The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue

One of the most common misconceptions for beginners is that grilling is the same as barbequing, but that’s not the case. Grilling uses high and direct heat for quick cooks (think burgers, hot dogs and steak). Barbequing, on the other hand, requires indirect, consistent, low heat and longer cook times. Many who barbecue also use different types of wood to smoke their meat for added aroma. Meat used for barbequing also tends to have a higher fat content, which provides tenderization and flavor over a long cook.

If you’re new to barbecuing, we’ve got some tips to get you started. Soon, you’ll be inviting friends over for the ultimate barbecue!

Slow & Low
The key to delicious barbeque is the precise mix of time and temperature. Whereas grilling uses high and direct heat for quick cooks, traditional barbequing requires indirect, consistent low heat and longer cook times.

The Cooker
Having a well-made cooker, grill or smoker that uses charcoal or wood as its heat source is essential. Some popular styles are barrel and drum, offset, and bullet-style smokers. Be careful with the cheaper models, as they aren’t often airtight, and unwanted airflow can cause undesirable temperature spikes.

Temperature Control
BBQ Guru’s award-winning temperature control devices automatically and constantly control your cooker’s fire. In other words, they do the work for you. BBQ Guru carries an entire line of high-tech cooker accessories, including the PartyQ, DigiQ, and CyberQ. All of the temperature controls can be used on any charcoal or wood-burning cooker.

Don’t be intimidated by cooking on charcoal! Believe it or not, the key ingredient to barbequing is confidence. When it comes to lighting a fire, use paraffin wax cubes, a chimney or a charcoal starter torch. To keep things as natural as possible, don’t use lighter fluid.

There are many dishes you can make with barbecue, but the most popular are: BBQ chicken, pulled pork, ribs and brisket. It’s important to keep an even temperature throughout the cook. Know what internal meat temperatures work best for the type of meat you’ve chosen, and make sure your meat retains moisture during the entire cook.

Add flavor
After you’ve burnished your barbecue basics, try adding smoke woods like apple, hickory or mesquite to your charcoal. Sauces and rubs are also a great way to achieve a variety of flavor profiles. Rubs are dry and are usually applied to the meat before cooking. Sauces are wet and are typically applied toward the end of the cook for a sweet or savory caramelized crust.

There are some barbecue accessories that simply make cooking “low and slow” easier, safer, cleaner and a lot more fun. Knives, gloves, tongs and injectors are just a few of the many other items that are indispensable for the barbecue aficionado.

Throughout the years, Robert “BBQ Bob” Trudnak has amassed more than 200 awards and prizes at barbecue competitions, including the title of Grand Reserve Champion at the Jack Daniels’ World Championship. He’s also an entrepreneur and inventor, having helped launch the world’s first barbecue temperature-control device for the company BBQ Guru. Today, is a one-stop shop for essential BBQ tools, products, high-tech gadgets, accessories and expert barbequing advice.

By Robert “BBQ Bob” Trudnak