Getting Started in BBQ: The Importance of Fuel


The Importance of Fuel

One of the key elements to doing good, relaxed BBQ is the fuel you use and how you light it – both can be areas of pain.

Like many of us, when I started out on my BBQ journey, I would use instant light charcoal BBQ bags. They are great for getting your BBQ going quickly but will give you a short cook time, which will find you rushing to get all your food cooked properly. Coupled with this, the quality is typically poor and you won’t get a consistent heat source each time you use them.

Time for a Change

I graduated onto briquettes, mainly to get a longer cook time, and then had the challenge of getting them lit, which invariably took forever. Don’t be put off by briquettes as they are manufactured and don’t have the natural smokiness of charcoal but coupled with smoking chips or wood chunks you can easily infuse smokiness into your food.

If I were starting out again today, I would really recommend buying good quality briquettes, such as Australian Heat Beads, Weber Briquettes, or an environmentally friendly option such as Nature Coconut Shell Briquettes. All of them give a really long and consistent cook. By consistent, I mean each time you cook with them you will pretty much get the same temperature on your BBQ and the same cook times, which will help you improve your cooking each time you BBQ. Also, knowing you have heat for a long period will make you BBQ in a much more relaxed way, which will be reflected in the quality of your food.

Coupled with good quality briquettes I would invest in a Chimney Starter which you can pick up relatively cheaply. This makes it incredibly easy to light your briquettes quickly and hassle-free (around 30 minutes depending on the brand of briquette). Once ready simply empty them into your barbecue and begin your cook.

Quality is Key

I now cook with good quality charcoal for most of my cooks. For the last 2-3 years I have used the charcoal from Green Olive Company. Other quality charcoal producers, I would recommend include:

These are all producers I have tried. There are lots more out there who produce sustainable quality charcoal so have a good shop around.

On the face of it, the charcoal may look expensive, but you will find you get a longer cook with less fuel, and if you shut down your BBQ (i.e. close all the vents) after each cook you will get multiple cooks out of your charcoal. The quality really is noticeably different.

Cooking over the wrong fuel will make the task of creating good BBQ a lot harder than it needs to be but choosing the right fuel will give you the confidence to try new things as you can be sure of consistent heat.

If you do have any specific questions feel free to drop me an email at or send me a message on Twitter or Instagram.

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