Summer has well and truly arrived here in Cornwall and, naturally, this means it’s officially beach BBQ season!
After weeks of COVID-19 lockdown and the Cornish weather doing the MOST to tempt us out of the house, we’ve finally been given the go ahead to spend more time outdoors – and the best way to spend it? On the beach with a barbecue of course.
With blue skies and sunny warm evenings, there truly is nothing better than the smell of a BBQ sizzling while looking out at the ocean, and we truly are so lucky to be able to do this (even on the odd cheeky weekday!) here in Cornwall.
It’s one of my absolute favourite things about summer (other than festivals… but sadly we won’t be getting any of those this year 😢), so I thought I’d share my best tips and kit recommendations to bring with you for your next beach-based feast…
Prepare yourself a ‘BBQ Kit’ grab bag
I’m going to start with my favourite tip – create a ‘bbq grab bag’ that you always have available to ‘grab’ for those last minute spontaneous barbecue evenings. Keep it stocked with the essentials and you’ll never have a ‘OH NO WE FORGOT THE…’ moment again…
My recommended BBQ Kit:
- The BBQ and pack of coals (I recommend a portable barrel style like this*)
- A lighter / matches (charcoal lighting fluid is handy too!)
- A picnic rug / blanket of some kind (I love Atlantic Blankets!)
- Paper plates & cups
- Kitchen rolls
- Hand wipes / hand sanitiser
- Mini BBQ tongs*
- Scissors or a knife
- Cutlery (if needed)
- Mini sauces
- Tin foil
- Water (stay hydrated in the sun!)
- Sun cream
- Plastic bags / bin bags
- A large bottle / beach bucket or container (for cooling the BBQ)
^ Obviously any food and drinks should just be added to this bag just before you leave; this is just the list I suggest keeping somewhere in your home ready at all times!
Pre-cook your chicken please 😫
My friends laugh at me about this but I’m serious. Thanks to my mum’s ‘food safety’ lessons I have food poisoning anxiety and I’m just telling you to please pre-cook it okay? 🙈
Don’t accidentally forget about the food in the fridge…
I did this the other day. We got to the beach, set up our camp, got the BBQ started and I realised I’d left the meats at home in the fridge.
Invest in a good non-disposable BBQ (with a lid!)
Now I’m not suggesting that many forms of BBQ-ing have a positive effect on the planet, but disposable BBQs definitely don’t. If you’re a regular barbecue-er I’d recommend investing in one of these barrel type ones* that have a lid. It makes it easier to cook, shield from the wind, and help the coals to cool down once you’re done.
Instant lighting charcoal is your best friend
If you’re not good at lighting BBQs (I know I’m not!), then get yourself some ‘instant lighting charcoal’, available at most supermarkets or on Amazon*. This stuff makes it pretty much fool-proof to get your BBQ going (weather dependent, of course).
…Also so is tin foil
Tin foil is so useful at a BBQ! You can wrap stuff that easily falls apart (think fish, or pulled pork etc.) and heat it on the grill, use as a plate if you don’t have any, or as a tray to lay cooked stuff on while you’re grilling.
Bring the baby sauces
Sauces and condiments are obviously a massive must for any BBQ, but the big bottles can be heavy and bulky. Invest in a couple of ‘mini’ size sauce bottles to keep permanently in your BBQ grab bag, or save all your McDonalds and takeaway sauce packets/pots and bring them with you!
Less is less stress
Yes it’s easy to be drawn in by Pinterest-perfect outdoor picnics and ‘aesthetic’ BBQs, but who wants to lug half the house across the beach? Unless you’re camped out for the day, leave the beach chairs and fancy tents at home. And when it comes to food, remember that Beach BBQ Culture is all about grillin’ and chillin’ ✌🏼 A basic salad is great but if you want to keep it simple, ditch the side dishes and just relax.
…But drinks are an essential
Some kind of refreshing beverage is obviously a must, though. Whether that’s alcoholic (bring on the Desperados & lime!) or alcoholic (my personal fave is the Fentimans Rose Lemonade at the moment) it’s up to you.
You’ll need 2+ bin bags
A big mistake is bringing no bin bags / plastic bags for your rubbish. A smaller, lesser known mistake is bringing just one. Remember, you need one for your trash AND one for your dirty tongs, cutlery, cups etc. that need to be kept but washed. You can thank me later.
Don’t forget the dogs!
Obviously if you can bring the dogs then definitely let them in on the fun. I like to add the following to my BBQ Grab Bag kit to make sure they’re always catered for:
- Towel (to dry them off and for them to lie on)
- Water bowl (these fold up ones are great)
- Bottle of water
- Poop bags
- Maybe a treat or two
Finding the best spot is key…
To be honest this is probably the hardest part of a BBQ on the beach – finding a spot that’s private enough, but that also has a great view, but that also is sheltered from the wind etc. etc. We like to find a place on the cliffs or the dunes for optimum sheltering and views, but if you have a wind-break, this can help too. And consider whether you also want easy access to the water for a quick dip too!
Let the BBQ pre-heat
Once you’ve put the coals in and lit it, let the BBQ pre-heat for at least 15 minutes until the coals have turned white and it’s giving off a steady heat before you add the meats.
Remember that fish needs less time
I used to make this mistake all the time. I love bringing along a tin-foil wrapped, marinaded piece of fish or salmon to a BBQ but remember that it’ll take much less time to cook than a juicy burger or sausages, so just be careful not to overdo it.
Dispose of your coals safely
When you’re done cooking, starve the BBQ of oxygen by closing the lid and any vents and leave for a while. Then, using a large bottle or container (as mentioned in the BBQ kit recommendations!), pour water over the coals to cool them down. Be careful because they will let off a lot of hot steam.
Having a non-disposable BBQ means you can carry it easily back to the car and take it all home with you.
Leave no trace behind
And finally the most important tip is to leave nothing behind when you go home. Take all your rubbish with you (in said trash bags!) and never ever leave coals on the beach / in the sand to cool down. Covering hot coals with sand can just hold in the heat, and if someone comes walking barefoot where you’ve buried them they could seriously burn themselves.
On a lighter note, I hope these tips were helpful and that you have some truly epic BBQs out on the coast this weekend and throughout summer. Stay safe and enjoy!
Where’s your favourite beach for a summer evening BBQ? Let me know in the comments!
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