20 Grilling Tips Every Pitmaster Should Know
Nothing says summer like a barbecue on the patio – but truly great grillers are made, not born. Follow our expert tips and tricks and you’ll be grill master in no time.
- Flavor your food with spices or marinades at least an hour before grilling to let the flavors penetrate.
- Before you get the heat going, grease the grill using tongs and an oiled cloth. This will create a non-stick effect.
- Preheat for 15 minutes to zap germs and get the grates hot enough to sear food.
- Keep one side of the grill hot and one side warm. High-flame “direct heat” helps sear, and moderate flame “indirect heat” helps cook food through. For charcoal grills, just push more coals to one side.
- Start by cooking the food that will take the longest, and add the quickest-cooking food last. This way everything will be done at the same time.
- Thin foods respond well to quick, high-heat searing, while thicker foods will need some time over indirect heat with the lid closed to cook fully. Check out our grilling times guide for more.
- Keep the lid closed while you grill to help cook food through and trap more smoky flavor.
- Turn proteins twice, maximum. Protein that’s not ready to turn will stick to the grill.
- Add sauces with honey, brown sugar or molasses just before cooking is finished to prevent burning.
- Use foil packets to cook fish, roast veggies, steam potatoes, and grill bread. This lets you make a whole dinner on the grill and keeps dishes to a minimum.
- Cedar planks make amazing slabs for cooking fish and seafood. Soak the planks in water and whiskey before putting them on the grill. They act as a baking sheet that infuses flavor while it cooks.
- Make kebabs with sturdy rosemary stems instead of skewers for an extra flavor boost.
- For extra smoky flavor, try adding soaked wood chips right to the coals or in a foil pan above the flames.
- Cover used grates with foil, crank up the heat for 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove the foil.
- If you don’t have a wire brush, wad up clean foil and scrub the grill with tongs to remove stuck-on food.
- Store your grilling tools in the same place so you know where everything is when you need it.
- For a gas grill, make sure to turn gas off at the source when you’re done.
- For a charcoal grill, allow coals to fully cool and turn to ash before disposing of them.
- Remember to move cooked food to a clean plate – not one that has previously held raw meat, fish or poultry. Bacteria from raw food can contaminate the cooked food and cause food poisoning.
- If you’re using one utensil to handle raw meats, avoid serving fully cooked meats with it.