My (14) Barbecue and Grilling Tips
So summer is already half over, how often have you fired up your BBQ grill? If it is less than a minimum of 10 times, then that means it’s time for a barbecue. Like right now!
I get a lot of questions about BBQ and grilling in general and it seems that there is a lot of misinformation or misconceptions on different tips, techniques and precautions. These are my 14 tips for BBQ and grilling that will help you get the most out of your grill. Did I miss any? Just add your comments below.
Always Preheat – Gas, charcoal or wood, you must get a nice heat going before you throw your meat down for even cooking.
Use Creative Aromatics – Fresh oregano, rosemary or thyme sprigs thrown on the fire right before you start cooking will impart wonderful herbal flavors to any dish, especially fish.
Use the Right Tools for the Job– Don’t use kitchen tongs, table forks and spoons or oven potholders when you grill. The BBQ sets are oversized for a reason, to keep you from burning yourself. The one exception is the BBQ fork, throw it away. You do not want to pierce meat when cooking.
Marinate Safely – Liquid marinades are great for adding flavor and tenderizing meats but never use them as basting or dipping sauces unless you boil it rapidly for at least 12 minutes.
Temperature Rule of Thumb – It is important to allow food to come to room temperature before grilling, but never let meat stay in an environment between 40°F and 140°F for any longer than 30 minutes. Otherwise you are playing botulism roulette.
Keep It Clean – Fill a spray bottle with water, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon bleach. Use this to clean all cooking areas, cutting boards, knives and anything that comes into contact with food while cooking.
Oil the Grates – Use flavored oils such as hazelnut, walnut, sesame or garlic to season the grill just before putting the food on.
Keep It Moist – Place a pan of water directly under the meat and the grate to infuse moisture during prolonged grilling times. This will also disperse the heat and reduce flare ups because the drippings will collect in the water rather than fall into the flame.
Cook Slow & Low – Indirect grilling means not placing the food over the flame but off to the side. This method allows for slow roasting or maintaining cooking temperatures between 180°F and 240°F. This is how you get fall of the bone ribs and juicy tender brisket. This is one place where electric may be better than charcoal.
If It Don’t Swim, Brine It – All meats, except fish, taste at least 100% better when brined. The basic method is; 1 gallon water, 1 cup salt and ½ cup brown sugar. You can add anything else to impart flavor such as nutmeg, cinnamon, honey, beer, liquor, garlic, onions etc. Brine overnight and grill as normal.
Don’t Hit The Sauce – Buy the best cut of meat you can find, season it with a great rub and grill it to perfection. If you must use a sauce, never add it any sooner than the last 10 minutes of the cooking process to avoid burning the sauce.
Cook Until Done – Don’t guess when cooking. Overcooking dries meat out, under cooking can make you sick. Buy the best thermometer you can afford and use it for home made sausages, roasts, birds and any large cuts. Pull the meat off the grill exactly when the meat reaches the preferred temperature.
Be Patient – Allow meat to rest for 5 – 15 minutes (depending on size) after cooking to let the juice coagulate just a bit. Otherwise the juice will immediately run out of the meat if pierced to soon. Cover with foil while resting to keep warm.
Make a Note of It– Back yard BBQ’ing and grilling is a process with a lot of variables that can change from one session to the next. If your meal is a hit, make note of what you did. From the marinade process down to the area of the grill used. You will thank yourself next time.
How hot is your grill?
Most people have thermometers on their grill but they are not designed to give you a temperature reading at grate level, if they work at all. Oh sure you can use them to gauge relative temperature based on experience with your grill, but sometimes you need more precision. No worries, you can approximate the grate level temperature by holding your hand about 1 or 2 inches over the grill grate and counting the seconds until you instinctively pull it away. Please do not burn yourself. This would not give an accurate estimation and would most likely hurt real bad.
Or you could simply buy one of the thermometers we listed on our article The Best Meat Thermometers. No injuries then 😉
Hold your palm 1 to 2 inches from grill grate and count:
- 1 second (or less) = Very High Heat or 600°F more
- 2 seconds = High Heat or 500°F to 650°F
- 3 seconds = Medium High Heat or 450°F to 550°F
- 4 seconds = Medium Heat or 400°F to 500°F
- 5 seconds = Low Heat or 300°F to 400°F
- 6 seconds (or more) = Very Low Heat or 300°F or less
I am sure there are several other good or creative tips so let’s hear from you.