Expert Tips for Barbecue Beginners

By AMA Staff

Shrimp and asparagus paella. Baby back ribs. Grilled pork belly.

Every day, our Backyard BBQ community brims with mouthwatering photos of amazing barbecue feasts.

But if you’re new to grilling—or just not feeling confident—it’s easy to feel intimidated by all the delicious steaks, skewers and beer-can burgers.

We’ve got a few pointers for you. We asked some of Alberta’s top chefs, including Doreen Prei, for their barbecue tips for beginners:

Understand your equipment. All stoves and barbecues have their own particular hot and cold spots. “You have to find those spots and understand what to cook where, based on the temperatures you need to barbecue different things,” says Prei, who recently won an episode of Food Network’s Fire Masters.

Go with what you know. If you’re a novice, grilling over an open fire isn’t the time to get adventurous. Pick proteins you’re familiar with—especially if you’re entertaining friends and family.

“Something can go sideways and there’s nothing worse than having a bunch of people watch you,” says chef Brad Smoliak of Kitchen By Brad.

Choose forgiving cuts of meat. Opt for chicken thighs, for example. “Anything that has a little more fat is more forgiving,” says Elyse Chatterton, butcher, blogger and instructor at Edmonton’s Get Cooking.

“If you’re cooking pork chops, get something that is closer to the shoulder because it will have a little more fat marbling. The fat helps keep everything tasty and delicious even if you overcook it.”

Get a thermometer. Not sure your burgers are properly cooked? A thermometer eliminates confusion (and any uncomfortable side effects).

Embrace your mis-steaks. One of Prei’s early grilling mishaps? She chopped her peppers too small and they fell through the grates of her barbecue. “This is how you learn,” she says. “You need to make mistakes in order to learn and understand.”

Happy barbecuing!

Visit AMA’s Backyard BBQ partners to pick up all your barbecue needs. Check them all out here!