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The Beginner’s BBQ Guide


As Britain’s weather is on the upturn, there’s no doubt that you’ve been catching the scent of fires and sizzling burgers all around the neighbourhood – us Brits do love a good BBQ! With people stuck at home last year, the UK saw 100 million BBQs being lit between April and August,[1] and since having friends and family round is set to become a staple in our lives again, there’s never been a better time to fire up the grill and get everyone round.

Hosting your own BBQ can be quite intimidating, but you have nothing to fear this summer! We’ve put together this beginner’s guide that will cover all the steps you’ll need for a successful BBQ, whether you have a gas grill or a charcoal one. So, bring in the drinks and get set for a scorcher.

Skip to

  1. Gas BBQ Guide
  2. Charcoal BBQ Guide
  3. Meat Temperatures and Cooking Times
  4. Safety Information

Gas BBQ Guide

How to fuel

To prepare a gas BBQ, you’ll need to locate the gas supply hose and regulator. Gas BBQs tend to be fuelled from portable propane tanks, so thread the regulator from your BBQ onto the tanks valve (make sure this is aligned properly and that you don’t over tighten it), then open the valve all the way.

How to light

  1. Find the igniter button on your BBQ and hold it down, turning the burner control knob closest to it slowly as you do.
  2. Look through the grates – you should see a row of small blue flames, which signifies that the burner tube has ignited.
  3. Once this is lit, let go of the igniter button immediately.
  4. Repeat this process for the rest of the burners until they are all lit.
  5. If your igniter isn’t working or your grill doesn’t have one, you can use long matches or a lighter wand to fire up your BBQ.
  6. Once it’s lit, close the lid and wait until the temperature reaches 200°C to pre heat the grill, then reduce the burners to the medium setting.
  7. Your burners might not light initially, but just release the igniter button, reset the control knob and wait a couple of minutes to try again.

This is a generic guide, always check the instructions that come with your BBQ before you get started.

See this video by Which? for more guidance.

Putting it out

  • Turn off all the burners
  • Double check all the knobs are off so there’s no gas running through the BBQ
  • Turn the gas supply valve all the way off
  • Close the lid once your BBQ has completely cooled down



  • Repeat the preheating process (as mentioned in the ‘How To Light Your BBQ’ section) for at least 30 minutes to burn off any grease or stuck food
  • Use a wire brush soaked in warm water to scrub the grates free of debris
  • Turn off the gas
  • Disconnect and remove the tank
  • Let the BBQ cool completely.

Charcoal BBQ Guide

How to fuel

When you’re loading charcoal into your BBQ, remember that less is more. You probably won’t need as much as you want to put on, so use less than you think you’ll need to avoid overflow and excess smoke – you can always put more on later. Add a couple of balls of newspaper or something similar so you are able to light it.

How to light

  1. Set a match to the newspaper and wait for the flames to take hold
  2. Wait around 10 – 15 minutes for the BBQ to burn itself out a bit
  3. When the coals have turned a grey/white colour, your BBQ is ready to cook food

There is likely to be some smoke at this stage, so keep kids and pets away, but it will die down in a few minutes as your BBQ gets going.

See this video by BBC Good Food for more guidance

Putting it out

There are a few ways to put your charcoal BBQ out. You can:

  • Close the lid and the vents if your grill has them then wait at least 2 days for the coals to completely cool before disposing of the ash
  • Let it burn out itself
  • Extinguish it with water

Putting your BBQ out with water should only be done when the coals have cooled down because it could crack your grill or cause burning steam if they are still warm. Always let the coals cool down completely after putting them out before moving the BBQ or disposing of the ash, which can be put in a general waste bin. Ash from your BBQ shouldn’t be harmful to most plants, so you can also use the remains for compost if you wish.



  • Use a wire brush to clean out the grill grate and the charcoal grate (if your BBQ has one)
  • Get rid of any remaining debris inside.
  • Empty the ash catcher (if your BBQ has one)
  • Scrape off any peeling bits inside
  • Put it all back together once cleaned


BBQ Meat Temperatures and Cooking Times

Keeping and preparing food properly is important for health and safety, so make sure that you keep raw and cooked foods separate, that food is evenly cooked by flipping often and that food is cooked on the inside as well as the outside. You can cut food open to check this or use a meat thermometer – here are the temperatures your meat should be at when cooked.

Meat Cooked Temperature
Beef 71.1°C
Chicken 73.9°C
Lamb 73.9°C
Pork 71.1°C
Fish 62.8°C
Turkey 73.9°C[2]

Safety Information

Misusing a BBQ or not putting it out properly can be very dangerous, often resulting in house fires or wildfires and also the harm of wildlife. There were 236 BBQ related fires between 2019-2020[3] in the UKK, so make sure you remember the following dangers when setting up your BBQ and take the right steps to avoid them.

  • Setting up your BBQ near flammable objects – Always keep the grill away from anything that may catch fire
  • A dirty BBQ – Clean your BBQ regularly as a poorly maintained grill could catch alight. For a gas BBQ, make sure the pipe and connections are well kept too.
  • Not following manufacturer instructions – Always read through the instructions that come with a new BBQ and make sure you stick to them every time you use it.
  • Using a BBQ in an enclosed area – BBQ’s need ventilation because they produce carbon monoxide, which can be poisonous, so always set up your BBQ in an open space.

Kick back and enjoy your BBQ

Now you know the basics of lighting and maintaining a BBQ, all it takes is practice! Once you’ve got the hang of cooking the basic BBQ foods, you can move on to any of your favourites – most food can be cooked on a BBQ – and very soon you’ll be a master of the grill. Just remember to check the temperature of the food before serving and to look after your BBQ in between cooking and you’ll be hosting garden parties throughout summer with ease, all you’ll need to do is make sure you have enough garden benches, chairs and tables to seat your family and friends.

You can never have too much knowledge. So if you want to raise your BBQ IQ, check out this nifty guide to outdoor cooking from Big K Charcoal. We’re sure it will help level up your grill skills in no time. Do you have any tips about barbequing for beginners? Let us know in the comments below!


[1] https://ahdb.org.uk/news/consumer-insight-2020-a-bbq-summer-like-no-other

[2] https://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/ready-to-bbq-safe-meat-serving-temperatures

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables#cause-of-fire

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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