Learn How to BBQ Right

Barbequing is one of the most popular American activities of all time. Barbeques line American beaches, parks, lakes, and the patio or backyard of most Americans. It’s a big deal to us. Barbequing is a fun pastime we do. It is a great way to get family and friends together and cooking in the great outdoors. We barbeque for family reunions, summer fun, camping, holidays, and even when we feel as if our simple oven made dinners need a little more kick to them. Let’s face it. Barbequed food always tastes a whole lot better too. Smoky, juicy, and that charcoal grille taste are all the characteristics you can find in delicious barbequed foods such as corn, steak, ribs, chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and kebabs! There is no denying it that there is something absolutely memorable in being outside with loved ones, cooking and eating good food, and opening up some fresh, cool soda or lemonade. The atmosphere barbequing brings with it, is something that makes barbequing such a common activity in America and around the world. Yet, barbequing, if done wrong, can be equally disastrous. Don’t ruin family time with your incompetent BBQ skills and learn how to BBQ right with this simple article.

So you want to learn how to become an experienced BBQ pro? Want to dazzle your friends at your amazing grilling skills and knowledge about how to make the most tender, juiciest, and flavorful meat they will ever taste in your life? Like every skill you learn in life, being an experienced pro and knowing what to do, always starts with knowing what not to do. Understanding the importance of not making the following BBQ mistakes will surely push your skills and knowledge of BBQ far above what they are now and take you many steps closer to becoming the know it all BBQ pro.

What Not to Do in the World of BBQ


Having a Lack of Knowledge on your Meat

When going to the supermarket to pick up your infamous meat, know ahead of time what meat you need to pick up and avoid choosing the wrong cut of meat. If meat is cut wrong, with off proportions in terms of fat, meat, and bone, then say bye bye to ever hosting another BBQ ever again. Know ahead of time what kind of meat you want and exactly how the cut should be. In other words, pay attention to how much fat and meat you need. The best way to be prepared is to do your research and ask your trusty butcher. Tell the butcher that you’re planning a BBQ and this is what you are looking for. After that, picking up meat should be smooth sailing!

Dousing your Charcoal with Lighter Fluid Like a Maniac

Avoid the habit of becoming a BBQ happy person and making all the wrong mistakes. Remember that good things take time and this starts with not making a mess everywhere. Dousing your charcoal with lighter fluid to a large extent can actually give off some serious horrible odors and put a little bit of a weird taste in your meat (in other words an utter disaster). Be patient. Good things come to those who start slow. Invest in a top notch chimney starter. Place a few crumpled paper towels at the bottom grate of your grill. Put coals into the chimney until filled and then set it on the grill. Use the chimney to light up the paper towels. Observe closely for 20 minutes after feeling some heat. After that you should be good to go!
Crank the Heat.

I know sometimes life happens even when you’re planning a BBQ and you aren’t as prepared as you thought you were, so under the pressure you feel the need to crank the heat up on the grill to the highest setting. Don’t do this. Please. As stated before, good things come to those who are slow, careful, and patient. A good barbequed meat is no exception to this rule. You need to have your meat cooking on a good slow heat over a steady amount of time. Heat that is too high can actually cause the meat to dry out extremely quickly, making it chewy and disastrous to consume or enjoy. To be in control of the heat, try to invest in a good thermometer with a probe for monitoring air temperature as well as another thermometer for meat temperature. Use the thermometer to check that the grill is at a stable temperature of about 225 -250 degrees Fahrenheit. You can control the temperature of the meat and the grill inside by opening and closing the vents of the grill when needed. A good tip would be to keep a pan full of water in the barbeque chamber to stabilize temperatures and keep the barbequing running smoothly.

You Over Smoked the Idea of Smoke


Yes it is true. Smoke is what we want for our beautiful food to taste superb, smoky, and delicious. Yet, don’t go overboard with the idea that the more smoke, the better, because that is unfortunately not the case. Throwing in way too many wood chunks than necessary can lead your meat to be absolutely terrible. You will soon be the host of a pretty horrible BBQ. Don’t be that person. Keep an eye out for the amount of smoke coming out of your grill. You want to see thin wisps of smoke and not enough smoke to send your eyes and lungs running for the hills. Throw in a few pieces of woods. Keep the inlets and exhaust dampers slightly open. If closed improperly, the fire can smolder and give off a horrid smell that will make your meat taste just as bad.

You Overestimated the Time

Learning how to time manage when you are barbequing is a step in learning how to BBQ right. Don’t be that person that gives themselves no time to calmly prepare and get things ready. You will notice that when you don’t have a lot of time you tend to panic quite a lot. Panic is an absolute no no. We don’t want panicking under any circumstances, because panicking results in poor judgment, and poor judgment leads decisions that cannot be reversed and meat that cannot be salvaged. A good rule of thumb in assessing what an appropriate amount of prep time should be is giving yourself 1 to 1½ hours of prep time for every one pound of meat. Some people may say that when you start in the grill, you must stay and finish your meats in the grill, but if time is of the essence and the outdoors becomes a little too dark, one can resort to the “Texas Cheat” process. In this process you smoke the meat in a grill for a few hours and then transfer it to the oven to be cooked for an additional few hours.

You Became Impatient

Being impatient out on the grill is a recipe for disaster. I can only stress so many times the importance of being patient when you are out on doing your barbeque. When you lose your patience, all sort of rationale about what not to do goes out the window and you find yourself making the dreaded mistakes you told yourself you wouldn’t make. Calm down. If you have a look at the temperature of your meat and see that it is not at the internal temperature you needed it to be, or it is dwindling. Don’t freak out and start cranking up the heat. Remind yourself that good meat takes time and all this patience will reward you with great tasting meat that your guests will enjoy.

Open the Grill Lid a Hundred Times Like a Curious Cat

We know that BBQs are exciting and you are ready to prove your BBQ knowledge to your guests in order to impress them with your state of the art skills, but be wary that consistently peeking and opening your lid every 5 minutes to check your progress is actually a hindrance to the progression of your BBQ. By opening the lid constantly to check on it over and over again, you are actually lowering the temperature of the grill and causing the meat’s internal temperature to cook at an even slower rate. Of course as stated previously, you don’t want to be the reason why your meat is cooking so slow and why you are panicking so much because that just opens the door for a BBQ catastrophe. Stay calm. Relax. Your thermometer probe is not lying to you and tells you everything you need to know. Opening your grill lid should only be for certain activities such as turning your meat over or tending to your coals. There shouldn’t really be any other reason as to why you would have to check up on your meat so much. Pop open a soda, talk with your guests, laugh and calm down, great meat takes time.

You Used the Built in Hood Smoker

One common mistake that newbies in the world of BBQ make is relying on what they believe to be their trusty little built in smoker and thermometer. Don’t trust them. They often have a rep for being quite cheap, in faulty positions, and offering inaccurate temperature readings on your meat. This is due to the fact that they are placed on the lid and tend to record the temperature of the air above the meat you are cooking and not the actual temperature of the meat and the grill. Invest in a very top notch and high quality temperature probe. A good temperature probe that is set up correctly will yield much more accurate results about the temperature of the meat than those faulty, cheap built in thermometers and smokers.

You Used the Wrong Kind of Wood


Using the wrong kind of wood is another common mistake that newbie or inexperienced people will make when it comes to the art of BBQ. Be very knowledgeable and experienced on the type of wood you need. Do your research ahead of time. By doing research, you can understand what types of wood can produce what types of smoking and understand from there what you need. Different types of meat need to be smoked differently so this tip is something you should be very careful about. Apple or cherry woods are known to be mild woods that are best for fish. Maple and oak woods are known to be hickory woods and are best for meats such as pork, beef, or game meat. Use wood chunks for your BBQ over wood chips. Wood chips are not a good idea as they tend to burn up quickly and you will find yourself trying to add more and more to the fire quite often.

You Sliced Your Meat Wrong

Yes I know, this one is crazy to think about. You can spend all your time taking these tips into consideration, do everything right, finish up your meat, one slice and boom, it’s game over. It’s hard to wrap your head around, but unfortunately it is true. Not allowing the meat proper time to rest or slicing in the wrong way can actually ruin the flavor and taste of your meat. Brush up on some good slicing techniques so that after you’ve combated the grill, you can combat the knife and slice up your meat to utter perfection and thickness.


BBQs offer the time for some good, old summer fun and great tasting food. They are a common part of life and are an often occurrence here in America. Avoiding the mistakes I have mentioned above and following the tips I have stated will have you cooking the best meat in your entire neighborhood and amongst all your family members. Hosting the best BBQ party ever begins with the right kind of meat and food. Do your research and host a BBQ that will have you be the talk of the neighborhood (in a good way, of course!).

About the author: American BBQ Company Editor