Tips for the perfect summer BBQ

Family standing next to barbecue at backyard gathering


Posted January 11, 2024

Take your barbecue to the next level with spice rubs, woodchips and the secret to tender juicy meat. 

Along with sun, surf and sand, summer means backyard barbecues and good times with friends and family. The occasion can be as simple as a few snags on a hot grill, served up with a great craft beer or refreshing mocktail or cocktail.

But if you want to impress your guests, you can experiment with woodchips, and learn how to make perfectly cooked steak, fall-apart brisket or ultimate sausages.

If you haven’t used your barbecue for some time, it’s important to check all barbecue gas fittings and barbecue gas hose fittings for damage or deterioration before use. If you're unsure how to, it's best to consult a gas specialist. 

If you’re thinking about designing your own ultimate outdoor kitchen, make sure you get a qualified electrician and plumber to install all electrical, gas and water fittings. You may also be interested in giving your backyard a makeover, with guidance from the video below.

Once your barbecue area is ready, these tips from RACV Club and Resorts' kitchens will help make your next social occasion a sizzling sensation.

How to transform your outdoor areas | RACV

Top BBQ cooking tips 

What’s the difference between a rub and a marinade?

A spice rub adds a good burst of flavour to your meat, while saucy marinades only flavour the surface of the meat. 

What’s a quick and easy spice rub recipe?


  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ tsp oregano


  1. Place all ingredients into a container and shake. Rub the mix into the meat and marinate for at least 20 minutes, or even better still, overnight.

What are the best cooking times for meat and fish?

Beef: When you’re following a slow-cooked beef recipe, smoke the meat for an hour, then wrap it in butcher’s paper soaked in oil and foil. That keeps in all the moisture.

Pork: Depending on the size of the cut, cook the roast for 6-8 hours at 135°C, or pork shoulder or loin at 140°C for about 2-3 hours.
Fish: Fish only needs olive oil, pepper and lemon juice. Keep it simple, perhaps add some bay leaves and peppercorns as well. If you want a glaze, use honey or oyster sauce. As a general rule, allow about 8 minutes of grill time per 25cm of fish.


A piece of steak sizzling on a flaming grill

All it takes is a few tweaks to nail your summer barbecue. Photo: Getty

How do I use smoking wood chips?

Just like spices, different types of wood chips add flavour and enhance your grilled fare. 

It’s easy to do. After soaking the wood chips for about two hours, they are placed in a smoker box attachment on gas grills or directly on the coals for charcoal barbecues. But there’s also another way. 

You can use an aluminium barbecue tray instead. Put your wood chips in that, and heat them up on the grill. Then cover the tray with foil and make holes in it. The wood chips will smoke and perfume the meat.

If the wood chips are small and burn too fast, a trick is to add a bit of sugar and that connects the wood chips together.

Try fruit-tree woodchips for cooking fish or pork to get a sweet flavour, and olive wood or hickory for steak or any hearty red meat.


Barbecue food

Resting the meat is vital to keep it tender and moist. Photo: Getty

How long should I rest meat after cooking?

The quality of the dish does not necessarily come from the cooking, it’s the resting. 

If you cut into a steak straight away, all the juices and moisture will leak out and it will dry out in a couple of minutes. Resting lets the texture relax and the juices absorb back in.

The larger the cut of meat, the more resting time it needs. Chicken breasts only need about 5-10 minutes, while a whole chicken should rest for at least 15-20 minutes.

If cooking a beef brisket for 12 hours, rest it for one hour before carving it.

What’s a quick and easy red wine jus recipe?

Fine dining restaurants often serve steak with a jus, but it can take days to make a good one. For something quick and easy:

  1. Fry any available beef offcuts
  2. Add 300ml red wine and 50g sugar.
  3. Bring to the boil and reduce it to a glaze.
  4. Add 300ml beef or chicken stock and reduce again.
  5. Strain and return to pan
  6. If required, add cornflour (1 tsp cornflour to 1 tbsp of water) to thicken.

It’s not the same as a premium jus, but it will add some moisture and flavour to your meat. 


RACV Trades can help you find a licensed, qualified plumber or electrician.
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