5 Ways to Up Your Grilling Game


I love grilling. It is one of my favorite ways to cook. There are a couple of reasons why. It’s quick. It’s a good way to prepare lean foods. It’s a great way to keep the inside of your house cooler. Most things taste great grilled and shhhhh, grilling is super easy. People are usually impressed when you grill, but grilling is one of the easiest ways to cook. Sorry, Dads across America, but it’s true.

1) Preheat your grill and let your meat rest. You need to preheat your grill to a sufficiently high temperature or you’re missing the point- grilling is about cooking food at a high heat quickly. You won’t have the effect that you are looking for if you skip this step. It takes a little time to preheat, but it’s pretty easy to preheat while you prep.

Alternately, if you are cooking meat, you need to let it rest before cutting (obviously, hamburgers and hotdogs don’t fall into this category). This is absolutely true with chicken, pork, and especially steak. Take it off the grill, cover it with foil, and let it sit 5 minutes. It will be more tender.

2) Get a meat thermometer. This is the one I feel most passionately about. GET A MEAT THERMOMETER. I can’t understand why you would grill meat without one. If you feel really strongly about how your steak is cooked, you need a meat thermometer. If you feel strongly about tender meat, get a meat thermometer. Unless you have perfectly flat chicken breasts (and you won’t unless you pound it), you will want a meat thermometer to figure out the best time to take it off the grill.  A meat thermometer is the best way to trick people into thinking you are a good cook. GET ONE.

3) Learn your meat. Not to only harp on grilling meat, but this is also important. Learn your meat. Learn that chicken is supposed to reach 165 degrees, learn that medium-rare steak is supposed to reach 145 degrees, and learn that most meat cooks about 5 more degrees after you take it off the grill and let it rest. Learn about marinade. Learn about dry brining. Learn about cutting against the grain. Learn about not moving meat straight from the fridge to the grill.

Luckily, cooking vegetables on the grill is easy and almost always delicious. Thanks, veggies.

4) Try new things. Grilling is a different flavor than other methods (the same is true with roasting, another method of cooking that I adore). The texture and taste of foods are different when grilled. It might be a good time to experiment with foods you don’t usually like. For example, I’m not a big fan of zucchini unless it is grilled, but I love grilled zucchini. Grilled tofu is good (ok, but also try it roasted). I like chicken more grilled than I do in regular settings. Sadly, I like grilled mushrooms less than usual (but I keep on trying because I love mushrooms). You don’t know until you try.

Also, try new seasonings and marinades. The best marinade I have ever done was a yoghurt/turmeric one. I never would have guessed until I tried it. I don’t always love chipotle, but it’s wonderful in grilled food. The same is true for paprika. Mess around with different seasonings.

5) Remember, it’s hard to mess up. Ok, ok, it’s easy to mess up and have chicken that is too dry (honestly cooking chicken well is kind of a tricky art and that’s part of the reason that I love beef). But it’s hard to mess up flavor. Grilled food has a higher ratio of success because grilled food just naturally tastes good. If I grill corn on the cob and add no seasonings (which you absolutely shouldn’t do- I like to cook it with butter and a sprinkle of dry Italian dressing on the top rack), it is much, much better than boiled corn. Same with hot dogs; same with most meats and vegetables, honestly. Grilled food just tastes better- you got this.

But seriously, get a meat thermometer.

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Sarah is a stay-at-home mother to three kids (ages 8, 6, and 3). In a previous life she studied history, writing her thesis on the Mexican suffragette movement in the 1920's, but all of that information in her brain has been replaced by kid show theme songs. Sarah has (self-diagnosed) face blindness and really strong opinions about butterscotch. Sarah loves to read, write, and travel. In the wintertime, she makes an obscene amount of soup.