Tips and tricks to nailing your next home barbecue

There are many means and methods of perfecting your home barbecue. — ABIRAMI DURAI/The Star

Clean your equipment

The first step to any grilling and barbecue experience is to ensure your equipment is clean, especially if using public-owned equipment. It doesn’t take long, yet it makes a big difference in the taste and safety of your food.

Prepare and marinate ingredients

Make sure your food is prepared properly. Remove excess fat that you wouldn’t want to eat. The amount of fat is one of the top factors for flavour. Foods, like chicken breast, require less cooking time and more spices to create a flavourful dish. A rib eye requires very little additions and longer cooking time because of its fat profile. Give yourself the time to marinate or apply a rub to the meat before cooking.

Marinades add flavour to food and increase tenderness. Acidic ingredients in marinades, such as vinegar, wine, and fruit juice help break down the meat. The breakdown allows fluids and seasoning to absorb into the meat, which helps maintain moisture during grilling.

Seafood only needs to be marinated for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before being barbecued. — MICHAEL HAASSeafood only needs to be marinated for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before being barbecued. — MICHAEL HAAS

Certain meats will benefit more from marinades. Chicken breasts and pork loins have a lower fat percentage so improper grilling and lack of marinades can result in a dry piece of meat.

If you’re using marinades, it’s important to time how long you let it marinate before placing on the grill. If you let your meat marinate too long, this can denature proteins in the meat and result in a tough piece of meat.

a) Seafood requires a short marinade period, 20 – 30 minutes refrigerated.

b) Chicken can marinate up to 2-4 hours refrigerated.

c) Since beef and pork have more fat, they can marinate for longer, up to 12 hours refrigerated.

d) Depending on the toughness of vegetables, most vegetables only need 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Rubs work very similarly to marinades. If I’m not using a marinade, my typical rub for beef is a course grade salt.

Temperature and heat are crucial

One of the most common mistakes people make is not using proper temperature and heat control. Using too much heat too quickly can lead to burnt outsides and underdone insides. Instead, using multiple heat zones can help you have more control over your cooking. For example, use the hotter side for searing and the lower temperature side for more gentle, slower cooking.

A thermometer is crucial to ensuring that barbecued meat is at the right temperature when it is served. — THERMOPRO/UnsplashA thermometer is crucial to ensuring that barbecued meat is at the right temperature when it is served. — THERMOPRO/Unsplash

Specific cooking time recommendations for each piece of meat can vary significantly depending on the cut of meat, if it’s frozen or thawed, the size, marinades, and the type of fuel you’re using to cook it.

The best way to determine if your meat is done barbecuing is to use temperature. Have a good meat temperature thermometer available. Most people overcook their meat and I always did this when I first started to barbecue. Know the doneness temperature of the meat you are cooking. Check the meat throughout the grilling process and take it off the grill before it is overcooked.

Government regulators have specified safe meat serving temperatures for different kinds of meat. For example, 62°C to 71°C for beef and 73°C for chicken. Do bear in mind however that in the culinary world, a lot of these temperatures are considered overdone.

Resting phase

Let the meat rest after you take it off the grill. This is a crucial step as well. If you cut into the meat right after it is removed from the grill, you will see all the juices run out of the meat.

Haas has spent over 20 years barbecuing and is now determined to teach home barbecuing enthusiasts how to nail their barbecues. — MICHAEL HAASHaas has spent over 20 years barbecuing and is now determined to teach home barbecuing enthusiasts how to nail their barbecues. — MICHAEL HAAS

This is lost flavour. If you allow the meat to rest 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the meat) under tin foil, it will allow those juices to reabsorb back into the meat and will not drip out when cut. This makes for a much juicier meal.

No one starts out as a barbecue master. Yet, with practice, the right tools and ingredients, and some intuition, you can enjoy barbecue.

Michael Haas has been barbecuing for over 20 years and runs the website, where he shares recipes, reviews and advice on how to become a better barbecue master.


This is a delicious grilled chicken thigh recipe that works well on a charcoal or gas grill. It includes a marinade which helps breakdown the protein of the chicken and makes it extra tender and juicy. It’s a simple recipe that can also be used on various cuts of chicken.

1/2 cup feta cheese

3-5 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp Greek yoghurt

2 tbsp oregano

1 lemon, freshly squeezed

2 tsp red wine vinegar (can be substituted with white vinegar)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

8-10 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

To make

Combine all the ingredients except the chicken in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Trim the chicken thighs removing any excess loose skin.

Combine the chicken and marinade in a plastic zip lock bag and seal the bag, keeping as much air out as possible.

Massage the marinade around the chicken in the bag. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

After the chicken is marinated, fire up the grill to high.

Place the chicken thighs skin down first. This will sear the skin and make it crispy.

Flip the chicken pieces regularly without letting them burn.

After about 10 minutes, start checking the internal temperature of the thighs for doneness. Use a meat thermometre.

Once the chicken thighs read 165°F (73°C) in the middle, they are done.

Remove the thighs and cover them in tin foil. Allow them to rest for 8-10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

Recipe by Michael Haas

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