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Use These 10 Grilling Tips to Earn the Title of Grill Master

A man standing next to a grill, holding tongs and plate full of grilled foods.
4 PM Production/Shutterstock

Now that spring has finally arrived, we can all use our favorite outdoor cooking appliance! From choosing the best cut of meat, to degrees of doneness, we’ll teach you how to grill like a pro!

A Clean Grill Is a Happy Grill

You don’t need any extravagant tools to be a great griller. A sturdy spatula, a reliable pair of tongs, and a good grill brush will cover it.

After preheating your grill, use your brush to scrub down and remove any leftover pieces of food or grub. Next, wad up a paper towel soaked in cooking oil and hold it with the tongs to wipe down the grates.

Choose Quality Meat

While there are technically eight grades of beef, you’ll likely only notice the following three USDA categories at the supermarket:

  • Prime
  • Choice
  • Select

Always choose USDA Prime, as it offers superior flavor and the highest degree of marbling. Marbling is the thin white strands of fat that run through a steak. The interaction between the fat and meat during the cooking process is a huge source of the flavor and texture. This is why a well-marbled piece of beef is so prized.

USDA Choice grade beef is a good budget-friendly alternative, but you do sacrifice some of that delicious marbling.

Do a Steak Warm-Up

Always take your steak out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before hitting the grill. A warm-up allows the meat to cook more evenly.

Plus, when a steak is cold, it takes longer to cook, and it becomes tougher the longer it sits and cooks.

Boldly Season

A man's hands seasoning sliced meat on a cutting board.

As we always say, don’t be shy when it comes to seasoning steaks or burgers. Freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper always do the trick, but a bold steak seasoning is excellent, too.

Another delicious option is adding a compound butter after cooking your steak for an extra boost of flavor. We’re talking garlic, fresh herbs, chives, and butter, all gloriously mixed together.

Let Your Grill Get Very Hot

Now that your grill is clean, allow it to become scorching hot before you throw on the meat. Not only does high heat kill any bacteria on the grill grates, but it also ensures you’ll get a nice sear on that expensive cut of meat. The crust of a good sear adds serious flavor to the meat.

Know When to Add Sauce

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about grilling the perfectly flavored steak, but let’s not forget about saucy ribs and marinated chicken.

When grilling foods that use sweet sauces (like barbecue), it’s important you don’t add the sauce too early. While a little char flavor doesn’t hurt, sauces with a lot of sugar can burn. Avoid adding a layer of burnt, caramelized sauce by adding it about halfway through.

If you have leftover marinade which previously contained raw meat, don’t add this to ready-to-eat foods. This can cause serious foodborne illness.

Take Advantage of Skewers

Skewers come in handy if you’re short on time, or you want to enjoy smaller, bite-size pieces of meat. Soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes to keep them from catching fire on the grill.

Keep in mind that veggies, shrimp, chicken, and steak all cook for different times. So, if you want perfectly cooked meat and vegetables, make separate kabobs.

Learn the Degrees of Doneness

When you order a steak at a restaurant, the server will ask at what temperature you’d like your steak to be cooked. If it’s a quality steakhouse, your choice will be rare or well.

Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can’t cook a restaurant-worthy meal. Insert an instant-read thermometer in the side of your steak to check its degree of doneness.

The USDA recommends cooking beef at an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. But here are the degrees of doneness by temperature according to Certified Angus Beef:

  • Rare: 125 degrees Fahrenheit (cool, red center).
  • Medium rare: 135 degrees Fahrenheit (warm, red center).
  • Medium: 145 degrees Fahrenheit (warm, pink center).
  • Medium well: 150 degrees Fahrenheit (slightly pink center).
  • Well done: 160 degrees Fahrenheit (no pink).

After removing the steak from the grill, it will continue to cook. This means you should remove it when it’s about five degrees below your desired degree of doneness.

Don’t Poke or Prod

Although it’s tempting to flip those burgers and steaks, do your best to avoid doing this before it’s ready. You’ll know when a steak or burger is ready to flip because it will pull up easily. If it’s sticking to the grill grates, leave it there a bit longer.

Don’t use your spatula to poke or press down on the meat, as you’ll lose all those valuable juices. Let the grill do its magic and enjoy the gorgeously seared grill lines.

Let the Meat Rest

Always let your meat rest for a few minutes before slicing it to allow the juices to settle back into the meat. This way you can avoid a tough or dry final product. It’s tempting to dig right in, but those few extra minutes are critical for a more delicious meal.

Now, prepare a few baked potatoes, crack open a cold brew, and enjoy your delicious meal!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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