9 Chefs Share Their Top BBQ Tips

By Ellie Smith

9 months ago

Learn from the pros


When the sun comes out, cooking al fresco always seems like a good idea. But the art of barbecuing is far from easy – we’ve all experienced a bad BBQ (charred sausages, uncooked veggies and plastic cheese spring to mind). Planning on hosting one this summer?  Here a handful of chefs have shared their top tips for upping your BBQ game. From the perfect marinade to pimping up your salads, these simple hacks will transform your outdoor feasts.

9 Chefs Share Their Top BBQ Tips

Jack Stein, Chef Director at Rick Stein

Fish on a BBQ is fantastic – make sure you marinade and cook in tin foil, as this will stop the skin sticking to the grill and retain the delicious flavour round the fish. Don’t forget vegetables either, there’s more to a BBQ than meat and veggies like lettuce or hispi cabbage taste great grilled with that smokey, charred flavour.’ rickstein.com   

Sofian Msetfi, Executive Chef at Ormer Mayfair by Sofian

‘Achieve the perfect smoky flavour by adding wood to your BBQ, but be careful not to overdo as you don’t want an acrid taste. Try adding it slowly to let the flavour build gradually. Of course, you’ve got to add plenty of seasoning throughout – barbecued meat, fish and veg will stand up to any combination so don’t be afraid of experimenting.’ flemings-mayfair.co.uk

Theo Randall, Chef Patron at Theo Randall at the Intercontinental

‘Don’t oil vegetables you’re grilling, as burnt oil will overpower the vegetables leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. The best way is to make sure your BBQ is the right temperature and grill the vegetables dry, then once cooked place them on a wire rack and marinate in some good olive oil, fresh lemon and herbs. Grill slowly too, so that any fat from meat doesn’t catch fire – a good BBQ should be glowing, not flaming.’ theorandall.com  

Burgers cooking on a BBQ

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Gopi Chandran, Executive Head Chef at Sopwell House

‘It’s important to use the right charcoal – I always use lump wood charcoal as it burns longer, evenly and lights easily. Once you light it, wait for the flames to die down. You are ready to grill when the embers are glowing.’ sopwellhouse.co.uk  

Nick Yung, Head Chef at Straits Kitchen, Pan Pacific London

‘Maintain a consistent temperature with a lidded BBQ, high-quality charcoal, and cooking meat indirectly, positioning it away from instead of straight over the hottest coals. I’d also recommend trying Durian on the BBQ – grilling the fruit makes the flesh more moist, giving the fruit a creamier, sweeter, and slightly smoky flavour.’ panpacificlondon.com

Kerth Gumbs, Head Chef at Fenchurch, Sky Garden

‘Marinate your meat ahead of time – I like to marinate mine at least 24 hours in advance to really let the spices penetrate the meat. Typically, I like to use a mix of chillies, thyme, garlic, spring onion, ginger, pimento, oil paprika & my homemade favourite Sazon. For shellfish, keep them in a slightly cooler spot for longer on the grill, to absorb more of the smoky flavour.’ skygarden.london

Daniel Burrell, Executive Chef at The Montagu Arms in Beaulieu, New Forest

‘I’m a strong believer in brining your meat before a BBQ. This pre-seasons the meat and keeps it nice and juicy. The best brine for me is 24hrs with a 10 percent sugar and 10 percent salt mix (800ml water, 100g salt, 100g brown sugar.) Bring this mixture to the boil and leave to cool. Soak white meats in this such as pork and chicken for deliciously tender dishes. 

‘A secret hack of mine is to chuck some herbs like rosemary or thyme into the hot coals as you’re cooking the meats, which not only gives it a great flavour, but the aroma is likely to make the neighbours jealous!’ montaguarmshotel.co.uk  

Salads at a BBQ

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Mike Reid, Culinary Director at Rare Restaurants

‘Pimp up your salads with some barbecued fruits. For the best flavour and price, always go for what’s in season; some of my BBQ favourites are peaches, watermelon, mango, apple and pear. To cook, you’ll need a medium heat for the grill and be sure not to add any fat as you want the fruit to release its natural sugars and caramelise.’ gauchorestaurants.com  

Jonas Karlsson, Head Chef at Aquavit London, St James’s Market

‘With BBQs, the key is to keep things simple as often it can be over complicated. I recommend having a sweet and sour glaze to brush the cooked meat with – it adds an amazing shine and incredible burst of flavour. It’s also versatile and goes well with any meat so is a must for BBQ season.’ aquavitrestaurants.com