How to Grill {Tips For Beginners}

Get the most out of your grill this summer with these easy grilling tips and tricks! Find out how to grill chicken, steak and veggies for delicious cookouts

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Summer is in full swing, and no doubt many of us are heading into our backyards and firing up the grill, but do you know how to grill to get the most out of grilling and get the best results? I am sharing my top grilling tips to help you get to that expert grill master status!

4 image collage for best grilling recipes for Summer.
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There’s nothing quite like the sizzle of a hot grill and the smell of perfectly grilled meats and veggies. But if you’re new to grilling or just looking to up your BBQ skills, you might be wondering where to start.

Fear not, my friends! In this guide, I’ll cover all the basics of how to barbecue like a pro, from choosing the right equipment and fuel to mastering the art of temperature control and seasoning.

Why Learn How to Grill

  • Feeds a crowd. Knowing how to cook on a grill allows you to prepare enough food to feed a large group. Whether you’re hosting a neighborhood potluck or throwing a kids’ birthday party – lots of food means everyone is happy and satisfied.
  • Quick and easy cleanup. Grilling cuts the need to cook with multiple pots and pans, making cleanup a simple task. With minimal dishes to wash and no lingering cooking odors inside, learning how to BBQ is a no-brainer, IMO.
  • Easy grilling for beginners and pros alike. Grilling offers you lots of delicious options whether you’re new to grilling or have been a grill master for decades.
Yumna grilling outside in outdoor kitchen patio

Tools Needed to Grill

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite grilling tools that are essential for getting started and making the most out of your grilling experience.

Best Grilling Tips

  • Preheat the grill. I’ve devoted an entire section below to the importance of prepping the grill, and one way to do that is by preheating it. A well-heated grill will help sear your food (instead of steaming) and prevent it from sticking.
  • Oil the grates before cooking. Use tongs and a folded paper towel soaked in vegetable oil to lightly oil the grates to prevent food from sticking. Be cautious not to use too much oil as it can cause flare-ups.
  • Use a meat thermometer. The best way to know when your food is done is by using a meat thermometer. Different meats and cuts require different internal temperatures, so make sure you know the right temperature for your food.
  • Know the difference on direct and indirect heat. Direct heat is heat directly over the fire, which is great for quick-cooking foods like burgers and vegetables. Indirect heat is to the side of the heat source, which is a great option for slower-cooking cuts like roasts. An important part of learning how to barbecue is knowing where to find specific heat on your grill.
Shrimp skewers on a grill.

How to Prep for Grilling

When it comes to grilling, preparation is key. It’ll help you have a smooth cooking experience and get the most delicious results! From seasoning the food and following through the cooking process, these tips will get you one step closer to some serious good food.

  • Prep your recipe. What do you need to do to get the food on the grill? Whether you’re making kabobs, grilling veggies, or grilling a flank steak, start by preparing your ingredients so they are ready to go on the grill when things start to heat up!
  • Season well. Prep your meat well to get the best results on the grill. Season your food well, whether that’s burgers, beef ribs, chicken, or vegetable kabobs. Seasoning really helps to bring out the flavors, so don’t skip this.
  • Marinade where needed. If your recipe calls for a marinade, leave it as long as the recipe suggests. And leave some of the marinade to add a couple of minutes before your recipe is complete. This is especially important for sugary marinades, which can flare up when cooked too soon. Check out my 4 marinade options for steak and chicken!
  • Let meat come to room temperature. Be sure to take the meat you are cooking out of the fridge for about half an hour before you cook it to allow it to come to room temperature. This will result in tender and juicy meat and ensure even cooking.
Hand seasoning asparagus before grilling

How to Use a Grill

Knowing how to BBQ starts with very basic and general suggestions that are helpful whether you’re using charcoal or a gas grill. From there, your grilling technique may change depending on the type of grill you use, but these are general starting points for grilling for beginners.

  1. Preheat the grill. Be sure to give your grill plenty of time to pre-heat. This will help cook the meat evenly and prevent the food from sticking.
  2. Clean the grates. Be sure to clean your grill grates once you’ve pre-heated it, unless you’ve cleaned it after your last grilling session. It’s worth investing in a good grill brush and giving it a good scrub to remove any leftovers from your last cookout. Once you’ve brushed it down, wipe some oil over the grate using tongs, and a piece of kitchen towel dipped in oil.
  3. Have all your tools and supplies ready. Make sure you have everything you need within reach, including tongs, spatulas, and an instant-read thermometer. Depending on the type of grill you have, you may also need lighter fluid, charcoal briquettes with a charcoal chimney (or charcoal starter).

How to Start a Charcoal Grill

  1. Prepare the charcoal. Arrange the charcoal in a pyramid shape at the center of the grill. If you’re using lighter fluid, drizzle it over the briquettes. Alternatively, you can use a chimney starter to light the charcoal.
  2. Light the charcoal. If you’re using lighter fluid, wait for a few minutes to let it soak into the charcoal. Then, carefully light the charcoal with a long match or a grill lighter. If you’re using a chimney starter, fill it with charcoal, place crumpled newspaper or a paraffin starter cube underneath, and light it. Allow the charcoal to burn until it’s covered with gray ash.
  3. Distribute the charcoal. Once the charcoal has started to ash over and is glowing red, use long-handled tongs to spread the coals evenly across the bottom of the grill.

Create Heat Zones

One of the best things to be aware of when you’re learning how to BBQ is how to create heat zones on your grill. You’ll have more control over the temperature of your grill and be able to utilize indirect heat to cook a wider range of foods to perfection.

  • For a kettle grill: Bank the coals in the middle so that the center is hotter, creating direct heat. You can then sear or brown your food in the center and then move to the side of the grill for indirect heat to finish cooking.
  • For a gas grill: Set one or two burners on half of the grill to high heat and another on medium or a lower temperature to create a hot and cool zone.
Lamb chops on an outdoor grill garnished with fresh parsley and lemon wedges with tongs lifting one up.

How to Cook on a Grill

When you’re grilling, it’s important to keep a close eye on your food to make sure it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn. Here are some tips to remember when you’re learning how to barbecue food:

  • Don’t flip too often. Resist the urge to flip your meat too often. Flipping once or twice is usually enough to ensure even cooking. If you try to lift the meat before it is ready, it will stick to the grates. Let the meat develop a crust before you try to move it.
  • Keep the lid closed. Keeping the lid closed while grilling helps to trap heat and smoke, which adds flavor and helps to cook the food more evenly. Only open the lid when you need to flip or move your food.
  • Baste or brush with sauce. If you are adding sauce or extra marinade to the meat, don’t add it too early as the sugars can burn. If you are adding a sauce with sugar, wait until closer to the end of cooking.
  • Move food around. If you notice that one area of your grill is hotter than another, move your food around to ensure even cooking. Know which part of your grill has direct and indirect heat.
  • Use a meat thermometer. When checking if your meat is done, don’t keep stabbing at it with a fork or prongs. This causes the juices to escape, leaving you with a less flavorful and juicy piece of meat. A thermometer is a great investment, and it’s the best way to guarantee the meat or poultry is cooked through to proper temperatures.
3 Salmon fillets with spatula under one before flipping it

Safety Grilling Tips

Always follow basic safety guidelines, such as keeping a fire extinguisher nearby, using long-handled utensils to prevent burns, and keeping children and pets away from the grill. Additionally, make sure the grill is placed on a stable surface, away from flammable materials and overhanging structures.

If using a charcoal grill, you may experience flare-ups. When this happens, move the meat from the hot zone to indirect heat so that it doesn’t scorch. You can move it back once the flames die down. You can also try putting the lid down and closing the vents to restrict the oxygen.

When you know how to use a grill safely, it makes the entire experience more enjoyable and stress-free.

Large white plate with grilled tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, and grilled potatoes, garnished with parsley.

How to Finish Grilling

Getting ready to serve your grilled food is an exciting moment, and there are a few things you can do to ensure that your meal is as delicious as possible.

  • Remove the grilled meat or vegetables. Timing is crucial when cooking meat on the grill. The meat will continue to cook after you take it off the heat, so it’s best to remove it before it reaches your preferred level of doneness. Be sure to grab this grilling guide from The Spruce Eats, which has some great timing charts to ensure perfectly cooked food every time.
  • Let it rest. As tempting as it is to serve the meat straight away, be sure to let it rest so that all those delicious juices don’t escape too quickly. It gives them time to redistribute and keep the food tender. Loosely cover in foil and let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the meat. Vegetables can be served immediately, though.
  • Cut against the grain. For large cuts of meat like steaks and chicken breasts, slice against the grain to create shorter muscle fibers and more tender meat. This technique helps to make the meat easier to chew and an overall better grilling experience.

What to Grill This Summer

Summer is the perfect time to fire up the grill and try out some delicious recipes. From juicy chicken and beef to fresh seafood and veggies, there are plenty of options to choose from. You will love this comprehensive list of the best grilling recipes. You might discover a new favorite dish that becomes a staple in your summer grilling repertoire!

But before you get to the fun part, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with barbecue basics.

Grilling Basic Recipes

  • Chicken Marinade Recipes – If you’re just starting out, these 4 basic chicken marinade recipes will make grilling for beginners a walk in the park. They come together quickly and work well for any cut of chicken.
  • Steak Marinade Recipes – Some steaks have delicate marbling that lend themselves better to salt and pepper and nothing else. Others do well with a flavorful marinade. Check out these 4 tasty steak marinades to add flavor and help tenderize the meat.
  • How to Grill Chicken Thighs – If you want to know how to barbecue chicken thighs, this post lays out all the basics so you get perfectly tender, juicy, and oh-so-delicious meat every time.
  • How to Grill Steak – A perfect splurge, grilled steak is the ultimate treat. But if you’re new to the world of barbecuing, it can be intimidating. Not to worry, this post has everything you need to get the most mouthwatering steak grilling for beginners and pros alike!
  • How to Grill Salmon – Learn how to bbq salmon on the grill to get the most delicate, flakey interior with a crispy skin. It’s a perfect addition to all your summer salads like classic Caesar or chopped Mediterranean salad.
  • How to Grill Lobster Tail – Now, I know what you’re thinking – this isn’t exactly a barbecue basic but it’s a sure-fire way to impress your guests. And with my tips and tricks, you can achieve perfectly tender lobster, even if you just learned how to cook on a grill.
  • How to Grill Corn – Corn on the cob is a summer classic but knowing how to use a grill to cook it can be tricky. Do you keep the husks on or off? Do you soak the cobs or throw them on the grill right away? I answer all these and more in this quick how-to.
  • How to Grill Asparagus – Asparagus is that seasonal veggie that kick starts the warmer weather. And it’s the perfect vegetable to cook on the grill. When grilled right, it comes out crisp tender and oh-so-delicious.
  • Shish-Tawook – A popular Lebanese grilled chicken skewers recipe that will have everyone coming back for seconds. The chicken is marinated in earthy spices, yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic for a tender, melt-in-your-mouth experience.
  • Ground Chicken Burgers – Grilling for beginners is delicious when you’re rewarded by sinking your teeth into a juicy, flavorful, wonderfully seasoned chicken burger. This makes learning how to BBQ a worthy feat.
  • Beef Kafta – Another Lebanese favorite but this one is made with ground beef, parsley, onions, and a blend of Middle Eastern spices and cooked to perfection on the grill. Pair it with Lebanese rice for a mouthwatering meal.
  • Grilled Mahi Mahi with Avocado Salsa – Served with fresh mango and avocado salsa, this grilled mahi mahi is one for the books. It’s tender, perfectly flakey, and oh-so-delicious.
  • Quinoa Burger – This meatless option will have even the meat lovers fall in love with. It’s loaded with quinoa and black beans and holds up well during grilling. Learning how to use a grill ensures a nice smoky flavor and that perfect char on vegan burgers too!
  • Grilled Harissa Chicken – Quick and easy to prepare, this juicy chicken thighs recipe are a hit! Whether you’re a pro or you just learned how to cook on a grill, this chicken is an excellent recipe to put those skills to practice.
  • Grilled Dijon Chicken – Chicken breasts are smothered in Dijon mustard and thrown on the grill for one of the best grilling for beginners recipe. You can’t go wrong with this classic that pairs wonderfully with any side or salad.
4 image collage of grilled chicken recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I preheat the grill?

Preheating times vary depending on the type of grill and desired cooking temperature. As a general guideline, preheating a gas grill typically takes 10-15 minutes, while preheating a charcoal grill can take around 20-30 minutes.

How do I know when the grill is hot enough?

For a gas grill, the temperature can be determined using the built-in thermometer or by testing the heat with your hand. Hold your hand about 6 inches above the grill grate and see how long you can comfortably keep it there. High heat is when you can only hold your hand for 1-2 seconds, medium heat is around 3-4 seconds, and low heat is around 5-6 seconds.

How often should I flip the food while grilling?

It depends on the type of food you’re grilling. Generally, it’s best to flip meat and thicker cuts only once or twice to develop a nice sear and allow even cooking. Delicate items like fish or vegetables may require more frequent flipping to prevent burning.

How can I add smoky flavor to my grilled food?

To add smoky flavor, you can use wood chips or chunks on a charcoal grill or a smoker box on a gas grill. Soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes, then place them directly on the charcoal or in the smoker box to infuse the food with smoky aromas while grilling.

Now that you learned how to barbecue like a pro, don’t forget to check out collection of the best grilling recipes. Grilling is such an enjoyable cooking method that allows you to create delicious meals with a unique smoky flavor. By following proper preheating, grilling, and cleaning techniques, you can achieve delicious results on your gas, charcoal, or electric grill. So, fire up the grill, embrace the sizzle, and savor the flavors of outdoor cooking! Happy grilling!

Full List of Recipes

4 ziptop bags folded over with chicken breast each marinating in different recipes.
Sauces, Tutorial

Chicken Marinade Recipes

These chicken breast marinades are easy to make, full of flavor, and perfect for any cooking method, including grilling, baking, and pan-frying!
 
2 hours 35 minutes
5 from 56 votes
Square image of flank steak in marinade.
Entree, Tutorial

Steak marinade (4-Ways)

Explore 4 irresistible steak marinades: zesty Lemon Italian, robust Garlic Worcestershire, sweet and tangy Soy Ginger, and vibrant Cumin Lime.
 
2 hours 5 minutes
5 from 5 votes
Grilled chicken thighs on an oval platter with crispy skin garnished with fresh parsley and lemon wedges.
Entree, Tutorial

How to Grill Chicken Thighs

Learn how to grill chicken thighs like a pro! This bone-in skin-on marinated bbq chicken thigh recipe will have your mouth watering and guests asking for more!
 
40 minutes
5 from 4 votes
Close up of grilled steak with two slices cut from it topped with melted butter on a large white plate with grilled romaine lettuce, parmesan, and fork.
Dinner, Main Dish, Tutorial

How to Grill Steak

Learn how to grill steak perfectly on an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill with this easy to follow step-by-step tutorial that makes juicy tender grilled steak!
 
45 minutes
5 from 10 votes
Plate of 4 salmon fillets grilled served with lemon wedges
Main Course

How to Grill Salmon

Learn how to grill salmon with skin on using this step-by-step tutorial. Grilling salmon this method creates moist fillets that won't stick!
 
15 minutes
5 from 310 votes
How to Cook Lobster Tail.
Entree, Tutorial

How to Cook Lobster Tail

Learn how to cook lobster tail four ways: steam for tenderness, bake for simplicity, air fry for a crispy kick, or grill for a smoky char.
 
25 minutes
5 from 18 votes
Pan of grilled corn with husks
Side Dish

How to Grill Corn

Learn how to grill corn with husks and without husks with this easy step-by-step tutorial. Grilling corn on the cob makes it sweet and smokey!
 
25 minutes
5 from 120 votes
Asparagus on the grill
Side

How to Grill Asparagus

Learn how to grill asparagus on an outdoor grill with this easy step-by-step tutorial. Grilling asparagus is easy and maximizes its flavor!
 
10 minutes
5 from 9 votes
Shish tawook recipe on a platter with garlic sauce
Main Course

Shish Tawook

Try this Authentic Shish Tawook recipe – a popular Lebanese grilled chicken skewers recipe. It's tender juicy chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon and garlic.
 
28 minutes
5 from 2273 votes
Ground chicken burger served with potato chips
Main Course

Ground Chicken Burgers

These delicious ground chicken burgers are loaded with flavor and are quick and easy to make. Perfect for a weeknight meal and a great alternative to beef.
 
20 minutes
5 from 2939 votes
Lebanese style beef kafta served over rice
Main Course

Beef Kafta

This is a Lebanese style Beef Kafta recipe that's made with ground beef, parsley, onions and a blend of Middle Eastern spices- perfect on the grill or stove
 
30 minutes
5 from 1606 votes
Cutting off mahi mahi fillet with mango avocado salsa on top
Main Course

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Avocado Salsa

Grilled mahi mahi is a quick and easy recipe that is loaded with flavor. Served with a fresh mango and avocado salsa, it's a great healthy family meal!
 
20 minutes
5 from 249 votes
One quinoa burger topped with tomatoes and onions with sweet potato fries in background
Main Course

Quinoa Burger

This vegan quinoa burger recipe is easy, healthy and packed with protein. There's no food processor required and it comes together in one bowl
 
20 minutes
5 from 446 votes
Grilled harissa on a platter served with lemon slices
Main Course

Grilled Harissa Chicken

This Mediterranean grilled harissa chicken recipe is quick and easy to prep. Perfectly juicy chicken thighs are coated in a rich chili paste.
 
35 minutes
5 from 73 votes
Plate of grilled chicken made with dijon marinade and served with lime wedges and cilantro
Main Course

Dijon Grilled Chicken

Made with four ingredients, this simple dijon grilled chicken is quick to cook and full on flavor. Perfect for an easy weeknight dinner.
 
20 minutes
5 from 266 votes

For more similar roundup of recipes, be sure to check out: No-Bake Summer Desserts, Garden Tomato Recipes, 4th of July Cookout Recipes, & More Summer Recipes to make!

If these how to grill tips have helped you, or you have any to share with me, be sure to leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experiences! And if you snapped some shots of you grilling share them with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

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Comments

  1. Shenaz Kadri says:

    Thanks for sharing these useful tips. Recently I bought a grill and i was looking for some tips related to grilling. I have read many articles but your article explained to me very well.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Glad to hear it! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  2. Terrance McDaniel says:

    Please do some at-home Sushi, preferably something tempura fried..

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Ok I’ll work on something!