Our guide to throwing a healthy BBQ plus simple sizzling recipes

With recipes for turkey, lamb, pork, seafood and vegetarian dishes, we are sure you'll find something you’ll love cooking on the barbie this summer.
Published 4 January 2022 | Updated 10 July 2024

Who doesn't love a great summer BBQ? Whether you are entertaining friends on the weekend or just want easy weeknight meals, we've got plenty of sizzling ideas to get you going.

Barbecue basics

  • Start with foil. Before adding any fuel, line your barbecue with a few layers of foil for easy cleaning later.

  • Get the right tools. Make sure you (and your food) are safe by cooking with good-quality long tongs and flameproof gloves.

  • Test the temperature. For charcoal or wood, use the ‘hand test’ to check the heat. Taking care not to burn yourself, hold your hand about 12cm above the grill. If you need to pull it away after 2 seconds, the heat is high; after 4 seconds, it’s medium, and after 6 seconds, it’s low.

Barbecuing tips and tricks

  • Seal meat on the hottest part of the barbecue, then move it to the side so it doesn't burn.

  • Aim to fill at least half your plate with salad for healthy balanced eating.

  • Most barbecues now come with a hood. Try to cook with the hood down as much as possible – it keeps the heat in and helps it to circulate, which means food cooks faster and more evenly.

  • Choose tongs and spatulas with long, heatproof handles so your hands don’t have to get too close to the hot grill.

  • Patience is a virtue when cooking meat on the barbie, try not to prod or turn it too often and avoid squashing it down- it won’t cook any faster but you will press out all the juices.

  • Before you start cooking you have to give the barbecue time to heat up properly. That means turning the burners on high for at least 10 minutes before cooking.

  • While the barbecue is heating up, take your meat out of the fridge to warm up a little. If you place meat straight from the fridge onto a hot barbie it will stew in its own juices, so you won’t get the all-important sizzle factor. The temperature shock will also cause the meat to tighten up so it will be tough and chewy.

  • Cook more delicate foods such as fish and seafood on a piece of baking paper or a Teflon barbecue sheet so it doesn't stick to the grill or take on other food flavours. This is also good when barbecuing fruit as you won't need to clean the grill first.

  • To stop marinades burning, drain the meat and blot it on a paper towel before placing it on the grill. Also, soak wooden skewers in a jug of cold water for 10 minutes before treading on your ingredients. This will prevent the ends from scorching during cooking.

  • The thicker your meat, the longer it will take to cook, so put the chunkier steaks, chops, and sausages on the grill first. Barbecues also tend to cook meat surfaces very quickly, so start by searing the meat over direct heat (where the flame is) for 2-3 minutes each side to seal in the juices and flavour. Once seared, move the food to a cooler part of the barbie or lower the heat to give it time to cook without charring the outside.