Grilling is very easy to start. All you really need are three things, a grill, a fuel source, and the food. With those three items, anything is possible. It can get overwhelming to see thousands of beautiful pictures of other successful BBQs on the internet but don’t let that deter you. Here are 23 easy grilling tips and techniques for beginners.
Don’t let others success bring you down. Everyone at one point was a beginner. You are right where everyone once stood. You need to take the initiative to get better. It doesn’t take much work, most of what you practice will be done while cooking.
Two important things to remember are don’t get discouraged by failure. It happens to everyone. Also always try to provide yourself with growth. Don’t keep grilling the same items over and over. Try new things, find new dishes. You might surprise yourself more than others.
In no time you’ll transform from a beginner to a cook who can throw a major BBQ with some of the best dishes. Remember to practice and keep cooking, practice makes perfect. Mold yourself into a great chef.
Below I have created a great list of tips and techniques to help you go from beginner to pro. Remember that on top of all these tips, practice makes perfect.
What is Practice
Practice is comprised of three parts. Review, retain, and explore. As I feel practice is a huge part of this list, I will go into what I mean by practice.
The first step in practice is review. Review the things you already know. In respect to grilling that may be forming patties, or a certain marinade, practice the things you already know.
The second step in practice is to retain. Retaining information will cement it into your brain. No longer needing to google certain recipes, cook times, or anything else you’re unsure of. Retaining information is vital to the practice process.
The last step in practice is explore. This step is where you explore and grow. Never grilled a pizza before? Give it a shot! Never grilled kabobs? Well, buy some skewers!
Following this practice process in anything will show you growth. This process is true for anything you do in life and is an invaluable lesson to learn.
A breakdown of a practice session should look like this. 30% review – 60 % retain – 10% explore. Take what you like from past explore sessions and turn them into review sessions. Then turn those past review sessions into retain sessions.
Improve your Grilling Skills
When you are starting out, anything can be tough. Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, even the greatest grillers started trying to figure out how to light their grills. Don’t get discouraged, keep practicing and you will improve.
Exploring what you don’t know will grow you faster than anything else. Try new things, push yourself out of your comfort zone. Cooking is very easy, grilling makes it even easier. Take this time to produce some magical dishes that you would never think of eating.
Marinades and rubs are perfect to practice. They are easy and create some great flavors. If you need help creating rubs and marinades youtube videos are a perfect resource. There are many great combinations of flavors to try, get out there and explore.
A whole summer season of practice like this will lead to major improvement. Remember that improvement takes time, it will not happen overnight. Don’t let mistakes or errors stop you from improving, even the greats fail, you only see the successes though. Even some of your “failures” will end up tasting pretty good, remember this is grilling we are talking about.
Below are some great beginner tips to help you improve your skills. Take each one in and remember to practice them while cooking. Push yourself and watch as your skills and confidence grow.
Easy Grilling Tips and Techniques
If you are reading this list, you are already on the road to improvement. The first tip is research.
Research – Research is very important to further your learning. Research recipes, techniques, anything to help you learn. You already are taking steps to further your research, by reading articles and finding resources to aid you.
Find a good source of information, that you can check back regularly. I suggest this site! Articles on a range of topics, stirring those creative juices, sparking inspiration. Finding a few sources can help grow your knowledge quicker.
Use Good Equipment – Equipment can break down quickly, or just not be suitable for the grill. In order to grill better, you need some solid equipment. Anything that can melt is immediately off the table.
Some items I recommend every grill cook has are metal tongs, a long metal spatula with a wooden handle, a meat thermometer, a reusable spray bottle, and a good grill brush.
With those basic tools, you can grill almost anything. Check out this site’s Recommended Resources page to see the tools I use and recommend.
Your equipment is going to get used, which means it’s going to deteriorate. Don’t skimp on equipment, buying higher quality means more usage.
Delegate heating zones – Your cooking surface is larger, you most likely won’t be using the entire thing at one time. You totally can though, and by using heating zones you can cook foods better.
Using one side as a hotter side, and the other as a lower temp for keeping warm is a great example. Depending on the size of your grill and the number of burners, or space for charcoal, you can set up multiple heat zones.
Another example, if you want to cook a steak and a piece of salmon at the same time. You will need heating zones for this as the steak needs a higher heat to sear. The salmon, on the other hand, would fall apart in high heat. Using two zones, for high and medium-low heat will accommodate both foods.
Let your grill clean itself – A clean grill is much safer to cook on. Not to mention it produces stronger grill marks and flavor.
A clean grill is easy to achieve, simply brush it clean. A good cleaning brush will save you a lot of trouble, since it’ll handle the tough spots for you. You can check my Best Grill Brush page for a great grill brush recommendation.
Heating your grill prior can make cleaning it easy. For small messes heating up the grill can clean itself.
Keep the lid closed – This step is vital for grilling. It’s very simple, keeping the lid closed retains more heat. Cooking your foods faster and more evenly.
If you are cooking delicate or thin foods, they may require the lid to be open. Know what your food requires.
Flip foods to prevent burning – This tip is great for larger cuts of meat. If you let the meat cook on one side for too long, it will burn. By flipping, you cook the meat and prevent burning.
Certain foods require just one flip. Try not to flip a steak more than once unless it’s burning. Fewer flips mean more juice in the meat.
Sear foods on high heat, cook on medium – Searing foods require a higher temperature. But don’t keep your grill on high forever.
By turning down the grill you save gas and cook the food more evenly.
Don’t clean your grill after cooking – Let that grease sit on the grates. Clean it next time.
By doing this you create a protective layer on the grates.
Preheat your grill on Medium – Use medium to preheat your grill. Doing this will save gas. Depending on your grill preheat times vary.
Don’t move small foods around the grill – small foods are usually also delicate. Moving them around risks burning them, also if your grill has grates they can fall through.
If you can’t resist moving them around, or flipping them, make sure to use a grill basket, since that will keep all food items contained and they won’t fall through the grates. Check out my Best Grill Basket page for a good recommendation.
Dip your grill brush in water – Doing this prior to cleaning will create steam and clean tough messes easier.
You have to heat up your grill first!
Have a lot of water nearby – Yes for fire safety, but this water is more for you! The grill is a hot location, on warm days you need to stay hydrated.
Know what foods require – Certain foods require different cooking methods. For example, very thin steaks require the lid to remain open. Cooking thin steaks and thick steaks at the same times will cause inconsistent cooking times.
Know what foods will require and you will be cooking properly.
Have Back up Fuel – Whether you are grilling with gas, charcoal, or smoking with wood pellets, having back up fuel will make things easier.
Nothing is worse than running out of fuel before cooking, or even worse, during cooking. Have backups and never have to run to the store mid BBQ.
Sunscreen – Trust me on this one. If you are prone to burning in the sun, wear some sunblock. You are going to probably be standing in the sun for a while, use protection!
Another way to protect yourself from harsh sun or annoying rain is to get a grill canopy to cover your grilling zone. Keeps shade, and also protects from rain, and they’re usually large enough to allow you plenty of space to move.
Check out my Best Grill Canopy page to get a good recommendation.
Keep the heat under control – Don’t blast your heat on high. Use medium heat and let your grill get hot. Use the built-up heat, it will save you gas and prevent burning.
Perform maintenance – Every so often check in on vital components on your grill. The burners, the gas valve, they are prone to blockage. Checking up on them will ensure your grill remains in tip-top shape, giving you years of usage.
Learn your grill – Don’t let your grill control you. Learn what your grill is capable of. Most grill on the market today are multi-use workhorses. They can grill, bake, and smoke. Learn the in and outs and nothing will hold you back.
Try New Things – As I said before, you will never learn without trying new things. Don’t be afraid to fail, cooking is about fun. Have fun.
Get Creative – Mexican street corn is one of my favorite dishes. Usually served with a light spice and a cheese, it’s delicious. Yet adding different flavors can change a dish entirely.
Get creative with your dishes, watch them change in front of your eyes. A few new spices and you have a whole new flavor profile.
Do your own Prep – Instead of buying pre-cut veggies, or pre-trimmed meats, buy the whole cuts. Prepare your dishes yourself and you’ll save money.
You also will become more acquainted with the foods you plan to cook. Prepping is easy, it just takes time. It is a great skill to learn, as prep is almost as important as cooking.
Keep your workspace clean – Your workspace needs to remain clean. Doing so will reduce the stress you feel. It will also reduce your risk of foodborne illness. Use separate plates for raw and cooked foods.
Use separate tools for handling raw foods, and use a clean tool for cooked foods. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s a habit you should get used to working this way.
A good way to organize yourself is to have a grill stand or table to keep all your grill items. A good one can be found on my Best Grill Stand page, and it has plenty of room (and cup holders) to keep all your plates, tools, and sauce bottles.
Keep your meats dry – If you are not using a marinade keep your meats dry. Dryer meats char better. A good way to dry meats is to let them sit in a paper towel wrap. You want to always use clean towels, never reusable ones.
Let the meat sit in the towel for a couple minutes. If the towel gets to saturated change it.
Hopefully, these easy grilling tips and techniques have helped you. I’m sure there was at least one thing here you did not know, or at least have forgotten! 😉
Always remember grilling should be an enjoyable experience. If it’s not then you may be doing something wrong. Have fun on your way to becoming King Of The Coals!