Not everyone is born to grill. For some of us, grilling comes easier than for others. With grilling season right around the corner though, we thought it'd be a good idea to brush up on some tips and tricks that can help make you a backyard barbecue star.
Get a chimney starter.
There are several different ways to fire up your grill, but none are more effective and efficient than the old-fashioned chimney starter. Make this a staple in your list of grilling tools.
Use the hand test.
Make sure your grill is at the right temperature by using the hand test. Hold your hand about five inches above the grill and see how long you can keep it there. If you last under four seconds, the heat is considered high (450-550°F). Five to seven seconds seconds implies medium heat (350-450°F), and anything longer than that is considered low heat.
Create different heat zones for different foods.
Not all foods require the same cooking temperature. It’s best to disperse your charcoal so that you create “heat zones." Simply divide the grill into direct and indirect heat zones with radiant and dry convection heats respectively.
Coat your grill to prevent sticking.
An easy way to ensure your food doesn’t stick to the grill is to take proactive measures and coat the grill beforehand. Wait until your grill is reasonably hot and, using tongs, apply a paper towel that has been dipped in vegetable oil to the surface of the grill. No more sticky meat!
Thumbprint your burgers.
As your burgers cook they tend to swell up in the center, making an uneven burger-ball. Easily combat this by pressing your thumb (or spoon if you prefer) into the center of your patty before grilling. The result is a perfectly level burger every time.
Coat veggies in oil before grilling.
Every barbecue needs a hearty dose of grilled veggies. Don’t risk drying them out over an open flame. Coat them with oil before grilling to keep them moist and delicious. It also helps seasoning stick to them (instead of your grill).
Add wood chips to your charcoal.
For a complex smoky flavor, try adding some wood chips to your charcoal. Applewood and cherrywood chips are crowd favorites, but we have found great success with hickory chips as well.
Keep your grill organized.
Not only will you have more room to work, but you will also be able to keep track of which foods have been on the longest and which still need to cook a while. As long as you have some type of system that makes sense to you, you're good to go!
Flip your meat ONCE.
One flip is really all you need. You won’t disturb the meat as much and it will retain more of that sweet delectable juice. Plus, everyone at the party will think you’re a pro for having neat grill marks.
Use the finger test.
This trick is a must-know for anyone grilling steaks. Instead of using meat thermometers to pierce your meat (thereby losing valuable juices), simply feel your steak. Compare the meat to the fleshy part of your hand underneath your thumb using this handy chart. Never overcook a steak again!
Hold off on the sauce.
Barbecue sauce has sugar, and sugar burns. Wait until your meat is nearly done to apply sauce and avoid ruining the flavor.
Wait to add salt.
It’s the first thing everyone reaches for. After all, it is the most commonly used seasoning (technically a mineral). However, you should wait until just before putting your meat on the grill. Otherwise salt will preemptively draw out the moisture, which you so desperately want, from your meat.
Let your meat rest!
This is ESSENTIAL! Letting your meat rest gives it time to redistribute its natural juices, resulting in a much more flavorful dish. Patience is key.
Your grill isn’t just for meat.
You can grill almost any fruit and the outcome will be delicious. Experiment a little and find out which fruits suit your tastes the best.