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So you've familiarized yourself with the wonders of the South African braai – a sizzling social gathering built around fire-cooked food and good company. Now, you're eager to host your own and share the magic with friends and family. But where do you start?

Don't worry, this guide will break down all the essential tips for hosting a South African braai, equipping you to throw one that'll have your guests raving (and maybe even attempting a few beginner Afrikaans phrases!).

 

Planning Makes Perfect

A successful braai hinges on thoughtful planning. Here are some key areas to consider:

  • Guest list and occasion: Is it a casual gathering with close friends, a birthday celebration, or a larger get-together? Knowing your guest count helps determine how much meat and sides you’ll need and the seating arrangements.
  • Date and time: South Africans love year-round braais, but consider the weather. Opt for a sunny afternoon or a balmy evening. Weekends are popular choices, but weekdays work too!
  • Location: Will it be in your backyard, a park, or a rented venue? Factor in space for the braai itself, seating, and mingling.

 

Setting the Braai Stage

It’s important to make sure that you have everything you need for a successful braai. This includes:

  • The braai grill: This is the heart of the operation. If you don't own one, consider borrowing or renting a wood or charcoal-fired braai. Gas braais are convenient but lack the traditional smoky flavor and are usually frowned upon for traditional South African braais.
  • Fueling the fire: Hardwood or charcoal are your go-to options. Wood imparts a unique smoky taste but requires practice to manage the flames; charcoal lights quickly and provides consistent heat. Experiment beforehand to find your preference.
  • Tools of the trade: Long tongs for turning meat, a braai fork for heavier cuts, and a grid cleaning brush are essential. Fireproof gloves for the braai master are a bonus.

 

Make Sure You Have the Braai Staples and Delicious Sides

 

braai sides | hosting a South African braai | tips for hosting a braai

 

The braai is all about delicious, flame-kissed food. Here's a breakdown of the essentials to get you started:

  • The meat: Boerewors (coiled sausage), steaks, kebabs, and sosaties (skewered meat) are braai staples. Consider offering a variety of options. Also make sure to include vegetarian or pescatarian alternatives like grilled vegetables, halloumi cheese, or fish.
  • Marinades and seasonings: South Africans love bold flavors. Marinate meats overnight in a mixture of herbs, spices, lemon juice, or yogurt. Popular choices include peri-peri sauce (spicy), braai wors spice, or a simple salt and pepper rub.
  • Sides and salads: Braai potatoes (roasted potatoes), mieliepap (cornmeal porridge, sometimes also referred to simply as “pap”), coleslaw, and fresh salads provide a delicious counterpoint to the grilled fare. Don't forget the braaibroodjies (grilled cheese sandwiches) – a South African favorite!
  • Drinks: South Africans love a good braai beer, but a selection of wines, soft drinks, and water is also essential.

 

Setting the Braai Vibe

A braai is more than just food; it's about creating a relaxed and fun atmosphere that promotes human connection. To do that, there are a couple key considerations:

  • Music: Set the mood with a playlist featuring South African music (think mbaqanga, kwaito, or contemporary South African artists).
  • Seating: Arrange comfortable seating around the braai, allowing guests to socialize while enjoying the aroma and warmth of the fire. Outdoor games like frisbee or a volleyball net add to the fun, especially for kids.
  • Décor: Keep it simple yet festive. String lights, colorful tablecloths, and some potted plants add ambiance. Don't forget the citronella candles to keep mosquitoes at bay.

 

Keep Braai Etiquette in Mind

A few pointers ensure a smooth braai experience:

  • The braai master: Traditionally, the host takes on the role of the braai master, responsible for tending the fire and cooking the meat. Guests are welcome to offer assistance or advice, but avoid backseat braaing!
  • Second helpings: Guests are encouraged to feel free to ask for seconds – it's considered a compliment to the host! But be mindful of others and avoid overindulging.

 

tips for hosting a braai | hosting a South African braai

 

The Final Touches

  • Preparation is key: Make sure to have everything you need ready ahead of time. Marinate meats in advance, chop vegetables, and have all the sides and drinks prepped beforehand. This frees you to relax and enjoy the company during the braai.
  • Relax and have fun!: A braai is about connecting with loved ones. Don't get stressed about every detail – embrace the laid-back atmosphere and soak in the good vibes.

 

Bonus Tip: End the Braai on a Sweet Note!

South Africans have a sweet tooth, and no braai is complete without a delicious dessert. Here are a few ideas:

  • Melktert (milk tart): This creamy custard tart with a flaky crust is a South African classic and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
  • Braaibroodjies with Nutella and banana: Take white bread slices, spread it with Nutella, top it with sliced bananas, put another slice of white bread on top, and grill it until the filling is warm and melty. Pure indulgence!
  • Seasonal fruits: A platter of fresh, seasonal fruits is a light and refreshing way to end the meal. Don't forget the marshmallows! Roast them over the fire for a fun and nostalgic treat.

 

You Can Make Your South African Braai Unforgettable!

With the tips we’ve covered above and a little South African spirit, you're well on your way to hosting a South African braai that your guests won't soon forget. Gather your friends and family, fire up the braai, and prepare to create lasting memories filled with laughter, delicious food, and the warmth of good company.

Lag lekker! (Enjoy!)

Do you plan on doing a braai soon? Or do you have some other braai tips to share? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!

 

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As the seasons change, so too does the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available at our fingertips. Grilling is a fantastic way to showcase these seasonal ingredients, adding smoky depth and caramelized sweetness to their natural flavors.

From vibrant spring asparagus and juicy tomatoes to hearty winter root vegetables, incorporating seasonal produce into your barbecue repertoire elevates every dish and injects a burst of freshness that's sure to impress your guests. There's a whole world of flavors waiting to be explored.

Why settle for bland when you can enjoy vibrant, mouth-watering dishes that wow your family and friends? Using produce in your BBQ not only brings out the best in flavor but also supports local farmers and the environment.

This article explores creative ways to utilize seasonal produce in your BBQ dishes throughout the year, offering a taste of each season on your grill.

 

Understanding Seasonal Produce

Including seasonal produce in your BBQ dishes can take your grilling game to the next level. Not only does it provide a burst of flavor, but it also brings a wealth of health benefits and can be more cost-effective. Let's dive into the benefits of using seasonal produce and tips for identifying what’s in season:

 

Benefits of Using Seasonal Produce

Using seasonal produce in your BBQ offers several advantages that elevate your grilling experience:

  • Enhanced Flavors: Seasonal fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak ripeness, which means they're bursting with flavor. Imagine biting into a juicy tomato or a sweet peach that's been warmed by the sun. There's no comparison.
  • Nutritional Value: Fresh, seasonal produce often contains more nutrients compared to out-of-season options. The longer fruits and veggies sit after being picked, the more nutrients they lose. When you buy and grill seasonal items, you're getting the best of what nature has to offer.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Seasonal produce is usually more affordable. When fruits and veggies are in season, there's an abundant supply, which drives prices down. This means you can enjoy high-quality ingredients without breaking the bank.

Seasonal ingredients can change your ordinary BBQ into something extraordinary. Think of them as nature's gift to your grilling repertoire.

 

using fresh produce with BBQ | seasonal grilling | seasonal produce in your BBQ

 

How to Identify Seasonal Produce

Knowing how to recognize and find good seasonal produce can be extremely helpful. Here are some tips on how to identify what's in season:

  • Visit Farmers' Markets: Farmers' markets are fantastic places to find seasonal produce. Most of the time, the fruits and vegetables available are what's currently being harvested. Also, you can usually talk to the farmers directly and get even more insights into the freshest picks.
  • Look for Local Produce Sections: Many grocery stores have sections dedicated to local produce. What’s local is typically what's in season, since it doesn't have to travel long distances to get to the store.
  • Check Seasonal Charts: Seasonal produce charts are handy guides. They show which fruits and veggies are in season during different times of the year. A quick online search can provide you with charts specific to your region.

Incorporating produce in your BBQ is about making informed choices that enrich your grilling while supporting local businesses and the environment. So next time you're at the market, keep an eye out for those seasonal gems and let your taste buds revel in the freshness.

Let’s dive into some specific ideas you can try out to utilize fresh produce items each season.

 

Spring BBQ Ideas

Spring is the perfect season for grilling. As nature awakens, so do our taste buds with the freshest produce of the year. Incorporating spring vegetables into your BBQ side dishes can add vibrant colors and fresh flavors that make your meals stand out. Here are a couple of ideas to kick-start your spring BBQs:

 

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest

Asparagus is one of the stars of spring produce. This green vegetable is not only delicious but also quite easy to grill. Simply prep and trim the asparagus and season with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill on medium-high heat until slightly tender and there are visible grill marks. Once done cooking, zest lemon over the top of the sprigs and squeeze some fresh lemon juice for an extra burst of flavor.

The combination of the smoky grilled asparagus and the bright, tangy lemon zest makes for a refreshing side dish. This simple yet elegant preparation will impress your BBQ guests.

 

Grilled Spring Onion and Radish Salad

Celebrate the early days of spring with a light and refreshing grilled salad. Thinly slice spring onions and radishes, toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and grill in a grill basket for a few minutes to soften slightly. Combine the grilled vegetables with fresh arugula or baby spinach, crumbled feta cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction for a delightful side dish bursting with spring flavors.

 

spring onion and radish for grilling | seasonal grilling | seasonal produce in your BBQ

 

Summer BBQ Ideas

Summer is the time when grilling becomes more than just cooking; it's an experience. With an abundance of fresh produce, you can turn your BBQ into a feast of flavors and colors. Here are some ideas to make your summer BBQ unforgettable:

 

Grilled Vegetable and Halloumi Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce

Thread cubes of marinated halloumi cheese (a salty, grilling cheese) with your favorite summer vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes. Grill the kabobs until the vegetables are tender-crisp and the halloumi is golden brown. Serve with a cool and refreshing tzatziki sauce made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and olive oil for a delightful summer appetizer or main course.

 

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Spicy Mayo

No summer BBQ is complete without grilled corn. Husk the corn and soak the cobs in water for 10 minutes before grilling. Grill the corn on the cob over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the kernels are tender and golden brown.

For a flavorful twist, create a spicy mayo by combining mayonnaise with Sriracha sauce, lime juice, and a touch of chopped cilantro. Brush the spicy mayo over the grilled corn for a delicious and slightly spicy summer treat.

 

Fall BBQ Ideas

As the leaves change colors and the air becomes crisp, it's the perfect time to enjoy the flavors of fall through your BBQ. Grilling in the fall allows you to take advantage of the season's best produce, especially root vegetables and winter squashes. With these types of ingredients, you can create unique and savory dishes that will warm your heart and satisfy your taste buds. Here are a couple of delicious BBQ ideas perfect for the fall season:

 

Grilled Eggplant Stacks with Goat Cheese and Fig Glaze

Grilled eggplant takes on a smoky depth of flavor that pairs beautifully with creamy goat cheese and sweet fig jam. Slice eggplants into thick rounds, brush with olive oil, and grill until tender. Layer grilled eggplant slices with crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of fig jam for a warm and flavorful appetizer or side dish.

 

Grilled Butternut Squash with Bourbon Maple Glaze

Butternut squash is a fall staple that transforms beautifully on the grill. Cut butternut squash into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cook in a grill basket until tender-crisp.

For a warm and comforting glaze, combine maple syrup, bourbon, brown sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon in a saucepan and simmer until thickened. Brush the glaze over the grilled butternut squash for a delicious side dish with a touch of autumn spice.

 

grilled butternut squash | seasonal grilling | seasonal produce in your BBQ
Source: Recipes.net 

 

Winter BBQ Ideas

Winter doesn't mean the end of the BBQ season. With a little creativity, you can enjoy delicious grilled dishes year-round (especially if you have a covered outdoor kitchen). The winter brings a unique set of flavors that can transform your grill game. Here are a couple of ideas on how to make the most of winter produce in your BBQ dishes:

 

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Prosciutto and Balsamic Glaze

Elevate your Brussels sprouts game with a touch of smoky magic and salty indulgence. Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts, wrap them with thin slices of prosciutto (Italian dry-cured ham), secure with a toothpick, and grill until the prosciutto crisps and the Brussels sprouts are tender-crisp. For a sweet and tangy glaze, reduce balsamic vinegar in a saucepan until thickened and syrupy. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the grilled Brussels sprouts for a delightful combination of textures and flavors.

 

Grilled Root Vegetables with Herb Butter and Honey Mustard Dip

Embrace the hearty root vegetables of winter with a touch of smoky goodness and a creamy herb dip. Cut root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and turnips into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill until tender-crisp.

For a comforting dip, combine softened butter with chopped fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme. Serve the grilled root vegetables with the herb butter alongside a honey mustard sauce made with Dijon mustard, honey, and a touch of apple cider vinegar for a delicious and satisfying winter side dish.

 

Tips for Maximizing Fresh Produce in Your BBQ

Adding fresh produce to your BBQ dishes can make all the difference. With a few key strategies, you can maintain the quality of your ingredients and create balanced, flavorful dishes that wow your guests. Here are some practical tips to help you get the most out of your fresh produce in your BBQ efforts:

 

Proper Storage Techniques

Storing fresh produce correctly can make your ingredients last longer and taste better. Here’s how to ensure you’re preserving that garden-fresh quality:

  • Refrigerate Wisely: Not all veggies and fruits belong in the fridge. For example, tomatoes and avocados ripen best at room temperature. Keep them on the counter until they reach peak ripeness.
  • Keep It Crisp: Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach need a little moisture to stay fresh. Store them in a mesh produce bag or wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a perforated plastic bag or vented container in the crisper drawer.
  • Use Airy Storage: Onions, garlic, and potatoes should be kept in a cool, dark place. Store them in a basket to allow for air circulation.
  • Separate Ethylene Producers: Fruits like apples and bananas produce ethylene gas, which can speed up ripening (and spoilage) in other produce. Keep them separate from other fruits and vegetables to extend shelf life.

Following these storage tips will ensure your produce is at its best when it hits the grill.

 

storing leaving greens for grilled dishes | seasonal grilling | seasonal produce in your BBQ

 

Balancing Flavors

Balancing the flavors of fresh produce with other BBQ ingredients is key to creating mouth-watering dishes. Here’s how to make sure your flavors harmonize:

  • Sweet and Savory: Pair sweet vegetables like bell peppers and carrots with savory meats. For example, grilled chicken skewers with bell peppers create a delightful contrast.
  • Acid and Fat: Add a splash of acidity to balance out heavier BBQ fare. A squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar can brighten grilled veggies and cut through the richness of meats.
  • Herbs and Spices: Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil can enhance the flavors of grilled produce. Sprinkle them over veggies before grilling to add an aromatic element.
  • Texture Matters: Combine different textures to keep your dishes interesting. Crunchy grilled corn pairs wonderfully with tender grilled zucchini.

By paying attention to how flavors and textures work together, you can elevate your BBQ dishes and create a well-rounded meal.

 

Level Up Your BBQ With Fresh Seasonal Produce

Maximizing fresh produce in your BBQ dishes offers a simple way to boost flavor and nutrition. Seasonal ingredients bring vibrant tastes and support local farmers, and they’re often more affordable. Incorporating the tips we’ve covered above into your BBQ routine will not only enhance the taste but also ensure you're getting the most from your fresh produce.

Don't hesitate to experiment with the fresh produce from your local market. Try adding things like juicy tomatoes, crisp asparagus, sweet corn, and crisp bell peppers to your grill. You'll discover new flavors and create healthier, more diverse meals.

The next time you plan a BBQ, think about what’s in season. This small change can transform your dishes and make your cookouts and BBQ parties more exciting and memorable. Embrace the fresh, seasonal produce in your BBQ, and watch your culinary skills flourish.

Do you have a favorite seasonal produce that you’ve started incorporating more into your BBQ? Are you going to try one of the ideas above out this weekend? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!

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Grilling enthusiasts know the appeal of cooking outside—flavors are richer, and cleanup is easy. And imagine enjoying a thick-cut steak or juicy burger outdoors, even in the chill of winter. Creating a DIY outdoor kitchen not only makes this possible but also adds a new dimension to your grilling game.

An outdoor kitchen, equipped for all seasons, lets you entertain year-round, combining the joys of cooking and socializing in one place. The best part? You can build it yourself, tailoring every detail to your needs, and enjoy the satisfaction of creating something with your own hands.

In this article, you'll learn how to plan and equip a DIY outdoor kitchen that's perfect for any weather. From selecting the right location to choosing the best materials and appliances, we've got you covered. Get ready to transform your backyard into the ultimate grilling oasis.

 

Selecting the Perfect Location

When setting up your DIY outdoor kitchen, choosing the right location is crucial to ensure a smooth and enjoyable cooking experience. Consider the following factors to select the perfect spot for your outdoor grilling sanctuary:

Considering Space and Layout

Effectively designing the layout of your outdoor kitchen is key to maximizing efficiency and convenience. Determine the zoning for different areas such as cooking, preparation, and serving to streamline your workflow.

Place the grill fairly close to the dining area for easy access when serving freshly grilled dishes. Ensure that there is ample counter space near the grill for prepping ingredients and placing cooked food.

Think about the flow of movement from one station to another to prevent congestion during meal preparation. Keep essential frequently used tools and ingredients within reach to avoid unnecessary back and forth. Group similar tasks together, such as locating the sink near the prep area for easy cleanup. By planning the layout meticulously, you can create a functional outdoor kitchen that enhances your cooking experience.

 

Ensuring Optimal Overhead Coverage

When selecting the perfect location for your DIY outdoor kitchen, consider overhead protection for year-round grilling. This will shield your grill and prep space from rain, excessive sun, and snow. Look for existing covered areas like a patio roof, a pergola that you can add solid cover to the top of, or even a large patio umbrella. 

If adding a new overhead structure, make sure to choose weather-resistant materials that can handle rain, wind, and snow (if applicable in your area). Remember to factor in local building codes and permits before starting construction on a stand-alone structure.

By carefully considering the space, layout, and overhead coverage of your DIY outdoor kitchen, you can optimize functionality and efficiency in your cooking space. Planning ahead ensures that your outdoor kitchen meets your needs and enhances your grilling experience.

 

outdoor kitchen under a pergola | DIY outdoor kitchen | outdoor kitchen ideas
Source: Lancaster County Backyard

 

Creating a Solid Foundation

When embarking on the journey to create your DIY outdoor kitchen, one of the crucial elements to consider is establishing a solid foundation. A well-built floor sets the stage for the entire outdoor cooking space. There are several key considerations to keep in mind to create a sturdy base that will support your year-round grilling adventures.

Choosing the Right Flooring

Selecting the appropriate flooring for your outdoor kitchen is pivotal in ensuring both functionality and aesthetics. Here are some popular options that are both durable and easy to maintain:

  • Sealed concrete flooring: Concrete is a versatile choice for outdoor kitchens, offering durability and ease of maintenance. It provides a seamless and modern look that can complement various design styles. With concrete, you have the flexibility to customize the color and texture to suit your preferences.
  • Tile flooring: Tiles are another excellent choice for outdoor kitchen flooring. They come in a wide range of colors, textures, and patterns, allowing you to create a personalized look for your space. Porcelain or natural stone tiles are resilient to outdoor elements and are easy to clean, making them ideal for high-traffic areas.
  • Composite decking: If you prefer a warmer, wood-like aesthetic for your outdoor kitchen, composite decking is a fantastic option. It combines the natural appearance of wood with the low maintenance requirements of composite materials. Composite decking is resistant to rot, mold, and fading, making it a durable choice for outdoor environments.

Remember, the foundation of your outdoor kitchen sets the stage for the entire cooking experience. Choose a flooring option that not only complements your design vision but also offers durability and ease of maintenance to support your culinary adventures throughout the seasons.

 

Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen

Careful planning is key to designing a functional and inviting outdoor kitchen, perfect for year-round grilling. There are several essential aspects you need to consider when designing your DIY outdoor kitchen:

Grill & Appliance Selection and Placement

When creating your perfect outdoor grilling area, one of the primary factors to consider is the selection and placement of appliances:

  • Grill: The grill/smoker is the heart of your outdoor kitchen. Choose a grill that suits your cooking needs, whether it's a gas, charcoal, or pellet grill.
  • Storage options: Incorporate ample closed storage space for utensils, cookware, and ingredients. Cabinets, drawers, and shelves can help keep your outdoor kitchen organized. (More on this below.)
  • Refrigeration: Including a refrigerator in your outdoor kitchen allows you to conveniently store perishable items and beverages.
  • Additional appliances: Consider adding extras such as side burners, pizza ovens, etc. based on your individual needs and cooking preferences.

storage space in an outdoor kitchen | DIY outdoor kitchen | outdoor kitchen ideas

 

Incorporating Proper Ventilation

Proper ventilation is crucial for your outdoor kitchen to ensure safety and comfort while cooking in an enclosed space. Adequate ventilation helps to dissipate smoke, odors, and excess heat, creating a more enjoyable cooking environment. Ensure that your outdoor kitchen has plenty of ventilation to enhance air circulation.

Designing your outdoor kitchen involves a thoughtful balance to create a functional and inviting space for year-round grilling. By incorporating the above elements into your design, you can enhance your cooking experience and create a welcoming environment for family and friends to gather and enjoy delicious meals.

 

Ensuring Year-Round Use and Proper Maintenance

When creating your DIY outdoor kitchen for year-round grilling, it's essential to consider how to ensure its continued use and maintain its durability. By investing in quality covers and storage solutions, you can protect your appliances from unpredictable outdoor elements, extending their lifespan and keeping them in top condition for when you're ready to fire up the grill.

Investing in Quality Covers and Storage Solutions

Quality covers are a fundamental investment for your outdoor kitchen appliances, especially grill covers. These covers act as shields against rain, snow, dust, and UV rays that can cause damage over time. Make sure to choose covers specifically designed for each appliance to ensure a snug fit and maximum protection. Waterproof covers with UV protection are ideal for outdoor use, keeping your equipment safe from moisture and sun exposure.

As mentioned above, storage solutions play a vital role in maintaining your outdoor kitchen, including the appliances. Proper storage not only protects your appliances from the elements but also keeps them organized and easily accessible. Consider storage cabinets, shelves, or outdoor storage boxes to keep your grilling tools, utensils, and accessories neatly stored when not in use.

By investing in quality covers and storage solutions, you're safeguarding your outdoor kitchen against wear and tear, rust, and other damages caused by exposure to the elements. Protecting your investment today ensures you'll enjoy your DIY outdoor kitchen for many more grilling seasons to come.

 

Adding Functional and Aesthetic Elements

Another key aspect of transforming your outdoor kitchen space into a true oasis is adding functional and aesthetic elements. One way to enhance the overall appeal of your outdoor kitchen is by incorporating greenery and landscaping. You can seamlessly integrate plants, herbs, or a small garden to elevate the ambiance and functionality of your outdoor cooking area.

 

plants around an outdoor kitchen | DIY outdoor kitchen | outdoor kitchen ideas

 

Incorporating Functional Greenery and Landscaping

Adding a touch of greenery to your outdoor kitchen can do wonders for both aesthetics and functionality. Not only do plants and herbs add a pop of color and freshness to the space, but they can also serve a practical purpose by providing easy access to fresh ingredients while you cook. Consider planting fragrant herbs like rosemary, basil, or mint in hanging baskets near your cooking area for a convenient way to enhance the flavors of your smoked or grilled dishes.

Creating a small garden in proximity to your outdoor kitchen can further elevate the space. Imagine stepping outside to pick ripe tomatoes for your burger toppings or fresh peppers for grilling – the convenience and joy of cooking with homegrown produce can truly enhance your grilling experience.

Additionally, a well-designed garden can act as a natural divider to define different areas of your outdoor kitchen, giving it a more cohesive and inviting feel. Incorporating landscaping elements such as potted plants, colorful flowers, or even a vertical garden can also help soften the edges of your outdoor kitchen, making it blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment. Plus, tall plants can also act as a barrier against wind and excess sunlight when placed strategically.

By carefully selecting plants that thrive in your climate and require minimal maintenance, you can create a lush and inviting space that you'll love to spend time in, is sure to impress your guests, and elevates your outdoor cooking experience.

 

Get Started on Your DIY Outdoor Kitchen Today!

Creating a DIY outdoor kitchen for year-round grilling is an exciting project that pays off big time. You get the thrill of grilling delicious meals in a space tailored to your needs.

From choosing the right location and materials to setting up essential appliances and adding personal touches, it’s fully doable. With some planning and effort, your outdoor kitchen will quickly become your favorite spot to cook and entertain. So get out there, start designing, and enjoy the endless joy of cooking outdoors no matter the season.

Plan on starting on your DIY outdoor kitchen soon? Have you recently started and know of some things we should add to what we mentioned above? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!

 

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Feature image source: RTA Outdoor Living

BBQ sauces are a quintessential part of grilling culture, and each region around the world has its own unique take on this flavorful condiment. From the tangy mustard-based Carolina Gold to the spicy and sweet Korean Gochujang, the world of barbecue sauces is as diverse as it is delicious. 

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the various BBQ sauces from around the globe, exploring their distinct flavors and the traditional dishes they complement. Whether you're a seasoned pitmaster or just starting out on your grilling journey, there's a world of BBQ sauces waiting to be discovered.

 

Regional BBQ Sauces in the United States

When it comes to BBQ, sauces play a crucial role in defining the flavor profile of the dish. Regional BBQ styles in the United States, and their associated sauces, vary significantly, each offering a unique taste that reflects the local culinary traditions and preferences. 

Let's take a flavorful journey through some of the most iconic regional BBQ sauces in the country:

 

Carolina Gold

This barbecue sauce originates from South Carolina and is known for its tangy and mustard-based flavor profile. This golden-hued sauce is a harmonious blend of tangy vinegar, a hint of sweetness, and the distinctive zing of mustard. It adds a delicious kick to low-and-slow-cooked pulled pork, chicken, and even grilled vegetables.

 

Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Hailing from the barbecue capital of the world, Kansas City BBQ sauce is a rich, thick, tomato-based sauce that embodies the perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and smoky flavors. This versatile sauce is characterized by its molasses and brown sugar sweetness, complemented by the tang of vinegar and the warmth of spices. It's an excellent choice for ribs, brisket, and grilled meats.

 

Texas BBQ Sauce

In the Lone Star State, BBQ sauce takes on a bold and flavorful persona. Texas BBQ sauce often showcases a robust blend of spices, including chili powder, cumin, and black pepper, giving it a fiery kick that stands up to the richness of smoked beef brisket. While some variations lean towards a tomato base, others feature a more savory profile, allowing the smoky flavors of the meat to shine through.

 

Alabama White Sauce

 

Alabama white sauce | BBQ sauces from around the world | international BBQ sauces
Source: The Spruce Eats

 

Breaking away from the traditional red and brown hues of BBQ sauces, Alabama White Sauce offers a departure from the norm with its creamy and tangy composition. A mayo and vinegar-based sauce, this northern Alabama specialty brings a distinctive zing to poultry, particularly when used as a marinade or dipping sauce for smoked or grilled chicken.

Embarking on a culinary adventure through the regional BBQ sauces across the United States unveils a tapestry of flavors, each with its own story to tell and an irresistible allure that celebrates the art of barbecue in its many diverse forms.

 

International BBQ Sauces from Around the World

The diverse flavors of international barbecue sauces reflect the rich tapestry of cultural influences that have shaped global cuisine. Each sauce variation embodies the unique culinary heritage and traditions of BBQ in its region. The different sauces add a distinct layer of flavor and character to grilled meats, vegetables, and seafood, highlighting the remarkable diversity of global barbecue traditions.

Let’s break down an assortment of some of the most delicious international BBQ sauce variations:

 

South African Braai Sauce

Synonymous with the nation's rich culinary heritage, South African braai sauce is a tantalizing blend of fruity, tangy, and slightly spicy flavors. Its unique combination of apricot jam, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar creates a sweet yet tangy profile that perfectly complements grilled meats. The Braai sauce, deeply rooted in South African culture, is often used as a marinade or a basting sauce during outdoor cookouts, infusing meats with a rich and savory essence that is symbolic of South African cuisine.

 

Korean Gochujang BBQ Sauce

This sauce is a staple in Korean barbecue, renowned for its robust and spicy profile. This fermented chili paste-based sauce, enriched with soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil, delivers a complex mix of sweet, savory, and fiery notes. Reflective of Korea's culinary finesse, this sauce adds depth and intensity to grilled meats, creating a harmonious symphony of flavors that is distinctive to Korean cuisine.

 

Jamaican Jerk Sauce

 

Jamaican jerk sauce | BBQ sauces from around the world | international BBQ sauces
Source: Plant-Based Passport

 

This fiery and aromatic concoction captures the essence of Caribbean zest. Containing scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, and thyme, this sauce exudes a tangy and earthy essence that invigorates the palate with its vibrant Caribbean flair. The Jerk sauce, often used on grilled chicken, is a product of Jamaica's multicultural tapestry and infuses meats with a tantalizing heat, transporting taste buds to the colorful streets of the Caribbean.

 

Argentine Chimichurri

Chimichurri, a beloved accompaniment in Argentine grilling traditions, offers a vibrant and herbaceous flavor profile. A blend of fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, and tangy vinegar, this sauce delivers a zesty and refreshing complement to grilled meats (especially red meats). The Chimichurri's zingy and pungent notes accentuate the natural flavors of the meat, encapsulating the passionate spirit of Argentine cuisine.

 

The Increasing Global Influences on BBQ Sauces in America

While the United States has been a hotbed for barbecue sauce innovation, its flavors have been significantly influenced by international culinary traditions, especially more recently. For instance, the sweet and spicy flavors of Asian barbecue sauces have made their mark on American barbecue, adding a unique twist to traditional recipes. Using a ginger-soy marinade on chicken can add a citrusy, umami-packed level of flavor that elevates your grilled poultry.

Similarly, the tangy and vinegary notes of Caribbean jerk sauces have found their way into the American barbecue scene, showcasing the global fusion that continues to shape the diverse landscape of barbecue sauces. The interplay between domestic traditions and international influences has propelled barbecue sauces into a realm of boundless creativity, offering a tantalizing array of flavors for enthusiasts to explore.

 

international BBQ sauces | BBQ sauces from around the world | different types of BBQ sauce
Source: The Daily Meal

 

Broaden Your Flavor Horizons Today When It Comes to BBQ Sauce!

The world of BBQ sauces is a delightful tapestry of diverse flavors, each representing the rich culinary traditions of their respective regions. As you can see above, there is a wide variety of sauces, offering a passport to global gastronomy. 

By incorporating these unique flavors into your grilling repertoire, you can elevate your BBQ game and tantalize your taste buds with a symphony of international flavors. Whether you're a seasoned barbecuer or a novice grill enthusiast, exploring these BBQ sauces from around the world is a surefire way to take your culinary adventures to new and exciting heights.

Do you have a new favorite BBQ sauce flavor? Plan on trying one of the above sauces for the first time soon? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!

If you want to level up your outdoor cooking game and learn competition-worthy techniques, our All-Access Pass is your answer. You'll get to join Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in our virtual barbecue classes, where you’ll learn step-by-step how to perfect pork ribs, pork butt, chicken, brisket, steak, and even pork chops. With help from BBQ Champs Academy, you'll soon be impressing everyone with your expert-level cooking. 

Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of the latest competition BBQ news and insider info from top Pitmasters and Grillmasters.

BBQ is a culinary tradition deeply rooted not only in the U.S. but in various cultures around the world. From the robust smoked beef briskets in Central Texas to the skewers of delicious Japanese yakitori, BBQ has become a beloved cooking method enjoyed by many. 

But where did it all begin? In this article, we dive into the fascinating history of BBQ, exploring its origins and evolution over time.

 

The Initial Origins of BBQ

The origins of BBQ can be traced back thousands of years. It is believed that the practice of cooking meat over an open fire originated with our early human ancestors. As primitive humans discovered the taste of cooked meat and the benefits of using fire, the art of grilling began to take shape.

Ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and Persians all had their own variations of BBQ-style cooking. In fact, ancient Greek literature from the Mycenaean period, which lasted from 1600 to 1100 B.C., mentions a technique similar to modern-day BBQ, where meat was skewered and cooked over an open flame.

 

The Evolution of American BBQ

Fast forward to the 16th century, and we find BBQ making its way to the Americas. It is said that Spanish explorers first introduced BBQ to the indigenous people of the Caribbean, who quickly adopted the cooking method. The Spanish word "barbacoa" was eventually anglicized to "barbecue," solidifying its place in American culinary history.

Not long after the Western expansion began in 1803 of what we now know as the United States, so did the emergence of regional differences in BBQ. Various styles were developed, each with its own unique flavors and cooking techniques. Whether it's the vinegar-based sauces of North Carolina, the tomato-based sauces of Kansas City, or the mustard-based sauces of South Carolina, BBQ became a reflection of the local ingredients and cultural influences.

 

The Explosion of BBQ in the U.S.

 

1950s backyard BBQ | history of BBQ | BBQ history

 

By the mid-19th century, BBQ became deeply ingrained in American culture. It was not just a technique for cooking meat; it was an occasion for communities to gather and celebrate. BBQ grills, pits, and smokers became a centerpiece of social gatherings, where families and friends would come together to enjoy the flavors of slow-cooked, smoky meats.

The popularity of BBQ continued to grow throughout the 20th century, with the rise of barbecue restaurants and competitions. Pitmasters, skilled individuals who mastered the art of smoking and grilling, became local heroes, revered for their ability to create mouthwatering BBQ.

 

The State of BBQ Today

Today, BBQ has evolved into a global phenomenon. It has transcended borders and cultural boundaries, with each region and country adding its own distinct twist to the traditional cooking method. From the tandoori grills of India to the braai grills of South Africa, BBQ has become a universal language, bringing people together through the love of good food.

The advent of modern technology has revolutionized the BBQ experience. From high-tech smokers and grills to innovative cooking techniques, BBQ enthusiasts now have a plethora of tools, accessories, and resources at their disposal, allowing them to experiment and create new and exciting flavors.

 

Enjoy Being a Part of the Rich History of BBQ!

 

evolution of BBQ | history of BBQ | BBQ history

 

The history of BBQ is a testament to the enduring nature of this beloved cooking method. From its humble beginnings in ancient civilizations to its widespread popularity today, BBQ has stood the test of time. It continues to bring people together, ignite their taste buds, and create lasting memories. 

So next time you fire up the grill or smoker or visit your favorite BBQ joint, take a moment to appreciate the rich history behind your plate of smoky goodness.

If you want to elevate your BBQ-cooking game more than ever before, BBQ Champs Academy can help you do just that! In our one-of-a-kind virtual BBQ cooking school, you’ll learn step-by-step from world-champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters who will show you exactly how to cook mouth-watering barbecue. 

Our All-Access Pass includes sections that will show you how to smoke competition-caliber ribs, pork butt, brisket, and chicken perfectly. And our Championship Backyard BBQ classes, which are perfect for the everyday BBQ enthusiast, will teach you 20 delicious recipes that will make you the barbecue king or queen of your block.

Get started with BBQ Champs Academy today!

Good barbecue goes much farther than just in the United States. BBQ is actually a culinary tradition that has captivated taste buds around the world. From succulent ribs to mouthwatering grilled lamb chops, barbecue is a celebration of smoky flavors and tender meats. 

In this article, we will explore a sampling of delicious international flavor variations of BBQ that can be found across a wide range of different countries, also explaining how they differ from each other. By opening your mind to an array of different styles, you can elevate your outdoor cooking game like never before.

 

American BBQ: The Classic Flavor

When it comes to BBQ, the United States is undoubtedly a heavyweight contender. American barbecue is characterized by slow-smoking cuts over indirect heat, resulting in tender meat that falls off the bone. The flavors widely vary across regions throughout the country, from tangy and sweet in Kansas City to spicy and smoky in Texas. Whether it's Memphis-style ribs or Carolina pulled pork, American BBQ offers a wide array of delectable options worth savoring.

Another thing that sets American barbecue apart is the passion, dedication, and patience that goes into the cooking process. Pitmasters meticulously tend to their smokers, adjusting temperature and smoke levels to achieve the perfect balance of flavor. It's a labor of love that yields mouthwatering results.

 

Brazilian Churrasco: Meat Lover's Paradise

In Brazil, the term “barbecue” is synonymous with “churrasco”. This South American delight showcases an impressive selection of meats, skewered on large metal skewers and cooked over open flames. One of the defining features of Brazilian Churrasco is the variety of meats on offer, truly making it a meat lover’s paradise. From mouthwatering picanha (prime top sirloin cap) to flavorful linguiça (Brazilian sausage), there is something to satisfy every carnivorous craving.

The natural flavors of the meat are enhanced with simple seasonings like rock salt and chimichurri sauce. The unique cooking method and the emphasis on high-quality cuts of meat make Brazilian churrasco a truly remarkable BBQ experience.

 

German Grillen: Sausage Takes Center Stage

 

german grillen | international BBQ variations | BBQ variations

 

Germany, famous for its sausages and beer, takes grilling to a whole new level with its tradition of "grillen." When it comes to German grillen, sausages take center stage. Bratwurst, currywurst, weisswurst, and bockwurst are some of the most popular choices for grilling. These flavorful sausages are often served in a crusty roll, known as a brötchen, along with mustard and sauerkraut. 

In addition to sausages, German grill masters also excel at grilling pork chops, steaks, and marinated chicken. To add a burst of flavor, Germans often marinate their meats in a mixture of herbs and spices (like garlic, mustard, and oregano) and sometimes beer.

 

South African Braai: A Cultural Celebration

In South Africa, BBQ is more than just a meal. It is a social gathering, a cultural celebration known as a braai. When it comes to the meat itself, South Africans traditionally love their boerewors (a type of sausage), lamb chops, chicken, and steak. These meats are marinated in aromatic spices like coriander, paprika, and garlic, giving them a rich and vibrant flavor. The meat is then grilled to perfection over the open flame, resulting in a smoky and tender delight. 

The braai is also accompanied by a vibrant array of side dishes, including maize porridge, chakalaka (spicy relish), and fresh salads. The combination of flavors and the communal atmosphere make a South African braai an unforgettable experience.

 

Japanese Yakitori: Grilling Perfection

In Japan, yakitori has been a beloved street food for centuries. This popular barbecue-style dish consists of skewered pieces of meat, usually chicken, that are grilled over a charcoal fire. The simplicity of yakitori lies in its focus on quality ingredients and precise grilling techniques. 

Yakitori is most often made using different cuts of chicken, but you can also find variations with other ingredients like vegetables, seafood, or even beef. Each skewer is meticulously seasoned with a soy-based sauce, which adds a savory umami flavor to the meat. The skewers are then grilled over high heat, resulting in juicy and tender meat with a smoky char.

 

Korean Barbecue: Sizzling Delights

 

korean BBQ | international BBQ variations | BBQ variations

 

Korean BBQ, or "gogi-gui," is renowned for its interactive dining experience. Thinly sliced meats, such as beef and pork belly, are grilled at the center of the table, allowing diners to be part of the cooking process. 

The smoky flavors meld with mouthwatering marinades like gochujang (red chili paste) and soy sauce, creating a harmonious explosion of taste. Served with an array of side dishes like kimchi and pickled vegetables, Korean BBQ is a sensory delight that combines flavors, textures, and social dining.

 

Australian Barbecue: A National Obsession

Barbecues are a way of life in Australia. Australian barbecue, or “barbie”, is not just about the food; it's about the experience, the sense of community, and the laid-back lifestyle that defines this sun-soaked nation. When it comes to these barbecue get-togethers, it's all about variety and abundance. Australians love to cook a wide range of meats, seafood, and vegetables on the grill. From succulent steaks to juicy sausages, marinated prawns to flavorful lamb chops, the options are endless. 

Aussies love to marinate their meats in a combination of spices, herbs, oils, and sauces to enhance the taste and tenderize the meat. From tangy barbecue sauces to aromatic Asian-inspired marinades, Australians are masters at infusing their barbecued dishes with irresistible flavors. The grill is often also accompanied by a vibrant array of salads, bread, and condiments to create a well-rounded meal. 

And within the last 10 years, barbecue competitions have gained significant popularity in Australia, with teams competing for the title of the best grillmasters and pitmasters. And more and more Australian BBQ teams are even making the trek to compete in some of the top BBQ competitions in the U.S. 

 

Explore the International Barbecue Variations Today!

BBQ is not bound by borders; it is a culinary language that speaks to the taste buds of people worldwide. From the smoky flavors of American BBQ to the interactive experience of Korean BBQ, each country brings its unique twist to this beloved cooking method. 

Exploring these different international flavor variations of BBQ not only allows us to indulge in mouthwatering dishes but also provides us with an opportunity to immerse ourselves in different cultures and traditions. So, the next time you indulge in BBQ, take a moment to appreciate the diverse flavors and cultural influences that have shaped these mouthwatering variations around the world.

Have you recently tried any of the above international BBQ variations? Do you have another variation to add to the list? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!

 

No matter what variation of barbecue you want to cook, BBQ Champs Academy can help you master your smoker or grill. In our first-of-its-kind online BBQ cooking school, the world-champion pitmasters and grillmasters will teach you step-by-step exactly how to cook mouth-watering barbecue in no time. With the All-Access Pass, you’ll learn how to perfectly smoke competition-caliber ribs, brisket, pork butt, and chicken. And in the Championship Backyard BBQ classes, perfect for the everyday barbecue enthusiast, you’ll learn 20 different delicious recipes that will have your friends and family begging for more.

Get started with BBQ Champs Academy today!

Cooking on a griddle grill can easily give you a delicious, all-over sear on all types of meats and other foods. But, to be able to do that, the grill needs to be seasoned properly first. And, if you are one of the growing number of outdoor cookers who recently got a new griddle grill, one of the first questions you may be asking yourself is how to season a griddle grill properly.

We’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ve broken down exactly what seasoning is and why it is so important, as well as step-by-step how to season your griddle grill to ensure the successful results you are aiming for.

 

What is Seasoning & Why Is It Important?

“Seasoning” refers to the process of using oil (or specially designed coatings) to create a black, non-stick, and protective layer on the cooking surface. This is what helps a griddle surface stand the test of time.

Since the cooking surface of griddle grills is often made of uncoated steel, they are susceptible to rust if not protected. But, the oil used to season them gets into the microscopic pores in the metal and bonds to it, forming a protective, blackened, and stick-free surface. So, seasoning your grill helps make cooking easier and helps add even more flavor to the food being cooked, while also preventing rust or scratches on the griddle’s surface. 

There are some manufacturers that offer griddle grills that are pre-seasoned right out of the box, while most others require that you season them before cooking for the first time.

 

Seasoning a Griddle Grill for the First Time

So, now that you know exactly why seasoning your grill is so important, it is time to dive into the process. First, it is important to make sure you have everything you’ll need ready to go. The items you’ll need to have on hand include:

  • A bucket of clean water
  • Non-abrasive dish soap (a good choice is original Dawn soap)
  • Access to a hose or a second bucket of clean water
  • Oil or Griddle Seasoning/Conditioner (see more on this below in step #3)
  • Paper towels
  • Tongs or heat-resistant gloves

 

Seasoning Your Griddle Grill in 5 Easy Steps:

#1 - Wash It Down With Soap

 

cleaning a griddle grill before seasoning | how to season a griddle grill
Source: The Spruce

 

You’ve got your new griddle grill now and you’re ready to start cooking some awesome food. But before you do that, and even before you start seasoning it, it’s important to clean it with soap. In many cases, there will be some dust and/or debris from manufacturing and shipping, which is totally normal. But you definitely don’t want that stuff in your food.

All you need to do is add a little dish soap to your bucket of clean water and gently pour the soapy water on the griddle. Do not scrub the surface of the griddle, though! Then just thoroughly rinse with clean water.

 

#2 - Preheat the Griddle to Start to Darken It

Once your griddle is sparkling clean, it's time to preheat it to start to blacken it up. This is the start of creating the perfect stick-resistant cooking surface. 

Turn up the burners to the maximum setting and step back and let the heat do its job. The griddle top will begin to turn slightly brown after about 10-15 minutes. Once the color has changed on the griddle’s surface, turn the burners off and you're ready to start with the oil.

 

#3 - Apply the Oil to the Surface

As mentioned above, seasoning a griddle creates a natural, stick-resistant, and extremely durable surface. When oil is applied to the surface and then heated up, the organic compounds within the oil are burned off, leaving a polymer that bonds to the surface of the griddle.

So, after preheating your griddle grill, it’s time to start applying oil. The most important thing to remember is to only apply a very thin layer of oil each time. When you put a thick coat of oil on during the seasoning process, it will lead to a buildup of gunk on your griddle’s surface and can even cause chipping down the road. 

There are a variety of oils you can choose from to use, including:

  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil
  • Flax oil
  • Shortening

With tongs or heat-resistant gloves, use a paper towel to evenly and lightly spread the oil on the hot surface. Make sure there aren't any dry spots or thick puddles of oil. Your oil layer should be as thin as if you were using the paper towel to wipe all of the oil off of the griddle surface.

 

seasoning a griddle grill | how to season a griddle grill

 

One popular product that works well in place of traditional oil is the Blackstone Griddle Seasoning & Cast Iron Conditioner. This proprietary blend can give you a good initial seasoning and provides excellent surface protection between cooking sessions.

 

#4 - Crank the Heat Up

Once you’ve got your first layer of oil on the surface, crank the heat back up and just let the griddle plate blacken. It will billow smoke when it reaches the “smoke point”, which takes about 30 minutes. So just sit back and keep an eye on the smoke. You can turn off the griddle when all of the smoke is gone.

 

#5 - Repeat Oil Application to Achieve the Best Results

To achieve the best level of protection and create a sufficiently non-stick and flavorful surface, you have to repeat the oil application several times. So don’t rush the process, and make sure to do it properly. 

You’ll repeat steps #3 and #4 (above) two to three times. The griddle surface is adequately seasoned when it is dark brown.

 

#6 - Apply the Finishing Touch

Once several rounds of initial seasoning are done, let your griddle cool slightly and very lightly wipe it down with a final layer of oil (or Blackstone Griddle Conditioner). But, you will not burn off this layer. This final step helps keep the griddle adequately protected against oxidation.

Now you’re done and you’ve got a perfectly seasoned griddle grill! Make sure to use a heavy-duty grill cover when you are not using your griddle grill. This will protect it from inclement weather, tree droppings, etc., and help further prevent it from rusting.

The steps we covered above are general steps you can follow to season a griddle grill. But, it is important to look at the manual that came with your specific griddle grill, which will provide the exact manufacturer’s instructions for getting started. Depending on the grill, some steps may vary slightly from what we covered above.

 

Important Tips to Protect Your Seasoning

After you’ve spent time properly seasoning your griddle grill, the last thing you want to do is make it disappear when you are cleaning your grill after your first cooking session.

 

scraping a griddle grill before seasoning | how to season a griddle grill
Source: The Spruce

 

So, there are a couple of things in mind to keep your seasoning layer protected. When you are done cooking, use a spatula to gently scrape any remaining bits of food or oil into the trash or your griddle’s grease trap. Then, just use water to wipe down the surface. You don’t want to wash the griddle surface with soap because it will wash away your hard-earned seasoning.

Simply cooking on your griddle will continue to add to the seasoning layer. If you’ve had to scrape quite a bit of food or oil off the surface after cooking, once you’ve wiped the surface down with water you can apply another light layer of oil to ensure the surface is still properly protected. Again, you do not have to burn this layer off. Now just properly store your griddle away and you’re all set.

 

Ensuring You Know How to Season Your Griddle Properly = Optimum Cooking Results

As you can see, properly seasoning a griddle grill isn’t rocket science. But it is an extremely important step in ensuring you get the best cooking results while also keeping your grill surface protected. By following the steps we covered above, you can be confident that you have seasoned your griddle properly and are ready to get cooking.

Have you learned any other seasoning secrets you want to share? Plan on cooking on your griddle grill for the first time today? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!

 

Do you want to elevate your backyard cooking skills like never before? Check out the Championship Backyard Cooking Classes from us here at BBQ Champs Academy! In these BBQ Pro-led online classes, you’ll learn step-by-step how to cook 20 delicious recipes on your grill—straight from some of the top Pitmasters and Grillmasters.

And if you want to take it up even another level, try your hand at professional competition smoking and grilling techniques with our All-Access pass today! Join Champion Pitmasters in the first-of-their-kind, tell-all online BBQ classes. You’ll master cooking brisket, ribs, pork butt, and chicken in your smoker/grill, get competition cooking secrets, and more!

Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel today. Don’t miss any of the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the pros!

*Feature image from Blackstone Grills.

If you invest good money in a grill or smoker, it only makes sense to try and maximize the value that you get out of it. Of course, the first thing that many people think of when it comes to outdoor cooking is meat. But, your grill can offer far more opportunity than just that.

If you have open space on the grill, why not take advantage of that good heat as much as possible? In this article, we’ve covered 6 ways you can do just that. All of these things below (and yes, some may surprise you!) will help you not only maximize the use of your grill but also keep you from heating up the house when you don’t really need to.

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Cook Multiple Types/Pieces of Meat Together

Many people are hesitant to try and grill or smoke multiple large pieces of meat at the same time, especially if they are different types or cuts of meat. But, to make the most out of your grill when you have a lot to cook, don’t be intimated by doing this. It’s really not as hard as it may seem. It’s just a matter of timing and having a couple of digital meat thermometers on hand.

For more info on doing this properly and timing everything to finish together, check out our in-depth article on cooking multiple pieces of meat at the same time.

 

Cook Your Vegetables and Other Sides on the Grill Too

From this tip down, you’ll see that your grill or smoker is not reserved for only cooking meat. For example, vegetables take on an even more delicious level of flavor when cooked on the grill as well. Whether you grill them on a skewer or in a grill basket (for smaller pieces), you can impart that great char flavor you can only get from cooking on the grill.

 

vegetables on grill | make the most of your grill | most value out of your grill

 

Almost any vegetables will do well when cooked on the grill and can go right next to your main course on the grill grate. Make sure to read through our in-depth article for some specific things to keep in mind when grilling vegetables to ensure you end up with a good result.

There is also a wide variety of other side items that you can cook in your grill or smoker. Check out our articles on cheesy sides and grilled Thanksgiving sides for some great ideas.

 

Bake Fresh Bread Alongside Your Low and Slow-Cooked Items

If you are cooking a cut of meat slowly at lower temperatures in your grill or smoker, this is also a great opportunity to bake fresh bread alongside it. A grill is a perfect, closed environment to cook delicious bread. Plus, the grill smoke will add that mouth-watering extra touch of flavor to the crust.

Typically, depending on the heat level, a loaf of bread will take roughly 40 minutes on the grill to cook to a perfect golden brown with a crispy exterior. Keep in mind that because of the relatively long cooking time for bread, you won't want to do this next to fast-cooking items such as steaks or burgers.

Check out our in-depth article on baking bread on the grill for some tips to help ensure you end up with a perfectly cooked result.

 

Try Grilled Fruit

Cooking fruit on your grill alongside your other items can provide a delicious treat to start your meal with or even add to it. For example, you can grill round pineapple slices or slices of watermelon for a minute or two on each side. Peaches or pears sliced in half lengthwise and grilled face down are two other great options. For an exotic option, you could even grill rambutan.

There are a ton of different fruits that will hold up well and cook nicely on the grill. Cooking fruit this way will bring out an extra level of rich sweetness.

 

Cook Beans Right on the Grill

A long-time popular side item for BBQ is beans. The good thing is, you don’t have to worry about cooking those separately on the stove. Just cook them on the grill alongside your slow-cooked meat.

 

dry beans on grill | make the most of your grill | most value out of your grill

 

All you have to do is fill a pan with some water, add your dry beans, and put that pan directly on the grill grate. The heat will get the water boiling and cook the beans right on the grill. This technique will usually do most if not all of the cooking for you. When cooking meat low and slow, you’ll find that the beans will probably be done and ready to use for a side dish when the main course is done. In some cases, the beans may need a bit more cooking than the meat but it shouldn’t be long.

 

Boil Pasta on the Grill

Craving a grilled chicken pasta dish or grilled seafood with pasta? Just cook the pasta on the grill too! Similarly to cooking beans on the grill, just fill a pan up with water and set it directly on the grill grate, bring the water to a boil, add the pasta to the pan, and boil it for roughly 10 minutes (depending on the type of pasta).

Boiling pasta on the grill is also advantageous for the meat or fish that you may be grilling next to it. The boiling water adds more moisture to the cooking environment inside the grill, making the meat even more juicy and tender.

 

Take Advantage of Cooking Space to Get the Most Out of Your Grill

As you can see, a big part of getting the most value out of your grill is to utilize all of the space available to you. There are a ton of things that can actually be cooked on the grill alongside your main item that you may not have thought about before. Why have to keep going back and forth between your outdoor cooker and the kitchen when everything can be done in one place?

Try out some of the ways we mentioned above and/or get creative with other things you can cook in your grill or smoker to maximize what you get out of your outdoor cooking.

Have you tried any of the things we mentioned in this article? Do you know of some other ways that the value of your grill can be maximized? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear from you!

 

Want to learn 20 great backyard BBQ recipes step-by-step? Check out our virtual Championship Backyard BBQ Classes. These videos, led by some of the top competition Pitmasters and Grillmasters, will teach you a variety of mouth-watering recipes along with all of the insider tips and tricks you need to know. Master your backyard grilling and smoking today!

Also, make sure to click “Subscribe” on the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel. You don’t want to miss all of the latest insider info and competition BBQ news straight from pros!

The summer is winding down and temperatures are starting to cool off in many parts of the country. But, there are still several more weeks of great outdoor cooking weather left (or months if you’re in the south). And, if you are in the market for a new grill and wondering when is the best time to buy a grill or smoker, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article, we’ve got the scoop on the best time to buy a BBQ grill, what to look for, and also when you should not try and buy one.

 

When to Find the Best Deals on New Grills

You can usually start to find pretty good prices on grills and smokers starting after the 4th of July. But, if you are really wanting to find the best deals, those are going to happen between September and November as the current “grilling season” is winding down. 

This is usually when there won’t be a lot of people shopping for grills and local stores will be wanting to get rid of the remaining ones that they still have to make room for winter holiday inventory.

So, depending on where you’re located, you can snag a good grill at a great price and have a brand new cooker to use through the remainder of the year or store it away to use brand new at the start of the next season.

These late summer-early fall deals will usually apply to somewhat standard grills that are good for the average backyard-cooking enthusiast. If you are looking to level up your BBQ game with a more competition-worthy cooker straight from the manufacturer, you may not find as steep of discounts but it’s not impossible to get a good price. 

Look for deals as a new model comes out. In many cases, when new models are released, the previous model can be found on sale on the company website. 

 

buying a grill | best time to buy a grill | best time to buy a BBQ grill
Source: Outdoor Living Concepts

(*Note: The above image is an example of a previous sale that happened and does not reflect a current sale.)

 

Tips for Buying a BBQ Grill During Late Summer to Early Fall

Here are some easy tips to follow to ensure you get a good grill at a sale price you’ll be happy with:

  • If you know you will be looking to buy a new grill, make a list of features and specifics that are important to you in having. If you’re replacing a grill, are you wanting a different size? What features did you not have in that grill that you wish you had? What things do you want to avoid in your next grill? Want to change the type of fuel source?

    If you don’t currently have a grill, think of the types of things you want to cook and what specifications you’ll definitely need in a grill. Also, ask for some recommendations from people you know and trust who grill a lot.

  • Take some time to do some research and pinpoint a few options of grills you like earlier in the season. Then you can really take a look at them while there is a good selection in stock. Take a look at all the features each grill has and read reviews online. Then you’ll be ready to pull the trigger on buying one when prices start dropping.

  • Don't hold out too long to buy and chance missing out on what you want. Usually, stores clear out their entire grill section to replace it with holiday items towards late October.

  • Be open to floor models too. Don’t be afraid to ask a store employee if they’ll sell one to you. Some of the best deals can come from floor model grills.

  • Check smaller, local hardware/outdoor stores also. These stores often have great deals on grills towards the fall since they have less space to store the ones they have leftover.

  • If you don’t have a big enough vehicle to transport a larger grill home, make sure you factor in delivery costs too.

  • If you are not going to be using your new grill much before it gets cold, make sure it is stored away properly for the winter. Then you’ll be ready to go with a fresh grill that is in good condition at the start of the next season.

 

The Best Time to Buy Used Grills

If you are wanting to buy a BBQ grill but not wanting to spend the money on a new grill or smoker quite yet, look at buying a used grill. You can get some really great deals on these as well if you know when to look. 

When it comes to used grills, the best time to buy one is during the peak “moving season”, which is during the summer months. This is the time when many people are moving and having big sales to offload the items they will not be taking with them. So, look out for moving sales in your area, check on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, or even local thrift stores. Chances are you can find a lightly used grill at a good price. 

Make sure you have the capability while you are out looking to quickly pull up more information on grills you come across. Then you can check the original sale price, features, reviews, etc.

 

buying a used grill | best time to buy a BBQ grill
Source: Guardian Storage

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

Whether you are buying a new grill or a used grill, the asking price you see is probably not the lowest you could get it for. To get the best deal, don’t be afraid to negotiate. This is especially true for floor models in stores and at moving sales. In both of these situations, the seller needs these grills to go because they may not have somewhere to put them soon.

So, make a lower offer for the grill. The worst that can happen is the seller says no. Then you can negotiate with the seller until you find a number that you’re both happy with. But, chances are, you’ll score a great deal on a cooker.

 

When Not to Buy a BBQ Grill If You’re Looking for a Deal

Just like there is a certain time of the year that you’ll find the best prices on grills, there’s also a time you should not be trying to buy a grill if you want to get a deal. You’ll find the highest prices on grills and smokers from March through June. 

As the demand for outdoor cookers goes up at the start of peak grilling season so will the prices. Then, they’ll likely stay fairly high until the end of the summer. 

Sure, you’ll find a larger selection of grills and smokers during this time. But, if you are really wanting to find a deal, just do your research during this time. Then wait for prices to go down once you get into September.

Occasionally, there are good flash deals throughout the summer on grills. So, make sure you look at the weekly store deals regularly. You may be able to snag a great price on a grill even during peak season.

 

worst time to buy a grill | buy a BBQ grill
Source: Green Acres Outdoor Living

 

You Don’t Always Have to Spend a Ton of Money to Get a Good Grill

As you can see, if you are patient and wait until the end of grilling season, you can find some great deals on new grills. If you’re leaning towards a used grill, zero in on people who are moving and not planning on taking their grill with them. Either way, it’s definitely possible to get a good grill that will last you for a while without having to shell out a ton of money. 

Have you snagged a good deal on a new grill recently? Recently seen any great deals online? Leave a comment below. We want to hear about it!

 

Once you get your new grill, if you are wanting to step up your grilling skills and impress your family and friends, check out our step-by-step virtual Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. You’ll learn directly from Champion Grillmaster and Pitmasters how to perfectly cook a variety of different backyard favorites.

Want to kick your outdoor cooking up to competition level? Get your All-Access pass now for our one-of-a-kind online, competition BBQ cooking classes with the pros. You’ll get all the insider smoking and grilling techniques broken down step-by-step, as well as competition-BBQ tips, and much more. You can start cooking competition-caliber meats today! 

Make sure to also subscribe to our YouTube channel and get recaps of all the latest competition BBQ news, interviews with Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters, and insider info straight from the source.

 

*Feature image courtesy of Forbes

If it is time to clean your grill or smoker, you may already be anticipating a battle against grease and carbon buildup. It may be tempting to reach for a concentrated grill cleaner solution at the store to help give you an advantage and shorten cleaning time. 

But, some all-natural items will help you clean just as effectively (if not better) and allow you to avoid heavy toxins. The last thing you want when you go to cook your quality meats is a lingering smell or taste of chemicals.

In this article, we’ll break down some powerful natural grill cleaning options using things you probably already have around the house. Plus, how to make your own homemade grill cleaner to have on hand. 

 

Items You Can Use For Natural Grill Cleaning

Keeping your cooker clean and ready to go for every use is not only safer when it comes to using your grill or smoker, but will also give you better tasting barbecue and extend the life of your cooker. 

Using natural products will help ensure your food’s flavor isn’t tainted by harsh chemicals either. Some concentrated grill cleaners contain skin and respiratory irritants. That’s the last thing you want to be added to your meat or veggies on your cooker.

So, here are a few of the household items you can use to keep your grill spotless and help ensure you keep cooking great tasting food. All while knowing exactly what you’re cleaning your cooker with:

 

Distilled White Vinegar

 

homemade grill cleaner | natural grill cleaner | white vinegar grill cleanerSource: Kitchen Guru Ideas

 

White vinegar is one of the best natural cleaners around. This is due, in large part, to the acetic acid in it. Due to its acidic nature, vinegar is effective in dissolving grease, carbon, dirt, and mineral deposits.

To use white vinegar on your grill, mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Make sure the grill or smoker is cool and then spray the solution on, especially making sure to saturate the grates. Let the vinegar sit for 10 minutes to allow it to break down grease and grime. 

You can then use a ball of aluminum foil, sprayed with more vinegar, to rub the grates and interior down. Vinegar is not dangerous to ingest so you don’t have to rinse the grates off if you don’t want to. 

 

Baking soda

Baking soda can be used for much more than your favorite cookie recipe. Combine this neutral compound with vinegar and you’ve got a dynamic duo of natural cleaning. When you combine the two, the acid-based reaction causes the solution to bubble up and break down even tough grease and carbon.

When it’s time to clean your cooker, put the grill grates in a large heavy-duty trash bag or plastic tub with a two-to-one mix of vinegar and baking soda. Leave the grates to sit overnight and then remove them from the solution and rinse off. If there’s any residue still left, a quick brush with a stainless-steel grill brush should easily remove it.

 

Onions or Lemons

 

homemade grill cleaner | natural grill cleaner | how to clean a grill naturallySource: Chatelaine

 

As you may have gathered by now, naturally acidic items do wonders for cleaning a grill. That is why both onions and lemons also make great options for natural grill cleaners, as they break down grease and food residue. Simply warm up your grill grates, cut an onion or lemon in half, hold it with tongs or a grill fork, and rub it cut side down over the grates.

If you have a lot of buildup on the grates, you can even dip the lemon in some salt to add a slightly abrasive surface. Only use salt if you’ve got a lot of buildup on the cooker’s surfaces. You never want to use anything abrasive directly on the grates or grill surface.

 

Beer

Yes, it's true, beer can help clean your grill or smoker. This is due to the carbonation and the fact that it is acidic with a low pH level. Pour half a bottle of beer over the grates and grease trap and then scrub them with aluminum foil, a stainless-steel grill brush, or a clean rag. Then pair the other half of that beer with your delicious barbecue

 

Steam 

 

homemade grill cleaner | natural grill cleaner | natural grill cleaningSource: Root and Revel

 

Hot steam works wonders on cleaning a grill or smoker. It helps to loosen food residue and can make wiping down your grill grates much easier. Get your grill grates warm, safely remove them from your grill using high-heat grill gloves, and then rub a wet clean rag over the grates to utilize the steam cleaning. 

Or, even better, a portable clothes steamer can make this even easier. There are even steam grill brushes available now as well, which have a steamer capability built into a handled grill brush. 

You always want to remove the racks from the grill before steaming because the water can cause certain parts of your grill or smoker to rust. With a handheld steamer, you can direct the steam directly to the area that needs the most attention. Make sure to dry the racks off immediately after steaming.

 

Homemade Grill Cleaner Recipe

This all-purpose natural grill cleaner recipe combines three powerful household items and makes the perfect cleaner to use on the grates, grill/grease pan, lid interior, and more. 

 

All-Purpose Homemade Grill Cleaner Recipe 

 

                                                         1 tablespoon of baking soda

                                                         1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar

                                                         1 tablespoon of Sal Suds (or similar natural/biodegradable cleaner)

                                                         1 ball or sheet of aluminum foil

                                                         2 tablespoons of avocado oil spray (or similar high-heat oil)

 

Instructions for use:

  • Place a shallow baking tin filled with hot water inside the grill. Close the lid and allow the steam to fill the inside for about 10 minutes. This will loosen any unwanted food buildup and grease.
  • Mix the Sal Suds, baking soda, and 12 ounces warm water. Then pour this mixture into a clean spray bottle and add the vinegar.
  • Once the 10 minutes of steaming is done, remove the water tin and spray your cleaning solution mixture onto the grates and other parts you will be cleaning.
  • Use balled up aluminum foil or a stainless steel grill brush to scrub the grease and char off. Then, wipe the grates off with a clean cloth. 
  • Use a clean paper towel to wipe avocado oil onto the grates to help prevent them from rusting.

 

homemade grill cleaner | natural grill cleaner | natural grill cleaningSource: FoodFireFriends

 

Clean Your Grill Naturally For Best Results & Taste

As you can see, it can be very easy to clean your grill or smoker naturally using household items that pack a punch. You’ll end up with better results, without harsh chemicals, and protect the delicious flavor of your cooking. A homemade grill cleaner will also end up saving you money in the long run.

Combine the natural ingredients/items we covered above with the tips we cover in our grill cleaning article and keep your cooker spotless and ready to go!

Do you have a favorite natural grill cleaning method? Know of another homemade grill cleaner recipe? Leave a comment below. We want to hear from you!

Make sure to also check out our YouTube channel for the insider info, tips, and BBQ news straight from the pros. Click “Subscribe” to see all the latest from BBQ Champs Academy!

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