Whether you’re new to grilling or you’re a “seasoned” grill master, we can help you up your grill game. Here are our top 10 grilling techniques and tips.
1. Preheat your grill
Preheating your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you plan to start cooking is vital to ensure your grill is not only at the right temperature, but is also free of bacteria that may have been lingering. A properly heated grill will sear your food on contact, prevent sticking, and keep the meat and/or vegetables you’re cooking moist.
Pro tip: Be sure to keep the grill covered while preheating. Also, make sure the grill has plenty of open space around it – not only to prevent a fire, but also because the smoke it generates can stain your home, walls, fences, pillars, etc.
2. Bring the meat to room temperature
While your grill is preheating, we suggest letting the uncooked meat rest at room temperature for around 30 minutes or so. Room temperature meat will cook quicker and more evenly.
Pro tip: If you’re using a rub, this is a great time to apply it and give it time to “soak” into the meat.
3. Start with a clean grill
After you’ve preheated your grill, make sure it’s free of any debris from a previous meal. Scrub your grill clean with a long-handled grill brush. Be sure to also scrape your grill immediately after you’re done cooking, so you’ll have less cleaning to do next time. Plus, using a clean grill will enable you to create those coveted grill marks on the meat!
Pro tip: Instead of chemical cleaning solutions, use an onion. Onions have antibacterial properties. After the grill has been scrubbed with a brush and pre-heated, cut an onion in half, stick it on a grill fork, and scrub the grill with the open face of the onion. The onion will remove fine grit as well as bacteria.
4. Add some flavor
Whether you use a glaze, dry rub, marinade, or various types of wood chips, adding the right amount of flavor to the food you’re grilling is the signature touch of a barbecue pro. When using a gas or charcoal grill, or even a smoker, consider adding applewood for a sweet flavor, mesquite wood for a tangy flavor or hickory wood for a bacon-like taste.
Pro tip: Marinades work best when they have time to soak into the meat, usually at least 2 hours. While they add some flavor, the real benefit of using a marinade is that the naturally acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus helps break the meat down and make it more tender.
5. Don’t over-flip the meat
When grilling, keep the lid down and try to resist moving the food around too much. For most types of meat, flipping it only once is ideal. Place the meat on the clean hot grill and let it cook until it doesn’t stick to the grill. Then, flip it and move it to a cooler part of your grill, letting the indirect heat finish cooking it.
Pro tip: Think of your grill as half grill, half oven. The high heat of the grill sears the surface of the meat and locks in the natural juices. The lower, indirect heat, cooks the meat more slowly, keeping it moist and making it easier to prevent overcooking.
6. Keep it simple when serving a crowd
Make your life easier by limiting the number of protein options you’re grilling for a big group. Managing different cook times and techniques for various types of proteins and veggies can be stressful and tough to balance, so we suggest avoiding the headache altogether. Instead, you can offer some variety with a couple of unique side dishes or types of condiments.
Pro tip: It’s better to serve one or two delicious options than several mediocre options. Stick to the things you’re confident you can grill well.
7. Double up on skewers
If you’re a fan of making kebabs, try using two wood or metal skewers at a time, instead of one, to ensure the food remains securely on the skewer while flipping. We also suggest getting creative with your kebab creations; instead of the traditional chicken and bell peppers, maybe add some fruit for a little sweetness along with a savory meat, like pork, for an unexpected but delicious combo.
Pro tip: Soak the wooden skewers in water before using them to prevent them from burning on the grill.
8. Perfect your burgers
When grilling burgers, if you press a small indentation onto the top of each raw patty with the back of a spoon, you can ensure that when the burgers cook and puff up, the top of the burger will still be fairly level – creating patty perfection.
Pro tip: Dry burgers can ruin a party. Hand-mix an egg into your ground beef to add moisture.
9. Invest in a grilling basket
Grilling peppers, fruit or other small items is a breeze when you use a grilling basket, which will prevent the food from falling through the barbecue rack, while also maintaining the flavor and still allowing the food to cook evenly.
Pro tip: When grilling vegetables like asparagus, grill it first, then toss in a marinade or dressing to give it extra flavor and a beautiful look. Marinating first would wilt the veggies.
10. Timing makes all the difference
Remember, food continues to cook after it comes off the grill, so be sure to remove it just before it’s done to your liking. It’s ideal to let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before serving. The firmer the meat feels, the more well-done it is; we suggest using a digital thermometer for the most accurate indication of the doneness.
Pro tip: Avoid cutting into the meat if possible. Not only does cutting the meat release the juices but it doesn’t make for great presentation.
So heat up your grill and get to cooking because now you’re ready to show everyone that you’re a grill master!