How to Learn the Basics of BBQ Grilling

Grilling season is here again and it’s time to start up the barbeque grill.  Scrape off your old grill or pick up a new one at your local home improvement store.  Grilled food is tasty and easy to make if you follow these simple tips to help you cook like a grilling pro.

Choosing the Right Type of Grill

There are two main types of heat that can be used when grilling: direct heat and indirect heat.  When you cook directly on top of the heat source, you’re using direct heat.  Indirect heat is used when you cook on a section of the grill that is not directly on top of the flames.  It is important to know when to use direct versus indirect heat for your BBQ.

To set up the grill, you’ll need to create two areas – one for direct and one for indirect cooking.  When using a gas unit, set up the outer burners for direct cooking, and use the middle section for indirect heating.  On a charcoal unit, pile the charcoal on one side of the BBQ, allowing the other side to be used for indirect cooking.

Use indirect heat for large pieces of meat, such as steaks and entire fish.  You’ll want to have the heat about 350 degrees and cook with the cover on.  This creates an oven that will heat your food evenly.  Use direct heat for food items that are smaller and that don’t take much time to cook, such as veggies, kabobs and thin pieces of meat.

How to Get Started With Grilling

It’s essential to preheat the grill properly before you begin cooking.  This is a simple step, yet one that many people in a rush neglect to do.  A good thermometer will help you determine when the unit is hot enough, but if you don’t have one you can use your hand to make a determination.  Hold your hand about six to eight inches above the cooking surface.

Count how long you are able to hold your hand in place.  If the heat is high, over about 450 – 500 degrees F, you’ll only be able to hold your hand in place for a few seconds.  For medium heat, about 400 degrees F allows you to hold your hand about five seconds, and for 325 degrees F you can likely hold your hand in place about 10 seconds.  If you can hold your hand for more than 12 seconds, the heat is considered very low, likely under 300 degrees F.

Keeping Food Tasty

There can often be just a few extra minutes on the grill that separate cooking something properly and making it too dry and tough.  Always check the recipe to determine how long the food should be cooked.  Stay close to the grill so you are able to keep your eye on what’s cooking.  An instant read digital thermometer is essential to help you properly cook a meal on the BBQ.


Other tips… don’t turn the food too much.  Allow it to properly sear on each side so that the juices are locked inside.  Use the proper utensils at your grill.  Long handled forks, spatulas and tongs are helpful to keep your hands out of the flames.  Don’t prod and poke the food while it’s cooking.  Allow meat to rest for a few minutes after cooking it before you slice into it.  This lets the juices redistribute inside, making the meat juicer.


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