If you’re new to the BBQ game, don’t fear! It doesn’t take much to get started cooking food on the grill or in a smoker. All you need is some basic tools, a good recipe or two, and these 5 BBQ Tips for Beginners, and you’re well on your way to becoming a backyard BBQ hero.
Top BBQ Tips for Beginners
When diving into the wonderful world of BBQ, you’re likely to find that there’s a bit to learn before you make that perfectly juicy chicken, or you totally nail that brisket or tri tip steak.
To help get you started, I’ve compiled 5 great tips for BBQ beginners so you can feel more successful early on and help make good food for the people you love.
1. Use Temperature as a Guide
Our first tip comes from none other than Rusty Monson from The Pitmaster’s Podcast. His tip? Use temperature as a guide then let feel take the wheel.
First and foremost, always make sure you cook your meat to a safe internal temperature. You don’t want anyone getting sick from your meat, so keep an eye on temperature to make sure your meat is cooked through.
When trying out larger cuts of meat, such as brisket and pulled chicken, let temperature be your guide, and then go off of feel. For example, towards the end of smoking a brisket, stick your thermometer probe into a stick of butter, and then do the same in the brisket. When the brisket feels like the butter you know it’s done.
BBQ is a bit of an art form. So start to play around with texture and the feel of the meat as much as you do to temperature and the overall appearance. Make sure to look at the meat as a whole to determine doneness.
2. Focus on Flavor
This second tip comes from the flavor queen herself, Christie Vanover of Girls Can Grill. Her tip? BBQ is all about building good flavor.
The beginning of good BBQ starts with a good flavor profile. When you’re starting out on your BBQ journey, pay attention to flavor. Invest in a good-quality salt (I prefer using a kosher flake salt so I can see exactly how much salt I’m using). I also have a line of seasonings and rubs at our online store, Patio Provisions that work well on anything you’re putting on the grill. You can also search this site for a handful of good rubs to bring plenty of flavor to your meat and veggies.
Begin with a good rub or seasoning to add flavor to your food while it is cooking, but don’t be afraid of adding seasoning after as well. Think Season, Smoke, Season [and Sauce] to finish. Don’t be afraid to layer the flavor and taste as you go.
3. Keep Your Grill Clean
Number three BBQ tip for beginners coming in hot from Phil the Grill: Keep that grill clean! A clean grill makes all the difference when you’re cooking. If you’re not sure how to clean a pellet grill, check out my tutorial for How to Clean a Pellet Grill for a good walk through.
Before you begin to cook your food, turn up the heat on high on the BBQ to kill everything off during the preheat. This is especially important if you’re cooking something sweet on your grill. You don’t want your Grilled Peaches to taste like the salmon you cooked the day before, so starting with clean grill grates will make all the difference.
4. Start Small with Good Quality Items
Our fourth tip today is from Mike Peay of Smokin’ Brethren. His tip? Start small. When you’re first starting out in the world of BBQ, don’t stress over purchasing the most expensive grill, rig, or gadgets. Focus on simple, yet good quality items to help you learn and grow.
When trying to decide what grill to purchase, take a look at my Backyard BBQ Grill Guide. It talks about the various types of grills, as well as “splurge” and “save” options for each type, so you can decide what works best for your budget.
Believe me when I say you don’t have to crazy with a big, $2,000 rig. It’s great to learn on a smaller smoker. Start with something you feel comfortable with, and work your way up from there.
Other important items to snag for grilling include the following:
- Reliable meat thermometer. You can’t go wrong with the ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4. It’s a decent price and gives you an accurate reading fast.
- Meat shredder claws. These guys are awesome to shred pulled pork, chicken, and more. You can also use them to help you lift and move meat on the grill. They’re versatile and something you find yourself using often.
- Peach butcher paper. When you begin to branch out from chicken and steak, it’ll be great to have some peach butcher paper on hand to wrap all your beautiful ribs and Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket for maximum bark and flavor.
- 12″ cast iron skillet. You simply need to have a cast iron skillet in your kitchen when making good BBQ. It’s a must-have for making Reverse Seared Steak, Cast Iron Skillet Potatoes, and Skillet Cornbread.
5. Make BBQ Fun
This last BBQ tip for beginners comes from yours truly, and it’s as simple as they come: Make sure BBQ is enjoyable! Have fun while you’re cooking good food for the people you love. If you’re enjoying the process, you’re on the right track.
If you don’t get that first chicken just right, brush it off and try again another day. Learn from your BBQ mistakes, take notes, and play around with flavor, technique, and ingredients. Just like learning any new skill takes time, the same goes for BBQ. I promise you’ll be making drool-worthy grilled and smoked food in no time!
Making some epic BBQ should be easy, and Hey Grill Hey is here to help! Once you’ve mastered these 5 BBQ tips for beginners, join my members-only group The Grill Squad today for access to my master classes, podcasts, and so much more. It’s an amazing community of grillers that will help support you and increase your confidence of all things BBQ.
Want Hey Grill Hey goodies delivered straight to your door? Patio Provisions has great products to help you make delicious food for your family and friends.