Summer grilling time is here and I’m here to help you can make amazing grilled food all summer long! These tips are for beginners on the grill, but even amateurs and pros might find these tips helpful too. Check out these grilling tips and you’ll be the rock star of the neighborhood!
First thing’s first. The grill. It all starts with a quality barbecue grill. Whether you’re going for gas or charcoal, you don’t want a cheap-o rust bucket that has hot spots. That will certainly ruin your cooking experience. Get yourself a good quality grill. I have a Char-Broil TRU-Infrared 4 burner grill and a Weber charcoal kettle grill.
Is there a difference between barbecue and grilling? Technically yes, but in today’s day and age only a d-bag will call you out for saying BBQ instead of grilling. Barbecue is technically “low and slow” while grilling is a quick process. When I say I’m throwing a backyard BBQ, it doesn’t mean come over and hang out while I cook hamburgers for several hours…. So c’mon over – let’s have a cookout? Too many ways to say let’s cook and eat outside!
Here are my top 7 grilling tips to get you off on the right foot. Don’t be intimidated, don’t be worried – just grill away! Your food will come out tasty, juicy and delicious. If you’re a novice griller, you too can make delicious food and these tips can help you along your way. Professional? I have a tip or two here that might help you, too!
Prepare Grill Grates
Before tossing that nice expensive slab of meat on your grill – prepare the grates.
Clean Your Grates
Before firing up the grill, you want to remove any residue from the previous grilling session. Use a wire or nylon brush (whichever the manufacturer recommends) to brush the grill grates clean. If you’re using a wire brush, you can heat the grill up first.
If you’re using a gas grill, to help prepare for next time, turn the heat to high and close the lid when you’re done grilling. Once the grill stops smoking you can turn the grill off and know that the grates will clean up easily before firing up the grill next time!
Oil Your Grates
Before tossing your food on the grill, it’s always good to oil the grates to reduce sticking, and an unpleasant grilling experience.
Grill Master Tip
Here’s a tasty tip that can help even some professional grill masters…
Cut an onion in half, pour a half inch of olive or veggie oil into an airtight plastic food storage container. Place the onion into the oil. Stick a fork in the onion and brush the grill grates with the onion!
Most people use a paper towel to oil their grates — screw that! Use an onion!
This will oil your grates, giving it a bit of an onion flavor, and it smells nice too. When you’re done oiling the grates put the onion back in the oil container and put the lid on – store it in the refrigerator and use it each time you grill. The onion will keep for at least a few weeks this way!
Hand Heat Check
Check the temp of your grill with your hand. While the thermometer on the front of the grill is nice, it only tells you the air temp, not the grate temperature.
Hold your hand about 3 to 4 inches above the grill grates and count – One One-Thousand, Two One-Thousand and so on. When you feel like you need to move your hand, stop counting…and move your hand!
- If you can hold your hand over the grates for more than 10 seconds, you’re at a very low temperature
- If you can hold your hand over the grates for six to nine seconds, your grill is at low to medium heat
- If you can hold your hand over the grates for four to five seconds, your grill is at medium-high
- And if you can only hold your handover the grates for three seconds or less, you’re at high heat
Direct and Indirect Cooking
Always set up your grill for both direct and indirect cooking. One area of your grill should be reserved for searing and cooking at a higher temperature, while the other areas are for resting and cooking food at lower temperatures.
For charcoal grills, have the coals primarily on one side, or in the middle. Using the areas without coals as your low temperature area. The low temp area is also good for moving your meat to when you get a flareup, cooking veggies and slow cooking meats.
Don’t Fan The Flames
Don’t fan the flames if you get a flare up and certainly don’t use water. This is oil and grease here. Using water improperly can cause a grease fire to spread. Instead, move the meat to another area of the grill while the flare ups burn out. You know….like the side you set up for indirect cooking 😉
Don’t Crowd The Grill
Leave room to move the food around. You’ll need room to move food from hot areas to cooler areas and you’ll want room in case of a flare up. If food is cooking too fast, you’ll want a spot on the cooler side to move it to.
There’s no need to overcrowd the grill. Leave room to rotate the food around – and leave room to toast your buns when the burgers are ready!
Don’t Burn the Sauce
If you’re going to put BBQ sauce on your food, do it in the last 5 minutes of cooking. BBQ sauce contains a lot of sugars which can burn if you slather it on too soon. Of course you can marinate your meat before cooking, use a rub and mop sauce throughout the cooking process — but I do suggest waiting until the end to put store-bought BBQ sauce on the meat. You’ll retain more flavor and reduce the chances of burning the sugars in the sauce.
Let the Grill do the Work
While chicken drumsticks might need to be turned every few minutes, other meats like hamburgers and fish should only be turned once. Let the grill cook the meat on one side before turning. If you keep flipping, you’re more likely to get unevenly cooked food.
Don’t Overcook Your Meat
Keep in mind that when you remove a steak from the grill, it continues to cook while it rests. The temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees while it’s resting. Cooking your meat to the desired temperature could cause it to be overdone. Remove the meat from the grill when it is slightly under your desired temp – allow it to rest for a few minutes and you’ll have perfectly cooked food every time!
Until next time….Happy Grilling!