Think of grilling as both an art and a science… meaning the only way you learn is from trial and error. But don’t worry, you can learn for our trials so you have way less error! Here are our scientific tips to help you grill better, tastier and more often this summer.
Liquid lighter fluid evaporates as it heats up, releasing harsh chemical fumes onto your food. Instead, opt for chimney starters and paraffin cubes. They’re much safer, cleaner, and more effective.
Preheat your grill with the lid closed for 10 – 15 minutes to prepare the cooking grate. With all the coals glowing red, or all the gas burners on high, the temperature under the lid should reach 500 °F.
Preheating makes for a better barbecue in a few ways. The heat loosens any bits and pieces of food hanging onto the grate, making it easy to brush them off. A hotter grate also helps prevent food from sticking, allowing a proper sear.
When bits of food have stuck to your cooking grate, heat up the grill and scrub with a stainless steel brush (scroll back up to #2).This step not only keeps things sanitary, a clean grill also prevents your food from sticking.
But remember! Replace your brush if you spot any loose bristles on cooking grates or brush. You never want these to get stuck to your food!
Every grill master knows how important oil is to prevent food from sticking and for adding flavour and moisture. Lightly brushing or spraying the food with oil works better than brushing it on the grate.
Direct heat (when the fire is directly below the food) is best for grilling relatively small, tender cuts of meat that cook in 20 minutes or less. Indirect heat (when the fire is on either side of the food) is best for larger cuts of meat that require more than 20 minutes of grilling. Knowing the difference will boost your status to the best barbecue chef on the block.
Grills (especially Weber Grills!) are designed to give you control over the heat inside the unit. The control knobs make it easy for you to maintain temperature settings from 250° – 550°. On a charcoal grill, the dampers control the airflow inside, allowing you to maintain fires for low and slow roasting or for high temperature searing.
Lowering the lid keeps the grates super hot. This helps solve a lot of common grilling problems: it makes the grates hot enough to sear, speeds up cooking time, prevents anything from drying out, traps in that delicious smokiness, and prevents flare-ups by limiting oxygen.
One of biggest reasons why everyone loves grilling is for the process of caramelization. Searing food on the grill traps all of the natural juices inside, leaving them to caramelize and create hundreds of amazing flavours that burst when you cut in. To help the process make sure you use the right level of heat (check out #5 and #6) and, as a general rule, turn food only once.
Too many flare-ups can burn your food. Keeping the lid on as much as possible limits the amount of oxygen inside the grill, which will help extinguish any potential flare-ups. If the flames are getting out of control, move the food over indirect heat and close the lid. You can move it back when they die down.
If you are grilling in a colder climate or in a higher altitude, the cooking times will be longer – so use a timer. If the wind is blowing hard, it will lower a gas grill’s temperature and raise a charcoal grill’s temperature. Knowing the ways your environment can affect your grill is important to keep in mind when you’re making the perfect outdoor dinner.
Now all you need are some great new recipes to try, so check out the rest of our Grill Guide. Get ready, get set, go grill!