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101 BBQ Grilling Tips - Best Gas & Charcoal Grilling Ideas

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Ok, time for those succinctly cooked BBQ steaks, aren't you excited!

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BBQ grilling, after all, is quite simple and straight forward in nature... if you know exactly how its done. Easier said than done. Many people, especially beginners, have difficulty grilling steaks, burgers or even seafood, all the way through, no matter what grilling recipes they try!

That's why I created this list of 101 simple grilling tips; hopefully to inspire you; or maybe to give you a hand on grilling steaks to perfection, if that's is what you are struggling with.

This collection contains 101 grilling ideas, both for gas and charcoal grills. Or if you like, you can apply some of them to electric grills and smokers as well. They are not listed alphabetically, but instead, in a logical order, as I thought it would be more helpful as a guide.

Feel free to add any comment of you own or check what tips other visitors have shared, here.

Enjoy! Quick Index:

Grilling Methods

  1. Direct grilling is good for thin or small pieces of food, like fish fillets, potatoes, asparagus, and other veggies. It gives you a fast way of grilling meat without complicated set up.
  2. Indirect grilling is a better alternative to cook large or thick meat. It prevents the direct fire from over burning your food. Great for grilling whole chicken, turkey, thick slices of burgers, or tough meat like beef brisket and pork ribs. Here is how Steven Raichlen from Barbecue Bible explanations the difference between direct vs. indirect grilling.
  3. Cook with lids down (if your grill has one) for both direct and indirect methods. This will reduce grilling time while preserving nutritional values and tasty juices in the meat. When the lid is closed, the barbecue is cooked more evenly and faster than normal, because heat is trapped inside so your steak is being heated from all sides simultaneously.
  4. Infrared grilling is best for high temperature demand - they can quickly reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit in matter of minutes. This is an indirect grilling method where the barbeque is heated through the infrared element rather than directly from the gas flame or charcoal fire.
  5. Stovetop grilling (is a cooking technique that uses a grill pan with raised ridges similar to gridiron) can be a replacement for the lack of a gas grill burner for indoor grilling and still produces desired sear marks distinctive to BBQ steaks. 
  6. Rotisserie grilling rotates your food around the heat source for even cooking through out, great for grilling whole turkey, chicken or anything large in size. Make sure your food is well balanced in the middle of the rotisserie skewer or it will get cooked unevenly, due to irregular pressure inserted to the spin motor.
  7. Plank grilling is when the barbecue is done on a piece of wood. For wood plank preparation, make sure to pre-soak it wet enough in the water to allow you enough time for properly grilled meat.
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Grilling Accessories

  1. Charcoal chimney starter is a great tool to light charcoals or wood briquettes. It makes starting fire much easier with less mess, all the while avoid dealing with toxic chemicals associated with liquid fluid.
  2. Heavy duty cast iron grilling grates and griddle are best for maximum heat distribution and retention. Cast iron metal is better than stainless or aluminum alternatives in terms of heat transfer rate and retaining high cooking temperature.
  3. Porcelain coated grill grates are really worth the extra expense, buy them whenever you can. Detergents will work much more effective in removing fat grease off porcelain enamel coatings than off uncoated metal surfaces.
  4. Digital instant read meat thermometer is almost an indispensable equipment. Even professional chefs will tell your that these little gadget is the bare essential for the perfect BBQ grilling experience.
  5. Untreated cedar grilling planks are the most popular for plank grilling technique. Other best types of wood are untreated maple, hickory and alder.
  6. BBQ grill covers are must haves to prolong life shell and properly maintain your outdoor grills. When kept outdoors, there are many damaging weather conditions which can negative impact your grill's performance, like acidity from the rain, sudden change of temperature and moisture level, etc.
  7. Grilling utensils like BBQ tongs are better than poking the meat with kitchen folks or knifes. They keep all the juicy fluids inside your food.
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Grilling Basics

  1. Lightly brushing the food with olive oil or similar will reduce stickiness and make your barbecue more tender and juicy.
  2. Grilling marinades are very simple and effective ingredients to cook flavorful and spicy barbecues. Marinating is a great substitute for BBQ sauces when you serve in large quantity, because it gives you plenty of time to prepare things upfront.
  3. Grilling Sauces are best applied near the very end of the grill session, to avoid burnings of sugar and other nutritional ingredients in the BBQ sauce recipe.
  4. Pre-soaked wood chips have to be prepared at least 30 minutes before grilling. You can even smoke with fruit infused woods, like apple, to add light aroma and subtle scents.
  5. Choose the right fuel type: gas grills are best for quick searing of steaks, while charcoal smokers give the best flavor and juicy meat with low and slow grilling, and electric grills are simply easy, quick and clean to cook.
  6. Use powerful heat source, but just enough to properly sear steaks. Picking just the right size burner, or lighting charcoal fire to the right burning rate is crucial for grilling the perfect steak. Getting it right not only helps you cook effortlessly, quickly, but also saves you on power bills and reduce energy waste.
  7. Monitor the cooking temperature closely, either with a built in temperature gauge (usually equipped in stainless steel full size gas grills) or by checking in intervals with a cooking thermometers, which you can buy at grocery stores.
  8. Low and slow cooking on a gas grill is possible, without burning the meat or getting flare ups, despite many assumptions and myths.
  9. Grilling times can vary from types and thickness of the BBQ meat, as well as the power ratings of your charcoal or gas grill burner, and how hot you set it to cook. This grilling time chart shows some good example of timing based on factors mentioned.
  10. Grilling temperatures depend hugely on how well cooked your want your grill. This food temperature chart shows some interesting data about Gourmet - restaurant quality grill vs. USDA standards, ranging from: Rare, Medium, Medium-Rare, Medium-Well and Well-Done.
  11. When grilling with rotisserie position the drip pan a little closer to the front - it will make basting the drippings easier later on.
  12. Preheating the wood plank until it begins to crack is a good practice for the first time the plank is used - this will give an added flavor to the BBQ.
  13. Do not piece or poke the barbecue meat with knifes or folks while grilling, they will release the tasty juicy fluid and aroma inside the BBQ, as well as increase the possibility of flareups.
  14. To get the perfect barbecue, the best way is to pierce the meat with an instant-meat thermometer probe and keep checking it until you get the desired temperature. No guessing will be as certain as this technique.
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Grill Cleaning & Maintenance

  1. Take out your grill parts at least once a year to completely inspect and thoroughly clean them with light soapy water or liquid dishwasher detergents.
  2. Pay close attention to grill burners and see it there is food clogged in the way and stopping gas from flowing evenly - this is often the cause of uneven heating in a barbeque gas grill after sometime of use.
  3. Keep a water pan under the grill grates while you cook and cleaning will be easy.
  4. Cleaning grill grate is best done right after each cooking session. Just let the grates cool down but not too cold, and while they are still warm, rub them with stiff wire brush.
  5. Lubricate the grates with oil and wipe them with a paper towel after cleaning to maintain and protect them from rust.
  6. For added convenience, try something fancy like the Grate Chef® Steaming Grill Brush - which uses steam to help remove grease.
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Grilling Food

Grilling Beef Brisket

  1. Beef brisket is best cooked with slow electric or charcoal smoking technique for tender and flavorful outcome. So if you planned on grilling on gas, your might want to leave it for another occasion.
  2. Carefully chose the undivided and untrimmed part of the brisket (also referred to as "Packer's Cut").
  3. Ideally your piece of brisket will have a 1/3 to 1/4 inches thick layer of fat cap to keep it moist while smoked.
  4. Rinse it with lukewarm water and use kitchen paper towels to patty dry prior to smoking session.
  5. Rubbing should happen at least half an hour before you put it into the smoker.

Grilling Beef Tenderloin

  1. To save money, shop for untrimmed pieces of beef tenderloin, because this part of meat can be easily trimmed with ordinary kitchen knife at home. In case you wondered, beef tenderloin is one of the finest and most expensive cuts.
  2. It's a good idea to remove all the silvery skin, because it doesn't cook well and will only make your grilling experience more challenging.

Grilling Ribeye Steaks

  1. Marinating should be carried out in cool temperature inside the fridge to prevent unhealthy bacteria.
  2. Add flavor by marinating rib eye steak in BBQ sauces like Worcestershire sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and vinegar with use of flavor additives like chives, salt, pepper and green onions; as recommended by Steak-Guide in an article on how to grill ribeye steaks to perfection.
  3. Use tongs while cooking to avoid piercing the meat so you can keep all the tasty juices and aroma inside grilled ribeye fillets. This way they will turn out tender and moist, as  puts it.
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Grilling T-Bone Steaks

  1. T-Bone steak is very similar to Poterhouse steak, just a bit tougher, because it has less filet part, so grilling T-Bone steak can be the same as Poterhouse.
  2. 1 1/4 inches to 1 1/2 is the ideal thickness
  3. Cook each side of T-Bone steak until it browns, on the hottest area of grill surface. When both sides are brown, turn the gas burner or charcoal down to low heat and cook for about 3-5 more minutes until inner temperature reaches about 130 degrees F.
  4. Remove the beef steak from grill and leave it to cool down with aluminum foil wrapped around.
  5. As Cooking for Engineers put it, keep the steak at medium rare throughout to avoid meat toughening. This can be done by keeping the tenderloin part away from the high heat area, and only exposing the strip steak to the hottest grilling part.

Grilling Baby Back Ribs

  1. Peel off the thin layer of skin on the back, because this part will turn leather hard after cooked. It is worth your every effort, though its quite difficult to do. Use paper towel to improve on grip.
  2. Good rub is important for delicious prime pork ribs. Do not buy prepackaged rubs at grocery stores, try to experiment yourself and you will get better barbecue ribs.
  3. Rub generously both front and back, then let it cure (dry-marinade) in the fridge inside sealed bag for some time.
  4. Grill on low heat side of the grate with lids down.
  5. Only add BBQ sauces near the end of cooking session to prevent burning of sugar and keep the crust or bark on the pork rib. Steve at Grilling Companion has put it all into a very detailed instruction with photos over here - Grilled Baby Back Ribs.
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Grilling Turkey

  1. The secret to cooking perfect Turkey lies in keeping the dark meat at over 170 degrees Fahrenheit (75 Degrees Celsius), while preserving the moisture in the breast part.
  2. To prevent the breast meat from drying, baste it with thin layer of oil or fat. Rotating the Turkey is another great way to achieve this goal. Begin grilling on the side and keep flipping it, all while making sure the breast is pointing upwards and stays furthest from the flame or heat source.
  3. Thawing should be allowed 6 hours for every frozen pound (0.4 kg) of turkey.
  4. Trim the turkey wishbone for easier carving.
  5. Seasoning is best done after cold water rinse and pat dry with paper towel, by rubbing under the skin. For full instruction and photo illustrations, check out the article on How to Grill Your Barbecue Turkey by a food lover over ReluctantGourmet.com.

Grilling Chicken Breasts

  1. The trick is in brining the chicken breast with cold salted water in a plastic bag. This bag can then be stored in the refrigerator for about 3-6 hours.
  2. Follow by rinsing off the salt water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Marinating is recommended before grilling, and can be as simple as olive oil with salt and pepper. There are also many other grilled chicken breast recipes online that you can try.
  4. Grilled chicken breast comes out great on both gas or charcoal grills, just make sure to preheat the grill to medium before cooking.
  5. Internal temperature should reach about 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees C) when cooked.
  6. The chicken breast is well grilled when the meat is white all the way through and doesn't feel too tough (overcooked), or has yellowish juices coming out when poked with a folk or knife (undercooked).
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Grilling Sausage

  1. Parboiling sausages (boiling in water first) and then grilling is a known way to cook it through without loosing the tenderness and juicy liquids inside the sausage, as recommended by Derrick Riches at About.com.
  2. Use seasoned water instead of plain water to parboil so that the sausage does not loose flavor.
  3. There is a recipe for pre boiling sausages in half water half beer, apple juice or other fruit liquids for added flavor prior to grilling.
  4. Keep it as whole sausages, do not poke or cut through the middle before grilling to stop the juices from getting out and reduce the risk of flare ups.
  5. If the sausage is quite big in size, cook on low heat so it gets grilled thoroughly inside out without getting the outer skin burned and overcooked. 
  6. Indirect heating with use of charcoal smokers or gas rotisserie is another way to avoid over burns and still have it well cooked through.
  7. The steps described above can be applied to almost all types, including grilled bratwurst sausages, traditional Italian grilled sausage, grilling hot dogs or fresh Polish styles.

Grilling Hamburgers

  1. Seasoning and forming burger patties is best when the meat is cool. Do not over mix the seasoning like, garlic, chopped onion, craft-made mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Over-mixing breaks down the juicy fat, which will make your grilled burger dry and tough.
  2. Burger patty size should be around 1/4 pound (100 g) each, You can use the half-cup measuring cup to form evenly sized patties.
  3. Extra lean meat tend to create dryer burgers, though your choice can be just about anything - turkey, chicken, pork, lamp or most famously - beef.
  4. You can prepare burger patty 3 months upfront. Just from the patty from ground meat and store them frozen in completely sealed plastic bags. This is a great way to serve for big parties, BBQ gatherings or sports events.
  5. Before grilling, push your thumb right in the middle of the hamburger patty to create a hollow. This will trap the heat in the middle of the patty and thus provide enough temperature to get the burger cooked all the way through.(thegrillingcoach.com)
  6. Cook on medium until internal temperature reaches about 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Flip only once.
  7. You can add BBQ sauces, marinate or other toppings of choice while the burger is still hot on the grill. This way the flavors will infuse better into the meat. Only layer cheese on top near the end of grilling session, so that they slight melt but do not run into fluid. Also check this out for some of the best burger recipes online.
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Grilling Pizza

  1. The trick to well cooked topping without over burning the crusts is to keep the dough thoroughly oiled on the bottom side so the the pizza can easy slide on the grates.
  2. Thickness of the pizza dough should be about ¼ inch (0.6 cm) thick. Prevent rolled dough from sticking together or drying out by shaking off the excess flour. To get crunchy dough, pre-grill it until it turns light golden brown underneath.
  3. Coating pizza dough with thin layer of garlic flavored olive oil will add that extra delicacy to your gourmet food.
  4.  When putting your toppings on top turn the burner to low heat and perform slow cooking.
  5. The best cheese for burgers is the one which melts easily, like mozzarella, Jack or fontina types.
  6. To speed up the process and keep more of healthy Vitamins, cook with lids closed to get the benefit from indirect heat – this way the topping will be well heated from the top as well. Turn back to high heat for about half to a minute until the bottom side turns blistered, after all the toppings are cooked through.
  7. Use BBQ grilling tools like specialized pizza peel or metal spatula for easy flipping and sliding the pizza off the grates. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt over Slice Serious Eats has prepared a very detailed step by step process for making gorgeously tasting homemade gourmet pizzas.
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Grilling Seafood

  1. First and most importantly, buy fresh seafood. If they smell, its probably too fishy.
  2. Medium or low heat is usually the best. Remember that seafood require less grilling time than any types of meat, because they keep cooking even when you take them out of the BBQ grill.
  3. Wrapping seafood in organic wrappers like banana, corn husks or fruit leaves adds a whole new dimension to the taste and natural flavor of your grill - they will simply taste better and more refreshing!
  4. Wrapping around seafood kabobs with bacon is great way to ad flavor all the while keeping your seafood fresh.
  5. Peel off the legs if you grill things like shrimps, prawns or lobster tails.
  6. Keep the skin of fish fillet and set it underneath. This is especially useful for tender fish fillets, like grilled catfish, perch, snapper or founder. The skin acts a protective layer while the filet gets cooked, so your food does not stick to the grate or get burned.
  7. Turn only once when grilling fish, like grilled salmon, tuna, trout, swordfish, etc. This avoids stressing too much on the grilled filet, which may break it internally and release juicy fluids.
  8. Lobster shells are easiest to cut with kitchen scissors right through the center.
  9. Shellfish like oysters, clams, mussels or scallops should be placed in the hottest grilling area. They are done when the shell opens.
  10. Seafood can be stored in freezer for up to two weeks. Prior to storing, clean them with cold running water, pat dry with paper towel, put into sealed bag with no air, and then wrap them inside aluminum foil.
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Grilling Vegetables

  1. Marinating vegetables will make them stick less to the grates. Alternatively, light brush them with oil.
  2. Wrap the veggies in foil for fresh grill. But there is downside to it – you will lose the smoky flavor distinctive to barbecue grilling.
  3. Thread small veggies through kabobs (cherry or slices of tomatoes, Capsicum, olives, asparagus, mushrooms, onions or baby cabbage ) – it will be easier to handle and turn around.
  4. Cut into smaller pieces if the vegetable is big in size, like eggplants, cucumbers, or potatoes.
  5. Cooking time and temperature depends on the toughness and thickness nature of each piece.

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