Grilling is pretty simple, right? Make a fire, cook food over it. Perhaps that's why those grill-gone-wrong experiences are so humbling. Here are a few of our favorite tips and we’ve got lots more in our Guide to Grilling
Veggies and Fruits
- Clean your grill, especially the rack, before each use.
- Oil the rack prior to heating to prevent sticking.
- The area of the fire needs to be wider than the area of the food you're grilling.
- Preheat your charcoal grill and don't skimp on the charcoal. Light the coals at least 30 minutes before you plan to begin cooking. Do not put foods on the grill until the fire dies down to glowing coals. (Real hardwood charcoal will always have a small flame, even when ready.)
- Even gas grills need to preheat. Turn on the flame at least 15 minutes before putting food over the fire.
- Use a light brushing of canola oil on vegetables and fruits to help prevent sticking. The use of non-stick grates, foil packets or a grilling basket lightly coated with oil can also be helpful.
- As a general rule, don't peel vegetables before grilling—you'll get more nutrients and enjoy a smokier flavor. Leave the husk on corn to act as a natural insulator, keeping the steam in and preventing the corn from drying out.
- Thin pieces of poultry can be cooked over direct heat; larger pieces of chicken should be cooked over indirect heat.
- Pick up a butterflied whole chicken (backbone removed) from the meat counter. Flatten chicken and grill about 15 minutes per side. Check out our detailed recipe for Whole Grilled Chicken.
- Use direct heat for sausages, chops, steaks and hamburgers.
- Use indirect heat for roasts and larger cuts of meat.
- Slash the edges of steaks and chops on the diagonal, about ¼ inch into the center to prevent the edges from curling.
- Start sausage off on high heat to get a really nice char on the outside, then move sausage to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking through.
- Oil fish well with a neutral-flavored oil such as canola to help keep it moist.
- Once you put fish on the grill, don't touch it for at least three minutes. A crust needs to form on the outside, which will allow the fish to naturally pull away from the grates.
- Fish is naturally tender and should not sit in an acid-based marinade (like lemon juice) for longer than 20 minutes, or it will start to "cook" the fish, turning it mushy.
: Wait to brush on any sugar-based barbecue sauce or other ingredients until the final 5-10 minutes of grilling. This allows the charcoal flavor to penetrate your food first, and prevents the sauce from becoming charred black.
Looking for grilling inspiration? Check out our recipes for the grill. Recipe search results for “grilled”
: What was your worst grilling nightmare? Was the food edible? Did your guests revolt? Please share!