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How to Build the Perfect Braai

It might come to a shock to some of you when you read this, but we also have readers from all over the world who does not know how to build a braai.  Some might know it as a barbeque, but honestly, cooking over gas is something that is done in a restaurant.  We are here to help!

What you need:

  • A braai (built-in or portable)
  • Enough dry wood (use local wood: rooikrans, pieces of vine wood, black wattle, sekelbos and mopani)
  • Firelighters
  • A lighter

How to build a good braai fire:

Step 1: Pack two pieces of wood parallel to each other and leave a gap the width of a piece of wood in between. Put blocks of firelighters in the gap.  Now pack two more pieces of wood on top of the first two at a 90-degree angle. Continue until you have 12 pieces of wood or all your wood is finished.

TIP: Use all the split pieces first because they’ll catch fire easiest and use the rounder pieces with bark at the top.

braai wood

Step 2: Light the firelighters. If you packed the wood correctly, your fire should burn. If it doesn’t and the firelighters are burnt out, the wood was too wet. Slide more firelighters into the gap at the base and light them. Some firelighters can burn for up to 17 minutes.

Step 3: Once the fire is burning, leave it be and only reach for the braai tongs once the tower collapses. Move pieces of wood back to the heap of burning coals and wait for all the wood to turn into coals. This usually takes around 40 minutes to an hour with normal dry braai wood.

Step 4: Spread the coals into an even layer using your braai tongs. Suspend the braai grid over this (a tripod or a brick under each corner of the grid should do the trick).

Step 5: Take half an onion, peeled and rub the grid with the onion, put the onion on the side for munching on later.  The onion cleans your grill and gives the meat a delicious flavour.  Start braaiing and make sure you keep hydrated with a nice cold one during your time on braai duty.

Make sure you check out our awesome braai recipes and our ever so famous Traditional South African braai marinade recipe.

Mother of two, professional chef/hospitality lecturer & writer for

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  1. Pingback: Hot and Saucy Braai Wings with a Creamy Blue Cheese Dip -

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