How to win at barbecues

Miriam shares her top tips and tricks to take the stress out of barbecuing and prepare a delicious spread with sausages, halloumi skewers, dips and more.

Spread of barbecue plates on table

We've got all the advice you need to ace your next summer barbecue, from mouth-watering marinades to sizzling sausages. Spend less time slaving over the coals and more time relaxing in the sun with family and friends.


Multifunctional marinades

Chicken skewers and marinade in pot

Make one big batch of a herby dressing like my chicken marinade or chermoula (a mix of garlic, cumin, paprika, chilli, lemon juice, fresh coriander and oil) then keep it in a big jar or jug. Pour half over uncooked fish or chicken as a marinade and use the other half as a salad dressing, dip or sauce for cooked beef or lamb. Just make sure you keep what you’re using as a dressing separate from the meat.

Watch our video guide for how to make delicious salad dressings and jam jar marinades:


Checklist for cooking on the barbecue

Barbecue fire flames

  • Coals equals intense heat so shuffle them to keep a section of the barbecue clear – this is an area where you can keep food warm while you’re waiting for other things to finish cooking.
  • Split each salad you make into smaller bowls. Serve one bowl at a time, keeping the rest in the fridge until it runs out – that way it won’t all get too warm or wilted in the sunshine.
  • For more information visit our guide on how to barbecue safely.

Bangers done right

Three rows of sausages on skewers on disposable barbecue tray

Follow these steps to make sure your barbecued sausages are cooked to perfection but still benefit from bags of chargrilled smokiness.

  • Simmer 12 pork sausages for 8-10 mins in a large pan of water. This will cook them through, taking the guess-work out of the barbecuing.
  • Drain and cool them, then line up 4 sausages and fix them together with 2 skewers and repeat with the rest.
  • Chill until you’re ready to cook.
  • Barbecue using the skewers to help you turn the sausages over in their groups of 4. They’ll need about 15-20 mins.

Slice the halloumi after cookingIllustration of how to barbecue halloumi in large chunks

It’s much better to barbecue halloumi cheese in big blocks instead of slices. The heat of the coals can dry the cheese out if it’s sliced too small, plus it’s much more likely to slide through the grill bars to be lost forever. To avoid this cheese-based misery, break a block of halloumi in half – some will have a natural seam or breaking point so follow that. If not, just split it through the middle then barbecue, turning occasionally for 10-15 mins or until deep blackened char marks appear. Slice and serve with salads, hummus and pitta. 


Rosemary skewers

Lamb kofta skewers with flatbreads, cucumber and lemon

If you’re making meat patties like koftas then try shaping them onto woodier stalks of fresh rosemary instead of skewers. If your rosemary bush is encroaching on the patio this is great use of the clippings and the herbs will add flavour whilst making your barbecue smell extra appealing. Just wash before use then press the kofta mix onto the middle of the stem.

See our recipe for lamb & rosemary koftas


Easy bourbon barbecue sauce

Easy bourbon barbecue sauce ingredients illustration

  1. Put 200g ketchup, 100ml vinegar from a jar of pickled onions (save the onions for your burgers or hot dogs) in a saucepan with 50g caster sugar, 1 tbsp black treacle, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 50ml bourbon, 1 tsp cornflour and 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half.
  2. Whisk everything together then heat gently for 5-8 mins or until bubbling and the garlic is starting to soften. Discard the garlic pieces before serving.

Barbecued aubergines

Aubergine slices on a plate with meat skewers and a yoghurt dip

For large aubergines cut them into 1cm slices along the length. Blanch in boiling water with 1 tsp vinegar and 1 tsp salt for 5 mins then drain and pat dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. Cover and chill until needed. Drizzle with olive oil and spices if you like (I love adding cumin, coriander and smoked paprika to everything), then lay the slices on the barbecue until nicely charred on both sides.

Serve with a yogurt dressing and pomegranate seeds, or crumbled feta, lemon juice and chopped parsley.


How to cook tofu on the BBQ

Barbecued tofu on a plate with courgettes and broccoli

Choose really firm tofu if you want to barbecue it (I like the extra firm naked tofu from The Toofoo Co) marinated for at least an hour or overnight in 5 tbsp each soy sauce and rice wine vinegar with a little grated ginger, 1 tsp honey and a chopped red chilli.

Barbecue in large pieces for 10-15 mins or until starting to char at the edges.

See our recipe for barbecued teriyaki tofu


How to cook fish on the BBQ

Two sea bass fillets on barbecue with orange halves

Slices of orange and lemon – or a mixture of both – laid on the griddle make a protective base for you to cook whole fish or fillets on, and they add a subtle citrussy flavour too!

Find more recipes in our barbecue fish collection


Fruit on the BBQBarbecued pineapple chunks on skewer

If the coals are still going strong come dessert time, get some fruit on. Try charred fresh pineapple wedges spritzed with lime, honey and black pepper. Or, skewers of halved strawberries barbecued for around 5 mins – great drizzled with honey or a dash of Pimm's after cooking.


Things to buy

Three students shopping at a vegetable market stall

Don’t feel you have to make everything. Here are my top picks for great barbecue extras to buy:

  • Crispy shallots or onions for sprinkling on everything.  
  • Red cabbage – pickled or red cabbage sauerkraut if you can get it.
  • Chilli-infused honey – delicious drizzled on barbecued meat, vegetables or halloumi.
  • Ready-made dips – llke baba ganoush or hummus.

Check out our barbecue hub page for more recipe inspiration. 

Find more of Miriam's tips...

Quick kitchen hacks everyone needs to know
How to master pastry
Roast dinner hacks

Tried any of these or want to share your own tips? Leave a comment below.... 

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