20 Grilling Tips from the Pros

Grilling pros and cookbook authors Jamie Purviance and Elizabeth Karmel know a thing or two about great grilling. Don't miss their 20 top grilling tips for excellent results every time.


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Direct vs. Indirect Cooking
1/21
Direct vs. Indirect Cooking

    Can't decide whether to use a direct or indirect method? If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat; if it takes longer, use indirect heat.

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

2/21
Makeshift Grill Brush

    No grill brush? "Crumple a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil until it's the size of a navel orange and pick it up between locking chef tongs. The tongs will act as the handle. Holding onto the ball of foil, brush away."

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

3/21
Picture Perfect Burgers

    Burgers can puff up in the middle as they cook, making the tops rounded and awkward for piling on the toppings. To avoid this, press a little indentation into the top of each raw patty with your thumb or the back of a spoon. Then, when the center pushes up, the top of each burger will be relatively level.

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

4/21
Prep Smart

    To avoid soaking bamboo skewers each time you need them, soak a big batch once for an hour or so, drain, then freeze them in a plastic bag. When it's time to grill, pull out as many skewers as you need.

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

5/21
Surefire Skewers

    Kabob ingredients, such as chicken pieces, will stay juicier longer if they are touching one another (but not crammed) on the skewers

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

6/21
Go for a Grill Pan

    Grill delicate fish fillets and small foods such as chopped veggies in a perforated grill pan -- it will keep the food from falling through the cooking grate.

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

7/21
Great Grilled Veggies

    Lightly coat veggies in olive oil before grilling to help prevent sticking and drying out. "Vegetables such as asparagus, bell peppers, sliced squash, and onion slices are best grilled by direct method."

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

8/21
Brown Sugar Basics

    If you're using brown sugar in a rub, make sure it's moist so that it mixes easily with the other spices in the rub. "If the sugar is old, it will not mix well and will have the texture of hard pebbles, which will ruin the rub."

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

9/21
Season Gently

    Be delicate when applying rubs. If you rub seasonings hard into the food, you can damage the meat fibers and texture of the food and run the risk of over-seasoning it."

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

10/21
Go Low and Slow with Ribs

    For tender ribs, maintain a low temperature for several hours. "Spikes and valleys of heat will tighten and dry out the meat, but consistently low temps will produce soft and succulent meat."

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

11/21
Know When to Sauce

    "Be careful not to sauce ribs too early, especially if you are using a sweet sauce, as the sugars will burn and threaten your ribs. Sauce them during the final 30 minutes of cooking."

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

12/21
Choose Non-Reactive Bowls

    "Stainless steel mixing bowls are easy to clean, don't hold odors, are dishwasher-safe, and will not react with acidic ingredients. The last quality is very important, as many barbecue sauces, brines, and marinades contain a lot of acidic ingredients."

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

13/21
Build Your Marinade

    When building a marinade, start with the basics. "That means a little acid, like lemon juice, vinegar, or mango chutney, a little oil, and a whole bunch of good flavors. I usually start with a 1:3 ratio of acidity to oil, just like in salad dressings. The acidity tenderizes the food and contributes tanginess, while the oil provides moisture and richness."

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

14/21
Don't Over-Marinate

    "When marinating, I recommend a relatively short soak for most foods -- 30 minutes to two hours. Much more than an hour or two in the marinade can over-soften food and result in a mushy texture, especially if the marinades contain enzymes from ingredients like pineapple and papaya, or give the food a tough texture if the marinade has a lot of acid-rich citrus juice and/or vinegar. My rule of thumb is the smaller and more delicate the food, the shorter the soak"

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

15/21
Boneless vs. Bone-In

    "Boneless chicken pieces do well grilled quickly over direct heat, but bone-in pieces take longer and direct heat alone would burn them. Use indirect heat for bone-in pieces."

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

16/21
Know When It's Ready

    "To check the doneness of a bone-in chicken thigh, pull one of the thickest ones from the grill and cut into the underside. If the color of the meat near the bone is still pink, put it back on the grill until it is fully cooked."

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

17/21
Sear Steaks to Perfection

    "After you marinate your steaks, pat them dry on both sides. Wet steaks don't sear; they steam. Also, resist the temptation to lift the lid and turn the steaks over and over. You develop the richest flavors in steaks when you leave them alone as much as possible, turning them just once or twice."

    --Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

18/21
Safely Extinguish Flare-Ups

    "Don't use a water bottle to extinguish flare-up flames. When water hits hot-cooking grates and flames, it can splatter, causing burns, or crack the porcelain-enamel finish of the grill. The quickest way to extinguish flare-ups is to put the lid on the grill. The lid will reduce the amount of oxygen that feeds the fire, thus limiting or snuffing out the flare-ups."

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

19/21
Super Simple Glaze

    "Glazes give a glossy sheen to cooked food and add subtle flavor. Melted jam is a glaze in its simplest form and works for both sweet and savory foods. Brush glaze on food at the end of the cooking time or as soon as the food comes off the grill."

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

20/21
Let It Rest

    "Giving cooked food time to rest is the key to juicy, perfectly cooked meat. The resting process allows the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the meat. I prefer to let my meat rest uncovered, because the covering causes the food to steam and can make the golden brown crust or skin soggy."

    --Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame

21/21
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