The sun is shining early this year, and those with outdoor spaces at home are already itching to get their grills ablaze to cook up a barbecue feast. But you can take your barbecue further than the usual sausages, burgers and kebabs.
Below we list 10 of the best weird and wonderful food options you could try cooking the next time you fire up your barbecue, and handy tips on how to cook them.
Some could be unorthodox options that you’ve tried once or twice before, while others you might not have even believed were possible to cook on a barbecue.
Read on to find out 10 ways you can broaden your barbecue horizons, or compare our barbecue reviews to find a new top grill for your garden.
If you do plan on having a barbecue, check the latest advice from your council on lighting barbecues, bonfires and wood-burning stoves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some have advised against this due to its potential to aggravate respiratory conditions. Check our recent news story rounding up the latest advice.
Halloumi is often the go-to cheese for enjoying straight off the grill, but introducing some smoky flavours to your camembert can upgrade an already indulgent snack to another level of gooey deliciousness.
Camembert is usually topped with rosemary or thyme and garlic and enjoyed with torn-off chunks of tasty bread or carrot sticks for dunking.
A chilled glass of white wine is the perfect accompaniment to a smoky camembert. Head to our roundup of the best white wines for 2020 to pick out the best bottle.
- Take off the lid off your camembert and remove any plastic or paper packaging, but keep the bottom tray on. If you’re concerned that the tray might ignite or the cheese might drip down into your grill, place it on a baking tray.
- A hood or lid is required for cooking. This will retain heat above the camembert as well as below, allowing it to bake evenly. It will also keep smoke around the camembert while it cooks, ensuring a smoky flavour is infused for when you eat it.
- If your barbecue has a temperature control, keep it at around 200°C and cook it for around 10 minutes. If not, check it after around six or seven minutes to see whether it’s melted in the middle, and check it every three minutes or so until it’s ready.
Using fire to cook pizza is a traditional and often favoured method, but you don’t need to invest in a brick oven to cook pizza outdoors.
It’s perfectly doable on a barbecue, you just need a hood or lid and a way to prevent direct heat from hitting the pizza.
Want to find out the best olive oil for drizzling over your barbecued pizza? Check out our handy guide on the best olive oils.
- Frozen pizza won’t cook well on a barbecue. Chilled is better, and freshly made is best. Pizza dough is very simple to make – you just need to mix 200g of strong white flour, a pinch of salt, a sachet of easy-bake yeast, 125ml of warm water and a tablespoon of oil.
- The pizza should be placed on a pizza stone or a baking tray that will sit on the barbecue grill, and the hood or lid will need to come down during cooking so the pizza can bake properly. Roughly 10 minutes should do the trick, but check it regularly.
- Avoiding direct heat is key, so the pizza can cook evenly. If using a charcoal barbecue, move the coals into a ring around the edge and place your pizza in the middle. For gas barbecues, put the pizza over a switched-off burner and keep the others on.
Barbecue pizza oven toppers can be handy, as they let you keep an eye on the pizza as it cooks. Check out Aldi’s cheap £40 barbecue pizza oven topper if you want to give one a try.
Paul Hollywood would probably go spare if he caught you popping a cake tin on your barbecue grill, but we won’t tell him if you don’t.
As you might expect, barbecue-baking cakes is a risky business. Temperature control is a major factor in baking and, especially in the case of charcoal barbecues, this can be difficult to master.
- As is the case with pizza, avoiding direct heat is incredibly important for stopping the cake from burning. Only put your cake tin in areas of the grill where no flames or white-hot coals will sit underneath.
- Once you’ve got the right temperature maintained, shut the hood or lid during cooking and keep it shut until you’re confident your cake is ready. As with conventional ovens, letting heat escape halfway through baking can stop the cake from rising.
- Keep it simple. Baking cakes on your barbecue is a novelty, and trying your luck with more advanced cakes will be a recipe for disaster. A simple sponge, banana bread or cupcakes are simpler, more reliable options.
You don’t need to switch the oven on for the perfect side to be served with your freshly grilled burgers.
In fact, you don’t even need a baking tray. Fresh or frozen chips and some aluminium foil is all you need to make crispy fries with cheese or other tasty toppings for your barbecue feast.
- Lightly cover the chips in oil or melted butter and season as desired, and then place them onto several small sheets of aluminium foil. Curl up the sides of the foil to make a boat shape, leaving a nice big gap at the top to let steam escape.
- Place the aluminium-foil boats on your grill and shut the hood or lid. Leave them to cook for around 10 minutes, then turn the chips over before cooking them for another 10 minutes, or until crispy.
- Sprinkle melted cheese or cooked bacon bits (or both) on top of the chips for the last two or three minutes of cooking, and you’ll be left with crispy smoky chips to be served alongside your burgers and hot dogs.
Our consumer panel taste tests have recently uncovered the best frozen chips you can pick up from the supermarket. Check out our best frozen chips guide before you go shopping.
If you want to add some Mexican flair to your barbecue, quesadillas are a tasty and very easy-to-cook option.
You won’t even need a pan unless the gaps between the grill bars on your barbecue are wide enough that tortilla wraps could slip through.
All you need for a simple quesadilla is high-quality tortilla wraps that won’t crumble or split easily, some cheese, and a filling such as cooked chicken, peppers, beans or sweet potato.
- For one portion of quesadillas, place two tortilla wraps on the grill and gently warm them up, turning and flipping them every minute or so until they are lightly browned but still floppy.
- Add your filling to one of the tortillas, and then place the other on top like a sandwich. The cheese should start to melt pretty quickly, and you should gently press the quesadilla, still rotating it regularly to stop it from burning or sticking.
- After a minute or two, flip the quesadilla and cook it for another couple of minutes, still gently pressing and turning as it cooks. Repeat until it’s nicely browned on both sides and the inside is piping hot. Slice into halves or quarters to serve.
Perhaps a more familiar but nonetheless unconventional barbecue food, bananas can make for delightful hot desserts to be served up when the coals are dying down.
They’ll come out blackened and steaming, and are especially good when served with a lump of ice cream, blueberries or a light sprinkle of brown sugar.
Our roundup of the best vanilla ice creams can help you mix the perfect blend of flavours for your barbecue dessert.
- Either leave the skin on, or slice it lengthways and poke squares of chocolate under the skin. It will melt and mix with the banana during cooking.
- Wrap the banana in aluminium foil and place on the grill, either on a low heat on gas grills, or when the coals are dying down on a charcoal barbecue.
- Close the lid or hood and leave to cook for around five to 10 minutes. Once cooked, peel away the foil and the skin, and tuck in.
Charcoal barbecues will give you the best grilled bananas. Check out our guide to the best charcoal barbecues to make sure your bananas turn out delicious.
It may not appeal to cook on your barbecue on a cold Tuesday in February, but for those who enjoy pancakes for breakfast all year round, cooking them on your barbecue can prove very rewarding.
There is very little difference in the method, but you’re likely to get beautifully textured pancakes that are the perfect mix of crisp and fluffy if you cook them over the grill.
- A cast iron pan or a griddle pan is best for cooking pancakes on a barbecue. They distribute heat very evenly and will prevent your pancakes from burning.
- Medium heat is what you should aim for. Aim for 200°C if your barbecue has temperature controls, but if you’ve just got coals burning, wait until the heat is past its peak before cooking.
- Chargrill your fruit fillings while you cook your pancakes. Grilled pears or pineapples will caramelise and taste wonderful with a dollop of ice cream and some blueberries or strawberries.
Another menu item for a breakfast barbecue, eggy bread (or French toast if you’re not British) can be a chargrilled delight when cooked up on the grill.
You can use the grill bars or a griddle, but a pan isn’t recommended, as you’ll probably get similar results to those you get on the stove, rather than the benefits of barbecuing.
- If using gas, keep the heat medium at around 200°C. If you’re using charcoal, try spreading your coals out thinly to avoid cooking over a small area that’s much hotter than you need it to be.
- If you’re using the grill bars, it’s a good idea to oil them lightly first before lighting up your barbecue. This will prevent the eggy bread from sticking to the grill bars and tearing when you flip it.
- Keep a sharp eye on the eggy bread as it cooks, as it can quickly burn. You’ll need to flip it once every couple of minutes until it’s brown and crisp.
If you want a great gas barbecue to keep firm control on your cooking temperature, our top five gas barbecues guide can help you choose.
Guacamole might be a regular attendee at barbecues, but sliced, chargrilled, smoky avocado is much less common.
You can still mash it up into smoky guacamole after you’ve grilled it, of course. This versatile fruit can be enjoyed on its own as a side, or integrated into several areas of your barbecue feast, from burger fillings to salad ingredients.
- Slice your avocados in half and safely remove the stone. A spoon should be used for this rather than a knife.
- Place them face down on the grill bars on a medium-to-high heat, and cook them for around four to six minutes. Once dark grill lines have formed on the flesh of the avocado, it should be ready to serve.
- If you plan to serve it on its own as a side, consider topping it with olive oil, bacon, chilli flakes, pepper or egg. A slice of lemon to squeeze over the top should go down a treat, too.
Fish may be a familiar food on the grill bars of your barbecue, but there is plenty more seafood that is just as barbecue-friendly.
Oysters are a stress-free seafood that will elevate your barbecue beyond the norm. Once you’ve shucked them, they can simply be placed shell-first on the grill bars.
- Top your oysters will some butter and garlic or paprika before you put them on the grill. It will infuse along with the smoky barbecue flavours.
- These will need to be cooked on high heat along with your burgers and sausages. Oysters should take around six minutes to cook, and should be bubbling when you take them off the grill. They’re easy to keep an eye on, as there’s no need to flip them.
- When serving, consider topping with parmesan, parsley, or cayenne pepper for a heat kick.
Ready to treat yourself to a barbecue that can cook up this whole lot without breaking a sweat? Head to our Best Buy barbecues to see the top models we recommend.