I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but GRILLING ISN’T JUST FOR GUYS! The image of a man standing at a grill, tongs in one hand, a cold beer in the other, may sell men more things, but it doesn’t have to be the way things are. If you own a grill and like to cook, there’s no reason you can’t be the grillmaster of your family!
Step 1. Learn How to Use Your Grill
For gas grills:
If you own a gas stove, starting a grill is very similar! The trick is to make sure you know how to check the fuel (and how to replace it). The number one mistake you can make while grilling with gas is to run out of fuel and end up with a half-cooked meal.
For charcoal grills:
Grilling with charcoal is more time-intensive, but the taste and char that you get cannot compare with gas. And the hardest part about grilling with charcoal is getting the coals hot — there are lots of techniques and gadgets to try (lighter fluid, a charcoal chimney, or you can buy briquettes designed to light quickly).
Ask a seasoned grillmaster to show you how the grill works at the next cookout, and watch while they cook. Or, if you prefer to do your homework, the Grill Girl has a series of YouTube videos that show you how to start a gas grill and a charcoal grill, as well as sharing different grilling techniques.
Step 2. Be Prepared
Make sure you have enough gas or charcoal to fully cook your meal. You’d rather have to run to the store and delay dinner by 20 minutes than end up with half-cooked hamburgers …
You don’t want to be running back and forth from the grill to the kitchen, so make sure your meat or sides are prepped before you turn on the grill, and bring everything you’ll need with you to the grill (food, grill tools, thermometer, and of course a cold beverage!).
Some essential tools/gadgets to have are:
- a good pair of grill tongs (long handle and specially designed to withstand the heat of an open grill)
- a spatula, a grilling thermometer
- a grill glove
- a grilling pan (not necessary but makes it easier to grill vegetables and fish)
- a tray for transporting food to/from the grill
- aluminum foil to line trays and keep food warm once it’s done
Step 3. Try it Out!
Don’t be overly ambitious with your first attempts at grilling. Save the Kobe or Wagyu steak cuts for when you’ve really got the hang of it. Some easy starter meals include hot dogs and brats (depending on how much fat is in your brats, you can also practice what to do in the event of grease flare-ups), burgers, and kabobs. Grilled vegetables are also easy, so long as you keep the pieces a manageable size (they can’t be too big that they’ll never get done, and they can’t be so small that they fall through the grates).
Keep in mind that you may burn the brats, or your burgers may fall apart the first few times, but practice when the stakes are low, and you’ll be ready to impress your guests at a big summer cookout.
Step 4. Have Fun With It!
Just because you logged hours getting the staples down (hot dogs, burgers, etc.), don’t be afraid to grill in non-traditional ways. Grilling pound cake and peaches make for a delicious dessert when topped with vanilla ice cream. Grilling pizzas takes pizza night outside with easier clean up, and you don’t end up with a hot kitchen (you can even throw a frozen pizza on the grill!). And the combinations you can make with kabobs are endless and customizable if you’re having a backyard cookout with carnivores, vegans, and everything in between.
Get out there, and get to grilling! If you need further inspiration, here are some of my favorite grilling recipes:
(keep it simple by using store-bought dry rub and bbq sauce)