When the summer sun is shining that can only mean one thing: it’s grilling season. From a casual cookout to a sit-down barbecue dinner for the family, grilling offers a quick way to turn seasonal meats and veggies into a memorable meal. Whether you are brand new to the grilling game or just looking to level-up, these classic grilling tips will help make your next barbeque the talk of the summer.
1. Always begin with a clean grill
A dirty grill may cause your food to stick to the grates, or even pick up residual flavors from old food. To clean, preheat the grill and brush the grates while the grill is warming up. Use a steel wire brush to scrape excess food, then wipe off with a wet rag. Finish off by wiping down the grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Be sure to hold the rag and paper towel with tongs to avoid burning!
GRILLING HACK: Don’t have a wire brush? You can use a raw potato not only to clean your grill but to create the non-stick surface you need.
2. Bring your meat to room temperature
Remove your meat from the cooler as the grill is preheating to create a better sear when cooking. Chilled food can come out dry or grill unevenly if too cold.
3. Season first
Season or marinate your meat before grilling to lock in the flavors. For extra flavor, take your meat off the grill and dip in the marinade or brush on throughout.
GRILLING HACK: Is your marinade running right off? Cornstarch is a great way to thicken a too-thin marinade or sauce—mix 1 tbsp. for every cup of liquid. In a separate dish, make a cornstarch slurry with a little bit of liquid, then slowly mix together to form the perfect sauce.
4. Cast iron is key
Use a cast iron on your grill for sauces or vegetables. Cast iron cookware helps make more space for food on the grill while guaranteeing that your food cooks evenly.
5. Try Butcher paper
Pink butcher paper is a staple for grilling and smoking meats. Wrapping your meat in butcher paper instead of aluminum foil will help retain the moisture and enhance the flavors of the meat.
GRILLING HACK: Have leftover butcher paper? Use your scraps as a tablecloth, fire starter, or to rest your meats after cooking.
6. Buy a meat thermometer
Getting a meat or food thermometer ensures you are serving safe and delicious food. These thermometers cost around $10 and can really make a difference. When using, check the protein temperature from the side, not the top, and aim for the center, not the bone. Only check when you are close to serving to retain the juices.
7. Calibrate your thermometer often
To calibrate, fill a glass with ice, then water, place the thermometer in the glass and wait at least 30 seconds till the reading is steady. Then adjust your thermometer to read 32 degrees. On a traditional thermometer, use a small wrench to adjust the nut under the temperature gauge.
8. Get creative with your cuts of meat
Teres major is one of the best cuts of less expensive beef, yet still high quality. It is the second most tender cut from a cow. Sometimes called the petite tender, mock tender, or shoulder tender.
9. Keep the grill lid closed
Only open the grill when necessary. This will help retain heat and prevent any flare-ups. A closed grill will also give your food more of that traditional smoky flavor everyone loves. With said, only turn/flip meats occasionally to maintain cooking temperature and flavor.
10. Let your meat sit
When your meat is done cooking, allow it to sit for 5-15 minutes. This will allow the juices to spread, making an even and delicious flavor.
Cooking temperatures for meats
Here is a list of common meats and the optimum cooking temperatures:
- Medium: 140-145 Degrees F
- Well Done: 160 Degrees F
- 130-140 Degrees F
- 120 Degrees F
- Chicken/Turkey: 165 Degrees F
- Blue Rare: 80 – 100 Degrees F Deep Red Color
- Rare: 120 – 125 Degrees F Center is Bright Red
- Medium-Rare: 130 – 135 Degrees F Center is Very Pink
- Medium: 140 – 145 Degrees F Center is Light Pink
- Medium-Well: 150 – 155 Degrees F Hint of Pink in Center
- Well Done: 160 Degrees F Brown/Grey Throughout
You’re ready to get started!