10 Tips for Grilling Success
Every Grillmaster has a few tricks up their sleeves for ultimate grilling
success, giving moist, juicy, flavorful results every time they light up the grill.
Here are the Top 10 Secrets for Grilling Success that will make even a
novice griller look like a pro.
1) Invest in a Meat Thermometer: Using a meat thermometer takes the
guesswork out of grilling. By knowing exact internal temps, you can remove
meat at just the right time for moist, juicy results. I recommend the
Thermapen — it’s an instant-read digital thermometer that shows temps in
less than five seconds, so you’re not spilling valuable heat from the grill.
2) Know Minimum Internal Temperatures for Meat: These are the minimal
internal temperatures for meat, according to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. Keep in mind that when you take your meat off the grill, it
continues to cook, so it is OK to pull it off when it’s a few degrees under the
3) Tent the Meat: After you pull meat off the grill because it has reached
the minimum internal temperature, tent the meat under foil for 10 minutes.
Allowing the meat to rest allows it time to reabsorb its juices, giving juicy,
4) Oil the grates: A well-oiled grill grate makes your food less likely to stick
and makes for easy cleanup. Fill a small bowl with canola oil, dip a folded
paper towel in it and rub oil on the grates before starting your fire.
5) Create Direct/Indirect Heat Zones: By creating different “zones” on your
grill, you can effectively use your entire grilling surface while making
different dishes at the same time. Knowing how to create different heat
zones on your grill also means you can use it for different purposes. The
easy way to think about this is that cooking on direct heat (i.e., over the
flame) is like using the broiler in your oven. Cooking on indirect is like
baking in an oven. When food is cooking too quickly on direct heat, you can
easily put it on indirect heat so it will continue to cook without getting
By creating zones, you can “Grill” on direct heat or cook on indirect heat
and effectively roast your meat much like one would in an oven. On indirect
heat, you can even smoke meats and cook them over low heat for a long
period of time, effectively turning your standard grill into a smoker.
Direct: Direct heat is when you grill directly over the heat source (burner or
Indirect: This is when you cook on the side of the grill with unlit burners OR
on the empty/cool side of a charcoal grill.
How to create direct/indirect zones: On a gas grill, create direct and
indirect cooking zones by setting half the grill burners on medium to
medium-high heat, and the other burners on the other half to off, or on low.
On a charcoal grill, place your charcoal in a pile and move it to one side,
with the charcoal taking up half of the grilling area. This creates a FIRE and
NO FIRE zone on your grill.
6) Use High Quality Ingredients: Using the highest-quality ingredients
makes a huge difference when cooking. Good-quality olive oil, sea salt and
freshly ground pepper should be staples in your pantry. If using store
bought rubs, look for ones without preservatives like MSG. Or better yet,
make your own!
7) Safety First: Always keep your household fire extinguisher nearby in case
your fire gets out of hand. Better safe than sorry. Also keep in mind that
foods that are high in fat, like bacon, will drip into the fire and cause flareups.
It is a good idea to move foods that cause flare-ups onto the indirect
8) Say No To Lighter Fluid: Grilling pros who cook on a charcoal grill know
that using lighter fluid to start a fires is a major no-no. Even though the
lighter fluid “burns off”; their fumes can add a chemical taste to your food.
Real Grillmasters start their fires with a chimney starter - essentially a small
chimney you stuff with newspaper on the bottom and charcoal briquettes
on the top. Light the newspaper and it will eventually ignite the charcoal.
After the charcoal begins to turn grey on top and has begun to ash over, it is
ready to dump in the grill after about 15-20 minutes (use heat proof
gloves/oven mitts when handling a chimney starter).
Another easy way to start a charcoal grill is by using paraffin lighter cubes.
Build your charcoal into a mound and place 1-2 paraffin cubes in the
mound. Light the cubes and they will eventually light your charcoal after
about 10-15 minutes.
9) Use a Good pair of Tongs: Find a pair of tongs that are comfortable to
use and the right length for your grill and hand length. Ideally they will have
rubber on the main frame so they do not get too hot when grilling. Opt for
restaurant quality tongs that have scalloped edges that make picking up
food on the grill a piece of cake.
10) Get Creative: The savviest grillers know that you can make almost
anything on your grill. A grill is like an outdoor oven and is a great way to
add great flavor to veggies for salsa and sides, fruit for dessert, even brunch
items like French toast. Invest in a cast-iron skillet and use your grill to bake
items like cobbler or bread pudding to truly wow your friends and family
with a gourmet meal cooked outside.