or Au Natural.
4. Organise your drinks menu
Where there is food, drink isn’t far behind. The two compliment each other, so you need to switch on your beverage brain too. What drinks are you going to offer at your BBQ? While you can ask guests to bring a bottle, it’s also a good idea to offer some refreshments to complement your menu and create the right atmosphere.
If your BBQ is a casual affair with a few friends, you could offer some beers, wines and a pre-mixed fruit punch or Pimm’s. Sounds a little conventional? If you’re more the adventurous type and you want to wow your guests, you could pre-mix some cocktails the night before and offer these alongside wine, champagne and craft beers.
Remember to offer soft drinks and other refreshments alongside the alcoholic ones. Especially important if you’ll have children at your BBQ – but you’ll also want to offer non-alcoholic drinks to all your guests.
5. Relax and enjoy
So, once you’ve organised your guest list, set your theme, got the right charcoal, prepared your menu and drinks – what’s left? Well, just enjoy your BBQ. Get the grill on and grab a drink.
Remember that a BBQ should be enjoyable, not stressful, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Follow the plan you’ve made and you’ll be well on the way to creating the perfect summer BBQ.