Summer is the perfect time to get your grill on and invite your family and friends over for a fun and flavorful cookout.
If you’ve seen my meal plans, then you know that grilling is one of my top time-saving methods for quick weeknight dinners. But it’s also one of my favorite ways to entertain too! That’s because it’s so easy to get everything ready in advance. Then when guests arrive, you can continue to converse in the beautiful outdoors, while flipping real food on the grill.
And if you’ve decided to Join Us for the Whole30 and take advantage of my free Whole30 Meal Plans, you’ll notice that I include a lot of great grilling recipes not just because they’re quick-n-easy, but because they’re also the best way to avoid becoming a short-order cook since virtually everyone loves grilled foods!
Of course, there are a few tricks of the trade that I’ve learned through the years that really do make a significant difference in turning grilled foods from mediocre to magnificent! I’m sharing these with you, so you can avoid some common pitfalls, and instead experience all the benefits of successful grilling!
P.S. Looking for foolproof grilling recipes guaranteed to please?! Be sure to see my Top Reader Favorite Grilling Recipes below … Happy Grilling!
Top 10 Best Grilling Tips:
By following these 10 simple steps, you’ll find grilling to be one of the easiest ways to get delicious, healthy meals on the table in a snap!
1. Before You Light Up … The key to great grilling is preparation – mise en place is essential. So get your grilling tools, meat, vegetables, brushes, platter, glazes, sides and hungry mouths ready before you light up the grill. Once you’ve got food on the grill, you want to be sure you have everything ready in advance, so you can focus your attention on grilling for best success. In other words, don’t try to grill and cook the rest of the meal at the same time. Your kitchen is inside; your grill should be outside. Trying to run between the two usually ends with less than satisfying results.
2. Turn Up the Heat! Another secret of success is to be sure to preheat your grill at least 10-15 minutes before cooking. A properly preheated grill sears foods on contact, which helps to prevent sticking, and even more important, results in a more flavorful and moist outcome.
3. Keep It Clean. The easiest way to remove debris is when the grill is hot. So after preheating, give the grill racks a good scrub down with a wire brush to remove any remains from the previous cooking session. Then, wipe the racks down with oil, and that’s basically all the maintenance necessary.
4. Taste is Always in Season. When it comes to grilling, there are several methods for infusing grilled foods with extra flavor. A quick way is to use glazes (like BBQ Sauce) – sweet coatings often made with honey, maple syrup, or molasses that are brushed on during the last few minutes of grilling.
Similarly, flavorful dry rubs applied a few hours before cooking also add a delicious burst of flavor. Dry rubs consist of herbs and spices, while wet rubs include the addition of oils, dijon mustard and such.
For an even deeper infusion of flavor, use sweet-n-tangy marinades made with acidic liquids, such as citrus juices and vinegars. Marinades not only enhance your grilled foods’ flavor, when it comes to meat, they also help to tenderize as well.
And of course, after the foods off the grill, there’s still delicious ways you can infuse your meats with flavor, such as easy-to-make “compound butters” like my Whole30 Cilantro Lime Chimichurri made with flavorful ghee and fresh herbs.
5. Take the Chill Off. Cold meat and poultry doesn’t cook evenly. So be sure to take meats and poultry out of the fridge about 15-20 minutes before grilling to bring them to room temperature. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this simple step makes in locking in both flavor and moistness.
6. Let it be. When grilling, resist the urge to repeatedly flip your food. Instead, give it time to sear; turning only when grill marks form. Waiting for meat to sear not only creates a more flavorful result, but also helps to reduce sticking.
7. Not to be Overdone. To avoid overcooking, it’s best to remove meats, poultry and seafood just before they reach the desired doneness since they continue to cook a bit after coming off the grill. An instant-read thermometer provides the most accurate results, but you can also gently poke steak and chops with your index finger; the firmer the meat feels, the more well-done it is. With seafood, look for opacity; well-done fish fillets will be opaque all the way through. For chicken, make a slit in the thickest part of the cut. Any juices that escape should run clear.
8. Another trick of the trade … If your food starts to get too dark before it’s cooked through, turn down the heat and move it to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Or turn off the grill and cover, until food reaches desired doneness (keeping in mind point #7 above).
9. Lock in Moisture. Once your food has been grilled to perfection, give it some time to rest. Allowing grilled meats and poultry to rest on a clean platter, tented with foil, enables the juices to redistribute evenly. This leads to a moist, flavorful result. (The general rule of thumb is to allow small-to-medium cuts to rest about 5-10 minutes, and larger cuts or roasts to rest about 15 minutes.)
10. Just do it! Now that you’ve got the low-down, it’s time to throw-down some meat and veggies and get your grill on! There are so many great grilling recipes out there, so if you’re new to grilling, start out with something simple (like my Grilled Herb Chicken with Pineapple Salsa shown above).
Then, build on your skills from there by giving some of my Top Reader Favorite Recipes a sizzle, such as:
• Strawberry Cobb Salad with Grilled Herb Chicken
• Grilled Fajita & Veggies Steak Salad
• Grilled Ribeye Steak with Cilantro Lime Chimichurri
• Grilled Southwestern Chicken Burgers
• Grilled Shrimp Kebobs
• Easy Grilled Herb Turkey Breasts
Wishing you and your family a very blessed summer! Happy Grilling!
Abby @Foodiesaurus Rex says
I typically let my husband do all the grilling but lately I have wanted to learn so that I no longer will have to wait until he gets home from work. Thanks for the great tips!
You are so welcome, Abby! Thanks for taking the time to leave a kind note! Many blessings, Kelly 🙂
Judy @Savoring Today says
Love grilling, these are great tips. Pinning and sharing on my facebook page today. 🙂
Thanks, Judy! What a beautiful blog you have, I’ll have to pop over and check it out! Appreciate you spreading the word! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
P.S. A note about grilling and carcinogens … Most experts agree that within the big picture of cancer prevention, there are much greater risks than grilling. And it’s important to note that grilling isn’t the only cooking method that may increase the formation of carcinogens in meat. Cooking meats at the high temperatures used to broil, roast and fry also creates HCAs and PAHs (compounds linked with some cancers).
Ways to reduce HCAs and PAHs while grilling … According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, marinating meats and poultry in an acidic marinade for a few hours (or overnight) before grilling can reduce the formation of potentially carcinogenic HCAs by as much as 99 percent. Other studies have shown that using rubs with fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, sage and oregano also help to reduce the formation of HCAs by as much as 100 percent. Not overcooking meats also reduces HCAs and PAHs.
My personal opinion is that enjoying grilled meats and poultry as part of a well-balanced healthy whole food lifestyle should not be something that causes us anxiety. Our ancestors have enjoyed this traditional method of cooking meats and poultry throughout the centuries. We should instead focus on the quality of the food we eat, and seek to find sources (as best as possible) that are all-natural (unrefined/unprocessed/additive-free) and are humanely raised and sustainably farmed.