We’ve spent a lot of time at the grill. We’ve made a lot of mistakes, and over the years we’ve found a few things that will make a world of difference in your grilling.
Tip #1 DON’T RUSH IT!
Grilling is a high heat cooking method. In order to achieve the goodness your grill can provide, you need to PREHEAT IT!! You can’t rush this step. How long do you typically heat your grill???
A proper preheating does a few things:
(1) The heat will loosen any leftover crusty bits from your last grilled meal, making them easy to brush away.
(2) Hot grates will properly sear your food, leaving tasty grill marks of caramelization. The food should sizzle!! The result… a handsomely crosshatched steak!
(3) Preheating prevents food from sticking to the grates. Searing on a hot grate makes flipping a breeze.
(4) Preheating lets the grill reach its optimal temperature. If you place meat on a cool grill, it will take too long to cook, resulting in dried out food. Nothing worse!
So! Don’t rush your grilling! Get it preheated first!! A gas grill needs to preheat for 15-20 minutes. A charcoal grill should have briquettes covered in a thin layer of gray ash. Either way, the temperature should reach about 500 degrees!
You can roughly gauge the temperature with your hand. Place your hand 6” from the surface of the grill. The heat should force your hand away in three seconds or less. If it does, you’re ready to grill!
Tip #2 – Brush It Off!
Everyone gets a crusty grill. No one is exempt from the burnt on bits of food!!
But, brushing your grill after every use is the best way to keep your grates from collecting too much crust.
Did you know it is easiest to brush it clean when it’s warm? I prefer brushing it off after each use. But if I forget, I just brush it off before I cook on it next time. Just let it preheat and the crust will brush right off!!!
Another simple cleaning task is to scrape out your drip pan every 3-4 uses. I forget to do this one!! Do you???? After I cleaned mine on IGTV, we had an inbox full of your stories about FIRES caused by dirty drip pans!!! Yikes!!!!
Scraping it out took less than one minute!!! So fast! So easy!! Soooo necessary!!!
Go take a peak at your grill!! How are the grates? How is the drip pan??? Ready to go or need a little love???
Tip #3 – KEEP A LID ON IT!!
I need this reminder taped to the lid of my grill. I love opening my grill to check on things. I stir my veggies. Or poke my drumsticks. Or just peek. I am just sooo curious about what is going on in there!!! You too???
So, I have to consciously remind myself that every time I open the lid, the temperature drops!!! Look at the temperature gauge next time you’re grilling!! You’ll notice a drastic change every time you open it up!!!
The saying at @webergrills is, LOOKIN’ AIN’T COOKIN’!
This is especially true for any foods over 3/4” in thickness. Thin foods (small steaks and thin burgers) will cook just fine with direct heat. But! Thicker foods need radiant heat to cook properly. If you open your grill too often, the proper temp will not be reached, your food will take longer to cook, and you’ll be left with dismal results. Plus, in increase your chance of flare-ups. Yikes.
So, if you’re a chronic lid-opener like me, let’s make a promise to KEEP A LID ON IT!!
Time to fess up… are you a chronic lid-opener???
Tip #4- PLAN YOUR ROUTE!
Good grilling begins with a good plan! And a good plan will help you decide if you should use DIRECT or INDIRECT HEAT. Do you know the difference???
DIRECT HEAT: ?food is placed directly over the flame?quick cook – under 20 minutes ? thin foods – burgers, hot dogs, some seafood, veggies, some chicken ?creates searing and grill marks ?watch carefully – food burns quickly ?
INDIRECT: ?food is placed adjacent to the heat ? cooks low and slow – over 20 minutes ?foods with high moisture, sugar, or fat content – ribs, brisket, or large steaks ? keep the lid closed for optimal cooking ? baste food to keep it juicy ?
Both methods have their merits, depending on the food you’re cooking!! And some cuts of meat will require both methods!
Just make sure you go into it knowing what is best for your food.
Which method do you use most often? Direct? ???? or Indirect? ?
I have more experience with direct grilling. But experimenting with indirect cooking has been a fun adventure. I was sooooo proud of my first brisket!
What’s your favorite method???
Tip #5 – GIVE IT A REST!
For the juiciest steaks and roasts, let your meat sit under a tent of foil for about ten minutes before you cut into it. Why??? Well, let’s talk about what is happening inside…. When you cook meat, the muscle fibers contract as they heat. These squeezed fibers can hold less water. If you cut into your perfectly cooked steak/chicken/roast etc while it is piping hot, the juice will be squeezed out of the food. But! If you let the meat drop in temperature, the muscle fibers will relax, allowing them to hold more moisture. Then, when you cut into the meat, all that juicy goodness stays inside your food, right where you want it. I like to account for this resting period and the consequential “carry over” cooking that will occur as the hot meat sits, by pulling the food off 5-10 degrees early. Then, place it in a dish or on a cutting board and cover it up with foil to let it cool down. The general rule is 5 minutes for every pound of meat. But, you can also use a thermometer to check if it’s cooled enough: you want it to drop to 125 degrees F before cutting into it.
Tip #6 – MOISTURIZE
Cooking in a grill is like cooking in a desert- HOT & DRY! ?Your food needs a little extra moisture to prevent it from becoming a dry crisp.
THREE WAYS TO MOISTURIZE:
?BEFORE: Oil your fruits and veggies before grilling! Also, lean proteins- chicken, shrimp, and fish!
?DURING: Spray some water or baste with marinade during the cooking. Brad the Dad arms himself with a squirt bottle. He sprays a little water every 3-5 to moisturize the cooking environment. His chicken is soooo juicy!!!
?FINAL: Finish your food with a final burst of moisture. You can accomplish this with an herbed butter, a glaze of sauce (consider bbq, teriyaki, sweet & sour sauce), or fruit juice (especially delicious on seafood & white meat)
Try one or all of these methods next time you grill!! I’m loving the squirt bottle method. I might try replacing the water with a marinade next time!! If spraying water is good, imagine spraying with a deliciously flavored marinade!!! Do you think it will work?
Tip #7 – EASY ON THE SQUEEZE
We’ve all seen. Maybe we’ve even done it ourselves. It’s hard not to- it is satisfying to hear the sizzling juices that spill out of a burger when you smush and squeeze it!!!! You know the move- smashing a hamburger patty with the back of your spatula!!! But, I’m sure you can guess what this is actually doing to your burger – creating a boring, dry, hockey puck of a burger!!!! The juices will leak and drip on their own. The last thing we want to do is squeeze out the magic elixir of juice in your tasty burger!!! So, make me a promise- right now!!! “I solemnly swear I will never again smush & squeeze a hamburger!”
Tip #8 – Take the Temp
The hardest part of grilling is knowing when the meat is done cooking. ?There’s a fine line between make-you-sick raw meat and make-you-gag overdone meat.
But!! The good news is…. you can avoid both unfortunate types of meat with an instant-read thermometer!!!? Taking the temp of your meat is the ONLY way to be sure your meat is properly cooked. Forget timers! You need to know what is going on inside! And a thermometer gives you that information.
Tip #9 – FORGO THE FORK
Those cute little grilling sets come with those grilling forks, and they should honestly go immediately in the garbage. Or at least just promise not to poke all your meat with them.
Every time you pierce the meat, you are releasing juices. That juice is precious, that’s where all the natural moisture and flavor of the meat is found. The release of moisture can also cause flare-ups, which are just annoying.
Keep the fork away from the meat, and just stick with a good quality pair of tongs.
Tip #10- Get a Good Rub
Do you have a spice blend you love? I have like three or four that I bounce between.
We grew up using Montreal Steak Seasoning for all beef. But for chicken I always find myself grabbing the Traeger Chicken rub, that paprika flavor just makes my chicken feel like party.
I don’t feel like one can ever have too many rubs! Try a few flavors to find the some you love.
It was fun to put together this list to help remind ourselves that with a few small tips we can turn mediocre grilling into success!