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How to Grill Like a Pro

Created January 10, 2017
Don't fear the flame! Master the basics and grill your favorite meals all summer long with the best grilling tips and tricks from our test kitchens.
How to Grill Like a Pro

No matter the time of year, firing up your grill is a fast and fun way to infuse your dishes with a deliciously smoky flavor. Learn Betty’s best practices for how to pick the perfect grill, the difference between direct and indirect heat and how to make those signature grill marks.

Types of Grills

There are three basic types of grills: gas, charcoal and electric. The type of grill that’s right for you depends on your grilling needs and personal preferences. Always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for whichever type of grill you choose.

Gas: Fueled by propane, gas grills usually heat up in 5 to 10 minutes, making them perfect for fast grilling. While more costly than charcoal grills, gas grills make temperature control easy and cleanup less of a hassle. 

Charcoal: These grills use charcoal briquettes for fuel. Briquettes are heated by mounding in a pyramid shape and lighted by using a chimney starter. It can take close to half an hour for the coals to get hot, but charcoal grills are a cost-friendly option.

Electric: Outdoor electric grills are perfect for people living in apartments or condominiums where charcoal and gas grills are prohibited. Like gas grills, electric grills are quick to light and fairly easy to clean. 

Grill Safety 101

Fats and liquids dripping through the grill rack can cause flare-ups, which can burn your food. Here are some easy ways to prevent flare-ups:

  • Trim excess fat from meats.
  • Don’t line the bottom of the grill with foil because grease needs to drain into the catch pan.
  • Keep the grill bottom and grease catch pan clean and free of debris.
  • Brush on sugary or tomato-based sauces during the last 10 to 15 minutes to prevent them from burning.
  • After cooking on a gas grill, turn the heat setting to high for 10 to 15 minutes with the cover closed. This burns off any residue on the grill rack and lava rock or ceramic briquettes.
  • Clean grill rack with a grill brush after each use.
Direct and Indirect Heat

There are two methods for grilling: using direct or indirect heat. Direct-heat grilling is when food is cooked on the grill rack directly over heat. This method is best for foods that cook in less than 25 minutes, like burgers and steaks. Indirect-heat grilling is when food is cooked on the grill rack but not directly over heat; heat comes from the sides. This method works best for foods that take longer than 25 minutes to cook, like ribs, whole chickens or roasts.

Setting Up Your Grill for Direct Heat
For charcoal grill, evenly spread hot, white coals over firebox of grill.


For gas grill, heat all burners on high for 10 to 15 minutes; then reduce heat as needed.


Setting Up Your Grill for Indirect Heat
For charcoal grill, move hot, white coals to edge of firebox, leaving area in middle free of coals; place drip pan in open area. Grill food over drip pan.


For gas grill, heat all burners on high for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off center burner and place drip pan in center. Grill food over drip pan. Adjust temperature of ignited burners as needed. If grill only has two burners, turn off one and set drip pan on that side.


How to Make Grill Marks

Start with a hot grill set on high heat. Place steaks on grill for 3 to 5 minutes without moving.


Rotate steaks one-quarter turn and grill again, following same method as above, to form crosshatch marks. Repeat on other side and finish cooking steaks over medium heat, turning once.

How to Grill Like a Pro

Be sure to check our Grilling Timetable if you’re unsure of how long to grill different types of meat.