Grilling 101: 7 Tips to Grill Like a Pro

By: Bob's Red Mill | July 19 2019
Summer has officially arrived, and with it, blazing hot sun, outdoor pool parties and lots of grilling! Some people get a little nervous around a grill, but it’s actually a great way to prepare food. Not only is it relatively quick, it’s also simple. The best part is there’s very little mess! Also, did we mention the flavor of your food emerges as something altogether lovely? Everything tastes better hot off the grill.  You can cook anything from steaks, burgers, chicken, shrimp and seafood, to veggies, vegetarian foods and meatless hot dogs. You can even toast the buns if you want. The sky’s the limit no matter what your experience level may be. And with our grilling tips to give you some guidance, we bet we’ll have you grilling like a pro in less time than it takes to yell, “Cannonball!”

1. Gas or Charcoal?

If there’s one thing all grills have in common, it’s fire. Whether that fire comes from a charcoal grill or a gas grill is entirely up to you. The biggest difference is the fuel source. You get more of that grilled, charcoal flavor when you use a charcoal grill.  You can also use different types of wood chips with a charcoal grill to give your food a distinct flavor. Some grill connoisseurs much prefer a charcoal grill for this very reason. But a charcoal grill has many delicious possibilities. Keep in mind that charcoal grills require a little more finesse as well to keep your flame hot or control the temp, but they are well worth the extra effort for that smoky flavor. But don’t count gas grills out! The real advantage to cooking on a gas grill is control: it’s easier to light and control the temperature with the turn of a dial. You can also use wood chips with a gas grill, as long as you soak them in water beforehand and then wrap the drained chips in heavy-duty foil. Place on an unlit burner and let the smoke waft!

2. Gather Your Tools

There are certain tools of the trade you’ll need to grill successfully. Keep it simple. Make sure you have a spatula nearby, a pair of tongs and a long fork. If you will be grilling and using sauces, keep a sauce brush close by, too. Create a place to keep everything on hand, so you aren’t constantly running inside trying to find what you need.

3. Preheat, Clean and Oil

It’s easier to clean a grill when it’s hot. And since you have to preheat it anyway to get it to the right temp for cooking, you might as well clean it while you’re there. Use a wire brush and scrub the grate to help your food cook evenly and prevent it from sticking. This not only keeps the grill clean, but it helps give your food a great sear. You can also oil the grate with your favorite cooking oil for a little extra stick prevention.

4. Create Cook Zones

You often may be grilling different things at once. They might all require different heat levels. Create heat zones to accommodate what you need. This might mean pushing all your charcoal to one area to sear something, then sliding it over to an area with fewer coals to let it cook slowly. Gas grills are conveniently adjustable to allow this. You’ll also want to keep the lid closed as much as you can. Every time you open it, you feed the flame, and this can burn your food. If your flame goes wild, push the food over to the indirect heat side and let it calm down before you continue cooking. Those meatless burgers aren’t nearly as tasty burnt to a crisp!

5. Timers, Thermometers, Done Means Done

Use a timer to keep track of how long your food has been cooking. Trust us, you’ll regret it if you don’t. Weather conditions can affect your flame and how hot the grill gets, which can quickly overcook your food if not monitored closely. When in doubt, shorten the cooking time. You can always throw something back on the grill if it’s not quite done. You can’t however, reverse time and un-cook something that’s past the point of no return. Use a meat thermometer to double check your results, especially if you have never grilled before.

7. Use Baskets and Grill Pans

These are nice tools of the trade when you want to cook things that are smaller, such as chopped veggies. You can still grill and char them to perfection, without losing half of them through the grate. You can also do pretty amazing things with simple tin foil as well. Tin foil baked potatoes and ears of corn are delicious when hot off the grill and so are grilled fruits, like what we use in this shrimp and peach salsa recipe. Whatever your previous experience cooking over an open flame may be, we hope these tips have been helpful. With a little practice, you’ll be called grill master extraordinaire in no time!

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