Preparation is the key to a successful barbecue. Most importantly, people should ensure they have plenty of charcoal to last the duration of the party or bottled gas if a gas barbecue is to be used.

Barbecue Snacks and Drinks

It is always good to have pre-barbecue snacks available for guests as soon as they arrive, to keep them going until all the delicious char-grilled food is ready.

Snacks such as cured meats, marinated olives, and light cheese are perfect pre-BBQ snacks. Less is more, as it is advisable to wet but not spoil the guests’ appetites.

Refreshing summer cocktails, such as caipirinhas or Pimms cocktail, always go down well in the summer heat, and most of the preparation for these can be done before guests arrive.

Advance Barbecue Preparation

Several things can be done before the barbecue so that hosts are free to spend more time with their guests.

Pre-cooking chicken in the oven is advisable, particularly if the host uses a basic coal barbecue where the heat level can be quite hard to control.

Chicken can be roasted at 200°C for between 25 minutes (wings) and 45 minutes (legs,) brushed with olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. This leaves the chicken safely cooked through but still able to be crisped up and charred on the barbecue.

Salads for the barbecue can easily be prepared in advance. Small potatoes, boiled until tender, mixed while warm with mayonnaise, crème Fraiche, chopped spring onions, salt, and pepper make a delicious and simple potato salad.

Good oven-cooked jacket potatoes are always a good barbecue accompaniment and require washing, piercing in a few places, and placing in an oven at 230°C for one hour. These can even be finished off wrapped in foil on the embers of a charcoal barbecue.

Barbecue Cooking

Cooks not experienced in BBQ cooking can invest in a meat thermometer to ensure they do not poison their guests!

Preparing as much food as possible means the cook is free to concentrate on grilling the food when the time comes. Food that can take high heat, such as vegetables, steaks, burgers, and whole fish, can go on first.

Pork, sausages, and chicken do well at a lower heat, so they are better cooked slowly once the heat has died down or at a lower heat setting with a gas barbecue.

Barbecue Considerations for Vegetarians

There may likely be vegetarians amongst your guests, so ensuring they are well catered for is good. Many recipes are available for things such as homemade vegetarian burgers or stuffed mushrooms. Cooks could make interesting vegetarian kebabs with fresh vegetables and Greek halloumi cheese, which is delicious when grilled on a barbecue.

It is important to cook vegetarian food first on the barbecue, as vegetarians are unlikely to enjoy their food tainted with meat.

Barbecue Desserts

If there is still heat left on the barbecue, many delicious desserts can be prepared over the coals. Whole bananas can be thrown onto the grill and served when soft and mushy with syrup, cream, and a dash of rum.

Certain fruits, such as pineapple, banana, and strawberries, also work well grilled on skewers. Served with good vanilla ice cream, these make a delicious light dessert to follow the BBQ feast.

However, many people are attending a barbecue party, and these tips, along with some planning, will make the barbecue a fun experience for all, including the host!