A favourite pastime of South Africans young and old alike, gathering around a braai is our nation’s preferred way of spending lazy summer days and long, languishing evenings underneath the stars. In fact, South Africans love braaing so much that we’ve dedicated a whole day to doing just that. As we gear up for National Braai Day on 24 September, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite braai ideas in honour of red hot coals, ice cold beers and sun soaked days.

First things first: get your garden ready for summer.

Gardens take a back seat in winter, thanks to cold and inclement weather and indoor pursuits.  With winter now firmly behind us, its’ time to get your garden in shape for summer. Dust off your lawnmower, fix your Kreepy Krawly and haul out your gardening shears to give your little piece of paradise a make-over. If your lawn is looking a little worse for wear, enlist the help of experts who’ll show you how to transform it from drab to fab in no time.

Take advantage of nature’s bounty

Braais aren’t solely reserved for carnivores. Get creative with mushrooms, mielies, sweet-potatoes and sumptuous salads. If you’re lucky enough to live beside the sea, pick your own mussels (don’t forget to get a permit) or buy some freshly-caught fish (make sure it’s on the SASSI green list) for a healthy alternative to meat.

Become your own MasterChef with a fresh take on simple ingredients.

One of our favourite braai ideas is to plant your own herb kitchen. Using garden-grown herbs like Basil, Rosemary, Chilli and Mint in salads, pestos, marinades and cocktails is incredibly rewarding and sustainable too. Do away with store-bought produce and plant seasonal herbs and edible flowers for summer fare that’s nutritious, easy on your wallet and Instagram-worthy to boot.

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Ditch the chip and dip

Waiting around for the flames to die down has left many a braai-goer ravenous. The go-to snack for hungry guests used to be chip and dip – today, we’re seeing innovative takes on hors d’oeuvres  that include flat bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, roasted pumpkin seeds, kale chips and cheese and olive kebabs. Not all braai ideas have to break the bank – get creative with the ingredients you already have to make snacks like popcorn or fruit sosaties.

Braai for breakfast

There’s no better way to cure the after-effects of a night of over-indulgence than a good old fry up. For a new take, get out your grid and whip up some bacon, eggs and boerewors for a breakfast of champions that’ll leave you ready to face the day, South African style.

Braai in the great outdoors

If you’re planning on heading out to explore our beautiful country, don’t forget to pack your braai. There’s nothing better than cooking underneath the stars in some far-flung place, with the only sound being the crackle of firewood.

It should go without saying, but make sure that you braai in a way that’s responsible. Make sure that fires are allowed, and keep a close eye on the coals at all time. Once you’re done, pick up any firelighters or glass. As with all of our braai ideas, safety should be your priority.

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Image Credit: Go 2 Global