Follow these tips for a great grilling experience every time.
- Get to know your grill! Putting your grill into action lets you find possible hot spots, gauge how long it takes to heat and learn how it performs in different types of weather.
- Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil or spray with cooking spray before heating the grill to prevent food from sticking and to help with cleanup.
- Keep the heat as even as possible. For more even cooking throughout the grilling time, place thicker foods on the center and smaller pieces on the edges of the grill rack.
- Turn foods with grilling tongs rather than piercing them with a fork to help retain the natural juices in the food.
- Let meats rest 5 to 10 minutes after removing them from the grill and before serving to allow the juices to return to the surface for moister and juicier meat.
- Sprinkle dried herbs over the coals just before grilling to add a subtle aroma and flavor to your food.
- Leave 3/4 to 1 inch of space between pieces of food so they will cook more evenly.
- Boost flavor by basting with sauces. Oil, vinegar and citrus-based sauces can be brushed on throughout the grilling time. When you’re using sugar-based sauces, such as barbecue sauce or honey, brush the sauce on during only the last 15 to 20 minutes to avoid burning.
When the Heat Is On
Whether you cook with gas, electric or charcoal, the secret to cooking is in the heat.
- Most gas grills and electric grills have accurate heat controls that can be dialed to the desired cooking temperature. Simply follow your grill manufacturer’s directions.
- Charcoal grills, however, depend on charcoal for fuel and are a bit more temperamental about getting fired up. Coals are ready to use when they are about 75 percent ash gray. Standard charcoal briquettes will be ready in 20 to 25 minutes and ready-to-light briquettes in 15 minutes. T
- To determine the temperature of the coals, place your hand, palm side down, near but not touching the grill rack. If you can keep your hand there for 2 seconds, the temperature is high; 3 seconds is medium-high; 4 seconds is medium; 5 seconds is low.
The Direct (& Indirect) Route
Not all foods are best grilled the same way. See the Grill Master's Timing Guide for directions and an easy comparison.
- Direct-heat grilling is when food is cooked on the grill directly over the heat source. Hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, fish, pork chops and vegetables are cooked with this method.
- Indirect-heat grilling is when food is cooked away from the heat source. This is preferred for larger, longer-cooking foods such as whole chickens, whole turkeys and roasts.
These tips will ensure your grilled meal is safe to eat.
- Trim visible fat from meats to avoid flare-ups.
- Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
- Always serve grilled meat on a clean plate. Never serve cooked meat from the same unwashed plate you used to carry raw meat to the grill.
- If you want to reuse a marinade (that has had raw meat in it) as a sauce, heat the marinade to boiling, then boil 1 minute before serving.
- Perishable food should be eaten within 2 hours; 1 hour if the temperature is 90ºF or above.
Whether Weather Affects Grilling
Do heat and humidity or below-freezing temperatures affect grilling? Check the manufacturer's use-and-care manual of your grill for tips and hints for grilling in different climates and weather conditions. These general tips may be helpful as you grill through all seasons:
- Place the grill out of the wind. If in the wind, neither the grill nor the food will stay as hot as it should.
- Charcoal grilling times will be faster on hot, calm days and slower on chilly, windy ones. Grilling in cold weather requires more charcoal, a longer time to heat the coals and longer grilling times.
- Gas grilling will need slightly longer heating times as well as a higher heat setting to speed the cooking if the weather is cool or windy.
Grill Skills with Chef King
In our five exclusive videos, celebrity chef King Phojanakong shares insider secrets and special techniques that prove just how easy it is to create great food on the grill.