Cooking Advice & Best Practice

Cooking over a Chesneys Heater BBQ is a very different and special experience.


The Chesneys is at its best when cooking with the lid closed and we recommend this position whenever you are not actively attending to the food.

Our unique construction offers a significant distance to the fire and the oven like qualities of the insulated lid make for a forgiving cook that seals in the goodness and reduces the risk of burning. An accurate thermometer, a baffle that you can use to reduce direct heat and a moveable grill, all provide flexibility and the opportunity to cook low and slow as well as fast and full-on. That said, cooking over fire is always potentially unpredictable and without a doubt, the best way to become a great BBQ cook is through practice and perseverance. Don’t jump in to a 4-hour slow-cooked joint of meat on your first outing!

Cooking Over Fire

Cooking over fire is always potentially unpredictable and without a doubt, the best way to become a great BBQ cook is through practice and perseverance. Don’t jump into a 4 hour slow cooked joint of meat on your first outing!

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The best results

The best results undoubtedly come with familiarity with your machine, the right equipment, preparation, and care during the cooking process. And of course, always treat fire and the metal parts of the machine with the greatest respect, the exterior will heat up and should not be touched (even the handles, which do stay cooler) without wood burner gloves, at any time once the machine is alight.

Machine set up

Put your shelves on before the machine is lit and ensure that any tools and glazes and so on are sensibly positioned before the action starts.

Fuel and Air Control

You should only ever use kiln-dried hardwood with a moisture content of less than 20% or good quality cooking or restaurant grade charcoal in your Chesneys appliance. These materials will ensure both the best barbecue results and will help ensure that the emissions from your machine are minimised.

You can cook with either and indeed there is a huge range of special woods that you can use to impart your preferred flavours, particularly during smoking, but again we would suggest that you always use a good quality from a reputable source. You should never use green or wet wood.

Whichever fuel source you use, employ the top-down lighting method and the single air control below the window to get the machine going and to hit your target cooking temperature. Do not overheat the fire from the start if you wish to cook at a lower temperature as cooling it down will take much longer than heating it up. If you are cooking low and slow the rain cap can be deployed with its sliding air vent to suppress the fire still further. Getting this right is undoubtedly a matter of practice makes perfect. If you do refuel during cooking only add a single log or a small amount of charcoal to avoid any major change in temperature.
See our User Manual for further guidance (link)


Heatproof gloves
A pair of Chesneys branded gloves are included with your appliance

Long-handled tongs and spatula
Any good quality brand will suffice but we do offer a Chesney's toolkit in which you will find the key items you need to manage your food during cooking

Basting brush
This can be as simple as a robust rosemary branch or a specialist basting brush and is a good way or imparting extra flavour and a great finish during cooking

A digital food thermometer
Often associated with the more advanced BBQ chef this is useful for any cook checking that food is cooked or at your target temperature.


The secret to great barbecuing is preparation. Allowing enough time for the coals and grill bars to heat properly before you start will ensure efficiency and do keep an eye on your target temperature.

Pre-cooking some of the food can help and although not necessary with our machines, is particularly useful if you are cooking for crowds or on a timetable - for instance, baking sausages or chicken pieces or blanching vegetables such as aubergine, courgette, long-stemmed broccoli, or corn on the cob in advance, before finishing on the grill, will save time and increase your confidence.

Finally, have all the salads and sides made before you start barbecuing – that way you can assemble plates of food quickly.

Hot Zone & Cool Zone

Barbecuing can be a busy process, constantly turning and moving items to ensure even cooking and the perfect finish.

Either when setting up the barbecue, or before cooking if you have the right tool to move hot material, push your chosen fuel to one side, leaving the other free, this ensures you have greater control, as it creates a hot zone that receives direct heat for more intense cooking on one side, and a cool zone where indirect heat allows for gentler cooking on the other.

This approach comes into its own for something that needs a little more cooking time, such as chicken thighs or thicker cuts of meat. Use the direct heat of the barbecue to achieve the colour and finish you want, then move to the cool side and put the lid on to cook through. Do remember though this will help, but you should still use the thermometer and check on the progress of your food regularly.

Food Hygiene

It’s obvious but important to protect yourself and your guests.

Clean your barbecue well before you start. Let the grill heat up a bit and then use a wire brush (or an onion/lemon on a prong) to give it a good scrub. After you have finished cooking, or at the end of the evening, it is also worth leaving your machine in the ‘cook’ position for 15 minutes as this will help to prepare the grill for next time.

Keep raw and cooked food separate. Keep a plate or roasting tray handy for removing any food that’s cooked, making sure it doesn’t come into contact with any raw food. The shelves are useful for this, and it is easy to designate raw food on one side and cooked the other.
Wash your hands! You may be in the garden away from a sink but make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw ingredients.

If you’re unsure if something is fully cooked or not, cut into it or use a digital thermometer to tell you exactly what’s going on inside.