How You Can Up Your Barbecue Game This Summer

Ready to up your barbecue game? These are the tips you need to take your backyard grilled cuisine to the next level.

Cooking Tips

Take a Class

Not everyone is born a pit master. Barbecue pros have to learn from someone, whether the barbecue tradition is passed down through the family or it's learned in the restaurant business. So what can you do? Take a class. From Jack’s Old South BBQ Cooking School in Unadilla, Georgia, to the Phoenix BBQ and Grilling School in Phoenix, Arizona, there’s ample opportunity to learn from the best. The Kansas City Barbeque Society even offers classes for backyard grillers wanting to up their game.

Meat that Can’t Be Beat

Every boring backyard griller knows how to grill chicken. Why not try something new and surprise your guests with something different. Other barbecue favorites recommended by the food experts from Bon Appetit include sausage, dry-aged ribeye, Denver steaks, porterhouse, strip steaks, top sirloin, short ribs and for a real crowd pleaser, whole sirloin or whole brisket.

It’s in the Sauce

Sauce is serious when it comes to barbecue-style fare. You’ve got to have the perfect blend of sweet and spicy or else your meat will fall flat. And don’t even consider picking up a bottle of sauce from the grocery store. True barbecue masters make their own. Join the ranks of this exclusive group and try out a new recipe or play with ingredients to make your own secret sauce. Try out this recipe from What the Fork food blog to get started.

Barbecue Tools

Tools and Utensils

A barbecue pro is only as good as the tools they use. From tool sets and thermometers to tongs and spatulas, you can find all of your outdoor cooking essentials via While it’s all about the barbecue and while the meat is often the center of attention, don’t forget about the veggies. Any good barbecue master will need skewers and skewer stations for the grilled vegetables.

Charcoal or Wood

Some consider it a sin to cook over charcoal. But, it’s practical, and for many, even the best barbecue chefs, charcoal is the way to go. However, if you’re cooking for a big crowd and really looking to please, there’s nothing better than wood-grilled barbecue. The meats actually absorb the flavors of the wood, so choose your wood wisely. Woods like hickory, pecan and oak all make for a good savory flavor. At all costs avoid pine, spruce, redwood, fir, cedar and cypress. And, it should go without saying, but just to be safe, never, ever under any circumstance use wood that’s been chemically treated, like lumber scraps, for example.

Setting the Scene

Dress Up the Yard

Just because you can grill a mean steak doesn’t mean your backyard should be a mess. If you’re entertaining, your yard needs to look like it. Pull the weeds, hide the recycle and trash bins, clean up your yard tools and designate a space for dining. You can even string lights from tree to tree to set the scene for an evening barbecue dinner.

Backyard Overhaul

If your yard needs a little more than string lighting to set the scene, consider a total backyard overhaul. If you’ve been dreaming about a custom built outdoor grill or barbecue island, go for it. There’s no better time than the present to make your backyard dreams come true.