Your Complete Guide to BBQ Cooking Times
May 24, 2021

We’re coming up to the time of year when you’ll probably be itching to get out the BBQ. If so, you’ll want to cook each dish to perfection, whether you have a gas or charcoal BBQ. 


Hopefully, you’ll have already read our previous article on how to start a BBQ. For this article, we’ll be moving onto the different BBQ cooking times you can expect for meat, fish and veggie dishes alike. 


How do BBQ cooking times differ between gas and charcoal grills?

With a gas BBQ, you won’t need to wait for the charcoal to ignite; you can just switch it on, and get on with cooking. By contrast, with a charcoal BBQ, you’re likely to be waiting between 15 and 20 minutes for the coals to reach a good temperature for cooking. 

But of course, BBQ cooking times aren’t the only factor that will dictate whether you opt for a gas, charcoal or even hybrid BBQ. You might, for instance, prefer the smoky flavour a charcoal grill makes possible. 

If there isn’t a thermometer already incorporated into your charcoal BBQ, another option is the ‘hand test’, whereby you hover your hand about five to six inches above the grill grate. Count how long you can leave it there before you have to pull away. 

8-10 seconds indicates a low heat of between 120 C and 180 C. 5-6 seconds suggests a temperature of 180 C to 230 C, while if you can only last for 2-4 seconds, this signals a high heat of 230 C to 290 C.

Higher temperatures of between 230 C and 350 C are ideal for quick-cooking foods such as kebabs or skirt steaks. Alternatively, if it’s a vegetable kebab with a tender interior that you aspire to, or a medium-rare burger with a pleasantly browned crust, aim for a medium-to-high heat setting of around 190 C to 230 C. 

For foods that must be cooked more gently – such as sausages at potential risk of exploding – a lower setting of around 160 C will be most suitable.

Before you get started… get the right tools!

To achieve the optimal BBQ cooking times and results, you’ll require a meat thermometer and timer. Ensure you have everything you need before you start, by shopping from our BBQ accessories and utensils range.

BBQ cooking times for meat

How long do you need to cook chicken on a BBQ?

Be cautious when barbecuing chicken, to avoid food poisoning from overcooking. Cook the meat or poultry in the oven, before putting it on the barbecue to enhance its flavour.

The ideal BBQ roast chicken cooking time

To roast a whole chicken, prepare the barbecue for indirect cooking over a medium heat of between 190 C and 230 C. Roast the chicken for one hour and 15 minutes with the lid closed, or until the internal temperature reaches 71 C. Once you have cooked the chicken, leave it to rest for 15 minutes before carving. This Landmann BBQ Cast-Iron Chicken Holder could be just the thing for easily aromatising your poultry.

How to cook beef on a BBQ

BBQ steak cooking time

How long should you cook your steak for on a BBQ?

Blue steak – also known as “extra rare” – involves cooking for just long enough to sear and brown the outside. To cook, place it on the grill for just one minute; the meat’s internal temperature should rarely exceed 50 C. 

The recommended BBQ steak cooking time if you want your steak rare, meanwhile, is up to five minutes on a high heat, before cooking for a further three minutes at a lower temperature. Aim for an inner temperature of between 57 C and 60 C. 

For a medium-cooked steak, again cook for up to five minutes on a high heat, before moving to a lower temperature for six minutes. An internal temperature of about 65 C should be your target. Cooking a well-done steak begins the same way, and concludes with 12 minutes at the lower temperature, with a target inner temperature of around 71 C.

The perfect burger cook time on a BBQ

A well-done burger will have an inner temperature of approximately 71 C, which you should be able to reach on a high heat in about nine minutes.

How to cook pork on a BBQ

What is the ideal time to cook sausages on a BBQ?

Rotate between high and medium heats to ensure the insides of your sausages are thoroughly cooked. When cooked through, the ideal internal temperature is about 65 C, which you should reach in no more than 20 minutes.

The BBQ pulled pork cooking time you can expect

You can smoke a whole pork shoulder to make pulled pork. When starting with a pork shoulder of about seven to eight pounds, expect a cooking time of about nine hours. Aim for an inner temperature of 96 C.

Lamb is best-served rare or medium rare. Depending on how you like your lamb cooked, target an inner temperature of 62 C, 71 C or 76 C for medium rare, medium or well-done respectively.

The best grilling time for a boneless leg of lamb over indirect heat varies depending on the size and thickness of the joint. Think about 20 to 30 minutes, plus searing, for a small 900g piece, extending to 35 to 45 minutes for a 2.5kg joint.

BBQ cooking times for fish

Fish dishes lend themselves well to the robust, smoky flavour associated with barbecuing. 

Fish dishes lend themselves well to the robust, smoky flavour associated with barbecuing. 

Whether you favour whole salmon or cut into portions, it’s a great fish to barbecue. For each piece, use a piece of foil large enough to create a “packet” to completely enclose the salmon, while still allowing enough room for the salmon to “steam” inside. 


Set up your barbecue for indirect cooking, pre-heat the grill to medium high, and carefully transfer the salmon in its foil “packets” to the cooking grate. Cover the lid and allow the salmon to cook for 25 to 30 minutes undisturbed, or until done. 

What BBQ prawns cooking time should you aim for?

Ensure the grill is very hot, so that you can quickly brown the prawns. Expect a cooking time of about seven to 10 minutes, for example, for size 8-10 prawns.

How to get perfect BBQ veg

It’s generally best to use a direct, high-heat grilling method for vegetables. For dense root vegetables such as turnips and potatoes, though, you should use the indirect method.

How to cook halloumi on a BBQ

Slice the halloumi into thick pieces of about 1/3 inch, and place it on the grill for around three minutes a side, or until golden brown char marks appear.

How to cook corn on the BBQ

The optimal corn on the cob BBQ time is 15 minutes on a high heat. Turn the corn periodically to sufficiently cook all sides.