How to make the most of your summer BBQ's - Gas, Coal or Firewood?

Warm summer evenings mean just one thing for many campers. Yes, time for a barbecue! At Outwell, we’re very keen on al fresco meals and we work hard to ensure every meal is a pleasure. And we fully support outdoor chefs, like Guyrope Gourmet and the Camping and Caravanning Club’s Eat Local ambassador Ali Ray, as they spread the word about the delights of sampling local food and drink. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your barbecue.

Which type of barbecues to choose

Charcoal barbecues normally sit at the bottom end of the cost spectrum but they are hard to beat for the authentic taste created. Charcoal is a great fuel — especially if you source a local sustainable supply. Move charcoal around the barbecue to create heat zones for cooking and warming food. Remember that charcoal can spit out sparks so watch any surrounding tents. And do not be tempted to use a barbecue as a fire pit or pile on too much fuel — they are designed for cooking, not heating. Our Cazal Fire Pit takes care of camp fires.


  • Budget friendly
  • Gives you that authentic smokey BBQ taste
  • Charcoals can be moved around to regulate heat zones
  • Charcoals can spit out sparks - so beware of surrounding tents

Gas is a more convenient option as it provides instant heat and you have no ash to dispose of at the end of the day. Lava rocks and hot plates are just two ways that are used in the gas barbecue to aid ‘evaporation’ of juices to ensure your food gets that authentic smoked flavour. Like when using a gas stove remember to do the safety checks before you start cooking — including checking hose integrity and connections. You can read more in our technical feature, Cooking on gas, here. Whatever your choice always cook outside and ensure your barbecue is in a safe, stable place away from crowds, pets or kids at play.


  • Convenient, fast and stable heat output
  • No ashes to dispose of at the end 
  • You miss out on some of the authentic smokey taste


  • Use lava rocks for extra BBQ taste - Lava rocks will eventually absorb fat and become unusable. Replace after around ten barbecues.
  • Try slow cook meat on the BBQ - it's delicious! For the best tender meat pile charcoal around a disposable aluminium food container containing a little water and place the joint on the grill over this. Close the lid and the moist, indirect heat will slowly cook thoroughly.


When barbecuing you might want to invest in these tools:

  • Use tongs or a spatula to turn meat. Never spear with a knife or fork for this releases those all important juices that create flavour and moistness.
  • A spray gun, like those used to water household plants, is useful to control the heat and flare-ups experienced with charcoal.
  • A brush for applying marinades and oil.
  • A pinny and heat-proof mitts protect skin and clothes.
  • The extended reach of a gas match makes lighting safer.
  • Use a chimney starter to rapidly light your charcoal.
  • A metal brush or crumpled aluminium foil helps keep the grill clean.
  • Bucket of water, fire extinguisher, fire blanket, First Aid kit for burns — all key items to have close to hand.


Camping meal inspiration from Top Camping Chefs

Nothing wrong with those cheap bangers and burgers but if you’ve invested in the brilliant Guyrope Gourmet or Ali Ray cookbooks then you owe it to yourself to cook quality local produce. The flavours will be so much better and you’ll get a warm glow in knowing you’ve helped the economy local to the campsite. You’re on holiday so spoil yourself. You’ll also find plenty of recipes from these two great outdoor chefs here.

Ali Ray Pitch Up Eat Local Cookbook - sponsored by Outwell


  • Consider using a number of coolboxes and cool bags. This will allow you to keep meat away from other fresh food like salads. Plus, keep drinks separately. You lose the cold every time someone opens a coolbox to grab a drink and you risk spoiling your food.
  • Only get fresh food out of the coolbox when needed.
  • Do not allow uncooked meats touch cooked food.
  • Make sure the food is cooked thoroughly before eaten.
  • Keep a bowl handy to wash hands between jobs. Dry hands on kitchen roll that can be thrown away after use.
  • Hand santitiser sprays can be quickly used to keep bacteria down.
  • Aluminium foil and kitchen roll are invaluable.
  • Use separate cutting boards and knives to prepare meat and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Wipe down surfaces and wash utensils as they are used. It will also reduce the amount to clean up after the event.
  • Keep a grot box handy to keep waste food away from recyclable rubbish and other waste. A carrier bag can be quickly closed off and disposed of before the contents are found by flies.
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