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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 it and get the best results? Follow these top grilling tips to elevate you to pit master status!
Table of Contents
There’s nothing quite like the sizzle of a hot grill and the delicious aromas of perfectly grilled meats and veggies. But if you’re new to the grilling game, or just looking to up your BBQ skills, you might be wondering where to start.
Fear not, my friends! In this guide, we’re going to 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.
How to grill – tips for prep
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 to preparing the grill and all the way through the cooking process, these tips will get you one step closer to some serious good food.
Prep your meat or veggies
- Prep your recipe. What do you need to do to get the food on the grill? Whether you’re making kabobs, grilling veggies, or searing a nice marbled steak, start by preparing your ingredients so they are ready to go on the grill when things start to heat up!
- Season well. It’s so important to prep your meat well to get the best results on the grill. Be sure to season your food well, whether that’s burgers, ribs, chicken, or vegetables. Seasoning really helps to bring the flavors out, so don’t skip this.
- Marinade where needed. If your recipe calls for a marinade, leave it as long as the recipe suggests. The chicken will need less time than the ribs, so be sure to plan ahead. And leave some of the marinades 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.
- 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.
Prep your grill
- Preheat the grill. Be sure to give your grill plenty of time to pre-heat. This will help cook the meat evenly.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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. You can then sear or brown your food in the center and then move to the side of the grill to finish cooking.
- On 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.
How to cook on a grill – during cooking
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 for grilling during cooking:
Leave the protein alone
- 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.
- 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.
- When checking if your meat is done, don’t keep stabbing at it with a fork or prongs. This cause 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.
- 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.
What to do when you have a flare up
Flare-ups are an inevitable part of grilling with charcoal. When this happens, move the meat from the hot zone to the outside of the grill 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.
How to grill – getting ready to serve
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 meat or vegetables
Timing is crucial when you cook meat on the grill. Meat will continue to cook after you’ve removed it, so it’s best to take it off before it’s reached its 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.
Best Grilling gadgets
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.
- Grilling Tongs and Turner Set
- Stainless Steel Grill Basket
- Basting Brush
- BBQ Metal Skewers
- Meat Thermometer
- Fish Turner
- Grill Prep and Serve Trays
- Grill Press
delicious recipes to try on your 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. Check out my this well-round list of grilled recipes. You might discover a new favorite dish that becomes a staple in your summer grilling repertoire!
Grilled Chicken Recipes
- Grilled Chicken Shish Kabobs – Kabobs are easily the most fun recipe to learn how to grill. This Mediterranean chicken kabob is easy to make and combines fresh veggies, spices, and marinated chicken for a delicious grilled medley.
- Grilled Harissa Chicken – Heat up your Summer grilling with the taste of rich chili paste coated chicken. Make sure to check out my grilling tips for perfect grilled chicken every time!
- Grilled Lemon & Herb Chicken Salad – Once you’ve learned how to use a grill, there’s nothing holding you back from any kind of recipe! Top your salads with juicy marinated chicken for a fresh meal – perfect for warmer weather.
- Grilled Chicken Gyro – Fire up your outdoor grill to make a unique lunch or dinner recipe with these tasty Greek gyros topped with veggies and a homemade tzatziki sauce!
- Dijon Mustard Grilled Chicken – Turn your average weeknight meal into a lively BBQ night with delicious mustard chicken grilled to perfection!
- Chicken Shish Kafta – This is a great grilling recipe for beginners who want to try something different. You just mix the ingredients together and shape into a log with or without a skewer and grill for a few minutes on each side. That’s it!
- Ground Chicken Burgers – Chicken burgers are a great alternative to beef burgers and perfect for grilling. They’re well seasoned and bursting with flavor for a delightful addition to any summer feast.
- Grilled Chicken Tenders – Whether you have a propane grill or charcoal grill, chicken tenders are so quick and easy to make and perfect for weeknight meals. You can even swap the ingredients with another chicken marinade for more variety.
- Shish Tawook – Learn how to grill a delicious Middle Eastern dish – Shish Tawook. Marinated in a blend of spices, yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic, this chicken dish is juicy and full of flavor.
- Grilled Lemon Chicken – Chicken recipes are perfect for the beginner griller – and with my grilling tips you can have a juicy, tender grilled chicken any day of the week!
- Grilled Chicken Marinated in Yogurt – Enhance your summer grilling experience with juicy chicken breasts marinated in yogurt, creating a flavorful and perfectly grilled delight. Spice up your barbecue game with yogurt-marinated chicken!
Best Grilled Beef Recipes
- Grilled Beef Kabobs – Featuring marinated sirloin, sweet bell peppers, and crisp onions, these tender and mouthwatering steak kabobs will have you craving more and are effortless to make.
- Steak Gyros – Crafted with marinated flank steak, grilled to perfection, and nestled in a warm pita alongside fresh veggies and a dollop of tzatziki sauce, this dish is an absolute winner.
- Avocado Burger – Get ready for the summer with these delicious and fresh avocado burgers. Homemade beef burger patties are topped with a creamy and zingy avocado crema for one delicious bite. Plus there’s avocado in the patty too!
- Beef Burgers – Embrace the essence of summer with homemade grilled beef hamburgers, a quintessential seasonal recipe with the best smoky-charred flavor.
- West African Beef Kabobs (Suya) – Some of my favorite grilling recipes are on a stick! These beef skewers are a common street food that’s spicy and topped with a peanut sauce.
- Beef Kafta – Keep the grill fired up for some Lebanese grilling recipes! They’re seasoned with Middle Eastern flavors for an easy recipe to enjoy all year long!
- Grilled Steak – Walk through this easy grilling for beginners tutorial for the most delicious steak with all the necessary grilling tips included!
Grilled Fish & Shrimp Recipes
- Pesto Grilled Salmon & Pasta – Skewered salmon is grilled and brushed with pesto, then served with a side of parmesan pesto pasta. A must-have dish for this summer!
- Grilled Salmon – Master the art of grilling salmon with the skin on using this easy, step-by-step guide. Tender, flaky and perfectly cooked!
- Grilled Mahi Mahi with Avocado Salsa – Seasoned with spices and topped with a delightful mango and avocado salsa, this dish is colorful and vibrant. Perfect for indoor or outdoor cooking!
- Salmon Burgers – Salmon burgers are a tasty fish alternative to beef burgers. Made with minimal pantry ingredients, these patties can be grilled or cooked on a grill pan. Enjoy more fish in your meals this summer!
- Grilled Salmon with Citrus Salsa – This citrusy grilled salmon recipe is a healthy, light, and delicious dinner option. High in protein, low in carbs and fats, it’s a perfect summer meal ready in under 20 minutes. Enjoy it in the sun!
- Grilled Shrimp Skewers – With a zesty lemon and herb marinade, they’re easy to prepare and cook in no time on a grill. These skewers are incredibly juicy and bursting with flavor.
- Grilled Fish Tacos – Enjoy the ultimate summer recipe with fish tacos! Packed with tender, flaky mahi mahi, these tacos are bursting with freshness and flavor. Topped with creamy coleslaw, avocados, and salsa, they’re a fast and delightful meal option.
- Grilled Cod – Get ready for deliciously moist grilled cod with a simple seasoning that’s ready in only 15 minutes! Plus, I’ve got helpful tips to prevent your cod from sticking to the grill.
Easy Grilled Veggie Recipes
- Grilled Asparagus – Discover the best method for grilling asparagus—the simplest way possible! No need for a special BBQ basket or aluminum foil. Grilling asparagus adds a smoky touch to its naturally sweet and vegetal flavor.
- Grilled Corn – Master the art of grilling corn with or without husks using this simple, step-by-step tutorial. Grilling corn on the cob brings out its sweetness and imparts a delightful smoky flavor.
- Grilled Eggplant – Whip up a quick and easy vegan side dish that’s both delicious and healthy. It only takes minutes to make and pairs perfectly with grilled meats at cookouts.
- Grilled Fruit Kabobs – These delightful BBQ fruit skewers are enjoyable for the entire family, and grilling fruit adds a delicious twist to the flavors!
- Grilled Eggplant Parmesan – These delicious and oh-so-yummy bites are loaded with tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Grill them up and add on top of salads or pasta for a fuller meal.
- Grilled Zucchini – Grilling zucchini is a fantastic way to create an easy and delicious side dish that adds some wholesome vegetables to your BBQ spread!
- Grilled Romaine – Grilled romaine hearts are a summertime delight! They’re lightly charred and smoky, brushed with a vibrant lemon vinaigrette, and sprinkled with parmesan.
- Grilled Baby Potatoes – Seasoned to perfection, these potatoes boast a delightful smoky char on the outside while remaining creamy and smooth on the inside. They make the ideal side dish to complement any grilled meal.
- Grilled Tomatoes – Grilled tomatoes make a juicy, smoky, and delicious addition to any BBQ! The char from the grill takes the flavor to the next level, making it a great side or accompaniment for any dish.
- Grilled Onions – Grilled Vidalia onions are the perfect addition to any BBQ, especially hamburgers! The char from the grill enhances the sweet and subtle bite of the onion, creating a delicious flavor combination that can’t be beat.
- Grilled Portabella Mushrooms – Try these mouthwatering balsamic-marinated grilled Portobello mushroom steaks! They’re a fantastic and tasty addition to any BBQ and a great option for vegetarians!
Other Grilled Recipes
- Grilled Pizza – Grilled pizza is like the ultimate summer meal! You can chow down on some mouthwatering pizza without using your oven for a nice charred crust and melty cheese. Trust me, this homemade goodness beats any boring old delivery!
- Grilled Halloumi Cheese – Preparing and grilling halloumi is a breeze. You’ll be rewarded with a creamy texture and the perfect balance of saltiness. It’s simply delicious!
- Quinoa Burger – This quinoa burger satisfies even the most carnivorous cravings! Packed with quinoa, black beans, and grilled to perfection. It’s a meatless marvel that holds its shape and has about 10 grams of protein per patty.
- Chickpea Burger – This grilled vegetarian burger is bursting with Mediterranean flair, and is a breeze to whip up. Top it off with all your favorite fixings for a delicious bite that’s sure to satisfy!
- Lamb Burger – These juicy ground lamb burgers are quick to grill and bursting with flavor! Seasoned with mint, cumin, and cinnamon, they’re grilled to perfection and served on buns with tzatziki, pickled onions, and cucumber.
- Grilled Turkey Burger – Grill up a flavor-packed turkey burger, ideal for summer BBQs! With only a few simple ingredients, this recipe is easy to follow and prepare.
- Grilled Lamb Kabobs – Summer calls for grilling, and these simple lamb skewers are a must-have for any cookout. Marinated in a zesty blend of lemon, garlic, and spices for a bright and savory dish.
- Grilled Peaches – These smoky and caramelized peaches make for a delicious grilled dessert and is perfect for topping with ice cream and granola!
Frequently asked questions
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.
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.
Yes, it’s recommended to oil the grill grates before cooking to prevent food from sticking. Use tongs and a folded paper towel soaked in vegetable oil to lightly oil the grates. Be cautious not to use too much oil as it can cause flare-ups.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remember to consider individual cooking times and temperatures for different foods and always prioritize safety. With a little practice and experimentation, you’ll soon become a master of the grill, impressing your family and friends with mouthwatering grilled creations.
So, fire up the grill, embrace the sizzle, and savor the flavors of outdoor cooking! Happy grilling!
Full list of recipes
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!