BBQ Grilling Guide

Close-up of BBQ-grilled vegetables served with pita bread, as per Chef Nancy’s BBQ grilling guide.

As autumn approaches, outdoor cooking changes. Use this BBQ grilling guide to make the most of it!

As the air cools, your BBQ grilling cooking times will lengthen. At the same time, your grilled food-to-table timing should shorten.

This may sound obvious and simplistic, but being aware and acting on the obvious makes a great cook/chef/host. It’s a great time to review some quick and logical tips for maximizing flavour when working with heat.

  • Source and choose fresh, juicy foods. That often means working with seasonal ingredients produced close to home.
  • Use quality equipment and utensils. Ask for directions! Tips from quality kitchen and outdoor kitchen stores can result in quality execution.
  • Cook even-sized pieces of food.
  • Watch, check, listen to, smell, taste, think about and touch your food. Use all your senses, even your sixth sense!
  • Replace your battered BBQ gloves with new, safe ones.
  • Rotate/flip/circulate/stir. Maximize even heat on your BBQ grill, but don’t overdo it. Work the grill like a chess game, but know when to let the food BE, too.
  • Follow recipe guidelines, but do NOT follow recipes verbatim. Be flexible with temperatures and time based on the conditions of your day, ingredients and equipment.
  • Test for doneness. Done is DONE. Done is not overdone or underdone. Find the sweet spot.
  • Hot food can continue to cook even after you remove it from the heat source. Factor heat and heat retention into your serving times. Have tinfoil and warm plates ready.
  • Be organized. Organization uses your time to good advantage.
  • Use common sense. Trust your instincts. Your BBQ is speaking to you! Your food and BBQ are giving you cues!
  • Make the BBQ work for you. Pre-warm that BBQ to the ideal temperature, but do not overheat it! Moistness loves low, medium, or medium-high heat and indirect heat. Blasting BTUs are usually not your friend.
  • You are only as good as your last BBQ cleaning. Clean it regularly.
  • Engage and disengage. The grill master can enjoy the party, but food is the priority. Set a timer, delegate a reminder person and focus on the hot BBQ even while being hospitable.
  • Develop a repertoire of seasonings, sauces, salsas and juicy sides. Cooking classes can help here, too! Trust your taste buds and create! Make-it-your-own seasonings and sides can help disguise some small BBQ grilling mistakes and elevate your cooking to a new level.
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