Chefs share 5 of the best and 4 of the worst things to do when grilling

valbunny/ShutterstockGrilling is the perfect way to prepare a smoky, flavorful meal.
  • Insider spoke to chefs about common grilling mistakes to avoid, plus some helpful tips for cooking on a grill.
  • Always season your meat hours before you plan to cook it, and don’t be afraid to grill produce or side dishes.
  • Buying high-quality cuts of meat and restaurant-quality tools can enhance your grilling experience and result in better meals.
  • Don’t forget to clean your grill after each use, and always try to avoid cutting into a steak to see if it’s done.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Grilling may seem like a simple way to prepare a meal, but it’s not always as easy as it looks.

To see what grilling-related tips you should try and which hacks you should avoid, Insider spoke to expert chefs.

Here are some of the best and worst things to do when grilling.


Use your grill to whip up side dishes or cook produce.

Brent Hofacker/ShutterstockYou can mix produce and protein, too.

Grilling isn’t just limited to meat, and Marcus Jacobs, chef at Marjie’s Grill, said he suggests throwing vegetables and sides on the grill in order to help them get a delicious, smoky flavour.

“We love to roast sweet potatoes and chilies over the coals, bake russet potatoes wrapped in foil buried under the coals, and grill any veggies we can instead of blanching or baking,” he told Insider.


Season your meat hours before putting it on the grill.

Kris Connor/ Getty ImagesYou’ll want to do this in advance for maximum flavour.

Jacobs told Insider he recommends using a blend of salt, white and black pepper, paprika, coriander, and several different types of chilies to properly season chicken.

And if you are grilling fish, he said, try marinating it in a paste of your favourite fresh herbs, garlic, chilies, and soybean oil before grilling it.

For steak, Elias Iglesias, chef at Morton’s New York City, told Insider that the key is letting it marinate for a long time, regardless of the spice blend you use.

You’ll want to liberally season and salt your steak a few hours before you plan on cooking it and let it sit in the fridge.

Iglesias explained that seasoning your meat early will also draw out some of the moisture in it, which will result in an even better sear when cooked.


Make sure you’re using the right gear, and consider using restaurant-quality tools.

Johannes Simon/Getty ImagesNot all tools are made the same way.

Having the correct cooking utensils is always key to a perfect grilled meal according to Sean Blomgren, executive chef at Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont.

He said he recommends at-home grillers purchase commercial, restaurant-style equipment.

This includes long-handled tongs, a heavy-duty spatula, and a wire-free grill brush. He told Insider that these kinds of tools will hold up better and are usually cheaper than items found at your local gourmet kitchen store.


Look for high-quality cuts of meat that are bright in colour.

iStockSome cuts of chicken will cook more quickly than others.

Jacobs said the most important part of grilling is getting the highest-quality meats and seafood you can.

Doing so ensures that you won’t need to use too much seasoning, as you’ll still want the natural flavour of your protein to come through.

Josh Tanner, chef at New York Prime Beef, said that when you’re shopping you’ll want to pay attention to the colour and the amount of fat on the meat.

He said that, in his experience, a piece that has more fat and is brighter in colour tends to have more flavour when grilled. You’ll also want to pay attention to the cut of meat you purchase, as some may require different cooking times.


Remember to let your steak rest after it cooks.

Pavlo_K/ShutterstockYour patience will pay off.

The hardest part of cooking the perfect steak can be waiting to slice into it.

Tanner told Insider that after taking your steak off of the grill, it’s important to let it rest for a good 10 minutes or so before cutting into it.

This wait time allows the meat to completely finish cooking, and also helps stabilise any flavorful juices inside the meat, he explained.


On the other hand, don’t be afraid to turn up the heat when cooking steak.

Business InsiderThis can help you get those beautiful grill marks.

Although poultry, seafood, beef, and veggies are best grilled at different temperatures, Iglesias said, steak is always best grilled hot.

He said to make the perfect steak, preheat the grill to medium-high to high as this will help you get grill marks on your meat.


Avoid constantly opening the grill hood to check on your food.

Daniel Goodman/Business InsiderUnless there’s an emergency, try to keep the grill hood shut.

It may be tempting to check on your food, but Iglesias said you shouldn’t open the grill hood unless it’s an emergency (for example, there is excessive smoke).

He explained that keeping the hood shut allows the grill to work it’s magic, and it also guarantees a more evenly cooked steak and a quicker cook time.


Try not to cut into steak to check if it’s done.

Insider PicksThere’s another way to see if your steak is cooked to your liking.

Cutting a steak open is a clear way to check if it’s reached the desired level of doneness.

But Iglesias said you’ll want to avoid doing this as it can cause the tasty juices in the meat to leak out.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to check if your steak is ready without cutting into it.

As Mark Anderson and Ryan Fey of “The Grill Dads” explained for the Food Network, you can use a thermometer or a touch test to check the doneness of grilled meat.


Never forget to clean your grill before you use it.

ShutterstockA grill can generate a lot of buildup over time.

Maintaining a clean grill year-round will save you from some serious deep scrubbing down the road.

Jacobs told Insider that after each grilling session, you’ll want to scrape off any built-up carbon and meat droppings that may be lingering on your grill.

Read More:

16 foods you’re probably slicing, peeling, and cutting all wrong

Chefs share the best and worst meals to make with ground beef

10 tips for cooking the perfect steak, according to chefs

8 easy ways to save money on meat

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