Imagine if you could add one simple tweak every time you grill and see an instant improvement in your outcome.

Or even better:

What if there were 13 simple tweaks…

…and each of them could bring you that much closer to the perfect cook?

If you’re anything like me, I bet you would jump at the chance to learn about them.

Lucky for you, that’s exactly what I am going to be sharing with you today:

13 insanely practical grilling techniques that you can use to up your cooking game TODAY.

13 Insanely Easy Advanced Grilling Techniques That You Can Use Today

Grilling takes both skill and patience, but there are easy techniques you can learn to up your grilling game.

You don’t have to be a professional chef to impress your guests at the next cookout.  Just include any of the below techniques, or better yet, add all 13 easy grilling techniques to your arsenal.

The biggest mistake most people face when grilling is starting to cook their food too early.

Grilling is a game of patience more often than not.  I mean, the last thing you would want to do is serve your guests undercooked food right?

Adding your food to the grill before the flames have died down and the coals have steadied out or by not preheating your grill can play havoc with your cooking times.  It can also your cause meat to be unevenly cooked.

One key is watching your coals and knowing when they are ready for you to start cooking on.

But how do I know when my coals are ready?

What you want to watch for is your coals turning white.  Once the coals turn ashy white and are glowing, use a barbeque tool to spread them around to ensure that the direct cooking surface is getting an even heat.

I’m extremely partial to using a charcoal chimney starter to start my charcoal grills as they are just so fast and easy to use.

I particularly recommend using the Weber 7416 Rapidfire Charcoal Chimney Starter.  Weber is still the king when it comes to chimney starters in my opinion.  The aluminized finish really helps keep them rust free and will last for years.  They are easy to light and have your coals ready in no time.

As for gas grills, you can easily check you’re built in thermometer and regulate temperatures by adjusting the burner knobs until you achieve the desired temperature.

Make sure to always preheat the grill with the lid down before adding your food.

2. Use A Thermometer

Now that we’ve gotten when to start cooking the meat under our belt, we need to make sure that it’s cooked correctly.

Undercooked meat can cause foodborne illnesses in the form of a fever, sweats, and stomach issues.  An easy way to help prevent this is to add a meat thermometer to your grilling toolbox.

A high-quality instant read thermometer will help you ensure that your meat is cooked to the perfect internal temperature and that any potential bacteria has been cooked away.

Not only that, but they can prevent overcooking as well!

My personal all-time favorite is the ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 instant read thermometer.  It has extra features that most others don’t and they really come in handy.

They are just plain faster and more accurate than the competition.  They also include features like an auto-rotating display, motion-sensing sleep and wake mode, intelligent backlight technology for low light grilling and are waterproof.

They are the Cadillac of food thermometers.

Our 2nd suggestion is to bypass the bi-metal hood thermometers and invest in a nice digital readout remote probe thermometer.  Digital thermometers are much quicker in reading out temperatures when compared to bi-metal thermometers.

They just make life easier.  Choose one with a corded probe like the ThermoWorks Smoke that has a digital readout that can be mounted outside of your grill.

This will allow you to keep an eye on the temperature of your meat, and your grills internal cooking temperature without even having to lift the lid.

3. Salt Your Meat (Dry Brining)

Cooking good tasting food isn’t always just how well you can cook it, it also involves how you prep it.

If you haven’t heard of this technique yet, you are really going to want to start dry-brining your meat before cooking.  Trust me on this one!

Dry brining meat involves rubbing an even amount of salt, about the same amount you would use for cooking, on the meat and letting it sit in your fridge for hours or even days (depending on the meat).

So now you may be asking yourself “why can’t I just salt my steak while it cooks?”.

What dry brining does is bring moisture to the surface of the meat, the liquid breaks down the salt and the meat reabsorbs the juices with the salt included.

The salt is able to deeply season the meat this way and it also helps to make the meat more tender.  Overall, it gives you a juicier, more flavorful meat when compared to salting during the grilling process.

If you are interested in learning more about the dry brining the process including a few fun dry brining recipes, you can read my article on How Does Dry Brining Work.

4. Get The Cooking Temperature Spot On

One of the most important things to aim for when grilling is to cook your meats at the correct temperature without undercooking or overcooking.

The ideal temperature for indirect heat grilling and roasting (think a reverse seared steak or tri-tip) for thicker meats is 325° F.

For direct heat barbecuing and searing, you’ll want to give it all ya got by cranking up the heat all the way with the lid open.

Cook hot and fast while making sure you flip and turn your meat often to allow the hot side to cool quickly so the interior doesn’t overcook.  600° F is good, 900° F is great.

The two above methods can be achieved by creating hot and cool zones on your grill.  Creating hot and cold zones requires your fuel source (charcoal or gas) to be concentrated to one side of the grill.

If interested, learn more about the 2-zone cooking method by clicking on the link

For low and slow smoking of meats, maintain a steady temperature between 225 to 250° F.

5. Get to Know Your Grill (Learn To Control The Heat)

No two grills will cook alike.  Add to that the constantly changing weather conditions and it can be challenging maintaining consistent results.

It really pays to spend the time to get to know your grills unique quirks through trial and error.  Learn to recognize where the hot and cold spots are by calibrating your grill, and above all else, learn to control the airflow with the vents.

Grilling is all about controlling the heat!

One of the most common problems most amateur grillers face is keeping up a steady and accurate temperature.

With a charcoal grill, keeping your coals cooking at a regulated temperature can be tricky.  Charcoal burns at a higher temperature when it has more oxygen to feed off of.

So to keep the temperature down, put the lid on and start working your vents.  The bottom vent (intake) brings in oxygen, while the upper vent (exhaust) pushes out the gases and sucks in the oxygen.  The less you leave your vents pen, the less oxygen there is to stoke the fire.

To raise the temperature, you can open your vents and remove the lid for maximum airflow and temperatures.

For regulating temperatures on a gas grill, you can easily turn the burner knobs up or down (or completely off) to create hotter and colder zones.

Most grilles have a built in thermometer to monitor how hot the interior of your grill is and will be a great tool to ensure your grill is at the correct temperature.

6. Gear Up (Have The Right Equipment)

Having the right tools for the job is an expression known all too well when grilling.

The last thing you want to do when you have meat on the grill is to need a tool and not have it or get caught fumbling with an inadequate tool not meant for the job at hand.

 

Here is a quick list of 10 essential grilling tools:

1. Long Handled Grilling Spatula A sturdy, metal spatula is a priceless tool to have when grilling as it allows for easy flipping or moving of meats with ease. Having one with a long handle will prevent unwanted burns or signed arm hair.  Here are a pair of my favorites.
2. Long Handled Grilling Tongs A close tie with the spatula, a grill specific set of metal tongs is another must-have grilling tool. Tongs allow you to add, move, and remove meats from your grill that a grilling spatula could not.
3. Long Handled Grill Brush To keep your grill is its best shape, it will require regular cleaning. To clean your grill greatest, you will need a high-quality grill brush to scrape cooked on food off of the grates.
4. Long Handled Basting Brush For meats that require basting, a long-handled basting brush will allow you to easily brush on sauces to meats on all corners of your grill.
5. Thermometer (Digital Is Preferred) A high-quality thermometer can eliminate the risk of foodborne illness from undercooked food, save you from undercooking or overcooking meat, and ensure your meats are cooked to the desired temperatures (essential for steaks).  Here is a list of my recommendations.
6. Chimney Starter (For Charcoal Grills) If you are using a charcoal grill, a chimney starter can help get your coals up to temperature quickly and easily.  Check out these options.
7. Vegetable Basket If you are going to be grilling vegetable and other items that may fall through your grilling grates, a vegetable grilling basket is a must-have. These metal baskets feature small holes in the bottom to evenly grill your vegetables and keep them all in one place.
8. Mixing Bowls Mixing bowls can be used for a variety of different things when grilling. They can be used for food prep, mixing sauces, transporting food, and even steam cooking foods.
9. Paper Towels/Kitchen Towels The old saying goes “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”, and this could not be any truer when it comes to having towels around your grill for quick clean ups. Trying to open the door to clean your hands is not the easiest or most sanitary task, so stay prepared with a stack of towels.
10. Tin Foil I can’t even begin to tell you how handy good old-fashioned tin foil is to a griller.  You can use it for wrapping meat, covering meat while smoking to keep the outside from overcooking, covering grease trays to make clean up easier and the list goes on.  Invest in some heavy duty tin foil and thank me later.

7. Keep The Lid Closed (For Even Heat)

To ensure your grill is staying at the optimum temperature and getting an even heat, you will want to keep your pit lid closed.

When you open your grill’s lid when cooking, you may experience a heat wave across your face, this is precious heat escaping your grill that will cause your meats to cook slower and unevenly.

To achieve the best grilling, you will want to keep the lid closed as much as you can while monitoring your thermostat to control heat.

If your grill is heating up too fast, closing the lid is a good way to get it back down to the correct temperature quickly.

Remember, “if you’re look’n, you’re not cook’n”!

8. Learn 2-Zone Cooking (Direct vs. Indirect Cooking)

To really become a grill master, learning the 2 zone cooking method is key.

2-zone cooking refers to setting up your grill to have two sides, high direct heat, and low indirect heat.

This can be achieved similar to hot and cool spots, however, you will still want enough heat on the indirect side to slowly cook foods, similar to an oven.

This is a great cooking method to have in your arsenal when cooking thick meats indirectly while searing meats directly.

9. Leave Space Between Foods For Proper Air Circulation

A novice mistake when grilling for a large number of people is not leaving room for adequate air circulation between your food.

With no air circulation and room for your heat to escape, you will cook the food too quickly, causing burnt or overcooked meats. You always want to space your food out to let your heat rise around the meat on all sides for even cooking.

10. Learn These Advanced Charcoal Techniques

These techniques can absolutely help you master your grills heat, and they will also teach you how to burn your fuel more efficiently.

1. Ring o’ Fire (or The Snake Method, or the Domino or Fuse Method)

The ring of fire method refers to arranging your charcoal around the perimeter of the grill to give you direct heat on the outside while allowing indirect heat in the center.

It’s also used for slow cooking and smoking by layering your coals two or three deep around the outside edge of your grill from 8 o’clock to 5 o’clock.  Light 8 to 10 coals in a charcoal chimney and add them to the unlit coals on one end only.

The lit coals will act as a fuse and slowly ignite the unlit coals working its way along the fuse.  Add wood chunks periodically for great smoke flavor.

2. The Top-Down Burn Method

For a long-lasting fire, the top-down burn method is another great technique.

The top-down burn method involves arranging three-quarters of a charcoal chimney worth of unlit charcoal on the pit along with un-soaked wood chips.

Using a chimney starter, light the other quarter of charcoals.  Pour the lit coals on top of the unlit coals and place a few wood chips on top. The top coals will slowly light the bottom coals for a long-lasting, continuous burn.

3. The Minion Method

The minion method is very similar to the top-down method.

The main difference is that you create a depression in the middle of the unlit coals and place 6-8 lit coals in the depression.

This method, when performed correctly, can last 8-12 hours.

Here is a great video showing each technique plus several others that work well:

11. Line It Up (Your Food That Is)

When putting your food onto the grill, arrange it in neat lines on the cooking grate from left to right.

When barbecuing fast cooking foods like veggies, corn, and shrimp, place them in a clockwise circle.  This is an easy way to remember which items were put on the flames first, and it also lets you keep cooked foods away from raw ones.

12. Time It (Use A Timer To Know When To Flip Or Move Your Food)

Whether you are an experienced griller or just picked up your first grill, there is no shame in using a timer when grilling.

Recipes usually call for foods to be cooked for a certain amount of time and if you are cooking a delicate meat like steak, you are going to want to time it. You can use an outdoor timer or simply use your phone to remind you when to flip or remove your meat.

I use my timer on my phone while searing every time.  Staying consistent with our cooking make a big difference.

13. Let Your Food Rest Before Serving

With the sweet smell of barbeque in the air, it’s hard not to resists taking a bite as soon as you remove the meat from the grill.

But listen up, it is vital to let your food rest before you serve it.

Letting your food rest allows the juices to permeate the meat and cook fully internally.

Wrapping It Up

Now that you have learned some new techniques, it’s time to go conquer that grill!

Don’t forget, these techniques aren’t just for the new grillers out there, these are tips and tricks that even experienced grillers could be learning for the first time.

So get your grilling tools, fire up the grill, and show off your new knowledge.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my advanced grilling techniques for helping you step up your grilling game immediately.

Now I want to hear from you:

Which technique from this list are you most excited to try?

Are you going to use the ring of fire technique? Or do you want to give the minion method a try first?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment.

If you still have questions, please feel free to send me a message.

Cheers,

Patrick

Disclosure

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Patrick Ginise
Grillmaster/Website Owner
www.thegrillinglife.com
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