How to Avoid Barbecue Blunders

By AMA Staff

Backyard barbecues are a staple of Alberta summers, but they’re not without risks. We’ve all had our share of grilling disasters—charred burgers, grease fires, undercooked meat.

By following a few safety tips, you can avoid these barbecue blunders.

Our Backyard BBQ chefs reveal their biggest “mis-steaks” and how to prevent them:

Edmonton butcher and cooking instructor Elyse Chatterton once set her barbecue on fire because she didn’t clean out the drip pan and tray. “If too much grease collects in the pan or tray, it can start a fire,” she says.

Tips: Clean your barbecue on a regular basis. Keep baking soda nearby in case of grease fires. You can also use salt or sand—but avoid water.

Brad Smoliak was grilling brisket on his barbecue when he made the first of two mistakes. “Instead of turning it to low, I cranked it up to high,” says the Edmonton chef and owner of Kitchen by Brad.

“Then I went into the house. I looked out at the barbecue and the flames were about three feet high. To say dinner was burned beyond recognition was an understatement. We all have those disasters. I think that’s part of the fun of barbecuing.”

Tips: Always double-check the temperature—and don’t stray from your barbecue for long. Better yet, ask someone to keep an eye on things until you return.

Fire Masters champ Doreen Prei ended up scorching some poblana peppers after getting sidetracked by her two children. “They needed something from me, so I went into the house and forgot about the peppers,” she says.

Calgary chef Liana Robberecht has also experienced an accidental charring or two. “I’ve forgotten a few things on the barbecue that have ended up as little lumps of coal, sadly,” she says. “The fire department wasn’t involved, but it could’ve been close.”

Tips: Whether you’re cooking in your kitchen or backyard, never leave your stove or barbecue unattended. If you have to step away, make sure someone is always on hand.

How to prep, clean and safely use your barbecue.

Visit AMA’s Backyard BBQ partners, including Barbecue Country, to pick up all your grilling needs.