Skip to main content

Sacramento Boomer

10 Grilling Tips

I often say the heart of grilling lies in grilling techniques. What separates the master grillers from the masses is that the experts understand how to manage their grill. Sure, recipes are important, but techniques matter most. Thus, here are the 10 essentials for better grilling. Follow these tips to become a true BBQ master.

1) Preheat the Grill with the lid closed for 10-15 minutes.

With all the coals glowing red, or all the gas burners on high, the temperature under the lid should reach 500°. The heat loosens any bits and pieces of food hanging onto the grate, making it easy to brush them off. Preheating your grill also helps prevent food from sticking to the grate, and gets the grate hot enough to sear properly.

2) Keep it Clean. 

When bits of food have stuck to your cooking grate, and the grate is hot, clean it with a stainless steel brush. This step is not only for cleanliness, but it also prevents your food from sticking. 

Note: Replace brush if any loose bristles are found on cooking grates or brush.

3) Oil the Food, Not the Grate. 

Oil prevents food from sticking and adds flavor and moisture. Lightly brushing or spraying the food with oil works better than brushing the grate.

4) Keep the Lid Down. 

It keeps the grates hot enough to sear the food, speeds up the cooking time and prevents the food from drying out, traps the smokiness that develops when fat and juices vaporize in the grill, and prevents flare-ups by limiting oxygen.

5) Monitor the Time and Temperature to avoid overcooking your food, and use a timer!

If you’re grilling in a colder climate or in a higher altitude, the cooking times will be longer. If the wind is blowing hard, it will lower a gas grill's temperature and raise a charcoal grill's temperature.

6) Know When to Be Direct, Know When to be Indirect. 

Direct heat (when the fire is directly below the food) is best for relatively small, tender pieces of food that cook in 20 minutes or less. Indirect heat (when the fire is on either side of the food) is best for larger, tougher cuts of meat that require more than 20 minutes of cooking.

7) Maintaining Temperatures.

By having consistent, reliable heat source and proper venting, the grill can maintain low or high temperatures effectively. The dampers on the top and bottom of the grill control the airflow inside. The more air flowing into the grill, the hotter the fire will grow and the more frequently you’ll have to replenish it. To slow the rate of your fires burn, close the top vent as much as halfway and keep the lid on as much as possible. The bottom vent should be left open whenever you’re grilling so you don’t kill your fire. Gas grills have individual control knobs so that you can easily regulate the heat and create different grilling zones easily. 

8) Tame the Flame.

Too many flare-ups can burn your food. Keep the lid on as much as possible to limit the amount of oxygen inside the grill, which will help extinguish any flare-ups. If the flames are getting out of control, move the food over indirect heat temporarily, until they die down then move the food back.

9) Caramelization is Key.

One of the biggest reasons for the popularity of grilled food is its seared taste. To develop this taste for maximum effect, use the right level of heat and resist the temptation to turn food often. Your patience will allow for caramelization, or browning.

As a general rule, turn food only once.

10) Lighter Fluid: No Way!

It's a liquid product that evaporates. Who wants that, and its foul chemical fumes under their food? Chimney starters and lighter cubes are much cleaner and much more effective.

Compiled by Kevin Kolman; reprinted with permission from Weber Stephen Products LLC