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The Big K breakdown of the outdoor barbecue grill

The outdoor barbecue grill is a subcultural icon. For years now the spring and summer have been synonymous with some serious sizzle.  Like some kind of post-winter hibernation reflex, we respond to a sliver of sun breaking through the cloud by donning shorts, flip-flops and firing up the grill. Of course for the grizzled and hardened BBQ vets it’s a different story. Their faces bearing the scars of 365 grilling – often in Artic conditions. As spring is in full swing and summer is extending a warm hand around the corner, now is the perfect time for a bit of an outdoor barbecue grill recap. We’ll take you through the outdoor barbecue basics from how to set up to the potential grill that could be just right for you. Sound totes amaze?  Let’s go get it!


How to outdoor barbecue?

Ah-ha young BBQ grasshopper, so you think you’re ready to get out there and get your blaze on? This is music to our collective Big K ears. To BBQ is not the most complex thing in the world, however you need a foundation of BBQ knowledge before you get hands on. This will ensure every sausage, steak or skewer is the epitome of taste. Let’s start at the most rudimentary level.


A man is cooking chicken wings on an outdoor barbecue grill as flames lick up the side of the chicken pieces


Gas versus charcoal for your outdoor barbecue grill?

If burning wood fuel was good enough for Neanderthals over 30 000 years ago, then it is good enough for us in today’s day and age. Sure ok they didn’t have ancient propane gas canisters back then, but the point is that if you want a truly authentic BBQ experience, then a charcoal outdoor barbecue grill is definitely the way to go.  The thought is backed up by science too. When we burn charcoal it reacts with oxygen in the air releasing many compounds including syringol and guaicol. These two guys absorb into the meat fusing with other internal chemicals to create that lovely smoky BBQ flavour that we all know and love. Not to rain on any gas BBQ lovers’ parade (we just want you out there BBQing) however gas outdoor barbecues are more expensive, as well as being a little more bulky, so storage space and budget come into play. Finally gas canisters aren’t exactly the nicest things to look it and they take up valuable space too. We say keep it 100% charcoal when it comes to your outdoor barbecue.


What’s the best outdoor barbecue?

We’ve said it a million times and we will keep saying it: there is no such thing as ‘the best’ when it comes to the BBQ world. There’s only what is best for you. There are so many factors, form your grill skills to budget and preferred BBQ style, which dictate the best outdoor barbecue grill for you. So rather than getting lost in specifics, here’s a general overview. However, if you want to maraud through the minutia, here’s a deep dive blog on the history of the outdoor barbecue grill for you


A pair of tongs is clamped on a steak being cooked over a small outdoor barbecue grill


What BBQ grill? Which one could be right for me?

Kettle outdoor barbecue – This tried and trusty fellow is probably the most well-known outdoor barbecue grill. Its classic spherical chamber complete with hood allows for more versatility and control of your cooking environment. So you can use a kettle barbecue for both direct and indirect cooking including roasting and baking. Many outdoor Kettle barbecues have vents as well as temperature gauges to help you monitor and regulate airflow and internal temperature.

Free standing outdoor barbecue – meet the most rudimentary of all outdoor barbecue grills. Super simple. Super basic. Super economical. All you need is a stand, grill and basin – then you’re good to go. Of course there are more elaborate freestanding outdoor barbecue grills out there with features such as wheels, adjustable grill height options and storage capabilities.  Basically, you can either go basic or pimp your outdoor barbecue – totally up to you.

Kamado – Kamado outdoor barbecue grills were born in Japan and have grown in popularity over recent years in the UKK BBQ community. Metal is replaced by heavy and dense ceramics, increasing both the heat radiation and absorption properties of the grill. Their quirky egg shape has become a new iconic shape in gardens up and down the country. We think that Lumpwood charcoal is the ideal fuel for any Kamado so why not visit our website and check out our amazingly blazing lumpwood charcoal

Smoker – the barbecue smoker is a different kind of outdoor barbecue grill animal. It has many names including pipe smoker, offset barrel smoker or horizontal smoker depending on the design. Basically a barbecue smoker is specially designed for long, low ‘n’ slow cooks. It has two principal components: a smoking chamber and a firebox. The main smoking chamber creates a controllable cooking environment through which indirect heat and smoke from your firebox can circulate. If you’re all about American style BBQ including cooking ribs or brisket, then a smoker should be just what you need. We’ve gone into great depth on outdoor barbecue grill smokers over the years so you can read up on all the juicy details here.

Oil drum outdoor barbecue grill – this is definitely an outdoor barbecue for those grilling for larger crowds. The name says it all. Essentially your grill is drum shaped with a base and internal grill. You can select either a full or half barrel drum, both of which make cooking a whole animal on a spit or larger joints a doddle.


A man is cooking three different types of sausage on his outdoor barbecue grill.


How to enjoy your barbecue grill outdoors?

Let’s run a hypothetical for moment: you have the background data, you’ve bought an outdoor barbecue grill and you’re ready to fire up. So what’s next? First up a little safety and best practice. We can’t go in depth on the subject here so please have a read of our outdoor BBQ unpack.In the meantime here’s super duper refresher


Outdoor BBQ etiquette and strategy

1) A garden barbecue is all about positioning and a little planning

BBQ freestyle is great, however a little planning will go a very long way towards an epic event. Here are some more tips on BBQ planning as well. You need to think about budget, timeframe, guests your menu and so much more. Even the positioning of your barbecue comes into play so think strategically.

2) Be mindful of your surroundings and what’s around you

Catch the common sense train here people. Please place your outdoor barbecue on a flat surface and position it a safe distance from anything flammable such as low-lying trees, branches, and hedges. Also avoid any high traffic footfall areas such as back doors, as moving people could defo knock over your barbecue and lead to tears.

3) Being seen is being safe

Please ensure that your outdoor barbecue grill is visible form as many places as possible. This will help everyone keep an eye on everything whether people are inside or outside the home.

4) Which way is the wind blowing?

We’re pretty sure you know this but just in case: smoke always blows down wind. This means that you should position your outdoor barbecue accordingly. You should also have a sense of how close you are to doors, windows and balconies – ultimately not everyone likes that smoky aroma of a BBQ so be considerate

5) Shade versus sun

As many people get their grill on in the summer, temperature comes into play. Try to find a shady spot for your outdoor barbecue grill so that you won’t end up cooking in the sun like your meat on the grill. No sunstroke or dehydration please. Oh yes please have some water on hand too.

6) The distance between your home and your outdoor barbecue

You can’t always be at the grill. Sometimes you will need to nip in a grab something, so ensure that it isn’t a mountain trek of a distance between your home and your outdoor barbecue. This simple strategy increase efficiency and lowers stress levels of having to do multiple trips inside and then outside again.


A man is cooking a mix of grilled vegetables, steak and sausages on his outdoor barbecue grill.


How to light your outdoor barbecue grill?

No need for a flowery explanation here. Just follow these steps and you’ll be grilling up a storm in no time.

Simply position your individual charcoal pieces into a form resembling a mound or pyramid, shape. Make sure that you leave plenty of gaps between the pieces to increase airflow and therefore overall combustion.

Next grab some natural firelighters, or scrunched up pieces of paper, and place them in between the gaps.

Light your firelighters and wait for the flames to catch. Don’t try to force the process. Once a few coals are blazing nicely, the others will follow suit no issues. Usually your charcoal should be cook-ready within 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of charcoal that you are using in your outdoor barbecue grill. You’ve already seen our pro charcoal range, check out our home charcoal range and these charcoal combo packs.


Do you know how to tell if your charcoal is ready?

  • Black or grey with flames: Take it easy Speedy Mcspeederson! Your charcoal isn’t ready yet.
  • White-hot glow with red centre:  Lovely conditions for some direct cooking so fill your boots.
  • White ash and extreme heat: The perfect time for perfect indirect heat cooking.

Just a final little prize for you guys, as we love you so much. Here are some tasty recipes and BBQ dos and don’ts

to complete your outdoor barbecue adventure. Have fun and stay safe out there.