Hot Grill Summer: The 5 Golden Rules of BBQ Season

Everybody, stop what you’re doing. That nice weather we’ve been having for the last two weeks? Not a fluke, it turns out. If weather apps and long-range forecasts are to be believed, temperatures are on track to remain north of 20c for a long while yet, which can mean only one thing: it’s BBQ season, baby.

Ordinarily in the UK, you could be forgiven for writing off any long-term planning of al fresco grilling. It’s not unusual (steady on, Tom Jones) for the ‘Great British Summertime’ to be no more than 72 hours of sunshine spread out across five months between May and September. Or – thanks to the unrelenting advance of global warming – a handful of days where cities, towns and villages across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are transformed into the Arizona desert for a week and you cannot even think about stepping foot outside without Niagara Falls descending from your forehead and armpits.

A lot of BBQs on these shores are often thrown together at the last minute when the word ‘HEATWAVE’ starts trending on Twitter or is mentioned on the news. This can, unfortunately, lead to some pretty haphazard efforts being thrown together and, tragically, the proper etiquette of BBQ season being cast aside.

It is crucial that now, in the midst of a sustained sun-drenched period, we remember the golden rules for every charcoal worshipper among us to revel in the perfect summer. On that note, here’s a helpful guide on how to appropriately navigate Hot Grill Summer.

1. Avoid meat snobbery

Look, in a perfect world, we would all love nothing more than to have ready access to ethically sourced, sustainably farmed beef, lamb, chicken and pork. It would be wondrous if, whatever your income, there were independent, artisanally prepared cuts available for you to drop your guests’ jaws with.

But we’re neck-deep in a cost of living crisis. Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before supermarkets start attaching electronic tags to Freddos – so let us not deride anybody just because they’ve opted against the sweet chilli infused sausages or the Wagyu burger patties. It’s the occasion that counts, so forget the source and get into the spirit of the BBQ.

2. Get lost in the sauce

A strong condiment game is essential. It is an elevational tool that all serious BBQ hosts must be able to utilise. Ideally, an entire table should be dedicated to bottles and jars of sauce, chutney, dressing and  the occasional spread (bury me in n’duja tbh). We are currently in a golden age of big sauce, whether it be hot, hybrid (hello various mayo flavours) or other.

Embrace the banana ketchups, the pineapple salsas and the accumulation of Sriracha and BBQ sauce variations from around the globe. Stock your cupboards with options over the entire year, ready and waiting for the mercury to top 20c so they can finally be unleashed on a salivating series of guests. Your meat and veg will thank you for the effort!

3. Don’t show up empty-handed

Been invited to a barbie, have you? Heard big things about what your mate is prepping for the big day? Not eaten for three whole days to save space for a banquet of beef and bangers? In you trot, beaming from ear-to-ear, slightly delirious from hunger, making a beeline for the trestle tables adorned with a whole array of lovingly curated meats and sides and salads.

And you bring absolutely NOTHING to the table. Not even a cursory six-pack of lager or a token bottle of off-licence wine. Ready to indulge in someone else’s hard work and generosity without the slightest inkling of appreciation – apart from maybe slapping them on the back once you’ve polished off your third plate.

Don’t be that guy. That guy is bad vibes and belongs nowhere near anyone’s BBQ.

4. Beers belong in the paddling pool

No one’s quite sure when this tradition began or how it managed to sustain itself, but beers being cooled in a hastily blown up paddling pool is the only valid storage solution for them during a British BBQ. I know, I know: an actual fridge would make a lot more sense. But one of your mates getting bladdered and stumbling into your fridge at the end of the night is a lot less funny, isn’t it?

5. Respect the herbivores

Making jokes about someone’s vegetarian or veganism is about as funny as turning up at your mum and dad’s to find them in the business end of a swingers party. So in a similar vein to our first rule: if someone prefers jackfruit kebabs, Beyond Meat burgers and tofu salads to the assorted body parts of dead animals, let them crack on without the need for painfully unimaginative and unfunny wisecracks. There are tons of incredible options for veggies and vegans to enjoy on the coals – so ditch the weird macho attitude and embrace them.