Useful Guide to Lighting a BBQ

No matter what kind of barbecue you have, getting it to light can be a nightmare and you don’t want to be delaying your guests from their much-anticipated food while you struggle with smoking coals and no heat.

So here is a quick guide to how to prepare your barbecue ready for the summer and how to light every kind of barbecue easily, so you can enjoy your time in the garden with friends and family, stress-free.

General Rules For Getting Your Barbecue Ready

Make Sure Your Barbecue is Clean

Take your barbecue out from the shed or under its cover at least the night before your event and make sure it is clean. It will need a quick wipe over if it has been standing idle through the winter months.

Prepare The Barbecue

Useful Guide to Lighting a BBQ

Make sure there is no old ash or coal in the bottom, take out the grate and open all the vents to let air circulate through it before you start to use it.

Make Sure Your Barbecue is Stable

Be sure to put your barbecue on a flat surface and make sure none of the legs are wobbly. It must be stable before you can even think about lighting it.

Lighting Time

Depending on what kind of barbecue you have, it will need time to heat up before you can use it, so try to time the lighting of it so it’s ready and hot when your guests arrive. That way they can enjoy the cooking rather than watch you struggling to light it.

Invest in a Barbecue Temperature Gauge

The last thing you want is to give your guests poorly cooked food so buy a temperature gauge so you know that your barbecue is staying hot enough to cook your meat thoroughly. It needs to be around 107C (225F).

Season Your Grill

While your grill is still cold, season it by wiping a high heat cooking oil over it, and then you are all set.

Watch this video for some key tips and tricks on the best way to get that barbecue going quickly and easily:

How To Light a Charcoal Barbecue

Consider Which Fuel to Use

If you are cooking a lot of food or large pieces of meat, then charcoal briquettes burn evenly and for longer so are a perfect choice. If you are cooking smaller items, then regular charcoal will burn hotter and quicker and gives that traditional smoky taste.

Get the Barbecue to the Right Temperature

Useful Guide to Lighting a BBQ

You need to give enough time for a charcoal barbecue to get to the right temperature before you can start cooking. If there are still large flames, your food will be burnt and not cooked in the middle. Wait for the flames to subside and for the coals to be glowing red. Use your temperature gauge to check.

Consider Using a Chimney Fire Starter

If you are struggling to light your barbecue then try using a chimney fire starter as these can help get things going a lot quicker.

Consider Charcoal Placement

If you want an even cooking surface then spread the coals out evenly. If you want an area for searing meat, then pile up coals in one area to create a hotter part. If your barbecue has a lid, this will regulate the temperature throughout.

Use the Right Amount of Charcoal

Useful Guide to Lighting a BBQ

Think about how much you will be cooking and how long you need your barbecue to last. The longer you want it to burn for, and the hotter you need it to be, the more coals you will need to put on to it.

What To Do If You Are Struggling To Light The Barbecue

Try Cardboard Egg Boxes

Take and old egg box and fill it with lumps of coal and put it into your barbecue. By lighting the cardboard on fire, you will see the coals light too and the egg box will just burn away.

Try a Few Tortilla Chips

The high fat content in these makes them work like firelighters so try just sprinkling a handful across your barbecue to get it going.

Try Some Old Newspaper

Screw up some bits of old newspaper and put them among the coals to help encourage the fire to take.

How to Light a Gas Barbecue

Lighting a gas barbecue is a much simpler affair than a charcoal one. All you have to do is connect up the gas, turn it on and press the ignition switch. However, there are still a few things to take into consideration.

Leave The Lid Open

When you are lighting a gas barbecue keep the lid open at all times for your own safety.

Let The Grill Heat Up

The grill still needs to heat up for around 15 minutes before it will be ready for you to start cooking so you need to get your timing right.

Watch Out For the Smoke

If your grill is smoking there is grease or fat on there so let that burn off first, and wait for the smoke to stop, before attempting to cook

Control the Heat

Use your temperature gauge to make sure your barbecue is at the right temperature before attempting to cook. You can control it by turning the burners up or down.

How to Light a Barbecue Smoker Grill

Many people use a smoker grill for their barbecues, which work by slow cooking, so they take longer, run at lower temperatures but provide a lump of much more tender meat than the traditional barbecue does.

It still takes practice to get the temperature just right. Generally, there will be a horizontal cooking section next to the heat source, rather than above it. It’s easier this way to add to the fuel and change the temperature as required.

The smoke is then forced into the cooking chamber, hence the name. It can be difficult to assess the temperature, which is where having an accurate gauge comes into its own. You also need to remember that it will take a lot longer to cook your food this way.

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