Grilling Basics

How to grill

  • Keep food from sticking by rubbing grill with vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray.
  • Leave space around each food item on the grill to allow for even cooking and smoke penetration.
  • Turn meat just once on the grill. For steaks, turn them when the juices start to bubble on the uncooked side (the clearer the juice, the more well done the meat).
  • Apply sauces containing honey, brown sugar or molasses during the last 10 minutes to prevent the sauce from burning.
  • Keep a spray bottle filled with water handy so you can spritz flare-ups, which can blacken your food.
  • Place cooked foods on 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.
  • Brush the grilling surface (once it’s cooled) with a wired brush to remove any stuck on food.

Direct Grilling

Cook foods that take less than 30 minutes directly over the coals. Examples: Boneless chicken, steaks, fish fillets, hamburgers and hot dogs.

Generally, use 30 briquets (just over 1lb) to grill 1lb of meat or poultry. The size and type of your grill, type of food and the weather all affect the amount of charcoal you need.

Indirect Grilling

Foods that take longer than 30 minutes and are higher in fat are best cooked over indirect heat, in a way similar to oven roasting. Examples: Whole turkeys, bone-in chicken, ribs and briskets.

Here’s how:

  • Bank charcoal briquets on one or both sides of a drip pan on the lower grid.
  • Place food on the grill, centered over a drip pan.
  • Close the grill lid to contain heat and seal in smoky flavor.
  • Add water, apple juice or other flavored liquids to the drip pan to provide extra moistness and flavor to food, if desired.

Use approximately 25 briquets on each side of the drip pan for the first hour of cooking time. After each additional hour, add 8 new briquets to the outside edges on either side. Move them to the center when they’re ashed over.

Tips for Grilling Beef

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

  • Allow ¾ to 1lb per person for bone-in steak or ½lb per person for boneless steak.
  • Choose steaks that are at least 1-inch thick.
  • Trim off fat to 1/8 inch and score the edges to keep them from curling on the grill.
  • On the grill, flip steaks when juices start bubbling on the uncooked side.
  • Second side of steak needs less grilling time than the first.
  • Salt & pepper each browned side of steak after turning.

Thickness

1″

1 1/2″

2″

Rare

15 – 20 min.20 – 25 min.30 – 35 min.

Medium

20 – 25 min.20 -25 min.20 – 25 min.

Well Done

25 min. & over35 min. & over40 min. & over

Grill Surface Temp

Medium 350o

You can avoid using an internal meat thermometer to determine doneness by utilizing a method that doesn’t pierce the meat—comparing the feel of your hand to what’s on the grill. By holding your hand flat and pressing against the meaty part of the palm (just below your thumb), you’ll mimic the leanness of a rare cooked steak. Continue to compare the feel of your grilled steak to how your palm feels while touching your thumb to each one of your fingers. Move from your index finger to your pinky to feel the difference between medium-rare to well-done. Another option to test for doneness is to make a knife slit beside the bone.

  • Marinate beef a few hours or even overnight before grilling to tenderize meat and add flavor.

Tips for Grilling Chicken

  • Baste with oil or a marinade.
  • Lay on grill skin-side up.
  • Break joints to keep halves and quarters flat on grill. Try to grill similar sized pieces.
  • Grill halves and quarters at approximately 350°; grill breasts at 375°.
  • Chicken is done when joints move easily and juices run clear.

Halves

Quarters

Breasts

Total Time

Approx. 1 hr.Approx. 45 minApprox. 24-30 min

Temperature

Med./350°Med./350°Hot/375-400°

Grill Height

6″ to 10″6″ to 10″6″ to 10″
  • When cooking split halves of chicken, even cooking is often a challenge. To solve the problem, place the darker meat towards the hottest part of your two-zone grill. That way, the leaner white meat will not dry out and the chicken will cook consistently.
  • When applying a dry rub to chicken pieces, it’s often hard to keep the rub affixed and it’s even more difficult to keep the chicken’s original, golden color. Try painting chicken pieces with yellow mustard prior to applying the rub. Not only will the rub stay in place, your final product will be visually appealing—without any trace of mustard flavor.
  • For extra zip, you can sprinkle chicken with chopped parsley, basil or rosemary before grilling.

Tips for Grilling Seafood

  • Choose meaty fish like tuna, swordfish and shark.
  • Cut fillets 1 to 1½ inches thick (anything thinner will dry out).
  • Clean grill so fish won’t stick.
  • Lightly oil grill surface with olive oil.
  • Use a spatula to turn the fish to keep it from breaking apart.
  • Fish and vegetables don’t usually need tenderizing and should be marinated for only short periods of time (no more than a few hours). Meats like beef, pork, lamb and chicken all benefit from being marinated for a few hours to overnight.

Tips for Grilling Pork

  • Start with a chop at least 1 to 1½ inches thick.
  • Cook thoroughly: Pork is ready when the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink along the bone.
  • Add variety to meals by serving with fresh veggies, brushed with your favorite marinade. Just skewer and grill!

Tips for Grilling Veggies

  • The secret to evenly cooked vegetable kabobs is to parboil solid or starchy vegetables before they are threaded onto skewers for grilling.
  • You can wrap some veggies in foil and cook them on the grill, though remember that foods wrapped in foil should be turned often to prevent burning and assure even cooking.

Advanced Grilling Tips

Smoking

When smoking meat, pay special attention to controlling internal grill temperature. For an accurate reading, place a candy thermometer’s probe through the top grill vent and maintain a temperature of about 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature rises above this range, slide the vent directly under the charcoal nearly closed while wearing heat-protective gloves. Continue to monitor the heat and open the vent again as the temperature drops.

Searing

When searing meat, place it over the hottest part of the grill with direct heat. Cook thinner cuts of meat for roughly one and a half minutes on each side, only flipping once, and remove from the grill. This method provides doneness on each side while maintaining the rich, red color and flavors in the center—and creates a nice presentation when slicing individual servings for guests. Be sure to always check for proper doneness before serving.

Skewers

Grilled kabobs are a guaranteed crowd pleaser. When grilling kabobs that incorporate strips of meat, chicken or individual shrimp, make sure the skewer goes through the food twice so each piece will stay in place rather than rotating. Or, cut the meat into cubes and spear once for an even, easy cook. Also, be sure to soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes before placing them on the grill, as dry skewers will burn.

More Grilling Tips

Grilling Videos

Grill like an expert with instructional videos from champion pitmaster Chris Lilly

Tips for Safe Grilling

Check off these helpful tips for grilling safely and then let the fun begin.

Getting Ready

From equipping yourself with the right tools to prepping the grill, here are the essentials for getting started.

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