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Here are some grilling tips that some of you may enjoy and others may already be aware of.

To begin with always make sure your grills are in working condition, whether you are using gas, charcoal or electric. This should be the first thing you do before grilling. Make sure all pilot lights work, all gas lines are secured and all electrical connections are secure. Make sure the charcoal reservoir is in good condition with no holes or worn spots that would allow the hot coals to fall onto the ground.

Setting up your grill for your first cookout.

For charcoal grills spread your briquettes on the grate so they cover the area you want to cook on and then add another layer of briquettes and push them into a mound or pile. You have a choice of what type of briquette to use for your grill. You may use charcoal that is already loaded with starting fluid or you may use the type that requires you to add the starter fluid. You may also purchase charcoal that is flavored to give your food a special taste.

Once you have decided on the type of charcoal and have them piled in your grill light them and leave the cover off until the flames go down and the charcoal briquettes turn an ashy color. Once this happens you take a tong and spread the briquettes back out and begin cooking.

With gas you will use a type of briquette that is reusable. Usually a lava rock or some type of ceramic briquette that helps to hold and displace the heat evenly.

To adjust the temperature of your grill the closer your cooking grate is to the coals the hotter your heat will be. Most grills have 3 to 5 notches for setting the cooking grate. The lowest being high, the next being medium/high, the next medium, then medium/low, and then low at the top or highest point. With gas and electric grills you have regular control knobs to adjust the temperature of the heat to an extent.

You should always use grilling tools, tongs, spatula and potholders etc. Make sure your utensils are long handled and metal for best use. Always have a spray bottle handy filled with water to help in case of flare-ups. Having salt handy will help also.

Be careful to not use a fork for turning the meats because this will pierce the meats and allow the juices to escape. So not only do you loose the succulent juices but this can also cause flare-ups. Also wait until your food is cooked before you salt. Salting while it is cooking will tend to draw out the juices also.

To prevent chops, steaks, and other cuts of meat from curling while cooking, cut slashes in the edges of the fat at intervals of about 2 inches around the cut of meat. Be cautious not to cut the meat, only cut to the edge of the meat. If you cut into the meat you will lose the juices from the meat.

Before cooking on your grill it doesn't hurt to brush the rack with some type of vegetable oil or use a cooking spray before you heat the grill. This helps to keep the foods from sticking and makes cleanup a little easier also. You may also use a heavy duty foil and punch holes in the foil with a fork so the food can still get that BBQ flavor, without worry of so many flare-ups.

Basting your meats will help to keep them moist as well as adding extra flavor to them. A good baste for any meat is one with a sugar base, such as honey, brown sugar with water, or a syrup. Do not apply your basting to food until it is almost done though. This way it won't burn or scorch on the food.

Now for flavorings:

When using hardwoods for flavoring in a smoker, or on top of charcoals for grilling flavor, always soak your chips for at least 15 minutes before placing on coals. By soaking the chips they do not catch on fire and burn up before they are able to flavor the food. They will simply smoke and delicately flavor the food you are grilling.

Here are a few types of wood chips to use:

Oak: These wood chips will give your food a tangy flavor and is good when grilling or smoking Fish and fresh game.

Mesquite chips: These wood chips will give your food a strong succulent smoky flavor and is excellent with beef, chicken, fish, hot dogs, brats, sausages and fresh game.

Hickory: Hickory chips are probably the most popular chips used and they offer a very subtle earthy flavor and are great with pork, ham and beef.

Pecan: This wood gives a mild nutty flavor and is great with beef, pork or poultry.

Apple: This is one of my favorites and it has a very mild flavor and offers a fruity and slightly sweet taste to burgers and is good with poultry and pork.

These are just a few tips on grilling... hope they help and have a great BBQ!