Who Said Barbecue Was Just For the Boys? How to Cook the Best Summer BBQ

Knowing the temperature difference between rare and well-done steak, the exact amount of time to cook your chicken and making sure you oil your food instead of the grill are some of the handy tips to help cook the perfect BBQ.

Over here at YCB HQ we have teamed up with online healthy food retailers Musclefood.com and together compiled an idiot-proof guide to cooking the perfect summer BBQ, to help save you from serving overcooked sausages or raw in the middle chicken breasts to their guests.

The guide covers all the different components of a BBQ, from how to prep before cooking to the exact temperature different meats need to be, so you know when they’re grilled to perfection.

It doesn’t matter if you’re having a veggie or vegan BBQ feast this summer – as the guide also covers the best methods for chargrilling summer veg.

Darren Beale, founder of Musclefood.com, tells us: “Sunny days and BBQs go hand in hand and there is nothing worse than having guests round and serving up overcooked steak and pink in the middle chicken.

“Different meats and vegetables need to be cooked for different periods of time and at different temperatures. It can be tricky to get everything prepared at the right time without undercooking your chicken or overcooking your steaks.

“Timing is everything with your BBQ, whether you’re cooking meat or veg. Get the timing and temperatures right, and you’ll have a mouth-watering feast.”

The Prep

Before you start, make sure you have your two most important tools, a meat thermometer and a timer. Temperatures and timings are the two most crucial elements to ensuring your meat doesn’t turn out overcooked or raw.

For a charcoal grill, spread it at out at an angle so that you have high and medium heats on each side of your BBQ. Once lit, leave for at least 20 minutes or until the coals are white hot and the flames have reduced.

A great tip for keeping your grill clean is to lightly oil the food instead of the grill. This way, you don’t have to worry as much about clearing oily residue off the grill once you’re finished cooking. 

The Meat

Timing is everything when it comes to grilling meat, so make sure you accurately keep track of how long everything has been on the BBQ. If you’re using bamboo skewers to make kebabs, soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes beforehand so they don’t burn.

Meat only needs to be flipped once, not constantly. Turn halfway through grilling, to get an even cook. Never pierce your meat with a fork or prongs, as this lets out all locked in juices which contain heaps of flavour.

Smoked woodchips are a must if you want to add some serious flavour to your grill. Soak them in cold water for about 30 minutes, before placing them on top of your charcoal. Once their flames have reduced, it’s ready for cooking.

When cooking red meat, never press down on it with a spatula, as this only further squeezes out the meat’s juices.


Cook your burgers on a high heat, as you’ll want to sear the outside whilst keeping the meat in the middle fractionally pink.

A burger should be cooked for around nine minutes, however if you prefer your burger to be cooked all the way through you may want to leave them for slightly longer. The inside temperature of a well-done burger should be roughly 71°c. If you’re adding cheese, move your burger to the cool side of the grill once it’s completely cooked, before letting it melt on top for approximately two minutes.


Like burgers, steaks should be cooked on a high heat to create a nice chargrilled texture on the outside whilst leaving a juicy interior.

The quality of steak that you purchase is crucial, so if you want your meat to have a much bolder flavour make sure you buy the leaner cuts that contain less fat. If you like your steak rare an inner temperature of between 57°c and 60°c is what you’re after, whilst a medium cooked steak should be about 65°c. Anything around 71°c is well-done. Each steak should be cooked for up to five minutes on a high heat, before moving to a lower temperature and cook for a further three minutes for rare, six minutes for medium and 12 minutes for well.


A perfectly grilled sausage requires a lot of attention and will need to be rotated between high and medium heats. This means the inside will be completely cooked whilst the outside is crispy. The ideal inner temperature when cooked through should be 65°c, and it should take no more than 20 minutes to reach this.


If you are using chicken fillets, pound the meat before grilling. This makes the chicken flatter, meaning it will cook evenly.

Chicken must always be cooked on a medium heat, as grilling on a high heat can leave the inside of the meat raw whilst the outside loses flavour by becoming burnt. Its best to cook your chicken after the rest of the meat, as the heat levels on your BBQ will have lowered.

Applied to a direct medium heat, a small chicken breast should approximately take 8-12 minutes to cook.  The perfect temperature for cooked through chicken is 73°c.   

The Veg

A good trick with vegetables is to make sure they are coated in a thin layer of olive oil, as this will stop them drying out on the grill.

Corn on cob

The optimum grilling time for corn on the cob is 15 minutes on a high heat, with several turns throughout to make sure that all sides are sufficiently cooked before serving. When they start to singe, they’re ready to serve. 


The trick to grilling perfect peppers is to cook them skin side down on a high heat for up to ten minutes to lock in their flavour, before giving them a quick three-minute blitz on the other side to get them heated all the way through.


Cut your onions into eight even sized pieces, and lightly cover with olive oil and salt before grilling. Ten minutes of high heat on your BBQ should be just enough to get your onions soft on the inside but chargrilled on the out.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into her morning brew.