If the grill master title has eluded you in summers past, this is the year you’re going to own it. These ten essential tips will make you a pro, whether you’re caramelizing peaches for an ice cream topper (yum!), making rustic pizzas, or flipping burgers. As always, safety first: wear protective gear and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
Keep It Clean
It’s important to start with a clean grill. Before you get cooking, get your outdoor grill to the hottest possible temperature. This will burn off any excess debris which you can then brush off with your handy grill brush.
Create Heat Zones
Designate different areas of your grill for direct and indirect heat. If you’re working with a charcoal grill, heap most of the prepared coals to one side. This way, you can get the char you need over high heat, then move over so it can finish cooking as you add the next item.
When in Doubt, Hobo Pack
If you don’t want to mess with kebabs or maneuvering lots of veggie pieces on the grill, season them and tuck into a foil pack. The vegetables will still absorb some smoky flavor, yet cook more gently and be easier to manage.
Pizza, Hold the Toppings
Resist the urge to overload your pizza with sauce and toppings or it will tear on the grill. Grill the plain dough first for a couple minutes per side, then add a scant amount of toppings and finish. This way the crust can get extra crispy.
The Firmer, the Better
Delicate, juicy, and overripe fruits won’t hold their shape on the grill, and can make a mess. Opt for firm, slightly underripe fruit and cut into large pieces (thick wedges and planks).
Grill Once, Glaze Twice
Barbecue sauces and other sticky glazes usually contain some form of sugar. If added at the beginning, they will burn before the meat cooks through. To avoid this, grill plain proteins for a couple minutes on each side, then turn and baste, turn and baste until glossy and cooked through.
Keep It Closed
No peaking! The lid to your grill should be kept closed as much as possible so it stays hot and the smoke can infuse the food. It’ll also speed up cooking so nothing dries out.
Spurts of flame happen when fattier cuts of meat drip onto the heat source. To avoid this, trim the fat before cooking, keep your grill clean, and be ready to move items around to avoid the flames as needed.
Dimple Your Burgers
Burger patties tend to puff up when cooked. Creating a shallow dimple in the center of each helps them cook evenly and keep their shape.
Soak Your Skewers
If using wooden skewers for kebabs, soak them in water first so they don’t burn on the grill. Fill a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with about 1 inch of water, add skewers, and let soak for about 30 minutes.
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